BookPleasures.com - http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher
Meet Deby Eisenberg Author of Pictures of the Past
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/4669/1/Meet-Deby-Eisenberg-Author-of-Pictures-of-the-Past/Page1.html
Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on March 8, 2012
 



Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com Interviews Deby Eisenberg author of Pictures of the Past






Follow Here To Purchase Pictures of the Past

Author: Deby Eisenberg

ISBN: 978-0615483122


Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest Deby Eisenberg author of Pictures of the Past.

Good day Deby and thanks for participating in our interview.

Norm:

Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.

Deby:

Norm, thank you so much for this opportunity to share my journey and that of Pictures of the Past. I reside in the Chicago area and am a former high school teacher and part-time journalist. I have a Master’s Degree in English from the University of Chicago. For the past seventeen years, I have been the leader of a large Book Club, and I challenged myself to write a novel that my avid readers could not put down and would love to discuss.

Norm:

What was your creative process like when writing Pictures of the Past? What happened before you sat down to write?

Deby:

All of my previous work had been more of an expository nature – from covering meetings for local papers, to business writing, to newsletters for my charities and organizations. Although I felt very confident in my writing ability, each assignment I viewed as a chore to complete. That was until the day I decided to try writing a novel. From the first day that I began to envision the story, I couldn’t wait to be at my computer to continue the saga. I am a total morning person – most creative from 6 am until 11 am for sure. I think you will hear this from most fiction authors.

Once I created my characters and set them in their world, they told me what would happen next. Getting ready in the morning, moving on to my workout at the health club, I would create the scenes and the dialogue in my mind, trying to hold on to the thoughts until I could keyboard them out at Panera with my iced tea. But I would always have a pad of paper and pen in my hand wherever I was, because I didn’t want to lose an idea. One day I will do an article for a magazine entitled, “Editing on the Elliptical.” (By the way, be careful if you try.) The one hard thing for me during much of the writing process was curtailing my reading. As you can imagine, as a book club leader, I am a voracious reader – a book on Kindle and an audio in the car. But I found while I was writing that I needed to stay more immersed in my own world.

Norm:

What inspired you to write your first book?

Deby:

When I would choose and review books for my own book club, I really came to understand what most captured readers. They want to learn about people in contemporary times and in the context of history, but they also want to fall in love with a good story. Although they were not aware of my project until the first draft was completed, I must credit the wonderful members of my own book club, a bright, interesting, warm and supportive group of women, for being my inspiration.

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

Deby:

Norm, you certainly hit upon what would have been my next point for inspiration, as well. I believe that as a person, we are the sum total of all of our experiences and exposures. As a Jewish woman, I was brought up with a strong Jewish identity, which my husband and I continued to nurture as we had our own family, maintaining a strong commitment to Jewish organizations and charities. Although my own grandparents were not “Survivors,” having left their European homes for America well before the war, I have had an extensive educational exposure to the era for many years.

I will have to credit at least two amazing authors who made me a fiction reader, Leon Uris with Exodus and Mila 18, and Herman Wouk with The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. I understood what a dramatic and emotional background those eras were – and that a love story can embrace any situation. But, of course, my story is not just a Jewish story, as Taylor Woodmere, perhaps my main character, is not even Jewish. I was looking to create a novel that could incorporate so many of the venues and events that I am drawn to. I have been so lucky to have traveled extensively with my husband, both in the United States and Europe, and you can identify what Deby loves – Art Museums and Mansions and Newport, Rhode Island; New York Hotels, and Paris. Berlin is the one location that we went to specifically during the writing of the book.

Norm:

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? As a follow up, what was the most difficult part of writing your book?

Deby:

When I wrote the first manuscript, which is basically the same story that is in the final version, I was actually surprised how much people liked it. Friends and friends of friends would ask for their turn with the few copies that I had until almost 100 people had read it. But despite their tremendous encouragement, I knew that it was a good story, but not a novel yet. It needed to be enhanced on many levels. Over the few years of working with it, I received some wonderful direction from attending writing conferences. Because my novel is very thoroughly researched historical fiction, I learned how to convey important information on events through character dialogue. I learned to have the reader see what was happening (especially Europe in the years 1937 through the war) by experiencing events with the characters. I worked with a wonderful editor, Ann Patty, who also had worked with Jenna Blum’s Those Who Save Us, and she pointed out sections that needed to be made fuller.

Norm:

How did you go about creating the characters of Sarah Berger, Taylor Woodmere and Rachel Gold?

Deby:

When I go to an Art Museum, especially the one in Chicago, I am always intrigued by the patron plaques and am fascinated with the history of the philanthropists – and I always want to know their family stories. You would be surprised to learn that my original concept for the story began with the idea of Rachel Gold and her son – a young man’s quest to understand how he could be so familiar with a work of art. I envisioned not the playboy son who would be his father, but a revered grandfather. Then I went back in time to see how the picture could come to be first in a Kenilworth mansion and then in the Art Institute. This is when I realized that historical fiction was my genre and you must write about what you know. When I realized that 1937 was the ideal date for Taylor to go to Europe and purchase the painting, I also saw him falling in love with Sarah. And then I knew this would become a story involving the Holocaust -- and I was in my element. One of my favorite sad stories of the era involved the ship, the St. Louis, which left Germany with Jewish refugees and was denied entrance in Cuba and the US and had to return a continent on the brink of war. Only as I wrote the story did I realize that Sarah and her mother were heading for that very ship.

And as for Rachel Gold, although I have really insisted that my characters are fictional, not based on anyone I know – I guess there is some Deby in Rachel – not at all her romantic story – but her other loves – I think my dream job would have been traveling and writing for the real Architecture Digest. I also knew that I wanted a more contemporary story to alternate with the WWII one, and the appropriate ages were right for Rachel to have been in college in my time.

Norm:

Did you know the end of your book at the beginning?

Deby:

Thanks for asking that question Norm. In my original version, the couple reconnected by phone (I am trying not to have spoilers here) because I felt anything else would be unrealistic and my first manuscript readers understood and agreed. But then I thought – let me try to write the epilogue and see if it could be believable – and I am thrilled to say that people have been so moved by it.

Norm:

Where did you get your information or ideas for your book?

Deby:

Again, so much of my education and travel exposure translated into ideas for the book. I gathered many books of the era, especially those that dealt with the Holocaust. I was drawn to books that pictured Paris and Berlin before the war. I wanted to see where my characters walked, know what their rooms looked like, understand the challenges they faced. I spent time at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and at the Jewish Museum in New York that had an art provenance exhibit. But it is a chance mentioning by a friend maybe 10 years ago that his grandmother had been on the MS St. Louis that stayed as the kernel of an idea in my mind. I was really not that familiar with the story. And so I attended a lecture given by someone from the US Holocaust Museum who had written a book I had subsequently read on the subject, Refuge Denied.

On another research note, it is a funny story about incorporating The Waldorf-Astoria in the novel. I have always been obsessed with New York’s Plaza Hotel and I thought that Taylor would stay there when he returned to America from Europe. But by chance, while I was writing the novel, I accompanied my husband, an obstetrician-gynecologist, to New York for a medical conference at the Waldorf. As I walked around the hotel while he was busy, I was captured by the pictures and the history, and it found a big place in Pictures of the Past.

Norm:

What is the most favorite part of your book?

Deby:

I loved showing Sarah and Taylor falling in love in Paris and then moving on together to Berlin. I had a wonderful time envisioning their passionate dialogue as they traveled together on the train for a picnic to Potsdam. I need to be honest, when I took that same train ride with my husband, who I know loves me dearly, he was much more obsessed with listening to our guide relating the history of Germany – then mooning over me.

Another favorite scene for me was Taylor’s mother receiving the painting at her home and trying to explain to Taylor what had been delivered that day . . . oh, I do have more favorite scenes . . . and glad to hear my readers do, as well.

Norm:

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

Deby:

I learned things that will help me as a Book Club leader in analyzing a book. I came to understand an author’s process in creating themes. (Again, the English teacher comes out in me.) If you fully develop your characters and they act accordingly as they live in your imagined world, then themes will emerge. One theme even I did not anticipate, but which grew through the narrative, was the empowerment of women during extraordinary times.

Norm:

In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?

Deby:

That is the challenging, but really fun part of writing historical fiction. You must be true to the events, but people can best understand horrific events of a global proportion when viewed through individual stories – and I am delighted by all the reviews that speak to that for my book. I knew the true events of the St. Louis, for instance, but I envisioned the impassioned passenger meetings.

And regarding another major liberty, of course that would involve the central painting of the story. I chose a lesser known Impressionist painter, Henri LeBasque, but I made up a painting, as a real painting would have its own real provenance. I was just thinking that I would love to have an artists’ contest to draw the painting, Jeune Fille a la Plage, that I described.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and Pictures of the Past?

Deby:

I hope that people will visit my WEBSITE to learn more about Pictures of the Past and about my journey. I also have a section regarding books and book clubs. My novel is available as a book and eBook at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com and can be ordered at any bookstore.

Norm:

What is next for Deby Eisenberg and do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Deby:

I have already begun my next novel and I love my first chapter and concept, but I have had to put it aside for a short while. The marketing of Pictures of the Past is very time consuming and I have not given up my “day job.” I am so delighted that I have had many interviews by wonderful reviewers, the novel has been featured on the cover of The Chicago Jewish News, and I have scheduled numerous speaking engagements to Book Clubs and organizations. But I am most excited that I will be going to Manhattan in June to be part of the Jewish Book Council Author Tour. By the way, I love hearing from my readers and they can contact me through my website.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

Norm, thank you so much for your interest in and tremendous support of Pictures of the Past.

 Follow Here To Read Norm's Review of Pictures of the Past

Follow Here To Purchase Pictures of the Past