Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Tag: Histfic

Where Do I go – an interview with historical fiction author Beverly Magid

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.”

READ THE FIRST CHAPTER of Where Do I Go.

Available in Paperback and eBook on Amazon

For more information, please visit Beverly Magid’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

 Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 15
Review at Donna’s Book Blog
Feature at What Is That Book About

Tuesday, January 16
Guest Post at My Reading Corner

Wednesday, January 17
Excerpt at WS Momma Readers Nook

Monday, January 22
Review at Locks, Hooks and Books
Feature at View From the Birdhouse
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, January 23
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, January 25
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Friday, January 26
Review at Life of a Female Bibliophile
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

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

Wednesday, January 31
Review at Cup of Sensibility
Feature at A Holland Reads

Thursday, February 1
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, February 2
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

Giveaway

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 Rules

– 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

Another first time event – chairing an author panel

At the beginning of March, I sat on my first ever author panel. Mid-March, I did my first ‘real’ author talk. On April 9, I will chair my first panel. After which, I’m going to flee the country.

I won’t be idle in the U.K., of course. I have three days in London (for research). Followed by a week of Mam-gu duty with my son and his family (pushing swings, rocking my new baby grandson and playing trains with his older brother). After which, I will spend a Welsh-language-only week in Caernarfon with members of the SSiW community. Then I will be busy researching my next novel. But prior to all that fun, I have this one final author event to look forward to.

So far, I’ve read the three designated historical novels for young readers (yes, I’m putting my YA librarian’s hat back on), perused the websites of the participating authors, read the bios provided and have slept with Gabrielle Ryan’s helpful notes on how-to-prepare-for-an-author-panel under my pillow. It’s time to write up a riveting list of questions. However, I don’t know about you? But I never know what I think until I have written about it. Which gives me a perfect excuse to tell you about the three participating authors and their books.

Lizzie and Margaret Rose – by Pamela Rushby

Lizzie and Margaret Rose tells the story of ten-year old London girl who is orphaned by an enemy air raid and evacuated to the safety of her aunt’s family in Australia. As Margaret Rose makes the perilous sea journey to Townsville, her cousin Lizzie has mixed feelings about the imminent arrival of her cousin, especially one as needy as Margaret Rose. As Lizzie faces the displacement of sharing her life with a stranger and war makes its mark on the communities of northern Queensland, Margaret Rose wonders whether she will ever feel safe again. In the end, both girls must learn how to adjust and belong.

Lizzie and Margaret Rose begins with a prologue and is subsequently told in the alternating first person viewpoints of Lizzie and Margret Rose. Lizzie’s pique is drawn in a way that does not make her unlikeable. Margaret Rose’s character evokes sympathy without her being too perfect. The experience of war in northern Australia is portrayed with an age appropriate realism that is not too terrifying. The result—a heartwarming book, handling a difficult topic, that is perfectly pitched to its primary school aged readership. This is hardly surprising. Pamela Rushby is the author of over two hundred books for children. I am very much looking forward to meeting her on April 9th.

Within these walls – by Robyn Bavati

Miri and her family live in Warsaw. Her father, a hard working tailor, speaks Polish well enough for the family to live outside of the Jewish quarter. Their innocent lives are made up of food, family, riding bikes and coloured pencils. But when the Nazi’s invade Miri’s family are forced to move into a tiny apartment in the Warsaw ghetto. Group-by-group people are rounded up and secreted away to work camps. As starvation, desperation and separation tear this family asunder, Miri must find the will to survive. Even though, at times it would be easier to give up and die.

As part of the Melbourne Jewish community, Bavati felt a personal connection to the Holocaust, even though her ancestors had left for England long before WWII began. But Within these Walls is her first foray into historical fiction. Bavati was commissioned by Scholastic Australia to write a book about Jewish children in the Second World War. Told in Miri’s first person voice, the novel gives a realistic portrayal of the ugly, desperate reality of Nazi occupation and, although the subject is grim and most of Miri’s family are obliterated, she manages to enthuse the novel with a sense of hope and belonging. This novel will make a great springboard for classroom discussions about the evils of mindless prejudice.

That Stranger Next Door – by Goldie Alexander

The Stranger Next Door tells the story of Ruth, a 1950’s teenager who has won a scholarship to a private college and longs to study medicine at university rather than conform to her family’s expecatations that she will marry a nice Jewish boy and raise a family. In Eva, a mysterious Russian woman who has recently moved into their apartment block, Ruth finds a perfect alibi for her liaisons with the Catholic school boy, Patrick O’Sullivan. But Ruth’s father was once a member of the communist party and Patrick’s father is working for the anti-communist, B A Santamaria. As Ruth tests family boundaries in the strained political atmosphere of 1950’s Australia, even the helpful Eva is not who she seems.

Told in the alternating first person viewpoints of Ruth and Eva, The Stranger Next Door is essentially a coming-of-age tale in which the political tensions of 1950’s Australia form an interesting backdrop to Ruth’s rebellion against the expectations of her family. At first, I wasn’t quite sure how the two strands connected but the links became clear eventually making the ending of the novel quiet satisfying. I was intrigued to imagine how much of the author’s own journey was tied up in Ruth’s experience and will look forward to asking Goldie Alexander how much the novel reflected her own coming-of-age in Melbourne’s 1950’s Jewish community.

So, those are my three designated novels. Thanks for listening to my thoughts. If you want to hear more from these authors and their work, why not join us at the Mail Exchange Hotel on the 9th of April.

Bookings are essential.

 

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