Busy author Gila Green has written several fiction books, traveled the world, and teaches courses for WOW-Women On Writing. She grew up in Ottawa, Canada, then moved to Israel for a year where she met her husband, who is South African. Gila currently resides in Israel with her family.
Always a voracious reader, she read a book a day as a child and reads an average of 1-2 books a week now. Gila recent took time out from her full schedule to talk with me about her writing past, present, and future.
Kathryn Schleich: What’s the first thing you ever wrote that was published?
Gila Green: My short story that is actually coming out now in White Zion was my first publication. It’s titled Nomi’s Tomb and was originally published in a journal that no longer exists called Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal.
KS: You were a journalist before you began writing fiction. What did you learn from your career in journalism?
GG: Many useful things: interviewing/researching/editing skills. How to meet deadlines, how to be clear, how to take criticism, that you cannot hide behind your sources… it was a very useful degree. The most important thing I learned was there’s always another source of information, but I’d say that’s the most important life skill I learned, not necessarily a fiction writing skill.
KS: You grew up in Canada, then moved to Israel with your husband who is a native of South Africa. How do these cross-cultural perspectives inform your writing?
GG: I have high beams for location and setting and all that goes with it, such as dialect and jargon.
KS: With five children, how do you organize your time to write not only several books, but a regular blog and vlog as well?
GG: Children grow. I have had different schedules depending on their ages. I typed a lot one handed while nursing!
Because I often submit to Jewish Carnival (a monthly feature of Jewish-related fiction) it gives me an artificial deadline of making sure at least once a month, something is brand new.
KS: Have any of your children expressed an interest in writing and following after mom?
GG: No, but they are all avid readers from years of me insisting on a once-a-week library day. I’m proud of that. Come by my house on a weekend and you’ll find a house of bookworms.
KS: Do you have a specific writing process that works for you?
GG: Creating deadlines is very helpful for me.
KS: When pregnant with your fourth child and with your husband’s encouragement, you were accepted into the first master’s writing program taught in English in Israel. How did the program change your life?
GG: Completely. It moved my dream of fiction writing to a reality.
KS: Do you have any favorite stories that you’ve written?
GG: I published my first story the second year of the program, in the Canadian literary magazine, The Dalhousie Review. The story, “Spider Places,” is part of my collection White Zion, which came out in May 2019. I think Spider Places was my second story. It was either Nomi’s Tomb (then titled Rivkah’s Tomb or Spider Places). They were published almost simultaneously. Most of my White Zion collection with Cervena Barva Press is very dear to me.
KS: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
GG: Writers MUST expand their body of work. Author Mark Mirsky told me that and I’ve never forgotten it.
KS: As a writing instructor, what advice do you give aspiring writers?
GG: Find a mentor, especially in the beginning but for as long as you can.
KS: What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
GG: I try to hold a microscope to the world I see and enlarge it to such an extent that the reader cannot miss what I’m trying to say.
KS: What are you currently working on?
GG: The sequel to No Entry, titled SnapShot as part of my environmental fiction series. It takes place in South Africa’s Kruger National Park and is part of my attempt to spread the word about the dangers of the ivory trade and elephant extinction. I’m also revising a novel titled A Prayer Apart that offers a close-up view of life as an Israeli teenager knowing you are next in line for the front line from a very young age. The book is told through the eyes of a male protagonist who is one step away from a juvenile detention center.
KS: Any additional thoughts you’d like to add?
GG: Write what you’re passionate about. And that my newest book, White Zion, is available through Cervena Barva Press.
Learn more about Gila’s writing, insights, and teaching at her informative author site. Her coming YA environmental novel, No Entry is to be published September 1, 2019. The book is available for pre-order through Storm Bird Press. King of the Class and Passport Control are available on Amazon.