Hello, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself as well as Birth of An Assassin?
What made you write about the Soviet, Post-War time period?
Relatives told me of their parents living in ‘The Pale’ (a barren strip of land where the Jewish population was forced to live – the reality of Fiddler on the Roof). They escaped the czarist pogroms of the late 19th century. Some came to England, others to the US and Canada.
I looked into Jewish history in Russia and came up with an idea for a story, but it didn’t fit the time of the White Russians, so I trawled through the country's history until coming to the post-war period. Without getting too philosophical here, Jez (the hero) represents the whole of the Jewish population while Otto (the villain) is those people whose prejudice is all-consuming. Apart from it making a fit, I also took away the protagonists religion to demonstrate that it isn’t only about beliefs.
Did you find difficult to write about this period?
Researching the Soviet Union in these times was challenging on occasion. This was a part of their history when everything was hushed up or swept under the carpet; I think clandestine is the word that fits. Sometimes I couldn't find answers, which made me all the more determined to get them. I could spend a couple of days of research to achieve a single paragraph.
Was there a particular reason you chose to write about a Jewish Character?
Yes, sorry to repeat myself, but as I said earlier I have relatives who escaped Czarism at the end of the 19th century. I wanted to show how people's lives can be transformed by single acts of prejudice. I chose a Jewish protagonist, but he could as easily have been Afro American or an English surf or a whole host of other peoples, that list is infinite.
Do you have a specific writing process and if so what is it?
I go for a fast pace, no long fancy words that a reader might have to scratch their heads in wonder at and no churning out of long, long sentences to show everyone that I know what I'm talking about. Say what you want and keep it concise. I begin with a sketchy beginning, middle and ending. I add bones and put flesh on it as I go. I don't get lost because I always have a waypoint I'm heading towards.
What made you go back to school and get your degree in Mathematics and Computing?
I helped my daughter with her maths homework: she was the only kid in class who got zero for it. My thoughts were to get to a point before her so I could help rather than hinder. I wasn't particularly stretched with the initial stuff and got carried away.
Are there any books we can expect in the future from you?
Yes, the follow-up to Birth of an Assassin is with the copy editor now. I should have it back and be finished by mid-May, so hopefully it will be available soon after that. This book is called The Turkish Connection and, yes, it is set in Turkey.
Thank you for answering my questions.