Monday, 18 June 2012

Uvi Poznansky Interview

Uvi earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel, and practiced with an innovative Architectural firm. She received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. There, she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. During the years she spent in advancing her career first as an architect, and later as a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant (with an emphasis on user interface for medical instruments devices) she wrote and painted constantly. Her versatile body of work can be seen online at Uviart . It includes poetry in English and Hebrew, short stories, bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolour paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, and mixed media. Uvi has published a poetry book and two children books, Jess and Wiggle and Now I Am Paper. Apart From Love is her debut novel.

Welcome Uvi, thanks for talking to us today and letting us have a little insight into you and your books.

Q: Tell us about your recent novel, Apart From Love
My novel, Apart from Love, is an intimate peek into the life of a uniquely strange family: Natasha, the accomplished pianist, has been stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Her ex-husband Lenny has never told their son Ben, who left home ten years ago, about her situation. At the same time Lenny has been carrying on a love affair with a young redhead, who bears a striking physical resemblance to his wife, but unlike her, is uneducated, direct and unrefined. This is how things stand at this moment, the moment of Ben’s return to his childhood home, and to a contentious relationship with his father.  And so he finds himself standing here, on the threshold of where he grew up, feeling utterly awkward. He knocks, and a stranger opens the door. The first thing that comes to mind: what is she doing here? The second thing: she is young, much too young for his father. The third: her hair. Red.

Q: What’s your genre and why did you choose it?
I write contemporary fiction, because I like rooting the characters in the here and now in which I live, which allows the descriptions to become all the more detailed, real and vivid. I appreciate the notion that contemporary fiction builds on the shoulders of the fiction giants of previous eras.

Q: What’s the biggest obstacle you faced with your writing journey?
The biggest obstacle is keeping up with my characters. Once they spring to life in my mind and start talking, I put down what they are dictating to me. Problem is that sometimes they become too fast. Just before I go to sleep, Ben might say something truly brilliant, and I promise myself to record it first thing in the morning--only to find myself grasping at the words when the time comes. So I find myself chasing my characters with a pen during my waking hours.

Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
Over a year ago I wrote a short story about a twelve years old boy coming face to face, for the first time in his life, with the sad spectacle of death in the family. The title of the story is Only An Empty Dress. In it, Ben watches his father  trying to revive his frail grandma, and later he attempts the same technique on the fish tilting upside down in his new aquarium.
 “I cannot allow myself to weep. No, not now. So I wipe the corner of my eye. Now if you watch closely, right here, you can see that the tail is still crinkling. I gasp, and blow again. I blow and blow, and with a last-gasp effort I go on blowing until all is lost, until I don’t care anymore, I mean it, I don’t care but the tears, the tears come, they are starting to flow, and there is nothing, nothing more I can do—”
I set the story aside, thinking I was done with it. But the character of the boy, Ben, came back to me and started chatting, chatting, chatting in my head. It became the seed of my just-published novel Apart from Love
In writing it I asked myself, what if I ‘aged’ him by fifteen years? Where would he be then? Would he still admire his father as a hero, or will he be disillusioned at that point? What secrets would come to light in the life of this family? How would it feel for Ben to come back to his childhood home, and have his memories play tricks on him? What if I introduce a girl, Anita, a redhead who looks as beautiful as his mother used to be, but is extremely different from her in all other respects? And what if this girl were married to his father? What if the father were an author, attempting to capture the thoughts, the voices of Ben and Anita, in order to write his book? 

Q: Who or what are your influences?
Surprisingly, I find poetry to be the greatest influence on my writing, perhaps because my father was a poet, and inspired me to compose poems from an early age, even before I learned to write. I appreciate the nuances, the overloading of words, and the musical rhythms used in the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, the sonnets by Shakespeare, and the lyrical descriptions of Virginia Wolfe, to name but a few.
Finally, here is the twist: I tend to paint scenes and characters with words, so my writing cannot be separated from my art. I am an artist/writer, registering how we express emotions through gestures, in my sculptures and my writing alike. Thus you can say that my writing is informed, to a great degree, by great artists, from michelangelo and Rodin.

Q: Are you self-published, legacy or a combination?
I am self-published. My work is well edited and a fluent read. The cover design is based on my own oil painting, which you can find here . 

Q: What was the hardest part of your publishing journey?
Simply learning the ins-and-outs of the conversion process of the various ebook editions (to iPad, Nook and Kindle.) I have a masters degree in Computer Science, which helped me make sense of the process, so that my ebook editions have all the necessary functionality (cover image, table-of-content, and jumping from one chapter to the next.)

Q: How many books have you published so far?
In addition to my novel, Apart from Love, I have published three books: one is a poetry book, two are children books.

Q: What’s the best bit of advice you received when starting out?
A story must be read aloud in front of listeners. That's how you can tell you've captured their imagination.

Q: What advice would you offer to the future Debut Authors out there?
Put everything you have, everything you have experienced and learned into your craft, and then, let your imagination take flight!

Q: What’s next for you? Any projects in the pipeline for us to look forward to?
A number of ideas are percolating in my mind: One is completing the memoir I've started several years back. This is a difficult project because it makes you look in the mirror. Another is writing a new novel, which like this novel is also based on a character from one of my short stories. Yet a third idea is to create an art book which will feature my poems with beautifully photographed images of my bronze sculptures. You can read a verse of a such a poem, and see its associated piece of art right here.  

Q: Any favourite Author that you are a fan of and would recommend?
I adore Oscar Wilde, in particular The Picture of Dorian Gray. Also, Playwrights have a great impact on my writing., for example The Price by Arthur Miller, because they teach me to listen to dialog, and identify emotions and motives through the speech patterns of the characters. I love American authors as well as authors from around the world, for example The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, and  Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, for their expressive use of ‘stream of consciousness’.

Q: Give us one of your favourite quotes…
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Oscar Wilde

Q: And finally tell us something random about yourself to make us chuckle.
I throw everything I have into every little thing I do, be it baking, throwing a party, or crafting a novel. You can find the animation I created for one of my children books. It is on my author blog here.
Thanks Uvi, it's been lovely having you here. All the best for you, Apart From Love and all your work.

You can find Uvi and her novel Apart From Love, as well as her art and other work, with the following links.

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