Categories
Books

What’s it all about, Asaf?

In another month or so, my murdery mystery, Style and the Solitary, will be republished under the Ocelot Press banner.

I thought this would be a good time to tell you what the novel is about, tweaking a post I first wrote for friend and author, Jo Fenton.

Belief in Another Person

The story of Beauty and the Beast was first written in 1740 by a woman called Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It wasn’t intended as a children’s fairy tale, but rather as a tale with a moral. It is Beauty’s belief and love for the Beast that turns him back into a prince. Similarly, Nathalie’s belief in Asaf will help him in his attempt to become the person he was meant to be.

The similarity of my novel to Beauty and the Beast is, of course, the reason for its similar title.

Loners

People who shun society are considered strange by the rest of society. Sometimes, they might even be thought dangerous, due to a tiny minority of loners who have turned to violence. This gives vulnerable people, who probably only chose to live their lives alone because of bad experiences, less of a chance of ever returning to society.

Friendships

We all need the help of friends. Nathalie gets her two flatmates on board to help her solve the mystery. Other friendships crop up in the story. Even Asaf, the “loner”, acquires some friends, eventually.

Immigration

The process of fitting into a new place can be long and difficult, especially when it involves a new language and culture. Nathalie has some advantages. She’s young, sociable and good at languages. Still, she struggles sometimes, and also misses her family and her home town of Strasbourg. Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market brings a bit of France to her.

The Law and its Failures

I was moved by a documentary I heard once, in which a woman wanted to testify against her rapist, but found herself struck dumb when standing in the witness box. Asaf is similarly worried about being tried in a court of law. He thinks he’ll find himself incapable of answering questions in such a setting. He’s probably right.

I do think laws fail to protect those who can’t speak or who freeze in certain situations.

Jerusalem

Why is the setting a theme? When I wrote my first novel set in Jerusalem (Neither Here Nor There, currently unavailable), I was worried people wouldn’t be interested in it because they’d expect a story set in Israel to include war and conflict. I was glad to be proved wrong; the book sold well and was appreciated. Yet, with this current novel, perhaps due to the timing, I’ve had questions like, “I wondered if you were deliberately setting out to show Jerusalem as a modern ‘Western’ city compared to the views we normally see on TV, or just reflecting life as you live it.” My response is that it absolutely reflects life as I live it and as most of the residents live it. People go about doing normal activities and talking about normal things. On the TV, they like to show everything in a different light. They seek out extremists and do all they can to exacerbate conflict. But even those extremists do and say normal, mundane things most of the time. And the rest of us go about our normal lives as much as we’re allowed to, which is most of the time.

I’m not suggesting murder is normal. But this murder is not the sort of abnormal you might expect from Jerusalem.

Secrets

Many stories thrive on secrets and Style and the Solitary is no exception. But I won’t reveal any secrets here. You’ll discover them when you read the novel.

What would Asaf think of the book?

Asaf would consider himself unworthy of having a story written about him, just as he feels unworthy of having Nathalie in his life. He blames no one but himself for his woes. Being suspected of murder is admittedly unfortunate, but anyone else would have succeeded in clearing all suspicion long ago.

The new Style and the Solitary will be out soon. Watch this space.

The Strasbourg image is by Monika Neumann from Pixabay. Nathalie’s photo is by Andrea Piacquadio and Asaf’s is by fauxels.

Categories
Books Holidays Israel

Hangovers

This post is about a hangover. No, it’s not what you think. I haven’t taken to the bottle. Well, not in excess, anyway.

Living it up on safari in South Africa.

No, it’s about a hangover from childhood. And the town of Akko, called Acre in English.

I first discovered this ancient and modern town from a book I read as a teenager. I think the book was The Source by James A. Michener, a fascinating story of a fictional archeological dig and the ancient stories it uncovers. For some reason, at that young and impressionable age, I couldn’t accept that a town would have a name that I knew to be a unit of measurement. (It’s about 4047 square metres, which I didn’t know then and won’t remember now). Every time I came across that name in that book, I thought how weird it was.

After moving to Israel, I learned the Hebrew name for the town, and I’ve always used it, even when speaking in English. I wouldn’t say Yerushalayim in English, or Natzrat. I’d use the English names: Jerusalem and Nazareth. Yet Akko remains Akko because, in my mind, Acre is a strange name for a town.

Jerusalem – centre of the world.
(Last time I was Nazareth, there were no digital cameras.)

Recently, because this town appears in the novel I’m currently writing, the sequel to Style and the Solitary, I asked a group of authors which name they thought I should use. None of them had a problem with that name: Acre. It’s just me, then.

That led me to wonder about hangovers from childhood. I’m sure I must have a lot more. Do you? I’d love to hear about them.

Categories
Books The Power of Belief

Style and the Solitary is One Today

Yes, 𝓢𝓽𝔂𝓵𝓮 𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓢𝓸𝓵𝓲𝓽𝓪𝓻𝔂, my first venture into crime, is 𝓸𝓷𝓮 year old.

To celebrate, I’m delighted to have the assistance of Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources, who produced this beautiful banner:

Birthday Blitz for Style and the Solitary, 26 April 2022

and arranged for some special posts during the day.

I plan to update this post to include the links. Watch this space…

Here’s the Amazon link: Style and the Solitary.

Categories
Books

The Mandarin Seeds

I’m delighted to welcome back friend and fellow author, Olga Swan, to tell us about an exciting new book.

Thank you, Miriam, for welcoming me onto your author blog.  It’s fitting really, because there’s a scene in my new novel where my character’s father is transported to Jerusalem, where you live.

Several months ago, I was watching a TV documentary, which spoke of an unsung hero from WWII. I did some research and discovered that he’d saved 20,000 Jewish citizens of Vienna between 1938 and 1940. His name was Ho Feng Shan, and he never told a soul – not even his family – what he’d done. He died in 1997, and was awarded the posthumous  ‘Righteous Amongst the Nations’ honour by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. But I was determined to make this Chinese ‘Schindler’ more widely known, so began writing. 

I’m now excited to tell your readers about my new novel, which has just been published. It’s called The Mandarin Seeds. Here’s what it’s about:

In 1935 Vienna, the demi-monde enjoy the delights of the Grunberger patisserie. Eva and boyfriend Michael love dancing in the illicit American jazz clubs, but Nazi terror is rising. For Michael, there is an added anxiety over his previous liaison with mercurial showgirl, Marta. Soon, the desperate situation for the Jewish civilians of Vienna forces them to try to leave, but where can they go?

Step forward an unlikely Chinese hero who miraculously helps them obtain visas for Shanghai.

As showgirl Marta seduces local businessman Sassoon, what will happen to shy Eva in Shanghai?

And what has happened to brave Michael, left behind in Nazi controlled Vienna?

Cross continents to an electrifying and surprising ending in post-war San Francisco.

Buy link (paperback and ebook)

Blog / Twitter / Facebook

For Olga’s previous books (fiction and non-fiction), go to her blog and click on each book image.

Categories
Books Israel The writing process

November Report

Remember that novel I was going to write in November? Well, I wrote it. I didn’t reach the magic total of 50,000 words, by I did pass 40,000, and now I have the first draft of a sequel to Style and the Solitary that will need a lot more work before I can submit it for publication.

As well as spending time writing every day in November, I wandered around Jerusalem and further afield, gathering information for the novel. Here are a few of the pictures I took:

As every year, there was plenty of support from our local group of writers, and in particular Melina Kantor and Shoshana Raun. I wouldn’t have managed without them.

Now, I’m trying to catch up on all the tasks I postponed in November.

I’m also looking forward to the publication of Dark Paris, an anthology of dark stories set in Paris, all proceeds of which go to two charities: Restaurants du Cœur and Fondation Brigitte Bardot. My contribution to the anthology is called Train Trouble.

More about Dark Paris soon…

Categories
Books Reviews

Free At Last!

There’s good news in this post.

Release. What an amazing feeling. To be free to walk, on his own, out of the police station. Free to go in any direction, do whatever he liked. No one pushed him or shoved him or shouted commands at him. He took deep breaths and released them into the cold, welcoming air.

Miriam Drori, Style and the Solitary

Finally, it’s the end of his incerceration, or so Asaf believes. In the Liberty Bell Park, his elation is boosted:

The path was almost deserted on this dull, wet day, but the bell welcomed him with its message of liberty.

Sadly, these feelings are short-lived. And so it is with the novel itself.

Yes, Style and the Solitary, published by Darkstroke Books, is free to download for a short period only, so get it while you can, no strings attached.

I do, however, have a little request. If you enjoy reading it, I would very much appreciate a review. It doesn’t have to be long and detailed. “Loved it” is fine – really.

Review

Here’s the latest review on Amazon.com: “I loved this innocent young woman who stood by her social phobic coworker when he was accused of murder. Her compassion and tenacity for finding the actual killer puts her in danger but demonstrates how much Nathalie cares for Asaf. The help she gets from her roommates is funny and caring as they bumble their way toward freeing Asaf. Will they survive this investigation, or will the murderer lead them off the deep end. Great story. Nice setting.”

Thank you, Sandy.

About the Novel

An unexpected murder. A suspect with a reason. The power of unwavering belief.

A murder has been committed in an office in Jerusalem. That’s for sure. The rest is not as clear-cut as it might seem.

Asaf languishes in his cell, unable to tell his story even to himself. How can he tell it to someone who elicits such fear within him?

His colleague, Nathalie, has studied Beauty and the Beast. She understands its moral. Maybe that’s why she’s the only one who believes in Asaf, the suspect. But she’s new in the company – and in the country. Would anyone take her opinion seriously?

She coerces her flatmates, Yarden and Tehila, into helping her investigate. As they uncover new trails, will they be able to reverse popular opinion?

In the end, will Beauty’s belief be strong enough to waken the Beast? Or, in this case, can Style waken the Solitary?

Categories
Books Israel

The Journey of a Stone

This post is about a new novel. It’s one that covers four thousand years and follows a stone on its travels close to home and then further afield. I was lucky enough to read a draft, about which I made suggestions that have been incorporated by its author, Olga Swan (pen-name). I look forward to reading the final version, which has just been published as The Meleke Stone.

Here’s the author herself to tell you about it.

Thank you so much, Miriam, for allowing me on your blog. I’ve been working towards The Meleke Stone all my life. Included are all the times, and perpetrators, from 1900 BCE to the present when the Jewish people were ousted from their land. It’s a novel with a strong underlying message. Here’s the blurb:

“A meleke stone from the ancient plains of the Dead Sea is passed down by generations of females through four thousand years.  

In 2019 Sami, the son of Egyptian immigrants in Toulouse, is traumatised by the family’s hardships in France and plots revenge.  

Menes, Sami’s father from Cairo, had emigrated to France in search of peace. An unlikely friendship forms with Holocaust-survivor Moshe, each recognising their past struggles.

Suddenly, a terrorist bomb explodes in a Toulouse synagogue. Moshe asks his son, Simon, to produce a film showing the true history of his people from the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.  

What will happen to Moshe’s and Menes’ special relationship when an intrepid French detective’s efforts to find the terrorist reveal the horrifying truth? 

In a soul-searching conclusion in Jerusalem, having no female descendant to whom to give the meleke stone, there’s only one thing that Simon can do to maintain the survival of his people for all eternity. 

…..are you ready for the four thousand year journey of the meleke stone?”

Follow the story as it moves between Toulouse, Warsaw, Cairo and through to Jerusalem. Read the historical truths about Sodom and Gomorrah, the Maccabees and what happened during the Six-Day War in the Sinai.  But above all, recognise the lifelong friendship between a Jewish man and an Egyptian Muslim. Enjoy!

About the Author

Olga Swan has a B.A. Hons. (Open) in English language and literature.  For many years she worked at The University of Birmingham, following which she spent twelve years living in S.W. France before returning to Birmingham in 2017.  She has had 7 books (3 non-fiction) published by indie publisher Crooked Cat Books, which has now closed. Three of Olga’s works are narrative non-fiction, one of which (Pensioners in Paradis) is approaching one million pages read and is already a four-times international best-seller.  A second edition of this and of An Englishwoman in America have now been reprinted. Three novels form a series set in wartime Germany, France and Poland. Dunoon Assassin  moves between NY, Dunoon and Amritsar.

Olga has been writing her blog every Sunday for 13 years with hundreds of regular readers each week from around the world.

She can also be found on her Amazon author page, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linktree.

Categories
Books Social anxiety The Power of Belief The writing process

Ask and You Will Be Answered

Yesterday evening was Ladies Who Launch – a joint online launch event with the fabulous authors, Jo Fenton and Alison Knight. And me. We were celebrating the launch of our new novels:

I was looking forward to reading an extract from my novel, but not so much to tackling questions. In fact I was sure I’d mess that part up. I was ready to say, “I haven’t done your question justice, but I’d be happy to answer it properly on social media.”

In the event, there were no such problems and I managed to answer fairly well. But there was a different problem. There were several questions that I didn’t get to answer, many of which I didn’t even have a chance to see.

So, I’m opening this post up for the questions that weren’t answered, and for questions that weren’t asked before. Ask, in the comments below, about Style and the Solitary. Ask about me as an author, or as a person. With time to consider my responses, I’m likely provide a more satisfactory answer, anyway. I’ll reply to the comments or write one or more separate posts in response if the question warrants it.

What you should know about Style and the Solitary

  • It’s a murder mystery
  • It’s set in Jerusalem
  • It includes a romance
  • One character has social anxiety
  • One character is a new immigrant from France
  • It involves the power of belief

Ask away!

And many thanks to all those who attended the event and those who tried but failed.

Categories
Books

SATS Launch Day Update

Since my last post about Style and the Solitary, there have been several developments. I’m going to copy from the post and add to it.

Thanks again to Melina Kantor and Shoshana Raun, whose prompts and other writing suggestions helped to craft the plot much more than I’d expected. Joan Livingston, who read and commented on my draft, and also wrote the cover line and the brilliant foreword. And Stephanie and Laurence Patterson of darkstroke books whose editing and cover design were magnificent.

Also to all those who have opened up (or will open up) their blogs for me:

Name and LinkTopicDate
Natalie WoodWhy crime?3rd March
Jennifer WorrellSettings24th March
Carynn BohleyInterview5th April
Heidi SlowinskiInterview20th April
Sue BarnardImportance of Setting21st April
Tim TaylorExtract25th April
Paula ReadmanInterview26th April
Angela Wren25th May

What can you do?

  • You can come to today’s Facebook Launch.
    Click now and press Going. There will be information about the book in text, photos and music, and plenty of interaction, including a competition.
  • You can come to the joint online launch event called Ladies Who Launch, where three darkstroke authors will introduce our new books with readings and answer questions.
    It’s on 6th May. Click now to secure your free ticket.
  • And you can buy Style and the Solitary – paperback or ebook – on Amazon.

Thank you, everyone!

Categories
Books

GREEN

GREEN. If that were the solution to a cryptic crossword clue, what might the clue be? Answer: a new genre.

As it happens, a new genre (for me) is exactly what my latest novel is written in. It’s a murder mystery, called Style and the Solitary. Set in my adopted city of Jerusalem, it begins with a murder and a suspect – a suspect who is unable to defend himself. Fortunately, there’s someone who believes in his innocence.

Style and the Solitary will be published by Darkstroke on 26th April, 2021.

GREEN is also the dominant colour in the gorgeous new cover.

Is there anything you want to say about the colour green, or anything else for that matter? You’re welcome to comment below.

No doubt, I’ll be writing more about this novel in the coming weeks. Topics will include Jerusalem, NaNoWriMo, friendship and maybe even social anxiety.

In the meantime, Cultivating a Fuji, my uplit novel set in Bournemouth (UK) and Japan has been rereleased and is available on Amazon.

For a short while, the paperback on Amazon UK is only at this link.