Q: Tell us about yourself. What got you into writing?
MD: Hi Kateri and thank you for featuring me on your blog. I’m Miriam, wife, mother to three and
grandmother to one. I grew up in London but have lived most of my life in Jerusalem. As well as
writing, I love to read, dance, hike and travel. Unusually, what got me into writing was social anxiety. I was nearly fifty when I discovered this term that helped me to understand myself and to realise I wasn’t alone. During the months following the discovery, I met, online, people who had suffered a lot more than me, and that planted the seed that grew into a passion to raise awareness of social anxiety. I think increased awareness from both sides of the divide would be helpful – on one side, people need to know
they’re not alone and how to get help and support; on the other, people should understand and possibly provide help and support. For me, the best way to raise awareness is through writing. Not everything I write involves social anxiety, but it tends to pop up quite often.
Q: Tell us about the premise of Style and the Solitary.
MD: Asaf, an electronics engineer in a hi-tech company in Jerusalem, is accused of having murdered a colleague. He’s ill-equipped to speak up for himself, and all those around him – bosses, colleagues, neighbours, strangers – believe he’s guilty. Except for Nathalie, a new immigrant from France, who works with him. She determines, with the help of her two fun- loving and caring flatmates, to find the real murderer and hence clear Asaf’s name.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
MD: I began with a character who had social anxiety, and looked for an interesting plot for him. I
thought of two. The first was to send him to Japan to represent his company, a task in which everyone, including himself, expects him to fail. That became my book, Cultivating a Fuji.
My second idea was to have him accused of murder and see how he would cope. When I embarked on that plot, I knew I couldn’t use the same character, because that first book followed his life story and didn’t include a murder. So I changed the setting, his name and his profession,
and created some interesting characters to accompany him on his journey.
Q: Did you do any research for your book? If you did, what did it consist of?
MD: I think every book requires some research, but some require a lot more than others. Style and
the Solitary is one of the others. I was lucky I’d chosen to set the story in my home city, because I wrote the novel at a time when travel was impossible. I revisited all the places in order to be
better able to describe them. I asked my husband about electronics engineering, and a friend of a
friend about police operations and the inside of the main police station. There are various other topics that I looked up. Perhaps the main one was about the origins of the Beauty and the Beast
Q: Do you agree with the statement write what you know? Why or why not?
MD: I think authors can write about anything. If they want to write about things they don’t know, it’s their duty to find out all they can about those things. That, of course, creates more work. Up
to now, I’ve tended to write what I know, but the future might take me in new directions.
Q: Do you think creative writing classes are beneficial? Why or why not?
MD: I’ve learnt plenty from writing classes. Some of that wisdom could equally be learned from books. But what classes add is feedback on your own writing and the opportunity to critique other writing – to find elements to emulate and others that could be improved.
Q: Do you enjoy editing?
MD: I would hope I do because I’m also an editor! Yes, I do enjoy editing my own work as well as
that of other authors. It’s only when I have read through it many times and polished it as much as I can that I begin to fall in love with it.
Q: How do you juggle your writing and life?
MD: When I began to write, I was still working as a technical writer and had three children at home. I would write on bus journeys and during lunch breaks. But I retired from that work long
before I had anything published and found marketing added to my list of chores. Even now, I’m frustrated at the time it takes me to tackle the projects I have planned, but I’m making headway.
Q: Do you write in other genres? Have you ever written in different mediums? (Poetry,
screenwriting, playwrighting, song writing, journalism etc)
MD: I have tried writing poetry, but really, I don’t think I’m a poet. As for other genres, I’ve written romance, historical fiction, uplit, non-fiction and short stories.
Q: If you could invite a fictional character for lunch (from your own book(s) or another writer’s), who would you invite and why?
MD: That’s one of those questions I’d answer in a different way each time – there are so many characters to choose from. This time, I’m going with Stevens, the butler from The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I like to read stories in which I understand more than the narrator. They make me feel good. And Stevens is constantly misinterpreting words or actions, so I wouldn’t worry that he’d make me feel inadequate over our lunch. I hope he’d misinterpret my grins as
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
MD: Write what you want to read because that’ll make your writing unique, honest and authentic.
Don’t break any writing rules until you feel you know exactly why the rules exist and why you want to break them.
Q: What are your future plans as an author? Are you working on another project?
A: I’m working on the sequel to Style and the Solitary and have planned another in the series. I
also plan to improve my romance, which is currently unavailable, and write a sequel to it. And to
continue writing short stories.