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Interview with Anat Eliraz

She was born in Israel but spent a few years of her childhood in Singapore, where her love for fantasy started. She describes her life as being quite normal, even though she has driven a tank and jumped out of an airplane!

Between being a mother to four, working as a physiotherapist in a neonatal intensive care unit, and training in Martial Arts, she still finds time to write. Anat loves to use double meanings and word games in her writing, allowing her readers to play along or double-check themselves, as the story unfolds.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I have never suffered from nightmares in my life. I used to start my day (in kindergarten age) by watching the whole 'thriller' clip, just as people need coffee to start their day (which means - don't talk to me until AFTER I finish it!). For some reason, that was what started my day with a smile!

Q.2 What inspired you to write Jewels of Smoky Quartz?
The question of whether we have free will or not. I started picturing the climax scene and after that, the whole story started taking shape.

Q. 3 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
In the future - yes, but probably not this year (2022). I am writing the sequel to my published book and another fantasy story that takes place on Earth during WW2.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Hoping to get their reactions and emotions right. I think as a woman, even though not all women are the same. But I am not a man and will never be able to view the world as one. So hopefully, I did justice to my male characters.

Q.5 Do you plan out your book before you start writing, or do you just write and see where it takes you?
I don't plan out. I write scenes as I see them in my head. I don't write a book from start to finish. Some scenes might not even make the final draft. Things change and sometimes characters surprise me and pull the story in another direction!

Q.6 How long on average does it takes you to write a book?
A. Jewels of Smoky Quartz
was written in 3.5 months. It did take me another 3.5 months to finish a 7-8 page long scene that I just found hard to write. But I wrote a lot then and would wake up at night with an idea I just had to write. I decided to publish it only a year after I actually finished writing the whole story.

Q.7 What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The book was written in quite a short amount of time. But I was stuck with a small part, that was not much of a scene in itself and just couldn't write it. It did not contain any important part of the story and just needed to get the characters from one place to the next, and I couldn't bring myself to sit down and write it for a very long time.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Since I don't make my living from writing, I guess I will continue working as a physiotherapist! But if it's having free time - I would love to have more training time for martial arts!

Q.9 If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I am not familiar with the names of actors in the film industry… I think I would have liked to put someone unknown, maybe with a good martial arts background, as the MC. I think it would make the character more authentic.

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
I think it is very important to get exposure and target the right readers. My marketing campaign actually started when I did a crowdfunding campaign to help me publish the book in the first place. It did demand a lot of work and doing things in advance, in order for it to work, but it paid off!

Not only did I establish a large group of people with similar interests, but those that were interested also 'served' as advertisers, by sharing it with their friends. I had over 80 paperbacks and a few dozens of eBooks already preordered before the book was published.

In any case, I highly advise other writers to join readers and writers groups and be active in them. That will help others to get to know you and later it will be easier to come and offer your book.

I built a large group of friends on Facebook who all had something in common that the story might be of interest to them. One was fantasy lovers, of course, because that is the genre I write in. The other two were medical staff and people practicing martial arts since that is my MC's background. This also helped me a lot to get to people who could enjoy my story.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
I believe it would be an elf (though my elves are taller than humans). I like their way of life, their connection with nature, and their heightened abilities (like better hearing and night vision). Anyway - do you know how many books I could write if I lived so many centuries?!

Q.12 If you could invite one character to dinner from your book at home, who would it be and why?
I believe it will be Owen, the second MC. Owen is a character built on the ideas of characters I used to playback in my D&D days. Characters that apart from joining the main adventure, have their own demons to come to terms with.

I would love to meet him in person and see how he truly came out. And have a conversation with him that is not a conversation with myself (as me being inside his head).

Q.13 What three things a reader can expect from your book?
 1. There are word games and hidden clues strewn throughout the story, which the readers might pick up on and then 'congratulate' themselves or turn back pages to see how they missed them.

2. It pictures quite a lot of martial arts and their uses in real-life situations. The MC is not invincible, she makes mistakes and gets hurt. She doesn't throw 6-foot tall fighters across the room - that's nice in the movies, but it doesn't work in reality.

3. No world scale epic battles, no sophisticated magic systems, no politics, and yet an interesting story that in some aspects might make you think about your own life. Oh! And one dragon! But you'll have to wait patiently for it!

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your book, who is dear to you and why?
Lord Kiran. He was supposed to be just a side character. Someone the two MCs meet, he helps them and they move on.

But he demanded (really!) a larger role and after some persuading (I will have to call it that…) he got his demands… er… requests! He is an interesting character and he will further develop in the sequel.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select them?
I asked a company that does cover art to do my book cover. They understand better what works in the marketing and getting the fonts and all together. I don't know the name of the artist themselves, they're one of their workers.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
While I write, I give each character a set of three capital letters (for example - DDD), and those will continue throughout the story. Once I decide on a name, it's easier to exchange the letters with it. But the names themselves I pick from a list I make.

You know - when a movie ends and the list of actors and everyone who contributed to the movie scrolls down? That's when I take pen and paper and start scribbling down names I like. That's my list. Not all names will be used, but I keep them for future writing.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
Yes, I do read them. It's easy to deal with the good ones! Wonderful boost to the ego! Just kidding - it's always nice to get good reviews.

Bad reviews - well, they sting. After putting so much effort into writing a book, it's never fun to get bad reviews. Luckily, they are a small minority. I sadly had to deal with untruthful reviews given only because I am from Israel, and not because that person actually read the book and didn't enjoy it…

I think that I mostly learn how to better my writing from the three-star reviews because those who took the time to explain their rating mainly wrote - 'the story was good, but-'. And this is information I can learn from. I can't promise everything would change to fit those reviews, but it has opened my eyes on a few occasions.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I will narrow it down to authors because otherwise, I would have too long a list to choose from! I would like to meet Charles De Lint! I love his writing and the way he develops his stories and characters! I would really like to ask him questions about his writing, inspiration, etc.

Q.19 Are there any new books or authors in science fiction or fantasy (or both!) have you excited about? What are you reading right now?
In the last two years, I decided to give new authors the chance to shine! I have read some awesome books and am looking forward to reading more by these authors!

Examples are -

Of Blood and Fire by Ryan Cahill.
Keeper 829 by Michael Camarillo.
The Orphans of New Lur by Blake Vanier.
The Empire's Lion by Nathan Tudor.
Nights Reign by Daan Katz.
Winds of Strife by U. G. Gutman.

I am sorry if I missed someone… I am just about to start Exile into Sand by Josh Lindquist.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
I have enjoyed writing very much, but I think I enjoyed it mostly - because I didn't write with a plan to publish. I wrote because I had a story to write, and not because I had deadlines.

I have a 'day job', which I love, and so writing for me is like a hobby, something I enjoy doing. The fact others enjoy reading what I write - is an amazing added bonus!

Publishing wasn't an easy process, not financially nor emotionally. But now, standing and looking back on it all I am glad I did it. I get good responses about my work and through the process, I got to meet amazing people who have become my friends!

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