Hello, it’s me again. Nanny Ab is locked away upstairs writing her/my memoires. I’m slightly worried this morning because my guest on the flying carpet today is coming from Jerusalem. She’ll have no flak from the Arab contingent because the carpet used to belong to my Djinn friend, Ali but I’m concerned about her flying it over synagogues.
Oh here she comes, and she looks great!
Thank you, Ailsa. What an amazing flight that was. Mostly, the carpet followed the Mediterranean Sea, but it did hover over Rome. I got this beautiful photo.
Oh that’s lovely, Do come and join me in the garden for a nice pot of English tea and my spicy fruit cake if that suits? What’s in the Tupperware box?
English tea would be perfect. We can’t buy that in Israel, as far as I know. And spicy fruit cake sounds delicious. I brought these baclawa straight from the market. I think they’re called baclava in English, but that makes me think of balaclava, which is something else altogether.
Oh yummy. I have some fresh cream so we could dig into them later. So… tell me about your current work in progress. I believe it was inspired by a painting?
Yes, The Women Friends by Gustav Klimt. This novel is a first for me in two respects. I’ve never written anything historical before, if by historical you mean: before I was born. And I’ve never collaborated with another author. But my co-author has done both of these very successfully and I’m delighted to be working on this. I’ve learnt a lot from it – not only about research and historical writing and collaborative writing, but also about what you can glean from a picture and how these details can be woven into a story.
How fascinating. How do you usually find inspiration? I find, like many other things, it just pops up in unexpected places.
The inspiration for the work I just mentioned was handed to me on a plate, suggested by the other author. I have ideas for more stories, inspired by my past, places I’ve visited, people I’ve met. As you say, inspiration pops up in unexpected places. One thing I’ve never tried to do is to sit down with a real or virtual blank sheet of paper and say, “Now what shall I write about?” Such an activity is likely to lead to the dreaded “writers’ block” – something I have no need of.
Tell my readers about your other works because I know they will want to hear, and you could tell us what inspired those too.
Who Sees the Light, a short story published in 100 Stories for Queensland was inspired by a tweet by the author Nik Perring. I would quote it here, but that would spoil the story.
Reflections in Watercolour published in Hitler Did It came from a simple cancellation of a meeting with an excuse I doubted.
My novel, Neither Here Nor There, published by Crooked Cat, was the result of an online workshop run by Sally Quilford. I searched for a romantic storyline that would be different from the usual and found it in my hometown of Jerusalem.
When I’ve finished the current work in progress, I want to return to a novel I’ve been working on. It’s inspired by my experiences, but the characters and plot are totally made up.
Lovely! I like doing that – my life but other people in it. How is life with you at present? That wasn’t a political question but living where you do I suppose the answer might have to be? ‘How are things at home’ might be better?
I’m not surprised you would think that, Ailsa, but it’s really not true. Everyday life for me has very little to do with politics. This week, for instance, we travelled to Kiryat Ono (about an hour’s ride away) three times to see our daughter singing in concerts at the college where she’s studying music. I went to my writing group where we celebrated the ninetieth birthday of one of our members. And of course I went to folk dancing. My answer? Life is good.
Well you are busy. A work in progress and what about travel? I know you travelled a lot earlier on, shame you never got to be here in person.
I travel now more than ever. We enjoy getting away for short escapades that always include walking. Last stop: Hong Kong. Next stop: Russia. I would love to be at your place in person.
In the meantime, thank you so much for having me, Ailsa! The tea and cake were delicious. Now, how exactly do you summon the magic carpet?
You know that you are welcome any time in real life or on the page. Just step on the carpet and tell it “back, please”. It will take you to where it picked you up, then just say “Go home now” and it will. Lovely to see you again, Miriam xxxx