- Guest Author -
Welcome to an interview conducted with a very talented woman - Uvi Poznansky.
Welcome, Uvi ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I am an artist, poet, and author. In the last two years I have published three novels, two novellas, a poetry book, and two children’s books. My art and my writing are two sides of the same coin: I write with my paintbrush, and paint with words.
WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT?
I go through meticulous research, like every author worth his salt, and collect every detail about the time and the setting. But then, I choose where to take my departure from the reference material. In this series, I chose to let the character speak in modern language. This is a design decision, meant to bring the reader into the realization that this is a universal story, happening here and now, rather than an old fairytale.
It is essential, I believe, to anchor fiction in the real setting of the plot. You can do it in a myriad of ways: visit the place, read about it, and look at art and photographs that depict it.
For example, in my new novel Rise to Power, David describe the Valley of Elah, where he will soon face his enemy. I have visited this place when I was a child, and at the time it surprised me that the valley is so shallow and well, boring. I imagined that perhaps it used to have dramatically sloped walls, as befits the scene of an iconic battle. I told myself that perhaps over the generations dust has settled over it and covered the rocky slopes, hiding the drama.
Before writing the scene, I also looked at a lot of paintings in the history of art, Then I set it all aside, and wrote the scene from imagination:
“There, with their backs to me, they are: three silhouettes, drawn sharply against the gray, gloomy landscape. The horsemen in the center is the one I am watching with keen interest. He is tall, formidable, and cloaked. A ray of morning light reaches hesitantly for his crown, sets it afire, and then pulls back.
Ahead of him, the valley opens like a fresh cut. Thin, muddy streams are washing over its rocks, oozing in and out of its cracks, and bleeding into its soil. Layers upon layers of moist, fleshy earth are pouring from one end to another, then halting on a slant, about to slip off. And from down below, somewhere under the heavy mist that hides the bottom of the valley from sight, stir some unexpected sounds.
I wish I could ignore them. For a moment I am tempted to stick my fingers in my ears—but to do so I would have to let go of my lyre. Let go I cannot, because its strings may tremble in the air. My music may betray me, I mean, it may betray the place of my hideout.
So I go on cowering, trying to imagine silence—only to be startled once more: in place of the first birdsongs of the day, there rise the shrieks of vultures.”
Being an artist, I find my inspiration also by artwork depicting the story. In each era, the artists did not shy away from staging David in garments that belongs to their time, and surrounding him with a contemporary scene. I take my cues from them. Here, for example, is a modern painting by Shaggal, depicting David and Bathsheba. Compare it to this excerpt from the book:
“And the one image that keeps coming back to me is our reflection in the glass, where our faces melded into one. My eye, her eye, and around us, the outline of a new, fluid identity. A portrait of our love, rippling there, across the surface of the wine.”
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
At the moment I am working on the third volume in my trilogy, The David Chronicles. It is titled In Search of Redemption, and focusing on the latter part of David’s life, when his children rebels each in his own way. You will witness the story of Amnon raping Tamar, and the revolt of Absalom, so the ‘Search’ in the title is important part.
Here is an excerpt:
“No longer do I hope for redemption. All I have left—when prayers go unanswered—is enjoying simple pleasures. Let me feel the touch, the soothing touch of evening breeze. It passes through, lifting the edge of the curtain, bringing in faint, distant sounds of wine splashing, glasses clinking. Laughter.
In flat, monotonous tones, which are so different from my own, Adoniah gives a toast to himself. He promises his guests that tomorrow, the party will come to its height with a new announcement. Until then, the whole thing must be kept secret. I imagine he is smiling victoriously, and raising his goblet, which used to be mine. All that stands in his way is a fragile, elderly man.
I block his voice, and the cheers of his mother and his guests, who are clapping at the end of each sentence, by mumbling under my breath, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows”—but somehow, the words fail to convince me of my good fortune.
I am curious how splendidly they will celebrate my death.
Pressing the pillow tightly over my head I try not to hear them—all of these strangers, and my son, a stranger too—drowning idle talk with one drink after another, and loitering along the table with bouts of silly laughter.”
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
The classification to genres is only one method available to you to discern the subject of a book. This method can be rigid. I trust that you use it in combination with reading the book description, and taking a peek at the first few pages, which gives you a true taste of the writing style.
I strive to stretch the envelope of what I create. In my literary work I write in different genres, which enriches my thinking: My novel Apart From Love is literary fiction; Rise to Power is historical fiction; Home is poetry; Twisted is dark fantasy; and A Favorite Son is biblical fiction.
In writing all of them, I often break the confines of the particular genre, because life as we know it–and my art, which mirrors it– constantly changes from one genre to the next. One moment is is humorous; the next, it is erotic; then, it might be a tragedy.
In art, I use different mediums, which enriches my designs: I sculpt (in bronze, clay, and paper, draw in charcoal, ink, and pencils, paint in watercolor and oils, and create animations.
I love to be lured outside of my comfort zone, and I hope you do too.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Story-telling is a skill that cannot be taught, it comes from within.
My best advice to develop your writing--besides reading a lot--is this: read your story aloud in front of a live audience. Listen not only to their comments and suggestions, but more importantly--to their breathing pattern while the story is being read. Are they holding their breath at the right moment? Do they burst out laughing, or wipe a tear when you intended? If not, you must go back to the drawing board and adjust your sentences.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Because I design my own covers, there is a unified vision of the story in both words and art. For example my latest book, A Peek at Bathsheba, includes a sighting of Bathsheba at mouth of a cave, located just above the Kidron valley, near Jerusalem. The setting immediately brought to my mind A Woman Bathing in a Stream, painted in 1655 by Rembrandt.
Rembrandt worked mostly with a grays, browns, and blacks, setting objects back by plunging them into this dark tone, and bringing them forward by shining a bright light directly upon them, creating stark contrasts. The resulting image is sculptural in nature, and strikingly dramatic.
Clearly, the composition of my watercolor painting is inspired by his admirable art, shares a similar spirit of intimacy, and maintains a loving respect for the model. Here is my approach, my homage to it, which illuminates the new vision I use for the story.
I strive to maintain a sculptural feel for Bathsheba, but take the freedom to play with a splash of colors, so as to draw contrasts between cool and warm hues. I create a variety of textures, using a loose, spontaneous brushstroke. This I achieve by applying puddles of pigments over Yupo paper, which (unlike traditional watercolor paper) is non-absorbent. I let these puddles drip in some places, and in other places, I lift and shape them into careful designs, using various tools.
The font selected for the title depicts a regal, dynamically slanted, and rather grandiose handwriting style, just the way I imagine David’s penmanship in his private diary.
By contrast to the title, the font selected for the name of the trilogy—The David Chronicles—is a more formal one, and it is presented in capitals. This adheres to the font scheme for the cover of the first volume, Rise to Power.
At the top, the letters are bathed in golden light, which fades gradually towards the bottom. Down there, they are soaked in a blood red color, as befits this dramatic affair of love and war.
A Peek at Bathsheba is one volume out of a trilogy. Therefore I am designing the spines of all three covers to have a matching feel in terms of the image and font scheme. So when you place them on your bookshelf, one spine next to the other, all three volumes will visually belong together. Together they will grace the look of your library.
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
What I do is the opposite of branding, for no better reason than I hate to bore myself by repeating the same message. So if you visit my blog, you will find something new every day: I talk about the process of creativity, what inspired particular passages in my stories, art throughout the ages that illustrates different points of view about the plot, my own sculptures, watercolors, paper engineering projects, and oil paintings and how I developed the visual concept for them, what stories I tell through my art, and thank you’s for the readers and reviewers of my books.
Unlike many authors I love reaching out and engaging with my readers and listeners (as all my books are available in all three editions: ebook, print, and audiobook.)
WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
If I would write it now, that would be the end of it, right? So instead, let me quote from my story ‘A Heartbeat, Reversed’ in my book Home:
“Edna could hear the sound, the maddening sound of celluloid sliding across and over itself; like air sucked in, whistling between the teeth. It made her head reel. Scenes raced through her mind in quick succession. This was no longer a game: She was helpless to stop this mad rush, a rush towards something unknown, towards the beginning.
People came in and out of her life: Men, women, children, all of whom she had long forgotten. They were not the least bit embarrassed about walking in reverse, like circus acrobats on a tightrope. For the most part they managed to do it without bumping against each other or taking a fall.
Like prunes in water, old men lost their wrinkles and gained back their plump skin. They spat out their medicines, and were instantly healed. They promised her love—love for eternity—but soon after, started to backpedal. Middle-aged women became young again, detaching themselves, in the process, from one boyfriend after another until even the first one backed away. Then they found themselves turning into wide-eyed virgins.
Children became smaller. They forgot all their words, cried longer, the pitch of their voice rose higher and higher until finally slapped by a nurse; at which time—guided by an umbilical cord—they disappeared into a void, into their mother’s womb.
The prospect of finding the end of life at the beginning seemed contradictory at first; but then, she figured, it was so much better than finding it at the proper end.”
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Uvi. Amazing artistic work. I hope you sell swags of books.