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Uvi Poznansky
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Author Interview of the Month > Indie Author Interview with Uvi Poznansky

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message 1: by Sylvia (last edited Sep 10, 2012 10:48PM) (new)

Sylvia  | 13086 comments Mod
Okay members, this is our 3rd Indie Author Interview for September and it's with Uvi Poznansky, author of Apart From Love by Uvi Poznansky Home by Uvi Poznansky . This is our 21st Author Interview and it is conducted by one of our moderators. Please read this interview and we hope you will be able to pick up lessons about her experience. If there are any questions you would like to ask Uvi Poznansky please post any comments you wish. Thank you!!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
I began telling stories and composing poems before I learned to write. When I was a little girl, my father, a published author and poet in Israel, would often invite me to ‘help’ him rhyme his lines. Later when I was in grade school, the principal called my parents for a meeting. He was worried because a story I wrote described the emotions of the character in a way that was ‘alarmingly vivid.’ When I moved to a new school, he wrote a letter to the principal, telling him that this student is destined to become a writer.

How long does it take you to write a book? What is your work schedule like when you're writing? 
It took me an entire year to write Apart From Love, which is an amazing feat! I wrote continuously and with great gusto, not making any distinctions between writing and rewriting, putting in 12-hours of work, enjoying every minute of it!

What do you think makes a great story?
In my mind, conflict is the engine of the story. So if the characters are fully fleshed out, and each of them has a different need that conflicts with the other characters, all that remains for me to do is listen to the way they chatter back and forth in my head, and be ready to write it down before I lose them. So for an entire year, I have been chasing my characters with a pen.

How do you balance family and writing?
This is a question I constantly struggle with, because I feel that being consumed by writing, and by creating art, I am spending energy inside my mind, which could have been given to my family. I try to balance my family life by putting all of me into everything I do. For example, take a look at these projects, which I did for my loved one, who enjoys playing chess: 

A Battlefield in Black and White
And Now for Something Completely Different:

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? 
I do extensive research on every aspect of the story, from choosing the locale for the scenes, studying the effects of daylight and night illumination on them. 

Here is a great example of the research I do: A year ago I introduced a white piano into my story Apart From Love. The mere presence of this instrument in Ben’s apartment suggested a variety of scenes, such as the musical duet in chapter 18. Now, how would you go about writing a duet, when your knowledge about playing the piano is nothing but a faint memory from the age of six? I found several ways of learning the intricate details. First, I watched numerous videos, showing  an old couple married 62 years playing impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic. Then I read numerous articles, giving step-by-step instructions about singing duets, which taught me that eye contact and exchanging nods between the two players is at least as important as striking the right notes. Next, I selected a piece of music, The Entertainer, and learned more than you ever wanted to know about every note of it, and how it should be played. I did it, among many other ways, by watching instructional videos like this one. Finally I had to fold in the difference in both musical education and temperament between Ben and Anita. 

So here is an excerpt from the way it plays out in the end:

“And before this phrase fades out Anita straightens her back, and places her hand on the keys. Then, to my astonishment, she plays the next phrase of music, this time with raw, intense force, which I never knew existed in her, bringing it to the verge of destruction, making it explode all around me. And I, in turn, explode with the following one, because how can I let her outdo me? I am, after all, The Entertainer... 
Here I come! Here I drum! No more woes. Let me close! Let me in, hold me tight! Don’t resist me, do not fight—
At this point Anita kicks the bench back, and I tip it over behind us. She sways her hips to the beat, and I tap the floor. And we find ourselves bouncing there, almost dancing in place, playing the piano side by side: she on the high notes, I—on the low...
Sometimes I find myself having to take my hand away, so she can play the same key immediately after me. On some notes, my right hand crosses her left hand, in an exchange that is wild and fiery—like no duet I have ever seen, or listened to! One way or another it blends, it mixes into a sound, which you might call a crude, unruly, unrestrained racket. But to the ears of a madman, it can be called music.”

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? 
At first I decided to model Anita, the heroine of Apart From Love, as the diametric opposite-of-me. By which I mean a lot more that just her use of language (talking in sentences laden with 'like' and the dreaded double-negatives.) Anita, I decided, would be a bold and spontaneous girl, anything but repressed. Unlike the way I was brought up, she would be promiscuous. Her voice would be shockingly direct: 

“In my defense I have this to say: When men notice me, when the lusty glint appears in their eyes, which betrays how, in their heads, they’re stripping me naked—it’s me they accuse of being indecent. 
Problem is, men notice me all the time.”

To my surprise, Anita started to invade my mind! She ended up taking center-stage in the story, not only because of how attractive she is, but most of all, because she serves as a strong contrast, both to Ben and to Lenny. She is a strong female protagonist trying to survive the complexities of this strange family.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? 
I have written a poetry book (now out of print), two children books, for which I also did the animation, which you can see on my author page on Goodreads and now, a novel titled Apart From Love. This 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. 

In addition I have written numerous short stories and poems, some of which I post, from time to time, on my blog. Now, asking which is my favorite is like asking which one of my children I prefer... Each one has a special place in my heart.

Are your characters based on anyone you know?
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. Stunned, Ben watches his father trying to revive his frail grandma. Later, Ben attempts the same technique of mouth-to-mouth recessitation, on the fish tilting upside down, dying in his new aquarium.

I set the story aside, thinking I was done with it. But the character of the boy, Ben, wouldn’t go away. He started chatting incessantly in my head, keeping me awake at night. So I asked myself, what if I ‘aged’ him by fifteen years? Would he still admire his father for ‘blowing life’ into the old woman--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 after a long absence, 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? 

Just asking these questions had an immediate affect on Ben: as if a page has turned, he grew up into his new age—but then, somehow, he forgot to mature... So the process of writing became, for me, simply listening to him, and to Anita, and trying, as fast as I could, to capture their thoughts. They chatted with such intensity! I wish I could record everything they said. After a full day of writing nonstop, just before my eyes closed, I would hear Ben whisper something in my ear, and promise myself I would put it on paper next morning—only to find the phrase gone by the time I woke up.

So, to slow down the chatter I would throw some obstacle in my characters’ way, and let them ponder how to find their way around it. This, I found, was such a fun method of developing the story, and it allowed the plot to twist and turn in unexpected ways.

Do you have a favourite place you love to write?
When I start writing I jot little notes to myself where ever inspiration strikes. But as I go deeper into the writing process, I find myself at home, with my laptop, and the hours fly by. I start early morning, and after what seems like a minute, I realize it’s already time for dinner!

message 2: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia  | 13086 comments Mod
How hard is it to get published?
In today’s literary market, there is a split between traditional publishing and indie publishing. Each one has its advantages and challenges.

Being an independent publisher, I took upon myself nearly all aspects of publishing, except for the editing, which was done by me reading the book, chapter by chapter as it came along, in front of an audience of fellow writers, and listening to their feedback. 

So I did the interior design of the paperback edition of Apart From Love, meaning the font size and family of the text, the fancy first letter in each chapter, how the title and author name are laid out on page, and the indentation of the first paragraph as opposed to other paragraphs. All this makes for a fluent reading, even if you do not notice the details of the interior design. 

Most notably, I did the cover image and cover design of Apart From Love. You are invited to read about the art, which is based on my paintings, and the design process on my blog, here and here: My book cover is currently in third place (out of 90 books) on Goodreads listopia

Also, I did the conversion to ebook by myself, making sure that all the necessary functionality is implemented, such as jumping from chapter-to-chapter, having a dynamic Table-of-Content, and so on. Having had a career as a software engineer helped in learning the ropes here. Then I and loaded the books to Amazon, Barnes&Noble and iTunes. Having gone through all this meticulous work, I was so happy for this footnote in a review of the book on Amazon, written by Oleg Medvedkov, saying this:

"One more thing of note - this is by far the BEST formatted and arranged Kindle book I've ever seen. If you've seen better or even approaching this level of quality, do let me know, I'd like to see it for myself." 

Finally, I drive the promotion effort of the book all by myself, which means interacting extensively with fans and readers through all channels of social media. Here on Goodreads I have a thriving Q&A Group, and invite you to join:

What do your family and friends think about your books?
While my family has not read Apart From Love, several of my friends did. One of them, Sharon, posted this review on Amazon:

“Uvi Poznansky is a Renaissance woman - poet, fiction writer, sculptress, architect, software engineer. Her first novel APART FROM LOVE reflects her many talents. It is full of unique visual imagery; some of the scenes read like exquisitely dressed stage sets. The cover art is also hers. Metaphors of art and music abound and support the novel's themes of passion, identity, and fractured family relationships.

Other reviewers have commented on the novel's plot; I won't reiterate those remarks. No "spoilers" from me! For this reader the most remarkable aspect of APART FROM LOVE is Poznansky's manipulation of the complicated narrative strategy in which three characters - Ben, his father Lenny, and Anita (Lenny's young second wife) - share the telling of the story. Ben and Anita are the primary narrators, and later we learn that Lenny is the "author" who secretly is piecing together their tape recorded narratives. He thinks of himself as a "keeper of secrets," yet it is the secrets of Ben and Anita that are revealed to him. Since the narratives are fractured and then, we suppose, "translated" by Lenny, the reader is left in a kind of suspense about what really happens. The lack of coherence created by the audiotapes - some of which have been written over multiple times - creates a fascinating, puzzle-like narrative in which the philosophical question of the nature of truth and reality is spun out for the reader. Each of the narrators has a distinctive voice; others have commented on the fact that Anita is uneducated and her language is unsophisticated and slightly crude. Personally, I found her refreshing - and perhaps the most honest of the three tellers of this ironic and painful "love" story.

The novel has some comic relief - again ironic - in the characters of Aunt Hadassa and her sisters who function like a Greek chorus, or Shakespearean "weird sisters," or the Fates, appearing generally at Anita's side at dramatic moments. The novel also has an appended chapter of "Editorial Notes" written by Lenny's lawyer, Mr. Bliss. These notes - an attempt to explain his editing of the scattered materials that make up the story - remind this reader of the attempts of Emily Bronte's narrator Lockwood to understand the passions of Heathcliff and Catherine in WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Psychologically, he is not up to the job, but even as we know this, we learn that in a way he stands for the reader, someone whose passions cannot hope to match those of the main actors in the drama. Uvi Poznansky has done this here as well. See for yourself; read APART FROM LOVE.”

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I am an artist, poet and writer; I invite you to visit my website, which is organized like an art gallery, with bronze and ceramic sculptures, paper sculptures, oil paintings, watercolor paintings, poems and short stories: 

Also, stop by my blog, which is organized like a diary where I post almost daily, discussing anything that goes through my mind that morning--be it a poem, a story, a paper engineering project, a birthday cake designed as a chess board, advice on publishing and writing, and the latest news and reviews of Apart From Love:

Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they? 
In any task you undertake, you often hear the advice: start at the beginning, continue down the middle, and finish at the end. Writing is no different. Problem is, as you advance diligently down that path, you may find--to your surprise--that you are getting better, more proficient at your craft. Suddenly the opening of this chapter sounds so much catchier than the previous one; and the ending more powerful.

Which requires constant re-evaluation and reworking of previous chapters. So in my opinion, the process of writing is Cyclical. By the time I completed the last chapter of Apart From Love, I knew I had to discard--or at least, rewrite and restructure--the first chapter.

Here is another fun method of driving the story forward: about halfway through writing the plot of Apart From Love, I left the characters where they were, and turned to write an Epilogue, in which the ‘stage set’ for the last scene is described in detail:

“The four poster bed has been removed, as was the piano. The oval, standalone mirror in the bedroom lies on the floor, in pieces. Glass shards are still strewn all the way back to the other corner. The tape recorder seems to move around the place. Sometimes it can be found under the desk, in the balcony. Other times, it appears next to Beethoven’s bust.”

At this point, I had no idea yet how the mirror would end up being shattered, or how the massive piano would disappear. But now, I had a stage set for the last scenes, and a glimpse of the arc this story was about to take. I went back to my characters, discovering that they started guessing their way, at times stumbling, at times aiming straight, right towards that last scene.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 
I wanted to become an architect, because that would allow me to bring together my creative, artistic side and the more research-based, engineering side of my nature. 

In later years, I earned my Master of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY, and my Master in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.

What are your favourite books and which authors inspire you?
Surprisingly, I find poetry to be the greatest influence on my writing: 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. 

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’. 

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. 

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.

For an aspiring writer what do you feel are certain do's and don’ts for getting their material published?
I have ranted in the past about indie authors not taking the effort to edit their work, which in my opinion is a slight to the readers. In my opinion, the single most important thing for indie authors is not to rush it, make sure your work is well-edited, which shows you respect it and care for your readers. 

What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a book that will include poems by my father, who passed away at the age of ninety-four, as well as my own poems and stories inspired by his life. The working title is A Sentence, Unfinished. Here is a poem I wrote; it will be on the opening page of the book:

Sucked in by a force, I'm flying through a tunnel
The tunnel of memory that leads me back home
The past blurs my present, so my vision is double
Walls of my childhood cave into a dome

From here I can see that home, tilting
And falling from place, all the lamps are aflame
My father's empty chair is slowly ascending
Tipped by the light, outlining its frame

To see the painting that inspired this poem, and which I am considering for the image on the front cover of this upcoming book, take a peek here: 

My Childhood Home 

message 3: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia  | 13086 comments Mod
Thank you Uvi for taking the time out to do this interview with us...I for one am looking forward to reading your book :D

message 4: by Marni (last edited Sep 11, 2012 03:29AM) (new)

Marni (wonderwmn999) | 3578 comments A wealth of information for aspiring writers. Thank you Uvi.

message 5: by Julie (new)

Julie Reece This was really interesting and helpful! Thanks so much for the wonderful interview :)

message 6: by Uvi (new)

Uvi Poznansky | 19 comments Heinzypop wrote: "Thank you Uvi for taking the time out to do this interview with us...I for one am looking forward to reading your book :D"

It was truly my pleasure, and thank you so much for the opportunity!

message 7: by Uvi (new)

Uvi Poznansky | 19 comments Marni wrote: "A wealth of information for aspiring writers. Thank you Uvi."

Loved doing it! Thank you Marni.

message 8: by Uvi (new)

Uvi Poznansky | 19 comments Julie wrote: "This was really interesting and helpful! Thanks so much for the wonderful interview :)"

Bless you Julie!

message 9: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Judice (stephaniejudice) Lovely excerpts, Uvi. Thank you for a wonderful interview. :)

message 10: by Uvi (new)

Uvi Poznansky | 19 comments Stephanie wrote: "Lovely excerpts, Uvi. Thank you for a wonderful interview. :)"

Thank you Stephanie!
btw I have to update the name of my upcoming book. Instead of 'A Sentence, Unfinished' (which is the title of one of the stories in it) the book will be titled Home. I have a launch event for this book, posting a bit of the 'back story' behind the writing. To join the celebration simply visit my blog and click at the top right: It's a party!

message 11: by Astrid (new)

Astrid Yrigollen I think it is wonderful to see all the different places where inspiration springs from and when fond personal memories( or favorite places) can be woven in to the stories that writers create.

message 12: by Uvi (new)

Uvi Poznansky | 19 comments Astrid wrote: "I think it is wonderful to see all the different places where inspiration springs from and when fond personal memories( or favorite places) can be woven in to the stories that writers create.

Thank you so much, Astrid!

message 13: by Tina (new)

Tina (frogluv3r) | 262 comments I enjoyed the interview. The poem is very touching!

message 14: by Uvi (new)

Uvi Poznansky | 19 comments Tina wrote: "I enjoyed the interview. The poem is very touching!"

Thank you so much, Tina!

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