Author Interview, Miriam Drori

Q&A with Author Miriam Drori

I am pleased to give space on my website to Miriam Drori and her books, including her new release Cultivating a Fuji. Miriam is also the editor of my Isabel Long Mystery Series. It’s been an enjoyable and interesting experience since she lives in Jerusalem. (Thank you technology.) I have read all of her books and like that they take me to another place. But I will let her tell you about herself and her writing.

Who is author Miriam Drori?

Hi. I’m glad you qualified my name, or there would be no end to what I had to say! As an author, I refuse to be pigeon-holed. I don’t stick to a particular genre, although there are some that I’m not interested in trying. And I don’t stick to a particular topic, despite appearances to the contrary. 

A career in creative writing never entered my mind before the turn of the millennium. I had two wonderful English teachers, and eventually found my way into technical writing, but never believed I could be creative before I decided to try it. I’m so glad I took the plunge.

I’ve lived in two different countries and travelled widely, meeting all sorts of people along the way. All my experiences have gone or will go into the mixing pot of my writing, with plenty of imagination tossed in.

Tell us about your new release, Cultivating a Fuji.

Martin is a loner. He sits alone in his office cubicle, writing perfect, bug-free computer programs, but no one can get through to Martin, the person. Outside the office, he lives alone and takes solitary walks by the sea in Bournemouth, UK.

Then his company sends him to represent them in Japan. No one expects him to succeed in selling their computer system, but, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, he achieves the impossible.

That’s only the beginning. Having tasted the way life could be, he can’t return to the way it was, but struggles to keep up the momentum, reaching crisis point at the very top of Hengistbury Hill, looking down at the sea far below.

Cultivating a Fuji is a novel that’s sad, humorous, and ultimately uplifting. It has received a lot of glowing reviews. When a reader writes, “This is a book that is guaranteed to stay with you long after you read it,” I can’t help beaming from ear to ear.

What inspires you to write?

What originally inspired me to begin writing was social anxiety. But inspiration for my writing comes from everything. From people I meet and places I visit. From movies and radio shows and much more. On another level, what really inspires me to write is the desire to explain things that are generally misunderstood, and of course all the people out there who have read and enjoyed my books, so fa

What is your writing process?

Lately, I’ve written my first drafts in that 50k word November challenge. I enjoy the camaraderie and the support of our local group of writers. I let the first draft stew for a while, and then return to work on the edits. I struggle to divide the work into specific drafts, because I’m constantly reading and rereading, and thinking of new ideas.

Eventually, I send the novel out to beta readers, who help me to consider aspects I’d missed. I’m still working on the novel I wrote in November 2021. Of course, that’s not the only writing I’ve been working on during that time.

Why is social anxiety a theme in your books?

When I first discovered social anxiety and joined an online group for “sufferers,” I made two important discoveries. Most people with symptoms of social anxiety believe they’re alone with their problems. It takes them far too long to discover the name and hence reach support and help. On the other side of the divide, people who don’t have social anxiety generally misunderstand those who do.

I began writing out of a desire to inform and further understanding of the condition. However, although social anxiety features in all three of my books that are currently available, it doesn’t appear in all my writing, and I don’t plan to limit myself to that topic.

How important is setting in your books?

Setting is very significant in my books, often becoming another character in the story. The seaside town of Bournemouth plays a crucial role in Cultivating a Fuji. Martin feels the sea is his only friend, and he enjoys long walks by its side. And there’s the contrast of Japan, a country he visits twice. 

My murder mysteries are set in my home city of Jerusalem, and readers can get a glimpse of what it’s like to live here, while following the mystery. I’ve found readers are often surprised by the normality.

How do your travels have an impact in your stories?

I’m lucky to have visited many places, exotic and otherwise, all of which have featured or will feature in my stories. This is most obvious in my short stories for the Dark World series of anthologies from Darkstroke. My contributions appear in Dark LondonDark Paris and Dark Venice.

What other books have you written?

Besides Cultivating a Fuji, there’s Style and the Solitary, the first in a series of Jerusalem murder mysteries, and Social Anxiety Revealed, which is non-fiction. The other books I’ve written are not available to buy, but I have plans for them.

As an editor, what is your approach to a manuscript?

I would say, I approach each manuscript with an open mind. I’m happy that, as an editor, I’ve read genres I might never have chosen. Horror, for example, and fantasy. It’s helped me to understand the allure of those genres. The first time I received a novel in US English, I worried I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. I was used to writing technical documents in US English, but fiction is a different kettle of fish. In the event, it turned out I’d absorbed more, from local emigrants from the US, than I’d realised. I even commented on particular words that Americans wouldn’t know, and this was to a British author living in the US. ‘Pavement’ instead of ‘sidewalk’ was one of those. ‘Kip’ meaning ‘sleep’ was another.

I feel lucky to have had the opportunity of adding the finishing touches to some amazing writing, including a wonderful series of mysteries by a fabulous author called Joan Livingston.

How about an excerpt of your latest?

Here’s an excerpt from Cultivating a Fuji. I think it’s self-explanatory.

Held upright by the dense, smoke-filled atmosphere, Martin staggered towards the microphone. Hardly surprising he couldn’t walk straight after all the alcohol they’d plied him with this evening. Earlier on in the evening – though for the life of him he couldn’t work out whether that was hours ago or only a few minutes – that chap who talked funny English – Tetsuwhatsit or something – had told him the drink was called saké. Then he’d said, “It is wine made from lice.” Martin almost spat it out, or maybe he did spit it out – he couldn’t remember. Anyway, he remembered at the last moment that Rs were Ls and Ls Rs in this funny, topsy-turvy place, and carried on drinking. He liked the taste and they kept giving him more. He shouldn’t have agreed to the last two or three little cups – at least, they looked small but appearances could be dethep… deth… Anyway, the Japanese were very insistent and he kept on drinking.

Now, even through the stuporific haze that surrounded him (nice word, that – stuporific – must remember it when I’m sober), Martin knew that his good fortune had, of this moment, come to a most definite end. Up to now he’d done incredibly well on this trip. Despite his apprehension on being told they were sending him to Japan, despite the fact that he’d never flown before, never gone to another country on his own, never been on any sort of business trip, never given a presentation, this trip had gone surprisingly well.

Today had been amazing. At lunch, Tetsuyama had told him they had decided to buy the system. (It had really happened, hadn’t it? He didn’t think he’d dreamt it). Then, before some sort of office celebration in which Martin was to be the guest of honour, Tetsuma had taken Martin out for a tour of the town – a temple, a museum and the market. He distinctly remembered – at least, he thought he did – stopping to admire some gigantic red apples. Tetsukarma had told him they were called Fuji apples.

“Like the mountain,” Martin had said.

“But name not flom mountain,” Tetsu had replied. “Flom town where apple first glow. Fujisaki.”

Tetsu had bought him one to taste. So sweet, so delicious. Just like this country and its people.

When Martin had given his presentations, in a room so thick with cigarette smoke that even breathing was a struggle let alone talking, the men had listened to his explanations as if their lives depended on it. Well, not their lives, but probably their jobs did. After each sentence, Martin had been glad of the chance to relax and close his smarting eyes while Tetsu – what was his name? – translated his words. Some of the translations seemed much longer than his original sentences. Some of them involved prolonged exchanges between the men. Martin waited patiently until they all turned back to him for his next sentence.

Apart from Tetsu, the only one who spoke to him in English was the secretary, Kimura-san, who he saw on both days dressed in a tight skirt that reached below the knee and a white blouse with a pink ribbon. She had welcomed him with an embarrassed smile and given a sort of giggle when she spoke English. It was her discomfort that had encouraged Martin to question her. He recognised a kindred characteristic.

“Why are there no other women in the company?”

“Woman must to stay home, laise family, rook after house.”

“Even now, in 1977?”


“Why do you work?”

“I not yet mallied.” Kimura-san had given her shy giggle.

In fact, all these Japanese people seemed quite shy and reserved – rather like Martin. They seemed to need all their traditions – the bowing, smiling, things they said – to overcome their shyness. He warmed to them and felt calm with them – well, as calm as he could be. It was also something to do with them being strangers and foreigners. They hadn’t caught on yet that he was weird and different, and should be treated as such. They seemed to think he was important – a respected expert. He’d begun to feel quite good about himself. He hadn’t felt this good for… goodness knew how many years. Probably not since he started school, aged five.

But now, his luck was running dry… err… out. It turned out they expected him to do this thing they called karaoke. He – Martin – was supposed to sing in public! To a hall full of workers from the company! He’d tried to get out of it, but they’d made it clear that wasn’t an option.

“Choose a song,” they’d said and, for no reason at all, the one that came to mind was Gershwin’s Summertime.

The music began. Martin tried to look down at his feet. But then he couldn’t resist glancing up, and he realised, because of the lighting and the smoke of a thousand cigarettes, he couldn’t really see anything but shadows. He knew there were a lot of people out there, but not being able to see them properly made it feel as if he was alone. Martin opened his mouth, took a deep breath and… It was the strangest thing. As soon as he began to sing, his nerves left him completely. He’d never felt calm like this in the presence of other people. “Summertime, and the living is easy.” His voice sounded loud and forceful – exactly as it did when he sang on his own in his little flat, to an audience of zero.

When he finished, loud clapping filled the hall and Martin beamed, unsure whether this was dream or reality. When he sat down, his colleagues patted him on the back and Tetsuya – that’s it, Tetsuya – said, “Velly good.” What was it about this country that turned everything around and made him feel so normal?

Links to Miriam Drori’s books and blog

Cultivating a Fuji

Style and the Solitary

Social Anxiety Revealed


6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Author Mary Kendall

Mary Kendall is the next author featured in my 6Ws series. She used her life-long interest in history to write two novels, The Spinster’s Fortune and her latest, Campbell’s Boy, which was released this week. Like many authors, Mary has been inspired by her own experiences, including growing up in haunted houses. Really. Here, I will let her take over.

Who is author Mary Kendall? 

Mary Kendall lived in old (and haunted) houses growing up which sparked a life-long interest in history and story-telling. She earned degrees in history-related fields and worked as a historian for many years. Her fiction writing is heavily influenced by the past, which she believes is never really dead and buried. Fueled by black coffee and a possible sprinkling of Celtic fairy dust, she tends to find inspiration in odd places and sometimes while kneading bread dough. The author resides in Maryland with her family (husband, three kids, barn cat and the occasional backyard hen) who put up with her mad scribbling at inconvenient hours. 

Her debut novel, The Spinster’s Fortune, is a historical mystery. Her second novel, Campbell’s Boy, a coming of age historical fiction, was released Nov. 22. She is also a contributor to Darkstroke’s anthologies for charity with short stories included in Dark Paris, Dark New Orleans and Dark Venice.

What is your latest book? 

My second novel, Campbell’s Boy, was released this month through Moonshine Cove Publishing! It is coming-of-age historical fiction that crosses over into biographical historical fiction. The novel is the result of eleven years of research into a family genealogical puzzle in my ancestral line and centers around a real-life probate court case in the small town of Colusa, California, in the late 1800s. You can find it here:

Here’s a quick blurb:

After the death of his mother on the wagon train out west, young Emmet Campbell struggles to find his place in the world. Fighting off town bullies, an evil Irish stepmother and his own learning disabilities, he mostly fends for himself in the boomtown of Colusa.  While struggling to find his footing, he never loses his curiosity about the world around him and the people in it. Scuffling and skylarking along the way, Emmet eventually discovers family and identity in places he could have never imagined. With equal measures of the dark and the light, Campbell’s Boy is a tender tale about what it means to be human.

When did you begin writing? 

Define “writing”? If little stories as a child count, then from age sixish on. The teen angsty years that followed could also be termed the emo journaling years. In my 20s, I dabbled with short stories. Attempts at novel writing began in my 30s but came to a screeching halt when three kids arrived. Enter the 40s and some breathing room where I picked it all back up. Now, in the ripe and mature decade after that (ahem, we don’t need to name it), I am about to see the publication of my second novel.

How do you write? 

I need both writing in long hand and typing on the laptop. It’s a combo that works for me in different ways. For example, editing is almost exclusively laptop. If I am stuck on a plot line, it’s picking up a notebook to experience the physicality of pen to paper.

Where do you write? 

I just recently got a private little den (sad when kids leave for college but it can come with a perk or two). Prior to that, my computer was in public space in the middle of household action. I made it happen but now it is so much better to have “a room of one’s own” — with a door. I also have a lovely outdoor area that overlooks my rose garden. The writing magic happens between those two spaces.

Why do you write? 

To untie the knots. By that I mean it is how I process and digest the ways in which life happens to me.

More about Mary Kendall: Parting words and social media contacts

I reached out and connected with our hostess, Joan Livingston, a couple of years ago, prior to signing up with our mutual publisher, Darkstroke. Joan is a wise woman and gave me some sage advice that has stuck with me ever since: “there is writing and then there is the business of writing.” Truer words never spoken.

That advice led me to the successful publication of my debut historical mystery novel, The Spinster’s Fortune. It also steered me in the direction of moving forward with the writing, both aspects of it. Thanks for having me on your blog, Joan … and thanks also for your wise words.

To learn more, check out

Twitter @MaryLavin49

The Spinster’s Fortune is available for purchase at and short stories at

6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Gary Kruse

The next author in this 6Ws series is Gary Kruse from the UK. I so enjoy getting to know my fellow authors and what they are willing to share about their writing. How’s this? Gary wrote the majority of Badlands on his phone during his lengthy work commute. Up next? Bleak Waters, a supernatural mystery. But I will let Gary take over this post.

Who is author Gary Kruse?

I’m a writer of novels, short stories and flash fiction from Hornchurch in Essex. I’m married with two sons, and in my day job, I work in the educational/charity section as an Administration Manager. I like rock and alternative music and play guitar, enjoy football and tennis and love reading, cinema and theatre. 

What is your latest book?

My latest published book is my dark thriller Badlands, a story of deception, betrayal and conspiracy inspired by and set on the wild rugged coastline of North Cornwall. 

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Jane Harper, James Herbert and Robert Goddard, it’s the story of Willow, a runaway who’s dragged back into the life she fled when she gets a call for help from her estranged sister. 

When she returns to the Cornish coastal village of St. Agnes where she grew up, Willow finds that her sister was involved in a local scandal, but has since gone missing. 

To dig into the secrets of her sister’s life, Willow must confront her own mistakes and with every revelation Willow finds herself dragged deeper and deeper into a murderous conspiracy who’s roots lie a lot closer to home than she realises. 

It’s a story of sisterhood, broken families, smuggling and hidden identities with a hint of social commentary and even a dash of the paranormal. 

My current WIP is called Bleak Waters. It’s a supernatural mystery set in Hickling on the Norfolk Broads. 

Twenty-five-years after a young woman went missing in broad daylight, a stranger turns up asking questions about the disappearance. 

Lost in her own grief, the stranger’s arrival is a welcome distraction for twenty-three-year old local girl, Lily West, but when she starts uncovering the web of secrets and lies surrounding the disappearance, Lily realises that she’ll have to choose between protecting the people she loves, and uncovering the truth.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing in 1996. I went to see the Craft in the cinema, and I’d recently seen the Lost Boys, and in the days that followed I started thinking what would happen if the girls from the Craft met the Lost Boys? From there, I began writing a series of short tales about the conflict between a gang of witches and a vampire crew, and this eventually became my first (and gratefully unpublished) novel, Blessed Be

How do you write?

These days it’s mainly on laptop, but I wrote the majority of Badlands on my phone on my commute to and from work. I used to commute from my home in Hornchurch, to my job in Hampstead, North London, which was an hour and forty minutes each way, which meant I had around 3 hours a day of solid writing time. 

Where do you write?

We did a loft conversion a couple of years back, and now I have a writing space in the corner of the loft. But at the minute most of my writing is done in the local library on my lunch break from the day job. Occasionally I’ll write in coffee shops too. 

Why do you write?

To tell the stories that I want to read about the places I love, but that I can’t find in bookshops. 

More about Gary Kruse: parting words; links to your books; social media

Thank you, Joan for hosting me! Readers can find links to all my social media, my mailing list, website and published works through this link:

Badlands is available from Amazon on kindle, kindle unlimited and in paperback:

6Ws, Author Interview, Darkstroke Books

6Ws with Author Jennifer Worrell

Jennifer Worrell, a Chicago-based author, is the next one featured in this 6Ws series. I found it interesting she wrote her suspense/crime novel, Edge of Sundown, sitting on a lawn chair while balancing an iPad on a retaining wall. Jennifer has a whole lot more to say about her writing, so I will let her take over.

Who is author Jennifer Worrell?

I’m a pen and cheese enthusiast from the States (Chicago) with an unofficial goal of writing in every genre before I die. I’m forever trying to catch up with my TBR list, but since I work at a university library, I have zero chance for success.  I live with a husband and a kitty, neither of whom understand the zeal for pens, but they do understand the cheese thing, so we get along quite well.

What is your latest book?

Edge of Sundown is a suspense/crime novel published by Darkstroke Books.  It tells the tale of Val Haverford, an aging author whose dystopian universe of covert invaders eliminate “undesirable” members of society—something that could never happen in modern-day Chicago—until it does.  What started as a chance to revive his career and reconcile dark events from his past becomes a race to save himself and the people he loves.

Though we never seem to learn much from history, and it always comes back to bite us, I had no intention of writing anything political when I started writing Sundown in 2014.  It came about purely from asking ‘what-if’ questions.  That’s what I get for taking more than six years to write a book. 

Many stories are about loss, but lost opportunity feels more devastating to me, so I wanted to share that perspective.  It’s a recurring theme in other pieces, including my next project: a sci-fi novel about a rather shady radio exec with a particular talent for traveling through time.

When did you begin writing?

Since kindergarten, but not seriously until I was in my mid-thirties.  Looking back, I’m a little ashamed that I pissed away so much time.

How do you write?

Messily.  With lots of coffee.  I tend to write the scenes that compel me most and the essentials to convey plot and theme.  Then I put them in some kind of order, figure out what needs to happen in between so things make sense, and tie it all together.  I believe this is called the quilting method.  Sometimes I feel detached from the project until I throw myself into research, so I visit towns that inspire my settings, even live like my characters.  For instance, I hosted a radio show based on a weekly theme so I could more accurately portray my current protagonist.

Where do you write?

After the pandemic hit and we were forced to work from home, I set up a nifty little table against my living room windows.  I’m usually there, but I love working “offsite”.  Coffee shops, parks, lobbies of theaters—it really refreshes the mind to get away from routine.  I wrote Sundown sitting on a lawn chair while balancing an iPad on a retaining wall.

Why do you write?

It’s such fun.  It’s my outlet.  Some people draw, others make music…this is what I do for pleasure and escape and to occasionally torture real-life foes without those pesky social mores getting in the way.

More about Jennifer: Parting words; links to her books; social media

I’m the slowest writer ever but I have some stuff for you to read in the meantime.  

Edge of

A novella and short story by my alter ego, for you grown-ups:




Everything, everywhere, all at once (assuming you open all the links in one go):

6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Author PJ McIlvaine

PJ McIlvaine is this week’s author featured in my 6Ws series. She and I share a keen interest in the Titanic, a storied shipwreck that happened for real. But her character, Violet Yorke, a feisty survivor of that tragedy, has a lot more she’s dealing with like her ability to see ghosts and the demands of her rich family. I will let PJ take over and tell you about her writing, including Violet Yorke, Gilded Girl: Ghosts in the Closet.

Who is author PJ McIlvaine?

I’m a prolific Jill of all Trades in several genres: picture books, middle-grade, young adult, and adult. About the only genre I haven’t tried is porn, but there’s still time.

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Violet Yorke, Gilded Girl: Ghosts in the Closet (darkstroke books, 2022), a middle-grade supernatural historical mash-up about a poor little rich girl who sees ghosts and gets into all kinds of mischief and mayhem in 1912 Manhattan. It’s a high-spirited mystery adventure for all ages. 

When did you begin writing?

Since I was extremely young. The first thing I wrote was a neighborhood newsletter with my brother. I’d do the articles and he’d draw the cartoons. Later, I wrote poems, short stories, song lyrics, essays, books, etc. Maybe it’s in my genes as I was always told I’m distantly related on my maternal grandmother’s side to the French writer/feminist/philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. 

How do you write?

Well, with two hands…lol, I write by instinct and the seat of my pants. I don’t outline. I have it all in my head. I write every day, even if it’s only a sentence. Writing is like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it. 

Where do you write?

Mentally, I’m always writing. Physically, I write in my office (when my hubby isn’t occupying it) and at the dining room table. 

Why do you write?

Keeps me out of the wine bottle. No, I write because I have to. It’s like breathing to me, as much a part of me as my arms and legs. And at this stage of my life, I’m too old to join the circus. 

More about PJ McIlvaine: parting words; links to your books; social media

Writing is 75% waiting. This is not a quick-get-rich scheme. You need the patience of Job and the hide of a rhino. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

PJ lives on Eastern Long Island with her family and furbaby Luna.

PJ’s social media links:

PJ’s website:

Twitter: @pjmcilvaine


Instagram: @pjmcilvaine