Canadian Gila Green’s debut novel KING OF THE CLASS is published by Now or Never Publishing (2013). Her novel in stories WHITE ZION, nominated for the Doris Bakwin Literary Award, will be released in spring 2014. She teaches fiction at: www.womenonwriting.com and lives in Israel with her husband and children. Find out more about her at her blog www.gilagreenonline.com.
How long have you been a member of the WNBA-NYC?
This is my first year and I’m really pleased I took the plunge and joined. At first, I wasn’t sure if it made sense to do so from Israel, but it’s definitely worthwhile, and I’m grateful that they allow overseas writers to join the chapter.
Tell us about your involvement in Women on Writing Flash Fiction course.
I’ve been teaching short fiction and literary devices on the WOW site since 2009. They are great to work with, supportive and professional and I love the ongoing opportunities to meet writers from all over the world. Some participants have become valuable friends and colleagues. This year a long-time participant suggested I offer Flash. I immediately took her up on it. The sign-up was even more than I anticipated and I’m offering another Flash course in June.
Your debut novel King of the Class just released in Vancouver and is now available for purchase on Amazon. Congratulations! Tell us about your book and what the publishing process was like for you.
King of the Class takes Israel’s deep internal religious and political divisions to their logical dystopian conclusion. The novel is satirically set in the near future in a post-civil war Israel divided into two states: the religious fundamentalist state of Shalem and the militant secular state of Israel. As writer Michael Chabon asks the question, what if the Jewish people made a state in Alaska? King of the Class asks: what if the real enemy of the Jews is not without, but within? What if the population of Israel wakes up one day to find itself separated into two groups, living across hostile borders? Against this backdrop is a love story between Canadian Eve Vee and South African Manny Meretzky. Their relationship slowly becomes a microcosm for the religious divide around them. Ultimately, Eve and Manny must unite if they want to prevent a tragedy, but can they put aside what divides them when harmony seems to be a thing of the past?
After two years of solid work, the manuscript was complete and finding my Vancouver publisher was remarkably painless. I already had five full years of experience from publishing and I knew the basics: how to query agents, publishers, how to deal with the non-stop rejection and the endless waiting. I also knew that as an overseas writer I was up against it. I’d been told for years that my chances of traditional publishing these days were low enough and as an overseas writer, practically non existent. I had a few initial rejections and each time I revised accordingly if the suggestions spoke to me. Within a couple of months I found Now or Never Publishing while surfing the internet, and I knew my chances were higher with a Canadian publisher than with anyone else, so I sent in my manuscript. I still remember my acceptance e-mail: “I think I’m crazy to go for an overseas writer, but what the heck!” I’ve been very happy with them.
What future projects do you have in the works?
I am delighted to tell you that my novel in stories White Zion is coming out in the spring of 2014 with my Vancouver publisher. The collection spans Yemen, British Mandate Palestine, modern Israel and Canada of the 1980s and deals with themes of racism and alienation within the family unit. I am particularly excited about it because my father is a Yemenite Jew and I have written a lot in both a male and female Yemenite Jewish voice, something I believe is sorely lacking in Jewish literature, which is dominated by the Ashkenazi Jewish voice of Eastern Europe and North America. I’m also working on a sequel to King of the Class.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice is to decide on your goal with your writing. Second, find a mentor, someone who has accomplished more than you in the writing world. It is very important to have at least one person who not only believes in your work, but who has also “been there”. Third, persevere, persevere, and persevere. Be professional. Remember that no one is rejecting you; it is your work that does not meet their needs at the moment and there could be dozens of reasons for that.
What’s your favorite word?
My favorite word balagan. It’s a slang Hebrew word many English speakers have adopted. It means disorder, disarray, confusion or mess, but somehow still manages to have both a positive and negative connotation. If a party is a balagan it would be a really fun enjoyable mess, but if the kitchen is a balagan, that means a lot of clean up. I like that balagan can be both positive and negative because in English it’s always negative and a little disorder isn’t always bad, is it?
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys.