Hey there! I have a few things to share with you:
Guest Post on Researching a Novel
Last week, fellow author Hannah Ross hosted a guest post from me on her blog, Flight of Fantasy: How to Research Your Novel from the Comfort of Your Home, with Daniella Levy. Did you know that I did all my research for By Light of Hidden Candles without setting foot outside my house? I call that “Introvert Writer Level: Master”. I explain how I did it and give some useful tips in the guest post. Here’s an excerpt:
When I first came up with the concept for my novel, By Light of Hidden Candles, I felt completely overwhelmed. I’d never written historical fiction before, and I was daunted by the task of researching it. So daunted, in fact, that I put away the idea for six years before pulling it out again and finally writing the book.The story flips back and forth between the 21st century and the 15th, and the former, obviously, was much easier to write. But it turned out that even the 21st-century part required no small amount of research. The book is about a pair of college students–one Jewish, one Christian–who travel to Madrid together to research their family histories, and the story they discover that occurred in 15th century Spain. I’ve never studied in that kind of academic setting and I’ve never set foot in a historical archive. I’d never even visited many of the real-life places my characters were visiting–and I didn’t have the budget or the time to travel there. How could I recreate these places in the minds of the readers when I’d never experienced them myself?Fortunately for me and for other inert, introverted writers, technology and the Internet have developed in our favor. I actually managed to research quite extensively without ever setting foot outside my home.
Letters to Josep Post on Interfaith Dialogue
For those of you who don’t follow Letters to Josep, I recently published a post called: Is Interfaith Dialogue Good for Religious Jews? It was a sort of response to a discussion I had with a reviewer of By Light of Hidden Candles, and issues raised in the book came up in the post, particularly in this section:
But isn’t there a potential danger of certain boundaries being crossed?
Yes, there is.
And I think By Light of Hidden Candles is, among other things, a sort of meditation on that question.
We need to maintain proper boundaries; that much is clear. But what does that mean exactly? The characters of By Light of Hidden Candles consciously struggle with this question. Alma argues with her grandmother about it. Manuel consults his priest about it. Míriam hesitates–even while her life is in danger–because of it. But was their awareness of it as an issue enough? Did they draw the lines where they should have, and if they had drawn them differently, would there have been a different outcome?
I invited readers of By Light of Hidden Candles to share their thoughts in the comments, and I will extend the same invitation here–but no spoilers, please!
By the way, this post was picked up by a new Jewish news outlet called The Jewish Examiner, whose editor-in-chief has shown an interest in republishing additional relevant posts from LtJ. You can check it out on their website here.
And speaking of discussion…
By Light of Hidden Candles Discussion Guide
About a month and a half ago, a woman approached me to ask if I have a list of prepared questions she can use with the book club at her synagogue when they read By Light of Hidden Candles together. I told her I was so glad she asked, because we had been planning to put together a discussion guide, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I Google the book on occasion, and every so often I spot a newsletter from a Jewish community book club that announces it on their list–and I have to tell you, people, there is nothing on the planet that delights me more than the idea of a group of people sitting around talking about my book! Can I come?!?! (No, seriously, if your book club is discussing my book and would be interested in having a Q & A/meet-the-author Skype session, please get in touch with me!)
So! I am currently working with the fine folks at Kasva Press on developing a book club discussion guide, to help encourage and facilitate such blessed events! The plan is to make two versions: a standalone version (meaning, you won’t have to have read the book to use it, and it won’t contain any spoilers) that will be available for download on our websites, and a “spoiler” version that will be added to the back of the eBook, may be included in future printings of the print book, and will be available to book clubs upon request.
While it’s still in development, though, I wanted to ask those who have already read the book for your suggestions! What are some passages from the book you found yourself thinking about after you had finished reading? What are some topics or themes you discussed with other readers, or would like to discuss with other readers? If you’ve already discussed the book with your book club–what did you talk about? Let me know in the comments or email me!
We’re also thinking of launching the discussion guide virtually by hosting an event on Facebook, where questions and excerpts will be posted regularly (kind of like what I did before my FB Live Virtual Launch Party) to get discussions going, culminating in another FB Live session where I summarize the highlights and answer additional questions.
So let me know what you think, and stay tuned for more updates!