Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Beverly Magid as part of her Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. Her, novel Where do I go, is the sequel to Sown in Tears and follows the story of immigrant Leah Peretz and her family. Centred around the New York Jewish community, the story tells of the new immigrants struggles to survive, to keep their faith, and to gain a sense of belonging in a land that often feels alien. I particularly liked the novel’s emphasis on women’s equality and the industrial action taken by female factory workers, a topic that seems as pertinent today as it was in 1908. Beverly has kindly offered to answer some questions for my blog but first here is the blurb.
Where Do I Go
It’s 1908 and Leah and her boys have immigrated to New York’s Lower East Side to live with her brothers after surviving a pogrom in their Russian village. She is determined to find a home in America but the conditions are harsher than she expected. The garment sweat shops are brutal to work in and it’s essential that her son Benny works after school to help with expenses. Unbeknownst to her he runs errands for the local bookie/gangster. Life isn’t what Leah hoped for, but she’s a fighter and not willing to accept the awful conditions at Wollowitz’s Factory. She’s on a journey to find her own voice, to find a place for herself and her sons, to find a little beauty and romance in her life.
What was your inspiration for Where do I go?
Even though this book stands on its own, it is a continuation of the journey of Leah Peretz and her sons from my second novel, Sown in Tears. In that book, Leah and the boys survive a pogrom, which is an attack specifically on the Jews in her village. Her husband is killed and Leah must now take care and protect her family under dire conditions. When that book concludes, you know that Leah will be considering immigrating. At the time I felt that I was finished with the story, but I was asked several times, “what happens to Leah, how does she manage?” I began to think about that wonderful writing question ,”What if?” and became intrigued about the obstacles that immigrants faced in America in 1908. Thus I was inspired to continue along with Leah and discover how she again survived.
Tell me about your research process.
I investigate the times of the era I’ wish to write about in general terms, what’s happening in that world, then I begin to narrow it down to my characters and what is their world like. The more details I can bring to the story, the more my readers will enter into their world and believe in it. At least that’s the aim. I consider what they wore, ate, saw, enjoyed, customs of the times, how the weather might affect them, the smells of the neighborhood, the sounds, any newsworthy events which affect them. I want to create their world as they might have lived it day to day.
How does Leah’s journey mirror your own struggles as a woman in today’s society?
Even though Leah lived at an earlier time, female empowerment was as relevant then as it is now. Women have always been trying to find and make a place for themselves in society. Problems with work, or raising a family, or relationships remain as hard for women today as they did before. We’ve made great strides but there are always those who try to hold us back. How women overcame before I think is an inspiration to those of us today.
How has writing fiction differed from journalistic writing?
I was writing for entertainment industry magazines, interviews and reviews so there was no room to make up anything. Your standard is telling the accurate facts, even when you’re reviewing music, you can give your opinion but you need to label it as an opinion. Today the truth in journalism has been attacked but it’s more important than ever. In historical fiction I believe that as much as you are making things up, if you’re writing about actual events, those details have to be accurate. How you treat them and your characters, that’s where the fiction comes in.
What are you working on next?
I’m not sure. Ideas are slow to percolate with me. I was once advised that you should wait until the idea or inspiration is so strong that you can live with it for a couple of years, since that may be how long it takes to complete a project. Again someone asked how Leah fares in the future. What happens to her two boys? Does she continue to be an activist? That could be what I end up considering for my next project. But right now I’m open to everything, waiting for an idea to catch fire.
Where Do I Go, flowed well and held my interest. Although, a sequel, it can easily be read as a stand alone novel. It is bound to be welcomed by those who have followed Leah’s journey from Russia to the New World.
About the Author
Beverly Magid, before writing her novel, was a journalist and an entertainment and celebrity PR executive, who interviewed many luminaries, including John Lennon, Jim Croce and the Monty Python gang, and as a publicist represented clients in music, tv and film, ranging from Whoopi Goldberg, John Denver and Dolly Parton to Tom Skerritt, Martin Landau, Kathy Ireland and Jacqueline Bisset.
Beverly is a longtime west coast resident who still considers herself a New Yorker. Among the social issues she’s passionate about is literacy and she worked with KorehLA to mentor elementary children in reading. Also she has been an advocate for Jewish World Watch, an organization dedicated to working against genocide and to aid the victims of war atrocities. On a lighter side, she is also a volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo, monitoring animal behavior for their Research Department.
She is a news and political junkie who supports environmental, animal and human rights issues. She believes most passionately that “We must remain vigilant to the those who would erode the rights of people around the world and work to defeat them.”
Available in Paperback and eBook on Amazon
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, January 16
Guest Post at My Reading Corner
Wednesday, January 17
Excerpt at WS Momma Readers Nook
Tuesday, January 23
Feature at A Literary Vacation
Thursday, January 25
Feature at Just One More Chapter
Sunday, January 28
Feature at Books of a Shy Girl
Monday, January 29
Review at Back Porchervations
Tuesday, January 30
Review & Interview at Elizabeth Jane Corbett
Thursday, February 1
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, February 2
Guest Post at Passages to the Past
During the Book Blast we will be giving away a signed copy of WHERE DO I GO! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 2nd. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Enter the Giveaway here