Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Discussions with a Muse

“She never married, you know.”
The room was quiet, darker than usual, the only light coming from the glow of the screen. I stopped writing and squinted into the darkness.
“Who?” I asked.
S...  You remember S. Your first love?”
I remembered. Some things you can’t forget.
“Are we using initials now?”
“You never know who’s listening,” she answered.
“And I thought I was paranoid.”
I could feel her smiling, even though I couldn’t see her.
“How do you know she never got married?”
“I have my ways.” She paused... one of those dramatic little pauses that she was so fond of. “No children, either.”
“And you are telling me this because...” I looked back into the screen, trying to remember what it was I was writing.
“I thought you should know. You never know how far your influence may reach.”
“My influence!” I stared incredulously into the darkness, but it was lost on her. “What do I have to do with her not being married? These things happen.”
I found her tone a little suspicious.
“Can I go back to my writing, now?”
“Another book?”
I heard her sigh. And then silence. I reached for the mouse, hoping she had left.
M never got married either.”
I slumped back into my chair and pushed the mouse away.
“You are not going to let it be, are you.”
“Should I?”
I sighed. The room was stuffy, despite the darkness. I needed to open a window. I couldn’t remember if there was one.
“No children either.”
“Coincidence,” I countered.
“So you say.”
“Look, I have to get this done,” I said, leaning forward, the chair squeaking.
“Before you lose your inspiration?” She had me there. “Do you remember the day you made A cry? Just before she left to go live... where was it?”
“The other side of the world.” I gave up and lowered the lid of the laptop until it snapped shut. Now the room was totally enveloped in darkness. “No, don’t tell me. She never got married either.”
“You’re getting it now.” Even I, with my well-developed sense of denial, could not but feel that this was the beginning of a pattern. “She was a sweet girl,” she said. “She must have been the sweetest of your girlfriends.”
“How would you know? You weren’t there.”
“I’ve been watching the reruns.”
I shook my head and looked down at the computer, which had given in to her ramblings. Yes, she had been a sweet girl, and yes, it had been criminal of me to even think I could be a proper boyfriend at the time. Or maybe I didn’t think, but simply let things sweep me wherever they would go. No, I couldn’t let her trick me into believing that my influence could stretch that far. I raised the lid and tried to hide behind it, waiting as the computer whirred slowly back to life. It was reassuring to hear something other than our own voices.
“No one is ever going to read this,” I said, as the letters began dancing across the screen.
“Hey, that’s my line.”
“In the book. That’s my line in the book.” she protested.
“What does the book have to do with now?”
“The book has everything to do with now. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the book,” she said.
“I think you have things mixed up.”
“Do I?”
And with that, she was gone, as suddenly as she had appeared.

I wonder if confusion breeds good writing. Was that the reason why it took me so long to write a blog and a book? There had not been enough confusion in my life?

I have been trying to make some sense out of life, ever since I read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams at the tender age of 14. I practiced on my friends, interpreting their dreams, which added to their confusion, but alleviated mine. I discovered that by remaining cold and analytical, I could somehow overcome the bouts of depression which continually swept over me at this age. I decided to adopt the strict Stoic philosophy of controlling one’s emotions. I didn’t realize, at the time, that in order to eradicate the destructive emotions, the positive ones had to go as well. And then one day... A cried...  yearning for the colours that she sensed were in me - where all she got were the multitude of greys.

How can we know how much we influence others? So much else is involved. A hundred things could have convinced S and M and A not to get married, none of them connected to me. True, A told me that last evening, tears streaming down her cheeks, that she should have chosen my best friend instead. One might say that this error in judgement may have prevented her from trusting her instinct in any future, possibly long term relationship. But we were so young then. So many years have passed by since.

“Why should I feel guilty?” I said out loud, needing to be heard. “It’s not as if I couldn't commit myself. I've been married for over 30 years!”
“And you only had to change country, language, religion and culture first.”
“I thought you had left,” I said.
“I forgot the punch line.”
The room looked the same when she was there, and when she wasn't. I wondered how that could be.“Anyway," it was my turn to protest, "you shouldn’t belittle this accomplishment. Do you know that I was voted the person most unlikely ever to get married or have children in my graduating class.”
“Why would you ever want to have children in your graduating class?”
“I...” I sighed and looked around for my glass of whiskey. If it was there, it was buried somewhere underneath black shades of nothing.
“I suppose you want a medal now for staying married,” she said. “Does your wife know?”
“Know what? That we’re still married?”
“No. That there are a slew of former unmarried girlfriends standing out there, waiting in line.”
“Waiting for what?”
“You figure it out. It’s time for me to go.”

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are Canadian writers Canadian enough?

“Are you Canadian enough to understand?” she asked.
“That depends,” I responded. “What do you mean by enough?”
“That’s a relief,” she said. “I thought you were going to ask me what I meant by Canadian.”

John Barber, in an article entitled “Are Canadian writers Canadian enough?” (The Globe and Mail - Oct. 29, 2011), bemoans the fact that the shortlists of three major Canadian award programs, designed to recognize the best Canadian fiction of 2011, included very few books with real Canadian content. By “Canadian content”, he is referring to something that is set in Canada or has something to do with Canada and its citizens.

I guess the first question we must ask ourselves is whether a Canadian writer can be separated from Canadian fiction. Can a writer of fiction, which is not recognized as Canadian fiction, still be considered a Canadian writer? Or does he belong to something else? Perhaps he should be considered an international writer, or a universal writer. But to whom does this make any sense? We are obsessed by affiliations. If we do not clearly belong to something, do we exist?

Barber indicates that the jurors of the Canadian writing awards would defend their choices for the Canadian fiction shortlist by stating that it is enough that Canadian  writers view the world, no matter where their stories take place, through Canadian eyes.

Canadian eyes. What does this mean exactly? Have you read a book about something taking place in another part of the world and told yourself, “Now, that really sounds Canadian”? If a movie, like “Cairo time”, were to be produced by an American, rather than a Canadian, would you say that it would definitely lose its distinctive Canadian flavour? Or do you think there was a distinctive Canadian flavour there in the first place.

One of the main problems that I have with my writing is where I fit into all of this. Does a Canadian expat, who has lived for over 30 years in a foreign country, even have the right to consider himself a Canadian writer? And even if we didn’t go by content alone and applied the measure of the Canadian awards jury - could I possibly say that I still see the world through Canadian eyes, after all of this time? Where does my adopted Israeli identity come into all of this?

If I had to choose between being called an Israeli writer or a Canadian writer, I would probably choose Canadian writer, mainly because all of my formative years took place in Canada. And this part of me cannot be forgotten, no matter how deeply buried it is. But, if I were in a court of law, the evidence would weigh heavily in the other direction.

For what defines an Israeli writer? I would say that first and foremost (and I am probably going to get into a lot of hot water over this remark), Israeli writers share a siege mentality. It doesn’t matter whether they live in Israel or abroad; whether they are Jewish, Arabic, Druze or Christian... the siege mentality is there, and it works its way through their writing - whether they are trying to break free or settle in and build stronger barricades. Do I share this siege mentality also? Definitely. Did it infiltrate into my psyche after arriving here in Israel? That is where the jury is still out. Many might say that it was already built in - that this siege mentality might have been one of the reasons why I left Canada in the first place and seemed to fit into Israeli society relatively easily. If so, how does a boy who was born in a small town by Lake Ontario and grew up in a rather sterile suburb of Toronto - develop a siege mentality? You’d have to ask one of my multiple personalities, I suppose.

So why can’t I call myself an Israeli writer? I have the required siege mentality. I married an Israeli sabra. My three children were born in Israel. We speak Hebrew at home. My aggressive driving through the streets of Tel Aviv would make most Israelis proud. My university education took place in Israel and I acquired my profession here. I say "we" for Israelis and “they” for Canadians. And I only began using “eh” late in life when I wanted to still sound at least a little bit Canadian.

But I think the jury will come back with a definite “no”. Why? Simply stated... I am not Israeli enough.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A rose by any other name

What’s in a name? Are you happy with your name? If you had a chance, would you change it?

A name is something that belongs to us. It is both a part of us and a part of how others perceive us. But how unique is it?

It wasn’t until the age of Google, that I realized how common “David Lloyd” was.  A simple google search of the name turned up about 16 million results. That sort of lessens your sense of worth, don’t you think? But what’s in a name, really?

Listen to what Shakespeare had to say, in Twelfth Night.

CLOWN:  You have said, sir. - To see this age! - A sentence is but a cheveril glove to a good wit. How quickly the wrong side may be turned outward!
VIOLA:  Nay, that's certain; they that dally nicely with words may quickly make them wanton.
CLOWN:  I would, therefore, my sister had had no name, sir.
VIOLA:  Why, man?
CLOWN:  Why, sir, her name's a word; and to dally with that word might make my sister wanton.

Is it better to have a name that goes by unnoticed, or one so unique as to catch the interest of all around you?  Remember those days in elementary school when the teacher would insist on reading out the names, one by one, for attendance? David Lloyd didn’t bring about any snickering, but anything uniquely different at the time brought about endless teasing. However, if you did survive the teasing, an unusual name later in life could help you make your mark. Don’t you wish now that you had one of those names that barely fills up a page in a google search result? So unique that google actually offers alternatives. (“Did you mean...?”) They never offered an alternative for David Lloyd.

Another problem of having a common name is the people that you share it with. There is a David Lloyd  - professor of English at the University of Southern California - who is aggressively leading an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. I received a phone call once, late at night,  from someone in Israel.

“Did you know that I searched your name in google and got this person organizing a boycott of Israel?”
“It isn’t me.”
“Maybe so, but he has the same name.”
“It isn’t me.”
“It’s on google.”
“He lives in California and I live in Israel.”
“Maybe you should do something, so that people don’t think he is you.”
“Right, I’ll get on it right away,” I said politely, hanging up.

Why can’t people confuse me with the David Lloyd who wrote one of the most beloved episodes ever in a comedy sitcom - the infamous “Chuckles the Clown” episode on The Mary Tyler Moore Show? There was a man who left a true legacy. If only I could meet the challenge that he set for the rest of the David Lloyds out there in the world.

Here is something else that Shakespeare wrote about a name: in Romeo and Juliet:

JULIET:  “What’s a Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title: - Romeo, doff thy name; And for that name, which is no part of thee, Take all myself.”

Some people do change their name, for all sorts of reasons: artistic, political, a desperate attempt at trying to reinvent themselves... but I don’t see the point. You are who you are, and your name is a part of that.

Well, actually we weren’t born with a name labelled on our heads. This was decided upon by our parents, however misguided some of them may have been. (Remember the Johnny Cash song - “A boy named Sue”?) Deciding on a name for your children is no simple feat. Adva and I had to do it three times. And this was before the age of Internet when we had to actually buy books designed for helping you name your child. I had two ways of testing how well a name sounded. One was imagining how it sounded when calling the child in for dinner:
“Joshua, come into the house right now for dinner!!”
Doesn’t quite work, does it?
And the other was imagining all of the pet names people would make of it: Josh, Joe, Joey, Gee Willikers...
As if this wasn’t enough, we had the added complication of not only finding a more modern sounding Hebrew name (unlike the dated Biblical names: Devorah, Rivka, Abigail, Esther, Shimon, Avraham, Aharon...), but one that could be easily pronounced by the non-Hebrew speaking side of the family - those back in the old country. You didn’t want to have a “chet” stuck in there somewhere which would cause people to choke when trying to pronounce it.
“That’s what I said, Hannah.”
“No, Chana.”
“Cha... “ cough, cough., choke...
“Get the woman some water!”

All said, though, picking a name for our first child, Edan, was rather easy. It took us a little longer, though, to choose a name for our second son, Noam. But by the time we came to our third and last child, it was anything but easy. Knowing that it would be a girl, we were nowhere near agreement as the delivery date neared. We must have tried out every Hebrew name in the book on each other: from Modern Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew... even Proto-Semitic. And then, as the clock ticked down, realizing that the Hebrew option was exhausted, we settled on something quite different.

I remember walking down a kibbutz path the day after Adva gave birth and meeting one of the founding kibbutz members.
“I hear that Adva gave birth,” she smiled sweetly.
“Yes, a baby girl?”
“And what’s her name?”
“Nicole!” I had to catch her as she almost fell over backwards. “That’s not a Hebrew name!” she exclaimed.
“Yes,” I concurred, and moved on.

I guess we have to be grateful that we didn’t have to choose a middle name as well for each of our children. Israelis only have first and last names. I never could figure why we needed a middle name. Although, when I did put “David Gregory Lloyd” into a google search, only about 3,600 results showed up. So maybe I should have used first, middle and last name, as some people do. It would have made my name a little more unique and probably stop people from phoning me in the middle of the night asking me why I want to boycott Israel.

Friday, October 28, 2011

They sell books in Supermarkets, don’t they?

A well known Israeli writer is selling his new book exclusively through an Israeli supermarket chain. There, nestled between the carrots and tomatoes, you can pick up his book and add it to your cart of groceries. How is he doing so far? He has already sold over 50,000 copies of his book - which is quite good in such a small country as Israel.  Why did he choose to sell his new book only in this one supermarket chain? He apparently read the writing on the wall. More and more bookstores are closing. Those which are still open have entered into a price war, and as a result - books are marked down by more than 70% and it is impossible for an author to make any real money from his writing. Is his decision then a protest, or is he simply giving in to the inevitable?

We live in an age where e-books are becoming more and more popular, and many people fear that they will replace the hardcover book altogether. Will only online bookstores survive and the library shelves now be filled with e-readers? And if there still is such a thing as the hardcover - will this be nestled somewhere in the supermarket? Attention shoppers. There is a special sale of fresh books in aisle 5. And what about the author? Will he be sitting in the dairy section signing books? Maybe they will leave it up to each author to decide where in the supermarket he wants to set up his table. For some, the pastry and desserts section would serve quite well. Others may prefer coffee and tea. And others may resign themselves to the vegetables. Will your place in the supermarket define you?

Or does it really matter? Surely the idea is the essence, and how it is housed is of secondary importance. Once upon a time, such things were literally written in stone. A rather tedious and slow operation. And then ink was invented and each book was painstakingly written out by hand. And if you wanted a copy of the book, that too had to be written out by hand. And then along came the printing press. There must have been a lot of opposition to that. Mass producing ideas through automation. How could anything good come out of automation? But, like most things, it didn’t take long for us to forget what came before and we soon began romanticizing the notion of the mass produced book. Or maybe the romanticizing only came when the book appeared to be in danger of extinction. Think of it - we are not even left with something we can hold in our hands! How crass. Well, actually you can hold a kindle in your hands, but what about the smell of leather and the rustling of the pages. (When was the last time we actually held a leather book in our hands - or anything with a hardcover?)

And then some people - those real fanatics - ask why we even need books. Why not let ideas  play out through film. Much more visual and so much  more can be included. Imagination? People want to be entertained, without exerting too much effort on their own part. The demands of imagination is maybe why fewer and fewer people read books these days - even before the first e-book or supermarket haven.

It is quite a mess, actually. At times I ask myself why I couldn’t have published my novel twenty years ago when the rules were much clearer. But then, maybe it is better this way. I actually wrote and published an e-book before reading one. Is there any real irony in this? Would I consider selling my book in a supermarket? But then, how could an e-book be sold in a supermarket? Maybe the back of cereal box could be transformed into an ink based e-reader screen. Different brands offering different books. This isn’t such a revolutionary idea. It wasn’t long ago that you got a free video cassette of a movie together with your six pack of beer. I mean - what do we want as a writer? To reach the widest and largest number of readers possible - no? I see some of you shaking your heads.

I have actually begun to write a screenplay for my book. Not so much because I want to quickly reach a wider audience, but rather because I realized that Gwyneth Paltrow will soon be too old to play the main female part (she was quite young when I first started writing the book). But I digress.

One day, probably not in the too distant future, young people will remark - upon hearing about bookstores - “What a quaint idea. A whole store just for selling books. But how could anyone make a living just out of selling books?”

Or by writing them.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Man who would be God

The characters worked their way in and out of the darkness. The only thing that seemed to give them life was the solitary light coming from the computer screen. Michael was all alone in the room. The only visitor was his muse. Yet he never knew when, or if, she’d appear again.

He looked again at the words on the screen. When was it that he had become the executioner? His virtual finger hovered over the send button. It would take only one click to become creator. Creating man out of his own likeness. He looked nervously around the room, wondering if he was being watched. How was this any different from the characters in his novel - from the imaginary world he had created for them?

Yet his characters had never tried to enter into his own world. They had attempted, perhaps, to escape the confines of his fiction through creating fiction of their own, having tasted from the tree of knowledge. But they had never sought to replace him.

And here he was, watching helplessly as he gradually lost control over his virtual creation. He had invited Guy to inhabit his world, help him rediscover what he thought he had lost. And instead, Guy revealed a new world that Michael couldn’t have. But it was the same world in which Michael was living. A world in which he and Guy could not both exist. Was Michael to be banished for trying to replace his own creator?

When do fiction and reality no longer exist in separate worlds - and mere mortals have the audacity to believe that they can change the laws of creation?

This is our journey of discovery in - “As I Died Laughing”.

"What are you mad at?"
"Everyone. Everything."
"What's so funny then?"
"The only thing I can do now is laugh."

And so it begins.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Nothingness of Being

Ronald Green, in his book Nothing Matters, makes a distinction between nothing and nothingness. Nothing, he claims, is the absence of everything, whereas nothingness is the absence of something. An important distinction. But how do we distinguish, then, between something and nothingness?

 How much room is there in the human consciousness? For everything added, must something else be erased? How much love are we capable of giving? Can we have multiple relationships without one coming at the expense of another? Can we spread our love evenly between our children, without one receiving more, and the other less? When we learn things, must we forget others? Is consciousness the something and the sub-consciousness the nothingness? Whereas nothing appears to be absolute, nothingness is not. We appear able to slip in and out of nothingness. But what comes first - something or nothingness, the chicken or the egg? Can we only conceive of nothingness after we have conceived of something and recognized its absence?

As an example of slipping in and out of nothingness, I’ll take you back to an earlier blog entry - Why Guinness always tastes better in Tel Aviv. There I told you about how Ronald and I would reach great moments of enlightenment over pints of Guinness at Molly Blooms only to have these amazing revelations quickly evaporate into nothingness on our separate ways home. At the time, I thought they were gone for good, but I was mistaken. They resurfaced somehow in two separate books: Ronald’s Nothing Matters which delves deep into the concept of nothing, offering a clear, comprehensive and in-depth study of non-fiction; and my As I Died Laughing which sets out in a dysfunctional and fragmented exploration into the distinction between something and nothingness, supposedly a work of fiction.

It seems as if we are constantly moving back and forth into nothingness and the something which generated it. In leaving country, language and culture behind, my new Israeli identity has erased many parts of the Canadian identity which preceded it. The longer I have lived here in Israel, the further back into nothingness one would expect the exile of my Canadian self to be. But this hasn’t been the case. Recently I have found parts of my Canadian identity, which I thought were lost, fighting their way back into consciousness. I hear that this is not a phenomenon unique to my own personal expatriate existence. Apparently many people find themselves on a curve in their acclimatization to a new country and culture. They struggle to adapt to their new country, and just when they reach  the pinnacle of feeling almost native to the new language and culture, they enter into a period of recession - their former identity subtly reappearing out of their nothingness. And the main difference is that they no longer feel the need to apologize for, or try to stifle, this something that had apparently never gone away.

Which brings us to the concept of being. What does all this matter if we are going to die? And then everything becomes nothing - earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust - from nothing we came, and into nothing we return. But can we refer the concept of nothing to the concept of being? If nothing is absolute - the absence of everything - then how could anything be created out of it? If our being was nothing before our conception in birth, how could we have ever come about? And if nothing is the absence of everything, how can we enter into the state of nothing after we die. Something surely cannot become a part of nothing. This is probably unexpectedly comforting to many - linking our being to nothingness rather than nothing - believing that by slipping into nothingness, we can slip back into something again. All religions seem to have built their basic premise on this belief, although they all label it differently. For me, personally, I have no room in my vocabulary for an omnipotent being. I have enough of a problem trying to come to terms with my own being. Rather, at this point, it is simply a matter of logic; albeit human logic.

Understanding being, even without taking into account the state of being before our conception and after our death, has puzzled thinkers throughout the ages. A child cannot differentiate between itself and a separate world at first. It goes through a cognitive development where it suddenly becomes aware of objects separate from itself. And then later, it is also able to differentiate between these objects. Is this something that the child is taught, or acquires through experimentation in this new world? Or is it a part of our cognitive programming? And if so, why does it take time for this programming to be activated? Is our cognitive programming the nothingness through which all somethings are recognized? Does this help us understand which comes first - the chicken or the egg?

If something came from nothingness, then the process could hypothetically be reversed. Under special circumstances, we might find ourselves returning to a womb like state. Let us consider the example of Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli soldier who has been held in captivity for the last five years by the Hamas, and who will apparently be released in a few days. Gilad has had no real human contact in the last five years. He has been confined to a solitary cell where his only reality is the things inside these four walls that he can see, hear, touch and smell. Over time, the construct of this reality must have slowly filled his consciousness, pushing back everything he had known before then into nothingness. And in Gilad’s case, we must ask ourselves if there is a point of no return, where something is pushed so far back into nothingness that it is lost forever. For Gilad has come as close as possible to nothing - the absence of everything - as appears humanly possible. Upon his release, will he capable of recognizing a world he once new? Or will this once again become a learning experience? For Gilad, his being hasn’t changed. But for his family and closest friends, they will search for a being that they recognize,and they may have to come to the realization that he is now a stranger. Must we then divide being into two? Who we know ourselves to be and how others see us? After we die, if we do still exist in nothingness or in something, the recognition of our present being is in our eyes only. Others still recognize our being, even after our death, but they only recognize what they remember of us.

Life is frail. There is no doubt about that. And it is finite - no matter what we do. Yet we never give up on our search for meaning. Maybe we just have to learn that meaning can come out of nothingness, just as much as it can come out of something. Or maybe we need to take one step further and come to the realization that there isn’t any real difference between the two.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to write Canadian

Hello everybody. This is Tom Chambers, from Expats Anonymous.  Today we are interviewing David Lloyd, a Canadian Expat, whose first novel - As I Died Laughing - has been published as an e-book. We thank David for allowing us to reprint this interview on his blog.

Tom:  From looking at your personal history, I see that you grew up in Canada but spent most of your adult life in Israel. Do you consider yourself, then, a Canadian author or an Israeli author?

David:  That’s a tough one. First of all, it’s strange to even think of myself as an author.

Tom:  Why is that?

David:  I’ve been writing bits and pieces all of my life. I think there was a time when I was young that I thought of becoming a writer. Actually, is there a difference in being called a writer or an author?

Tom: Well, I guess you are only called an author when you get a book published.

David:  I suppose so. Which still doesn’t necessarily make you a writer. I guess that depends on the reviews.

Tom:  Are  you trying to evade my original question?

David:  That obvious, eh? No, I’ll give it a go. I don’t think I could ever call myself an Israeli writer, or author. First of all, the book is written in English, not Hebrew.

Tom:  And that is important?

David:  Yes. The language that we speak is a part of the person we are, or who we are at that moment. I think I am two different people at times, when I speak Hebrew or English. But the more important point, I think, is that my formative years were spent in Canada. Writers always return to their childhood at some time in their writing.

Tom:  Have you done so in this book?

David:  I wouldn’t say that I have gone back that far. But it is there, nonetheless, in my writing. Israel is my adopted country. In a way, it is something like your in-laws. They are now family, but not the family you were born into.

Tom:  And you can always divorce your in-laws, but not your genetic family.

David:  Yes. Canada will never go away, even though I have been living on the other side of the world for more than 30 years. So, I guess if I had to choose, I would call myself a Canadian author / writer. I don’t know what Margaret Atwood would have to say about that.

Tom:  I suppose the irony, then, is that your book was not published in either Canada or Israel, but in England.

David:  Actually, it was published in cyberspace, since it is an e-book. But yes, it was published by a UK publisher. And you can get it on Amazon and Smashwords. Sorry, I couldn't help but give it a bit of an advertisement.

Tom:  Fair enough. Tell me, without my mentioning your age, why is it that you came out with your first novel at such a later age.

David:  I guess I had not much to offer until now.

Tom: Really?

David: No. I think I always had a lot to say. But for a long time it was enough for me to just write for myself and the people around me. Getting published really wasn’t on my mind. But at some point, things changed. 

Tom:  What was the cause of the change?

David: I realized my own mortality, and felt the sudden and urgent need to leave something of myself behind.

Tom:  And this is  your legacy.

David:  A part of it, at least.

Tom:  Do you see the book as something of a self-biography?

David:  God no. If I admitted to that I would have to constantly worry about dodging silver bullets. Of course there is a mixture of fact and fiction, and as the author, I have the luxury of not saying where the fiction begins and ends.

Tom:  Much like the theme of your book.

David:  I see that you have read it.

Tom:  Does that surprise you?

David:  I’m still getting used to the idea of it being out there.

Tom:  What about the people in the book. Are any of them real?

Tom:  I take it by your silence that you aren’t comfortable with this question.

David:  Well, you have to understand that certain characters will always be inspired, in some way, by real people and real circumstances. However, once they enter into the book, they take on a life of their own.

Tom: Nobody threatening class action?

David:  Not yet.

Tom: I have been looking at the book cover.

David:  You don't like it.

Tom:  Well, it is a bit strange. The guy that is sitting there and the things surrounding him.

David:  Believe it or not, the cover was meticulously thought out. The positioning, the way each item is displayed and depicted, has a direct connection to the underlying themes in the book. The problem is that you usually see a downsized copy of the cover on the book sites, and don't get the full detail. I could talk about this at great length, but it would be too much of a spoiler.

Tom:  The interaction between the various plots in the book is quite complex.

David:  Yes.

Tom:  Aren't you afraid that people won't get the book. That they won't understand what you are trying to say?

David: They will get what they will get. The main thing is that they get something. I guess that the success of the book depends on that.  I still discover new things in the book even after ten rewrites and reading it over endless times.

Tom:  Things that you didn’t see when you wrote them in the beginning?

David:  Things that I discovered in retrospect. Some which turned out to be quite clever. But then, I am not your most objective reader.

Tom:  How will you feel if people interpret your book quite differently than you do yourself?

David:  I have no problem with that. I believe that once a writer has released his work, his work no longer belongs to him. Who am I to say what interpretation is right and what is wrong. As an English teacher, I told my students that they could present whatever interpretation they wanted of a piece of literature, just as long as they built a conclusive argument using examples from the text. I informed them that the highest mark would go to the interpretations that surprised me the most, as long as they backed it up.

Tom: And did they? Surprise you?

David:  A few did. Not an easy thing to do. I remember writing a paper about Wuthering Heights, while studying English Lit at university. I set out to prove that Nelly was evil, and that most of the things that went wrong in the novel were the result of her subtle and misguided intervention. The professor had MA assistants who marked the papers. Mine came back as an 86, and with all types of comments in red expressing astonishment at my claims, but not relating specifically to what I wrote. Normally I would have let such things pass, but I really did think that my paper was a masterpiece and that the assistant couldn’t see past her own traditional concept of the book. So I went straight to the professor and asked him to read my paper.

Tom:  And what did he say?.

David:  He crossed out her mark and gave me a 98.

Tom:  Why not a 100?

David:  Now you sound like my mother.

Tom:  Getting back to authors and their works, how do you think Emily Bronte would have felt about your analysis of Nelly in her book?

David:  I hope she would have learnt to let go of her book, just as I have mine.

Tom:  Have you really? It has only been a few days since it came out.

David:  That long?

Tom:  And on that note, it looks like our time is almost up. Is there anything you’d like to add before signing off?

David:  Only that I have set up a facebook group for people to post comments about the book. I’d like to say that the writing of the book was satisfying in itself, and that I really don’t need anything more, but I do feel the need to hear what people think. Not simply whether they like the book or not, but how they relate to different parts of the book, no matter how harsh their criticism. Especially after the second or third reading.

Tom:  Do you think a second or third reading would help?

David:  It certainly wouldn’t hurt.