Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Interview With Renowned Israeli Journalist & Best-Selling Novelist Sarit Yisha-Levi



1.      Why did you write this book? It's an interesting question. I've never asked myself why I write a book. I guess I write because I have a story to tell, and when I tell it I hope it's interesting enough so that as many people as possible will read it, enjoy it and enter the world I'm creating, the world of my heroes. 


2.      What is it about and who is it really for? The book tells the story of three generations of women living in different time periods: a young woman whose husband leaves her in a cafe in Paris, and then her life changes beyond recognition; an estranged mother who disappears every day for many hours and no one knows where she goes; and a mysterious woman who abandons her baby at the door of a monastery in Jerusalem on a frozen snowy night after she gives birth. These are the three characters who are the keys to the story. Readers will travel to Jerusalem during the British Mandate period, to Tel Aviv in the seventies, to the alleys of the Latin Quarter in Paris and to a picturesque town in England. It is precisely there in the distant town in England that the women find themselves and confront their pasts. It is only then, after they discover the secret of their lives and connect to the same thread that binds them together with love, hate, heartbreak, blood and tears, do they find themselves. 


3.      What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book? I hope that the readers will experience the characters as I did, enter their world as I did. These are female characters who are fragile but at the same time strong and powerful. I hope that through the story the reader will understand that life is never as simple as it seems, and that human beings are complex beings. Behind their motives and behavior there is always a reason and there are always different perspectives. 


4.      How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? It always happens during the writing, suddenly like some sign illuminated by neon lights, the name appears to me. In the case of "The Woman Beyond The Sea" it was obvious that the woman across the sea in my book is a key character and the object of longing and yearning. Regarding the book cover, I received several suggestions, and the one I chose seemed to me to be the most attractive and appropriate of them all. 


5.      What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? I don't feel comfortable advising or sharing words of wisdom to my fellow writers. I only know about myself, and I can say that I never speed up the story. I don't force myself to sit in front of the computer for eight hours every day or force myself to write. I have no work discipline. I write when I feel in my body that I have to get the story out of me. All the big dramas, all the big events in the book happened while writing and not by planning in advance. 


6.      What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? The most prominent trend is that many people prefer to read books digitally on an iPad, a cell phone or on a computer.

Young people, unfortunately, read less than in the past. They have no patience for long stories. They want the story fast, short, concise and accessible.

Regarding novels in the style I write, I think that since Margaret Mitchell and "Gone with the Wind,” people like to read historical novels with bigger-than-life heroes and at the same time they also like heroes they can identify with. And I sincerely believe that love stories will be told forever. Regarding the book publishers, even if no more books are printed on paper, the role of the book publisher is not over. The publisher will always have to choose the best manuscript from among the thousands they receive, edit the manuscript and turn it into a book, and of course help ensure that as many readers as possible are exposed to it.  

7.      Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? I believe that I write from my life. Even if my books are not autobiographical, they definitely contain events, experiences, pains, joys, successes and failures that I have experienced in my life. My characters, even if they are completely different from me, have something of me, in their actions, in their thoughts, in their behavior. Often, when I read my characters, I am amazed how a character of a man, for example, who is completely different from me in every sense, speaks from within me. I write myself in all kinds of versions and incarnations and characters that sometimes live in periods and times before my birth.


8.      How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? I am very connected to history. My books will always combine a story with historical events that happened in the years in which the story takes place. I don't know how to characterize my writing in words, I guess I write novels that are a combination of a family saga, a love story, and the story of a place.

I don't want to hang myself in high spirits, but I will quote from reviews written about the book "The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem", where they compared the book to "A Tale of Love and Darkness" by the Israeli author Amos Oz. I think that I am more influenced in my writing by writers such as the Italian author Elsa Morante, who wrote the masterful book "A Novel: History,” the British writer Victoria Hislop, by Gabriel García Marquez who wrote "A Thousand Years of Solitude", by the American writer Virginia Woolf with "A Room of Her Own" and by the Israeli writer Meir Shalev.  

9.      What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book? The book "The Woman Beyond the Sea" was very challenging for me because I opened a bleeding wound inside me. Like Lily, one of the heroines of the book, I also lost a child. It's a subject I've never written about or talked a lot about. I had to take a deep breath before diving into the deepest pain that exists in human race. 


10.  If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours? I think I have written a touching book about the delicate relationships between mothers and daughters, the terrible pain of losing a child, the alienation that comes from abandonment and the love that heals all wounds. Only forgiveness brings love. The three wonderful heroines of my book: Elia, Lily and Rachel, gain love only after they learn to forgive and accept each other.  

About The Author: Sarit Yishai-Levi is a renowned Israeli journalist and author. In 2016 she published her first novel, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem. It immediately became a bestseller and garnered critical acclaim. The book has sold hundreds of thousands of copies in Israel, was translated into 17 languages, and was adapted into a TV series that won the Israeli TV award for best drama series, and became a Netflix hit. It also won the Publishers Association’s Gold, Platinum, and Diamond prizes; the Steimatzky Prize for bestselling book of the year in Israel; and the WIZO France Prize for best book translated into French. Yishai-Levi’s second novel, The Woman Beyond the Sea, was published in 2019. It won the Publishers Association’s Gold and Platinum prizes and has already been translated into several languages. Yishai-Levi was born in Jerusalem to a Sephardic family that has lived in the city for eight generations. She’s been living with her family in Tel Aviv since 1970. For more information, please consult:  

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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  

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