Author Interview 171 – Anat Eliraz


Anat Eliraz

Israel

Age 43

Anat Eliraz 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.

„Jewels of Smoky Quartz” is her first novel.

A world ruled by force and magic. A game that could have a fatal ending.

She is just an ordinary woman – an emergency room nurse who practices martial arts in her free time.

Teleported into a harsh, strange world and sold into slavery to the fighters’ ring of Tur’an, she must use her wit and skills to survive.

On the brink of death, she wakes up in a strange room – only to meet one of her captors. Now, he acts as her protector.

Together they leave the city, but their journey will confront them with their own fears and deepest secrets.

And through it all, she finds solace in an old tune. Not knowing yet how it will impact her life – and the lives of everyone else.

Romelia:   WHAT IS A SIGNIFICANT WAY YOUR BOOK HAS CHANGED SINCE THE FIRST DRAFT?

Anat Eliraz:   Well, it actually changed in quite a few aspects.  I don’t watch TV much and in the three years prior to writing my book, I read mostly historic literature or thrillers.  When I sent my older sister my first draft, she read it and asked „have you seen or read ‘outlander’?”, And I said „no”…  Apparently, I had quite a few things very similar to that story and had to change them… The name of the book also changed. As a WIP I named it ‘misfortune’, but later was advised to use another name and came up with ‘Jewels of Smoky Quartz’.

Romelia:   WHAT PERSPECTIVES OR BELIEFS HAVE YOU CHALLENGED WITH THIS WORK?

Anat Eliraz:   Do we truly have free will or are some things dictated, even on our subconscious level? Those of us that live in democratic countries might think we have the highest level of free will (I am not talking about rules to allow a society to live together). But is it true? How much of our morals and beliefs are actually rooted in us through our family, ethnic or religious backgrounds, and even the media?  Have you ever thought some type of information you held to be absolute truth and then had it proved wrong? How did you react? Discarded the facts? Had yourself shaken to the core? It also has to do with the difference between ‘truth’ and ‘fact’. But I am becoming philosophical here, so I better stop!

Romelia:   WHAT INSPIRED THE IDEA FOR YOUR BOOK?

Anat Eliraz:   It was December of 2018. My husband was abroad, the kids were asleep, and as I said- I don’t watch television much. At times like these, I get ideas, play with them for a day or two in my head and move on to the next.  This idea stuck. It only expanded, until I had to write it down so I don’t forget where I started.  That’s how it all began.  The idea itself was about what I wrote in answer to question 2- ‘Do we have free will’.

Romelia:   HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BOOK’S IDEAL READER?

Anat Eliraz:   Anyone from anywhere! Okay. Someone who likes fantasy, but without too much high magic and politics. That enjoys martial arts (whether practicing and understanding the techniques described, or just enjoying reading a different type of fighting scene). But mostly- someone that likes twists and turns in the plot. Someone who enjoys trying to figure out things before they are revealed in the story. 

Romelia:   HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR BOOK?

Anat Eliraz:   I did quite a lot of research. I checked the techniques I used, to make sure I described them correctly, especially since in movies these things are over-exaggerated.  I had some interesting conversations with medical personnel to get those facts straight. I always wondered what my ‘search history’ might cause others to think seeing things like ‘state rules regarding foster homes and adoptions’, ‘stages of hypothermia’, ‘whiplash movements’, etc…!

Romelia:   HOW IMPORTANT WAS PROFESSIONAL EDITING TO YOUR BOOK’S DEVELOPMENT?

Anat Eliraz:   Okay… this question stings… but I learned it for my future writing. I had no professional editing done during my writing. I actually finished the book a year before I started thinking seriously about publishing. So no editing that helped the development. The plot wasn’t changed at all since I started the publishing process.  I did work with an editor that corrected my tenses and a few words here and there, since English is my second language, and I am not familiar with all the rules of grammar.

Romelia:   WHAT WAS YOUR HARDEST SCENE TO WRITE, AND WHY?

Anat Eliraz:   It took me 3.5 months to write the book except for one part which is about 7 pages long it took me almost 4 more months to finally finish.  It was a part when the MC is moving from one point to another with another character, and I needed to get two conversations between them, that aren’t very dramatic, but they have their importance.  I don’t know why this was so hard, maybe because there wasn’t much happening in it, it’s quite a calm part of the story and so it didn’t get the ‘drive’ in me to write it out.

Romelia:   WHAT CHARACTERS IN YOUR BOOK ARE MOST SIMILAR TO YOU OR TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW?

Anat Eliraz:   Haha… tough one! I guess there is at least a little of me or other people in my life, inside my characters. There are a lot of parallel lines between the MC and me- health care workers (though not the same profession), martial arts (though she is higher ranking), and some personality aspects. But we are very different in our backgrounds.  Owen also has certain traits (both physical and emotional) that resemble someone close to me.

Romelia:   HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

Anat Eliraz:   Well, I answered this in question 7- all the story was written in 3.5 months except for a 7-page part that took me 4 more months to finally get done.

Romelia:   HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?

Anat Eliraz:   Talked about it a bit in question 1- while it was a work in progress, it was named ‘Misfortune’. My two elder kids still think I should have left the original name. When I worked with the editor, I was advised to change the name. They said fantasy books use (in many cases) names that work on a base of ‘the x of y’ (lord of the rings). In a way, it’s true. Not all books, but there is quite a lot that do.  The chosen name is a line from the book. The significance is understood once you read the story.

Romelia:   WOULD YOU AND YOUR MAIN CHARACTER GET ALONG?

Anat Eliraz:   No! If she knew it was me who put her through all of what she had to deal with- she’d probably never let me write the sequel! But that aside- I guess we would get along, but it depends where and in what circumstances we met.  At work we would be able to work together perfectly, accepting each other’s knowledge and experience. At a dojo (martial arts training) we could also get along.  But I am not sure she would regard me as a ‘best friend’.

Romelia:   IF YOU COULD MEET YOUR CHARACTERS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?

Anat Eliraz:   I better run (really fast!) and hide! If I needed to be honest, it would probably be sorry, but the worst is yet to come…

Romelia:   WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE? ARE YOU MORE OF A PLOTTER OR A PANTSER?

Anat Eliraz:   100% Pantser.  I write scenes. My book wasn’t written from start to finish. It was scenes that popped into my head and I had to write them down. Only later did I put them all together.  I could write almost anywhere, at any time. If I had some free time, I would write in a coffee shop, in the car, during lunch break… More than a few times I would wake up in the middle of the night and just had to write a scene I thought of, sometimes until sun up!

Romelia:   WHAT DO YOU NEED IN YOUR WRITING SPACE TO HELP YOU STAY FOCUSED?

Anat Eliraz:   Coffee

Romelia:   IF YOU WERE TO WRITE A SPIN-OFF ABOUT A SIDE CHARACTER, WHICH WOULD YOU PICK?

Anat Eliraz:   Owen. 

Anat Eliraz:   You get glimpses of his background in the book, but not a lot. He has quite a story of his own. Some readers would probably shout ‘lord Kiran!’, but he gets a larger role in the sequel.

Romelia:   IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANOTHER POPULAR AUTHOR, WHOM WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Anat Eliraz:   Charles De Lint. I love his writing!

Romelia:   WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE WHEN YOU’RE WRITING A BOOK?

Anat Eliraz:   No schedule, as I answered in 13.  I have a day job (actually, about three…). So it’s juggling it all and just using any free time that comes my way!  And yeah, at least 40% of the book was written at night! 

Romelia:   HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELED AS RESEARCH FOR YOUR BOOK?

Anat Eliraz:   Not intentionally.  As a family, we love to hike, and I used some prior experiences in the writing.

Romelia:   WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WRITING SNACK OR DRINK?

Anat Eliraz:   Coffee!

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK?

Anat Eliraz:   I didn’t.  It was basically sitting in front of the computer, staring at the screen, saying ‘wow! It’s done!’ Then it just stayed on my disc on key (aka- modern drawer) for a year until the first lockdown when I finally decided to try and publish it.

Romelia:   WHAT RISKS HAVE YOU TAKEN WITH YOUR WRITING THAT HAVE PAID OFF?

Anat Eliraz:   I am not sure this is what you meant, but there were two things I have in mind- When deciding to publish, I needed an editor, a cover art design, everything to do with the process… and that costs money, quite a lot of money. Even though it was the first few lockdowns, I did crowdfunding to help me pay it all and it was successful! It was a lot of work, but it paid off and also gave me somewhat of an advertisement. The second thing was using my real name and not a pen name.  I live in Israel, and some people around the world have a problem with that, without knowing a single thing about me.  I debated for quite some time about what to do, but in the end, I decided to stay true to myself, I don’t need to apologize to anyone for their own beliefs. I don’t know if it paid off, but I am happy with my decision (if someone won’t check my book out just because of this, it’s their problem, not mine).

Romelia:   WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU GOOGLED YOURSELF AND WHAT DID YOU FIND?

Anat Eliraz:   I actually haven’t done that in years! But of course, now that you asked- I couldn’t resist! So a few years ago I got the Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and in the Hebrew version- a picture of me with an orthopedic patient that I took care of (it was in a local newspaper).  Now I also get the new Facebook page, a YouTube link to a song I wrote and a friend ‘brought to life, my Amazon link, and a review I was given. Quite boring, eh?!

Romelia:   WHAT IS YOUR KRYPTONITE AS A WRITER?

Anat Eliraz:   Bureaucracy… Since I am not a full-time writer, publishing a book demanded so much in order to do it ‘by the law’. I needed to open a ‘small business’, hand in so much paperwork, do a declaration of capital… and the list goes on. Took the wind out of my sails and I stopped writing for a long time, losing the wish to publish again… (I am back to writing- Readers demands!)

Romelia:   TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Anat Eliraz:   A couple of months ago, I was talking with someone, who doesn’t know me personally. At some point, I said something about my eldest son turning 16, and the other women’s faces paled. I asked if she was alright and she said- ‘I thought you were 30-32. How old are you?!’I laughed and asked her to say that to me also when I am 50 and 60!

Romelia:   DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES. TELL US SOMETHING WE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU AND SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT THE WORLD.

Anat Eliraz:   Physiotherapist, mother of four, practicing martial arts. Love nature, animals, and hiking. Love reading (many genres), and used to draw when I was younger.  I despise the kitchen and never cook (in our house it’s my husband’s domain!).  The one major thing I hate about the world is all the money and intelligence put into building weapons of destruction instead of being used for educational and medical purposes… think of what we could have achieved if it was the other way around!!!

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