Tania Hershman's stunning book, The White Road and Other Stories, definitely does NOT fall into that category. To continue the food analogy, think of delicious tiny nibbles, each created with love and care ... every mouthful unique, providing an exquisite explosion of taste ... stimulating, uplifting. Her stories are sometimes shocking, sometimes sad, but always compulsive and leaving you wanting more. Not in the sense of feeling unsatisfied, but because they feel like a rare gift.
With the word economy of the poet and the rich visual inner landscape of a dreamer, Tania has woven her stories and flash fiction together into a book that cannot fail to move any reader lucky enough to hold it in their hands. I'm delighted and honoured to be providing the final stopping post on her virtual tour.
We do things a bit differently here, so I have a glass of virtual champagne for you and do please help yourself to chocolates. They’re organic and fair trade, of course. It’s snowing outside, so let me know if you’d like a blanket to snuggle under.
Are you comfortable? Do you have everything you need? Then let’s go …
You live by choice in a part of the world that is almost always in turmoil. Can you tell us what impact that has on your reasons for writing and also if it is a factor in the content you focus on in your stories?
It's interesting that you say that, "by choice", because that must be how it looks from the outside, but actually this is the only place I have ever felt at home, so in that way I am not here by choice, I am here because something pulled me here and because I feel very attached to this place. I am not sure anyone would necessarily see living here as a rational course of action! My parents certainly don't, and I have been here for 15 years already.
If I felt constantly stressed and under pressure, I wouldn't live here. What I mostly feel is joy, every day, waking up in
Life here is different, I walk around here at night with no second thought at all. I'll say again: I would not live here if I felt constantly scared. That would be an extreme form of masochism, no? Life is lived here very much in the moment: the ever-present threats dictate that we be spontaneous, and that is something I thrive on. We live now, and we live as much as possible.
As for the impact on what I write, I really am not sure. None of the stories I write are ever set in
I can understand what you mean about choice and how that can be defined. Relating that to writing, I'd say writing isn't a choice either for many of us. It's simply a way of being in this world.
I have family in
I'm sure some would want at this point to mention the way many Palestinians live, especially in
Personally, I do think that our experiences have a direct impact on what we write – and maybe how and why too – even if it's not explicit. One of the things that blew me away in your book was the sheer range and scope of the content.
So ok, if you could choose when and where you were born if not here and now …
That is such a great question. I have to say that I do have a yearning to be born at a time when I could be part of a writers’ group like the
I also sometimes have a feeling that so much has been done already, it is hard to be truly innovative anymore. Everyone has access to everything at any time, I do occasionally wish I was living in an earlier time when there was still much to explore and invent.
To be more geographically specific I often feel that in a previous life I was a New Yorker and I lived in Paris, two places I am often drawn to and feel quite at home in.
Well, that brings me neatly to the next questions. What difference do you think the internet makes to us as writers? Does the online community make up for the lack of real life café society you describe?
The Internet has a huge impact on my life as a writer. I haven't found a local community of English-speaking short story writers here in
However, nothing beats the sheer delight of actually meeting fellow writers, as I did in September at the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival in
Great! That means we should hopefully get the opportunity to meet in real life at some point in the not too distant future. When those of us who meet via the blogosphere then make the move into Real Life, we truly know the value of this medium.
You said earlier that you believe there is less to 'explore and invent' now. Do you not think the technology has opened up new opportunities that didn’t exist previously?
The Internet has opened up markets to me as a short story writer with no local publications to submit to. I have had many stories published in online 'zines, and I submit stories almost exclusively by email - which is cheaper and greener than using the post!
There has been a discussion going on in one of the online writers' forums about the worth of having stories accepted by online 'zines, most of which don't pay or have a huge readership.
For me, writing is about connection. Somehow, and in some way. And the Internet enables that, as I see from the statistics of those visiting my websites and blog, which include visitors from
In terms of my point about there being less to invent, I guess what I mean is that everyone knows everything now, there are no dark corners to hide away, information is freely and instantly available. Whereas, in terms of scientific exploration anyway, it used to be that you worked quietly and privately on your particular research project without necessarily knowing what anyone else was doing. Having too much information can be off-putting, I feel, could stifle attempts at innovation by forcing competitors to work faster and faster in our ever-speedier society.
I watched a wonderful
I often feel dulled and dizzy with the pace of emails and blogs etc..., I find it hard to stop myself looking at everything, all the time. I do think it is a type of addiction.
You’re so right. The sheer scope and range of what’s available at the click of a mouse is overwhelming and I often have the urge to run away and hide.
Anyway, I see we’ve got through the champagne and you’re looking a bit tired. So, to round off, can you tell us what benefits have come from this virtual tour, which is almost at an end now?
Ha! As if …
Do you think there’s been a direct effect on sales?
Thanks so much for saying that, Debi, it always helps coming from someone who isn't me - or my mother! I don't know about how it has affected book sales - I think the
Facebook has been a tremendous tool, I don't think I could have managed half as well without it, in terms of creating a page for the tour, a page for the book, sending out regular updates, posting links.
Oh yikes. I’ve been avoiding Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and …and … and …
All in all, it has been great, but I am craving a little seclusion, no-one asking me what I think or feel, for a while, in the hope that I will be able to get back to some writing.
I am also greatly looking forward to being on the other side and hosting several book tours in the next few months, for
Tania, thanks so much for sharing. It’s been a great pleasure having you as my guest. I hope you’ve got as much out of this end-of–the-road party as I have.
Thanks so much for having me, Debi, and asking such great questions. The last choc is mine, right? I mean, if no-one else is going to...
I’m sure everyone will join with me in wishing you a happy, healthy and above all, peaceful new year. Go ahead and have that last chocolate. You’ve earned it.
Previous stops on Tania’s tour:
12/26/08: Thoughts from Botswana
12/16/08: Kelly Spitzer's Blog
12/2/08: Eric Forbes's Book Addict's Guide to Good Books
11/26/08: Tim Jones: Books in the Trees
11/17/08: Sue Guiney: Me and Others
11/9/08: Vanessa Gebbie's News
11/5/08: Literary Minded
10/28/08: Keeper of the Snails