Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Author's interview: In conversation with Michelle Cohen Corasanti

I can say that "The Almond Tree" was one of the best reads of 2013 for me. You can read my review HERE. It's such a poignant and inspirational book! 

Here, I'm in conversation with "Michelle Cohen Corasanti" author of The Almond Tree.

First of all, a very warm welcome to my blog.

Thank you so much.

I must congratulate you for such a vibrant debut in the writing world! Your book has been received wholeheartedly in India. How does it feel?

Amazing. I have been so fortunate to meet so many great people in India through my book.

Please share something about you with your fans (Including me!)

I had the story inside me for over a decade. It took that long for me to be ready to tell this story.It’s very personal. Much of my novel is based on first hand experiences that I had during the seven years I lived in Israel as well as things I learned during the almost decade in which I studied Middle Eastern studies in college.

The story of your book is so real, poignant, and kinda eye-opener. How did you come up with this idea?

I got the seed for the story when I was a student at Harvard and saw a Palestinian and an Israeli working together. During the seven years that I lived in Israel, I witnessed so much unnecessary suffering and darkness. I saw a glimmer of hope at Harvard. I wanted to focus on what could be and not just show what was.

There are several numerical and scientific details in the book. I was wondering, being a Masters in Arts, how did to manage it so well?

I used to speak Arabic very well. I helped translate for the Palestinian post-doc I met at Harvard his lectures from Arabic to English. My book isn’t based on his research, but I learned about the field through him. For my book, I researched what discoveries were expected over the next twenty years and that’s where I got the idea for what my protagonist discovers.

I actually know nothing about math and science so I had some students do the equations. There are actually 3 problems that are solved incorrectly. The Italian editor discovered them when he was translating the book.

Would you like to share something about your next project? I’m really curious!

I’m just finishing my next book. I’ve written the love story between Ahmed and Nora from Nora’s point of view. For Ahmed, his relationship with Nora was only a section of his book, but for Nora, it’s her whole book.

Wow, that would be interesting! Where do you get your inspiration from? Do follow any strict writing schedule?

The Kite Runner inspired me. I tend to write and research every spare second I have. I don’t practice law anymore so other than family obligations, I have a lot of spare time.

Do you believe that it’s difficult to find faults in your own writings?

No, I’m my harshest critic.

Any words of encouragement for aspiring writers who crave and struggle to get into the ‘published author world’?

The Almond Tree took seven years to write. It could have taken twenty. I wasn’t going to give up. Writing is about rewriting so never get discouraged and quit. I found taking writing classes to be very helpful and also reading like a writer.

Writing a book is a huge task but getting a suitable publisher is the toughest nut to crack. What’s your take?

When I wrote The Almond Tree, I looked for a publisher who published books on my subject. I think that was a mistake for me. Just like The Kite Runner isn’t only for people interested in Afghanistan, The Almond Tree isn’t for people just interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I think it’s best to try and get a top publisher and work your way down. As I wasn’t a writer, I was unfamiliar with the publishing world. Distribution, connections and promotional budgets are very important.

Your favourite book – Author – Genre?

I love Khaled Hosseini’s books and the type of genre he writes. I would say his stories straddle a number of different genres.

What’s your idea about blogging?

I wish I had the time to blog. I actually started writing my new book as a blog, but then it kept flowing. I realized before I began to blog it in sections, that it could be a book.

It's an absolute pleasure to have you here! Thanks for your precious time. I wish you a wonderful and successful New Year!

You can interact with the author on Twitter

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