Today’s special SPFBO interview is with Israeli fantasy author Anat Eliraz who has entered her debut novel Jewels of Smoky Quartz into this year’s competition.
- Hi Anat, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
Hi! And thank you for the opportunity to take part in this!
I live in Israel, work as a physiotherapist with preterm babies and am a mother of four.
I have written from the early years of primary school. I have more unfinished stories than I can count (I still have all the notebooks!) and many poems and songs.
My inspiration comes from anything I come across. My children, pets, books and movies. Even the news. Though mostly, it would take shape in a fantasy setting.
I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons in the late 1980’s and that’s when my love for fantasy started.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
I love the fantasy genre for having almost no boundaries. You can soar with your imagination in so many directions.
I see most fantasy stories as allegories to the real life and world.
If you think about many stories, and peel away the magic and dragons- you’re left with events you can find in our own history. Be it discovering a new continent with its people and culture, different revolutions, wars…
It is said mankind doesn’t learn from its own mistakes. Maybe we can learn something from fantasy stories instead.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
‘Jewels of Smoky Quartz’ is my debut novel. It was released on the 25th of April, 2021.
The idea itself came to me on a cold December evening in 2018. I sometimes find myself daydreaming ideas, but they move from one to the next every day or two. This time, it just continued to expand and I had to start writing it down so I don’t forget where I started. After the fourth notebook, my kids told me I better just copy it to the computer!
Most of the story was written in less than four months. I had one, not even that important, part that took me three more months to put together. That was the first draft.
I let my sister and sister in law read it and did necessary changes. Then it just ‘sat there’ for almost a year, until the first lockdown. Suddenly, I had free time and started listening to webinars about writing and publishing and decided- why not?!
I really can’t say I had many challenges. The writing itself just came to me. I HAD to write. I would wake up in the middle of the night and had to write.
I could say that the challenge was working during those three months with very little sleep!
Maybe publishing in a non English speaking country made my journey different than what some other authors experience.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I like sophisticated characters. Most of them have foggy backgrounds.
I used to play such characters in my D&D days.
Readers today want the characters to have depth to them. To have reasons for their actions and beliefs, but also have them make mistakes. It is what makes them ‘real’.
There is some of me in all my characters. After all- I made them and they say or think of the things I wanted them to. How much of me differs from character to character. Some might have more physical traits like mine and others more intellectual.
Or just my ‘I wish’ list!
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
Just write. Maybe a certain scene will be cut out of the final version and maybe another will need extensions.
Don’t look for reasons why not to write. There are plenty. I can write a book about it!
Even if you never publish, if you feel you have something to tell- do it.
I am not a full time author. I will probably never be, either. I love my job! But I love writing, so I also write.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
Ha! I have the best trick ever!
I have no deadlines!!!
Since I don’t have any publishing company on my head, and I didn’t promise anybody anything- my time is mine to spend as I see fit.
As to keeping my story on track (track of correct writing, not deadlines)- once I have my first draft, I check the timeline for all the characters involved. This means the time of day and the logic of how much time passes while things happen. Making sure left and right and all directions stay accurate from all characters pov’s, etc.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
I write scenes. I see them like movies in my head and write what happens. There is no order in them. Some won’t make it to the final version of the story. I do have a general idea of the plot, but it can change drastically as I write, by the scenes I come up with. Only much later, will I start putting the scenes together and adding what is needed for them to fit together and make the story.
That’s why in question 6 I said I check the timeline and all the small bits and pieces.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
My book can be read as a stand alone, but I left an opening for more (started getting ideas for a sequel). I already wrote seven scenes of the next book.
I also started another fantasy story, that takes place on earth, during WW2.
I never say never, but I like the fantasy genre and don’t see myself writing in another genre any time soon.
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
I don’t usually like the ‘happily ever after’ ending. The world is far from being a ‘bed of roses’. Living in Israel sometimes takes it another step forward.
So it’s not that the bad guys win. Sometimes no one wins. You have to compromise. In a way, it takes some readers by surprise.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
All. Each in a different way.
Lord of the Rings is somewhat of a pioneer in the fantasy genre, and it deserves its respect.
Star Wars is more sci-fi, but has amazing world(s) building, characters, storyline…
Harry Potter had millions of every age group reading this fantasy that ‘exists’ parallel to the ‘real world’.
They all fascinate generations of people, who read or/and watch the movies, collect related products etc.
They are all timeless!
Look how much the world has changed over the years and these books/ movies don’t lose their shine. And it seems they will continue to intrigue more people in the future.
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