Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Gilboa Iris by Zahava D. Englard Book Promo, Guest Post, and Giveaway (Ends 8/25) WW

 Dara Harrow, daughter of a rocket physicist for the US department of defense, sends her parents into a tailspin of dual-loyalty anxiety when she plans to wed the brooding and mysterious Roni Ben-Ari, an Israeli officer in an elite counter-terrorist unit. Yet Dara’s budding perfect world is shattered when the terror that she thought she left behind in the States catches up to her in Israel with devastating results, and before long realizes she must come to terms with the shocking lie about the one man she trusted most.

 A blazing tale of romance, deceit, and international intrigue, THE GILBOA IRIS's rich characters and explosive plot take readers from Israel’s Gilboa Mountains to the streets of New York, to Germany’s Zehlendorf Forest, and back to Israel amid seminal events that rocked the world between 1982 and 2002.

Putting the Passion into Perspective (Author Guest Post)


"What inspired you to write The Gilboa Iris?"

This is the question I've been asked most in the past couple of months by friends, book reviewers and enthusiastic readers. My initial knee-jerk response would be something like, "uhhh," while looking back at the curious inquisitor with an equally dumb expression on my face.

Why are you putting me on the spot? There's a reason I write, I thought to myself. I was never good with the adlib, on-the-spot kind of thing. And, inevitably, something more brilliant would pop into my head at a later moment, missing the opportunity to show off my real charm right then and there. Performing under pressure, if you will, was never my forte. I like to think before the words drop out of my mouth. Like spotting a great dress in a store window, I still need to try it on for size before the actual purchase.
Appreciating the value of words, I prefer to choose them carefully, and if I'm lucky, wisely. Let the quick-witted sink their teeth into spontaneous speech. I'm fine with that. Everyone has his or her own niche. Mine is the pen and paper, or rather, the keyboard and PC monitor.

With book launches coming up, I wanted to avoid the glazed look "uhhh" syndrome, and jotted down a few thoughts as to what led me to write my first novel, The Gilboa Iris.  

You see, it's all about passion.

I didn't know that I was going to write this novel. It wasn't planned. Even while having the story line rampage through my mind for months, it still didn't occur to me that what I had was the material for a great novel (if I say so myself).

The Gilboa Iris is a novel of passion. There is passion between the characters, passion for life, and a passion for the Land of Israel. And, just as passion can erupt unexpectedly, so to, did the writing of this novel.

The story line developed out of a deeply entrenched ardent fervor for Israel and a keen awareness of the Israeli condition as opposed to the human condition. Like every Israeli living in Israel, I am passionate for the land. And, as a western woman transplanted in the Middle East, my own take on things had been aching for some mode of expression. With a tendency for drama, my thoughts and perspectives formed into a full-blown plot with characters that ultimately became as alive on paper as they were in my head.

Before I even deigned to write it all down, however, I had, at the same time just finished reading a popular novel that my teenage daughter wanted me to read. I didn't expect to like it. It was one of those teen-fantasy-vampire stories. But, I not only liked it, I loved it. Surprised as to how I was entirely drawn into the fabricated narrative, I re-read the book with a more scrupulous eye and upon finishing it, I thought...I could do this!

The very next day, I sat myself down in front of my computer and began typing out the story in my head that haunted me for months. It was as if I were living two separate lives. The actual one on the street and the one dancing around in my mind. I guess it was a good move
for sanity's sake, to finally merge the two. And so, for about a year and a half I sat at my computer punching out the story of Roni, Dara, Uri, Mace, Alana, Jen and Yaniv.

What started out as my passion becoming theirs, their passion became mine as their characters developed, and I became the book. It got to a point, where when working on an emotionally charged and difficult chapter, my friends, noticing my mood, saw that The Gilboa Iris entirely consumed me. They insisted I get further on in the book-writing where the story line would take an uplifting turn and free me from the depths of my thoughts.

I used my four children as a sounding board. Having two boys in the army at the time not only provided me with information at my fingertips, but also a keener insight. They each also had veto power on the names I chose for the characters. My oldest daughter, a talented writer herself, actually nixed two of my chapters. Difficult as it was to part with them, I finally realized her objective opinion was the correct one.

At its essence, The Gilboa Iris is a love story. It is not only about the romance between the two main characters, but about the love of the Land of Israel. Dara, a native New Yorker, comes to work on a Kibbutz and wants to make her home in Israel against her parents wishes. Roni, the tough IDF officer scarred by the First Lebanon War, displays a dedication to home and country that is so much a part of the collective mentality of Israelis, but hard to fully explain. It is a story of how hope endures and of a people who wear the scars as a badge of endurance.

The story spans the width and breadth of Israel, taking place in the northeast Gilboa Mountain region, to the shore of the Mediterranean, and to the Judean hills. One may think the story is going in a certain direction, and then without warning, it delves into a suspenseful tale that travels to New York and Germany where the unexpected happens. The time period of the story, from the mid 1980s to early 2000s gives the reader an inside perspective to Israel’s challenges and how the casualties of terror attacks and wars are not only those who die, but those who survive them − those that are left behind to pick up the pieces.
The Gilboa Iris weaves a web of intrigue, romance, heartbreak and triumph that tells not only Dara and Roni’s story, but the story of the people and land of Israel.

Proud of creating a timeless and classic Israeli novel, I was even more thrilled that my 21 year-old son showed interest in reading it. At the end of the first chapter, he asked me if the romance gets “heavier?” Mind you, it was just a kiss that we’re talking about in the first chapter. I told him that while it did get a bit spicier, “you need to put the passion into perspective,” and assured him it was quite tame in that I did not delve into tasteless graphic descriptions preferring to allow the imagination of the reader to take over where I left off. 

“Spicy?” He put the book down. “Thanks, but no thanks, Mom. If I read any further, I’m afraid I’ll need to spend the rest of my life in psychotherapy.”

Oh well, you can’t win everyone over.

About the Author
A native of New York, Zahava Englard lived in Teaneck, NJ, before moving with her family to Israel in 2006. An outspoken activist in the United States on behalf of Israel, she served as trustee on the executive board of One Israel Fund, and as its executive director. Presently Zahava lives in Israel. Her writing includes Settling for More: From Jersey to Judea, and she lectures in the United States and Israel about her books, Jewish activism, and her passion for Israel’s well-being. Gilboa Iris is her first novel.  Check out her site.

I want to apologize for not having this book reviewed at this point.  The plan had been to have it reviewed, but I was honestly too overbooked.  A review will be coming very soon, so watch for it. 

For now, you can enter a worldwide giveaway to win an e-copy of this book.  Just enter the rafflecopter below by 9:00 P.M. Pacific time August 25.  And come back later on this week for my review!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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