Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Interview with author Angela Himsel

A River Could Be a Tree

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?

I had been writing and publishing essays based in part on growing up in a restrictive, fundamentalist Christian sect in rural Indiana. Then, I felt that the bigger story was something that couldn’t be reduced to 800 words with a few laughs. There were darker things in the church that I alluded to but didn’t fully explore and I wanted to put the whole story out there, with the underlying message that change and transformation is possible.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?

A River Could Be a Tree is on one hand about my individual quest for truth, for God, for salvation, but it is also about the quintessential human urge to discover: Who am I and what do I believe? It’s also a very American story of reinvention and of possibility but with the added bonus of managing to hold on to my family and my past while forging ahead in my chosen future. The targeted reader is Jewish, Christian, American and anyone who questions what he or she has been taught, and dreams of another way of life.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?

I hope readers’ takeaway will be that the bonds of family and of the past are strong, but they don’t necessarily have to inhibit you. Rather, they can nurture you as you move toward your own destiny.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?

Write, read, repeat. And don’t take anything – rejection, criticism, advice from friends to consider becoming a salesperson - personally. Not that there’s anything wrong with becoming a salesperson.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?

People are clearly reading more electronically, and given the many other distractions, reading less than before. However, I believe reading is unlike any other entertainment. It is a personal relationship and experience between the individual and the author’s work.

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?

I struggled with the most rudimentary thing: the beginning. Where to start the story? Indiana? New York City? Israel? Given that I didn’t come from a conventional Christian background, readers needed to know upfront what my own peculiar sect believed and practiced before they could understand the many choices I made later. And the only way to do that was to start from way, way back in history when Catholics and Protestants were having at it. While this history was fascinating to me, I worried it would not be so much to others. I was right. So I reduced all of my research on the Reformation, immigration to the United States, the rise of radio evangelists, to a few paragraphs. Which brings me to another thing challenging about writing this book: parting with my deeply loved research. I am still sad about that.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?

As a child choosing books from the bookmobile, I preferred stories that would transport me, geographically or emotionally or both, to another world, and make me care, make me think, make me laugh, teach me something I didn’t know. But not manipulate me. I hope, and believe, that A River Could Be a Tree will likewise take you beyond yourself and introduce you intimately to people who, while different, are also relatable. And when you finish the book, you will feel it was time well spent. 

Angela Himsel is a freelance writer in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Jewish Week, the Forward and Lilith, and she received an American Jewish Press Association Award for her column “Angetevka” on Angela holds a BA from Indiana University, which included two years at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and an MFA from The City College of New York. For more info, please see:

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.”

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