Miriam Drori on Life, Writing & Púcas
Allow me to introduce Miriam Drori, author of the Bestselling novel, Cultivating a Fuji. I had the pleasure of interviewing this talented writer who currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel. Unfortunately, I could not visit her in person - maybe someday!
1. What is the first story you remember telling (not necessarily writing)?
I don’t know. It would have been something I was made to write at school. I’m not a typical I-always-wanted-to-be-a-writer author. I grew up thinking I didn’t know how to be creative.
2. What was your favorite game to play as a child? If you could play it now with anyone alive, deceased, or fictional, who would be your top picks for opponents or teammates?
I learned most of the board games and card games I know from my cousin who is two years older than me. She always won until one day I beat her at something. It wasn’t long after, that she decided she was too old to play games. So, I’d like to play a game like Rummy against her and hope to win.
3. How many languages do you speak? Which is your favorite?
Hmm… “speak” could be the wrong word, where I’m concerned! English is my mother tongue. I know Hebrew reasonably well, which is just as well as I live in Israel. I learned French and German at school and speak them badly. My favourite of those? French sounds the nicest, German and Hebrew are the most logical, and English is the only one I can write a novel in. In other words, I can’t choose.
4. Who inspired you to write your debut novel?
The author, Sally Quilford. Sally facilitated an amazing workshop for writing romance novels. She encouraged us to begin writing. I looked for a topic I knew something about, one that would make the couple unsure of each other in different ways. That was the start of the novel I called Neither Here Nor There. It was published by Crooked Cat Books in 2014, but is currently unavailable and I’m working on a new and improved version.
5. You are asked what your least favorite color is knowing that it will forever be erased from existence. Would you give your answer?
No way! All colours are necessary. My least favourite is possibly grey, but we need it. Without it, clouds would turn from white to black, hair would turn from black to white. No, I wouldn’t want any colour to be erased.
6. Star Wars or Star Trek?
I haven’t seen Star Wars, but it sounds more violent, so I’ll go with Star Trek.
7. If you were to be gifted a superpower that you had to use continuously for 8 hours every day, what would it be?
The ability to produce perfect writing and never be stuck for an idea or a word. Think what I could get done for eight hours, every day!
8. What are your hobbies (besides reading and writing)?
Touring; hiking; dancing, especially Israeli folk dancing.
9. What is your favorite sport to play? To watch? Or, what is your least favorite to play or watch?
I haven’t played sport for a long time. I was very keen on watching tennis for years, but since my mother died and my son moved out, I haven’t had anyone to discuss it with, so it’s become less appealing. The least favourite to watch? It’s a toss between cricket and golf.
10. What is your favorite author/book?
That’s such a hard question. It could be Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, but I’m sure I’ve read books that I’ve enjoyed just as much – I just can’t remember which.
11. Have you ever played kubb? Did you have to look it up before answering?
I looked it up in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, where it doesn’t exist. But I found it in Wikipedia, where it’s described as “a combination of bowling and horseshoes.” I don’t know the game horseshoes, either. It follows that I haven’t played Kubb. Or horseshoes.
12. The zombie apocalypse will happen in two days. You are fully stocked with food, water, and toilet paper. What is the one thing you will have stocked up on as your guilty pleasure? (Favorite candy, wine, sponge cake filled with white frosting?)
White chocolate. I need it for editing.
13. If you could have authored a book, which one and why?
I've read lots of wonderful books, but none of them are the ones I want to write. I admire the authors and wish I could write like them, but books are too personal to want to have written someone else's book, in my opinion. I want to write my own books in a better way. I mean it; this isn't my way of getting out of answering the question!
14. What movie sequel would you erase from history, and why?
I tried to think of movie sequels that I've seen and came to the conclusion that I haven't seen any. Sorry.
15. You won the mythical lottery and are granted the use of a magical creature for one week. What creature would you pick, and why?
From my limited knowledge of mythical creatures (most of it gleaned just now on Google), I’m going to choose the púca (or pooka or phouka) from Celtic folklore. the púca can take on many forms, one of which is human with human speech. I’m hoping it’ll take over the task of talking from me for a week. It won’t be hard for púca to do a better job than me! I realise I’m taking a risk because the púca can bring both good and bad fortune. I’m hoping my púca will rise to the challenge and protect me.
16. What is one food you could never bring yourself to eat, and why?
Just one? Lobster. It has too many nasty spikes sticking out.
17. Tell us your favorite "dad joke."
I remember hiking with a few friends. The route took us past several graveyards. One guy said the same thing every time: "People are dying to get in there."
18. Cake or pie?
That depends on the type of cake or pie. Chocolate isn't my favourite. Apple is.
19. Tell us about your latest book. If I buy it, how will it change my life?
Cultivating a Fuji is the sad but uplifting tale of a guy who doesn’t fit into society. I didn’t write the novel in order to change your life; it’s a story that can be enjoyed on its own. I didn’t intend to make you feel uncomfortable, despite suggestions to the contrary. But if it makes you change the way you treat people who are different, that would be an added benefit.
20. Do you have a favorite character that you created? Why or why not?
I love all my characters, but I’m going to choose Claude from my (currently unavailable) debut novel, because he’s fun and provides welcome relief from the difficulties of the main characters… not that he doesn’t have problems of his own, but we don’t worry about those too much.
Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it's a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he's told. That's how he's survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that's only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?
Gradually, as you'll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There's even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin's days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
Throughout his life, people have laughed at 'weirdo' Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunities to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you'll find that there's also a serious side to all this…
You can buy Cultivating a Fuji on Amazon.
Born and raised in the UK, Miriam Drori has lived most of her life in Jerusalem, Israel. Here, she married, gave birth to and raised three children, and worked as a computer programmer and later as a technical writer, before turning to writing, fictional and otherwise.
Social anxiety turned up a long time ago, and Miriam has become passionate about raising awareness of this disorder. Her non-fiction book, Social Anxiety Revealed, currently available from Smashwords and elsewhere, provides a comprehensive insight into social anxiety from multiple viewpoints.
Miriam's works of fiction available to buy now are:
Gruesome in Golders Green - a short story in the anthology Dark London
The Palm - a poem in the collection Verdant
Follow Miriam Drori on