In the Courtyard of the Novelist: An interview with Ruchama King Feuerman

I’ve got a treat here today: an interview (conducted via email) with award-winning author, Ruchama King Feuerman. Her latest book, In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, just came out in September as an ebook. Recently, she signed a contract to expand the release to paperback. I became acquainted with Ruchama through Tablet Magazine online, where both of us have published essays. She was gracious enough to send me a copy of her new book and even more gracious to answer a few questions the novel left me with.

R.K. – In your first book, Seven Blessings, the central figure is a very strong female character. In this new book, you primarily follow two male, unmarried characters. What was that like for you as a married woman?

new book from Ruchama King Feuerman

In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, now out from NYRB LIT

R.K.F.I prefer writing from the male point of view. This way I don’t worry about slippage, about parts of  my personality leaking into my characters, it’s just cleaner — what’s me is me, and what’s them is them.  I feel much freer to invent and have fun when I write as a man.  I do tend to prefer singles maybe because they are inherently dramatic. Continue reading

Will your next bedtime story be on an e-reader? Two interesting blog posts about children and ereaders

Children Reading

(picture from Clipart ETC)

About a year ago, my sister sent me a link to a blog post by Eric Kimmel about whether we’ll be seeing e-picture books.

Mr. Kimmel was responding to an article in the NY Times which describes the development of color monitors on ereaders. The article’s author strongly believes that the spread of these devices will attract child readers.

Mr. Kimmel brings up many salient points, both pro and con ereaders for children. On the pro side: producing an ebook is much cheaper than producing a full-color picture book with glossy paper; children might be attracted to the format. On the negative side: whose device are they reading on? Is a small child able to handle an ereader independently? Is the gimmick of the format going to wear off? Is it going to become another excuse for publishers not to acquire and produce picture books (which is already a big problem)?

I recalled that post today when I read another article, this time on the Motherlode blog of the NY Timeshttp://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/28/why-books-are-better-than-e-books-for-children/
The author, KJ Dell’antonia, recently read a Time Magazine article about children’s literacy and ereaders. The Time article suggests that children interact differently with ebooks than with print literature–and so do the adults facilitating the reading experience. These habits negatively impact their ability to learn to read.

In the Jewish community, there’s an additional issue: a lot of relaxed family time takes place on Shabbat and Yom Tov. That’s when Ima and Abba have time to curl up with Junior and Juniorette and read. For many of us, that means no electronic devices. Sure, we’ll read an ebook, but not on Shabbos.

Maybe e-picture books do have a future–actually, I’m betting they do. But they’ll need to address at least some of these failings in order make them take over the picture book market entirely.

Electronic Publishing

On a couple of my LinkedIn groups, there have been some fascinating conversations lately about self-publishing. At this point in my life, I can’t imagine starting such a project–unless we’re discussing ebooks.

As I have mentioned before, the novel I’m currently working on is so quirky, I’m a little afraid of its publishing possibilities. I’m also considering an anthology of my stories (including ones that have previously appeared in magazines). I can’t imagine spending the money on self-publishing up front–but ebooks can be printed with services like Lulu for virtually nothing. Moreover, if you price your book in the magic window of $.99 to $2.99, you can get a lot of downloads. The author’s share of the profit is higher, and they can accumulate into a little pile of spending money.
I tested out a Kindle last week.
Definitely a weird experience for me. The sound, smell and tactile experiences of reading an ebook are so different than with a print one, and your eyes and hands operate so differently, that it was a little off-putting. 
I visited the Lulu site, too. There are a LOT of details, details traditionally published authors don’t handle.
Additionally, I have concerns about how well ebooks are penetrating the Jewish market. My most recent Artscroll and Feldheim catalogs do boast ebook offerings, and here are some links to Jewish e-book sites online:
Definitely more research is in order.