Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An amazing read

Born in Potsdam, Germany, Gisela Sedimayer has a love for the written word. Having moved to New Zealand and then to Austria, and having fought her cancer with the best weapon--creativity--she is the author of the Talon series, bringing the story and the characters to life over the course of several years. I am thrilled to find her review of my book, A Favorite Son:

A remarkable read that could happen in today’s families. A biblical, twisting story about Jacob getting his birth right before his brother Esau with the help of his mother Rebecca.

Yankle, deceiving his brother of his birth right with a lentil soup and the help of his mother. Was that the right way to do? As he found out, it was not. He is now asking himself again and again, Where did I go wrong? It was all mothers’ fault. Her calculation missed the mark. She might think that once Isaac blessed me, Esav would realize who was really the one in power. But it was not to happen. Instead his brother longs to kill him.

A great lesson to be learned about deceiving

This book is the fourth book by Uvi Poznansky I have read now. And it is as marvellous as the first. A great writer and understanding of the word. Yes, Uvi, you did it again, you never cease to amaze me.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Why History is the Agreed Upon Lie

Catalina Egan​, author of The Bridge of Deaths​, invited me graciously to come back to her blog, and rite a guest article for it. I opened with this: 

"All of us take Truth to mean an absolute account of reality. But since we view reality through the lens of who we are, our experience, our mood at a certain time, we create multiple versions of this reality, which may or may not agree with each other--" 

Check it out: 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Twisted is Indie Book of the Day Award winner

Doing the happy dance! I've just gotten this wonderful note: 

"I am contacting you on behalf of the IBD Awards. We had recently received a nomination for your book, Twisted and have selected it as the Indie Book of the Day Award winner . As a result, your book is currently featured on our homepage for the entire day."

IBD Book of the Day

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Extraordinary and fascinating

Thomas Jerome Baker has written books in the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. I am thrilled to find his review of my trilogy, The David Chronicles:

5Extraordinary and fascinating, June 23, 2015
This review is from: The David Chronicles: Boxed Set (Kindle Edition)
God called David “a man after his own heart”. The first time we see David in the Bible is when the prophet Samuel comes to Jesse’s house looking for the next king of Israel. King Saul had been rejected by God—though he still sat on the throne. God said in 1 Samuel 13 that He would remove the kingdom from Saul and give it to a “man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:13, 14). In chapter 16 Samuel went to Jesse’s house looking to anoint the new king.

David was Jesse’s son and the youngest of eight brothers. Samuel looked over the other brothers and knew that God had not chosen any of them. Samuel asked Jesse if there were any more sons to consider. In 1 Samuel 16:11 Samuel said that he would eagerly wait until David came from the pasture where he was tending the sheep. Samuel anointed David as king even though he was still a young man. We don’t know how old David was when this took place, but it is commonly believed that he was just a boy between the ages of 8 and 12.

What author Uvi Poznansky does in "The David Chronicles" is give us a fresh perspective on the story of David. David's story is common to us all through our reading of the Bible. In the hands of Poznansky, it is an extraordinary, fascinating and ambitious literary endeavour. Making use of artistic license, this story is like nothing we have ever heard before: from the king himself, giving the unofficial version, "the one that could not be allowed to be told or written." This makes use of our ability to suspend disbelief, and enjoy the story for what it is, without reference to the reality we are familiar with. It's a fascinating and irresistible proposition, recognizing that all humans share the "urge to tell all." David, freed from the constraints of his biblical identity, indeed, tells all... ** I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

An outstanding description of the biblical event

Born in Potsdam, Germany, Gisela Sedimayer has a love for the written word. Having moved to New Zealand and then to Austria, and having fought her cancer with the best weapon--creativity--she is the author of the Talon series, bringing the story and the characters to life over the course of several years. I am thrilled to find her review of my novel, The Edge of Revolt:

 King DavidJune 18, 2015
This review is from: The Edge of Revolt (The David Chronicles Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
Reading now the third book in the David Chronicles, The edge of revolt, Uvi Poznansky once again has amazed me with her wonderful discernment of King David. Knowing the biblical story of David very well, she describes his life in the todays English and reading between the lines.
His feelings, his fears, his anxiousness, his mistakes, his love affairs with his beloved Bathsheba, his failures and his sorrows.

She describes King David as if she was with him, standing beside him to get all the feelings and share them with her.

The story of Amnon, as he assaulted Absalom's sister, Tamar. Then Absalom kills his brother Amnon for revenge, because King David, his father wouldn't do anything about it, wouldn't punish him. How could King David kill his own son? King David just couldn't bring himself to do it, to kill his own son.

Then Absalom rises to power, despising David, his father, punishing him with. Until the last battle when Absalom...

Well, I won't spoil anymore about the amazing story, Uvi Poznansky unfolds here. You have to read that incredible story about King David and Absalom.

An outstanding description of the biblical event about King David's rain. Well done Uvi Poznansky

Even thought I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

The Perils of Biblical Inspiration

Would you believe that writing biblically inspired books is a risky proposition? Let me suggest to you that it is. Why? 
Because some of your readers may have only a vague recollection of the reference material, back from their days in Sunday school. Others may be totally unfamiliar with it, because they may come from a different culture altogether. So you have to introduce enough of the original story to the readers, and you better do it in a fresh way, one that highlights the immediacy of its meaning. Here, for example, is the voice of Yankle (based on the biblical Jacob) in my book A Favorite Son:
“When I sprinkle my secret blend of spices; here, take a sniff, can you smell it? When I chop these mouthwatering sun-dried tomatoes, add a few cloves of garlic for good measure, and let it all sizzle with lentils and meat—it becomes so scrumptious, so lipsmacking, finger-licking, melt-in-your-mouth good!
There is a certain ratio of flavors, a balance that creates a feast for the tongue and a delight for the mind; and having mastered that balance, with a pinch of imported cumin from the north of Persia, a dash of Saffron from the south of Egypt, I can tell you one thing: When the pot comes to a full bubbling point, and the aroma of the stew rises up in the air—it would make you dribble! Drive you to madness! For a single bite, you would sell your brother, if only you had one!”
By design, his voice is a direct and intimate one, letting you get close enough to taste, or at least to smell the aroma of his lentil soup. Not only that, but the ‘you’ in this passage is not just the preverbial you. Rather (as is revealed later) it is a character with a complex emotional relationship to the main character: his firstborn, who at the conclusion of the story is just about to fool Yankle in a most devastating way, by letting him believe that Joseph, his favorite son, has been devoured by a wild beast.
No wonder Yankle has a dark side. Here he is, pondering the bitterness of sibling rivalry, and the abuse of an elderly father by his son, which perpetuate themselves here from one generation to the next:
“It is an odd feeling. Have you ever faced it? Being dead to someone you envy; someone you miss, too; someone who knows you intimately and, even worse, has the chutzpa to occupy your thoughts day in, day out. It grinds down on your nerves; doesn’t it? Trust me, being dead to your brother is not all that it is cracked up to be, but it does set you free—oh, don’t act so surprised! It frees you from any lingering sense of obligation. Brother, you say to yourself. What does it mean, Brother? Nothing more than a pang, a dull pang in your heart.
You have betrayed him. Accept his hate. You need not talk to him ever again. For the rest of your life, you are free! A stranger— that is what you are. A stranger, visited from time to time by dreams: Dreams about the mother you will never see again, and the father you left behind, on his deathbed. Dreams of waiting, waiting so eagerly for the next day, to meet your brother at the end of an endless exile. Dreams of grappling with him all night long, until the crack of dawn. Until your ankles give way. Until you lose your footing on the ground.
Then, rising up to take you is the darkness of the earth; which is where you wake up at sunrise to find yourself alone.”
Some of your readers may be well versed with the reference material, and for them, you better offer an extra layer of meaning. For example, in the passage above, the sentence “Dreams of grappling with him all night long, until the crack of dawn. Until your ankles give way“ is an allusion to Jacob grappling with the angel, the night before he meets his brother after years of estrangement. In the biblical story, this is symbolic of Jacob struggling with God. But in my modern interpretation, this is symbolic of Yankle struggling with his curse, the loneliness in which is he is stranded, now that his brother is his enemy.
A Favorite Son does not amplify what the bible says. In fact, it offers a secular point of view, and a mirror to our souls. To me, the bible is rife with drama, sex, and violence, which makes it a rich source, a place to explore the truth about ourselves, about our struggle between the angels and demons inside all of us. My Yankle is no hero, no one you might want to revere. Instead, he is a rebellious teenager, a sly smart-ass about to cheat his father. Which may well offend some readers, especially those who make the mistake to expect nothing more that an expansion of the original story. To such readers, my book may be seen as nothing less than blasphemy.
What do you think? Is writing biblically-inspired books is a risky proposition?

★ Love historical fiction? Treat yourself to a gift 
Historical Fiction with a Modern Twist...
The complete series:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

David commits adultery

I want to wait, wait for her to give herself to me—but in the end I cannot fight my passion any longer, and I take her. She sighs softly and arches against me, rising on the fervor of my caress, higher and higher into ecstasy.
What wakes us up when the glow goes out of the stars, when they hang over us like stones, and the hills around us take a faint, still uncertain shape, is a sound. 
Dazed, we look up at the heavens as if we were underwater, sunken and floating with the stream, and what startles us out of our dream is the march of soldiers out of the courtyard below, and the clinking of swords.
In alarm Bathsheba opens her eyes. 
“Stay awhile longer,” I whisper to her. 
“And live here with you,” she counters, “happily ever after?”
Before I can think of an answer Bathsheba rises to her feet and walks to the edge of the roof. Peering out through the lattice, “Nay,” she says. “Both of us know that’s not going to happen.”
It is sunrise. Sprawled around us is the city, its hills drifting in and out of grayness. Sudden gusts of wind press against newly erected scaffoldings, near and far. The tent of God can be seen below, its tissues alive, blowing like a mouth, a huge mouth swelling and puffing in unspoken anger. 
It brings to mind what my first in command, Joav, said to me. “Standing here,” he said, “I would feel above God.”
The troops march around the tabernacle, snap to attention when they reach its front, and bow deeply. Then they file out onto the road, heading east to the faraway city of Rabbah. 

I unlock the chamber door, glance left, right, and into the stoney shadow of the stairwell. To my relief my scribe, Nathan, is nowhere in sight. I give my hand to Bathsheba. First we move on our tiptoes, slowly, carefully, like little children playing hide and seek. Then, in leaps and bounds, we run down the stairs.
Near the bottom, where the staircase twists onto the landing, I am feeling particularly reckless. When she sets her little foot—a bit precariously—on the last triangular stair, I pull her to me. Wild and carefree I hope we can both slip. 
I find myself loving risk of all things—even more than her—and not minding anymore if a glimpse of us can be caught through the opening, as we lie there one last time before it is over, before both of us are forced to come out and lie, lie to ourselves, lie to everyone else, pretending that last night never happened. 
“This,” I say, closing my eyes, “Is happiness.” 
“Yes,” says Bathsheba. “For one night, it is. With the power you have, be sure not to make it the cause of mourning.”
For some reason I hold myself back from asking her what she means. 
All too soon Bathsheba gets up, dusts herself off, and straightens the folds of fabric about her. Then she walks out into the blindingly bright sunrise, her eyes clouded with some thought, perhaps worry. 
There is one thing, one nagging notion I am beginning to form in my mind as I watch her going, and it is this: yesterday, when I wrote her that note, I knew I was tempting Providence. What I failed to consider was the fact that she would be the one to suffer the consequences, more so than me.

David Commits Adultery, Maciejowski bible

Bathsheba Bathing by Paolo Veronese

My trilogy, and this moment in the second volume in particular, are greatly inspired by art of all ages. Her are two examples, where the artists viewed the love between David and Bathsheba in two different ways: 

The first image, titled in the most unveiled way, David Commits Adultery, is taken from Maciejowski bible, a medieval picture bible of 46 folios, thought to have been created under the direction of Louis IX of France in the mid-1240s. It is symmetrically framed by a distant view of the City of David and the raised curtains over the bed, where David makes love to Bathsheba. The most prominent graphical element is David's sword, erected in the center of the image, hinting, perhaps with a measure of humor, at the sexual vigor of the king. 

The second image is mush less explicit, despite its title Bathsheba Bathing she is shown fully clothed, or rather wrapped with silky fabrics. Drawn by Paolo Veronese, this is a sensual painting even without showing naked skin. The artist captures the king's little gesture of invitation, almost as if he was asking Bathsheba for a dance, and her surprise finding him so close to her.

★ Love historical fiction? Treat yourself to a gift 
Historical Fiction with a Modern Twist...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Still Life with Memories

Lenny appears as a ‘supporting character’ in two of my novels-- My Own Voice  and The White Piano -- bundled together in Apart from Love. In 1980, his predicament--watching his wife, Natasha, slipping away from him due to her early-onset Alzheimer’s--is heart-rending to me. It fascinates me to such a degree that I find myself compelled to build an entire series surrounding what happens to this family. It will be titled Still Life with Memories. I am writing a new novel as we speak, which gives both Lenny and Natasha center stage, and takes them first to 1970 and then a full generation back, to 1941, to the beginning of their love story. Three volumes of the series-- The Music of Us,  Dancing with Air, and Marriage before Death -- are bundled together in Apart from War.

In 1970, there is only one thing more difficult in Lenny’s mind than talking to his son, who has left home, and that is writing to him. Amazingly, having to conceal what Natasha is going through makes every word—even on subjects unrelated to her condition—that much harder. Lenny finds himself oppressed by his own self-imposed discipline, the discipline of silence.

These are his thoughts:

And what can I tell him, really? That I keep digging into the past, mining its moments, trying to piece them together this way and that, dusting off each memory of Natasha, of how we were, the highs and lows of the music of us, to find out where the problem may have started? 

Here is a phone conversation between Lenny and Natasha in 1941, when he was a young soldier and she--a rising star. This is the beginning of their love story. Note not only how chatty she is with him, but also the mechanics of a long distance call through the switchboard:

The Bell phone operator came on. I could hear her fumbling about at the switchboard, which I imagined as a high back panel, consisting of rows of front and back keys, front and back lamps, and cords all about, extending every which way, connecting the entire mess into circuits.
At the other end, “Hello,” said Natasha. Her voice sounded intermittent. 
“She said Hello,” said the operator.
“Oh, Hi,” said I.
“He said Hi,” said the operator.
We laughed. I could barely hear what I thought were giggles, as they were breaking off, coming back on. After a while the connection got better, but at the risk of it deteriorating again, we found ourselves talking rather fast. 
I asked Natasha if she got my photograph, the one I had sent earlier that month. It showed me amongst others in a group of Marines, all of us dressed in uniforms, looking exactly alike. 
She said yes, and was I the Marine second from the left, squatting, and in return I should expect a photograph of hers, which I’d better treat with extreme care, not the way I had treated her first envelope, which meant placing it in a dry, safe place, preferably close to my heart, because this is the earliest picture she had with her papa, so it was dear to her, and she’s giving it to me as a special gift, and on an entirely different note, what would I say if she told me that this summer she plans to take some time off from performances, which would give us an opportunity to meet, and even if her Mama would object to this idea, because she protects her only daughter from dates with soldiers in general, because in her opinion they’re good-for-nothing low-lives who sleep who-knows-where with God-knows-who, she, Natasha, would love to see me if, and that’s a big if,  I could arrange a visit. 

Compare this with another phone conversation between them, 40 years later, described by their son in my novel Apart From Love. Here Lenny calls Natasha, who can no longer understand him, let alone respond, because by now she is afflicted with the disease. 

Stopping for a moment by the console table he dials, listens, and redials. His ear is pressed to the handset, which is connected by a long, spiral cord to the phone, which is nearly buried by various papers, and hidden behind an old alarm clock. The cord is stretching tensely in midair, or slithering behind his back as he goes back to hobbling to and fro across the floor.  
There he goes, reaching the wall, banging it accidentally with the bottom of the crutch and then, somehow, turning around, aiming to reach the opposite wall and bang, turning around again, while listening intently to the earphone. With each footfall, my father attempts to cut through some stutter. He tries, it seems, to restart a conversation. 
He pays no attention to me. Still, his voice is deliberately lowered, which tells me this is private. I should turn away, really, and keep myself far out of earshot—but for some reason I make no move, and no sound either. Why is the connection so bad, I wonder, and who is it, who could it be at the other end of the line?
My father swallows his breath several times, his face turning pale, his eyes—miserable, until finally he bursts out shouting, “Listen, it’s Lenny! Can you hear me, dear? In God’s name, Natasha, it’s me—” 

Perhaps you have figured out by now why I call the series Still Life with Memories. Think about the haircut style of a soldier in this era, the woman’s fashion in hats and dresses, The design of cars, the gadgets (such as here, the telephone), the furniture, the stamps and envelopes--these are the details that give a solid background to the story and allow it to harken back to an earlier era in history.

★ Treat yourself to a family saga ★

Apart from Love

Paperback  Hardcover

Apart from War

Paperback Hardcover

“Liberally salted with buttery smooth prose & fascinating insights”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Begin the journey, see where it takes you

The David Chronicles is the journey of a lifetime. The way I wrote it is greatly inspired by painting and sculpture throughout the history of art, depicting the story of David, who is an exceptional historical figure with great gifts, facing great temptations in love and war. You can easily read each one of the three volumes as a standalone novel, yet the themes of power and love run through the entire trilogy, allowing you to witness the drastic change in the main character from youth to old age. I find this transformation fascinating and hope you will too.

As an artist and writer, I believe that my mission is to let the characters speak to you through me. David is flesh and blood, he lives in my mind, and so does Bathsheba. This story is happening here and now. I invite you to step into the skin of the characters, and look yourself in the mirror.

Here is the first time David lays eyes on Bathsheba in volume I of the trilogy, Rise to Power:

Then, on a whim, she plunges underwater nearly all the way, so all that remains above the foamy surface is the little embroidered towel wrapped around her head. 
After several evenings of watching her from afar I still have no idea if her hair is curled or straight, red or brown. I have painted her in my mind several different ways already, each time more beautiful than the other. By now it matters little to me. She is so sexy, she might as well be bald. 
When she comes back up, “What,” she says. “You still here?”
“What’s the point of going up there,” I say, hearing a slight tone of complaint in my voice. I hope she does not think me childish. That would be devastating. 
With a hint of a smile, she asks, “What does that mean, What’s the point?”
So I say, “You would seem too small from above.”
“Really,” says Bathsheba. “I thought I spotted you standing by your window, with your sword aimed at me.”
To which I explain, “I could not see a thing through the glass. It became cloudy, or something. At this time of day, even though it is only the beginning of summer, it’s much too steamy in the office.”
She rolls her eyes. “I’ve had it with men.”
I can find nothing to say, and perhaps there is no need to. She can tell, can’t she, how desperately I ache for her.
“My life is scandal-free at the moment,” she says. “It feels nice for a change.”

David’s love affair with Bathsheba is, arguably, the most torrid love affair ever told, and the love scenes could not be less than arousing, yet they must be delivered with lyricism and be no more explicit than the biblical Song of Songs. Here, then, is an excerpt from A Peek at Bathsheba:

Separated from her by the thought of a kiss I sense her heat, and the gust of air scented by roses and by her flesh—but I cannot tell if the breath between us is hers or mine. Which is when I know, for one perfect moment, that she is part of my essence. 
I am part of hers.
Bathsheba holds me in a tender embrace as I lay her down. Scattered petals fly off, swirling in the air around her long, silky hair that starts cascading here, over the pillows and onto the tile floor. 
Accidentally the goblet, which she has set down next to her, tips over and some of the wine spills over her hip. I dip a finger in the red puddle beside her, and paint countless grapes around her waist. 
Intoxicated I murmur to her, “Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of an artist’s hands. Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine.” 
I want to wait, wait for her to give herself to me—but in the end I cannot fight my passion any longer, and I take her. She sighs softly and arches herself against me, rising on the fervor of my caress, higher and higher into ecstasy.

Here is the way he thinks of Bathsheba towards the end of his life, in volume 3, The Edge of Revolt

Overhead, a cloud breaks off from the others and moves in a new direction. Its wooly, dim grays are drifting across. I squint, rub my eyes. Now, in a separate layer, another image starts floating past: the way she looked, right here on this roof, when we came out of these doors the very first time. 
I remember: scattered petals flew off, swirling in the glow around her long, silky hair that started cascading under her, onto the tile floor. In the background, a vine of roses twisted over the wooden lattice and into it. Between its diagonal slats I saw a diamond here, a diamond there of the heavens. I wondered then about the black void that was gaping upon us, dotted by a magical glint of starlight.
Separated from her by the thought of a kiss I sensed her heat, and the gust of air, which was sweetly scented by roses and by her flesh—but I could not tell if the breath between us was hers or mine. Which is when I knew, for the first time in my life, that she would always be part of my essence. I would be part of hers.
Accidentally the goblet, which she had set down next to her, tipped over and some of the wine spilled over her hip. The crisp sound of breaking glass rang in my ear. It marked the moment, from which I could not turn back. Never would I be able to put it out of my mind.
Yes, this was my fault: taking a woman that belonged to another. Soon after came the blunder: bringing her husband, Uriah, back from the front, that he may sleep with her, which would have explained her pregnancy ever so conveniently. 
And when that did not go as planned, then came another mistake, the worst of all: sending him back to the battlefield, with my sealed letter in hand, arranging for his death. 
All the while, my boys were learning their own lessons—not from my psalms but from my deeds. One error begets another, each one bringing a new calamity over me, over my family, and over this entire land. Sin followed by execution, followed by revolt, escape, execution, revolt...
Had I known back then the results of the results of my mistake, the curse looming over my life ever since that time, would I still choose to do it? 
Bathsheba tries to raise me to my feet. Her fragrance brings back to me the sunny, warm hues of spring. The fears, the doubts flee away when we are that close. I adore the way she calls my name, the way she sighs. With every sweet word I fall deeper into her eyes. 
How can love be a mistake? In my passion for her—then as now—what choice do I have? 
I want to tell her, “Let me close my eyes. Let me remember.”

★ Love historical fiction? Treat yourself to a gift 
Historical Fiction with a Modern Twist...