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Thursday, February 26, 2009

All the Way From Israel - Pnina Moed-Kass

Multi-award winning author Pnina Moed-Kass has lived in Israel since 1968. Her novel, Real Time (Clarion) was awarded the Sydney Taylor, the National Jewish Book Award, among others. The novel was also translated into German and French. Pnina is the author of a series of eight picture books about a snail, BERALE (Keter Publishing) which is available in the US and Israel, and a middle grade novel about an inquisitive dog which was published in Hebrew. Pnina frequently appear at community centers, schools, and libraries performing Berale stories. Her short stories (in English) have appeared in Cricket and the story "Five Words" appears in the Cricket anthology CELEBRATE. Pnina has toured the U.S. several times, speaking to adult and high school audiences. She also writes for various magazines, contributing book reviews and articles about the writing life and living in Israel. I’m glad she could take time out of her hectic schedule to respond to a few questions.

How does the publication process differ for the American and Israeli market?

Israel is a smaller country and access to publishers and agents is an easier process but the bottom line is the same - how good is what you've written. Other than books published in another country that have to be translated into Hebrew, all original material should be presented in Hebrew. I write my picture books and middle-grade novels in Hebrew.

Tell me a little bit about your award-winning book, REAL TIME.

REAL TIME is a fictional way to unravel all the strings in this small part of the world, strings that seem to be tied in a very tight knot. The strings are the stories of the various characters; these people relate the horror of the Holocaust, fighting a war, becoming a suicide bomber, starting a new life, solving the riddle of an old one. I describe hope, I tell about desperation - in the end I want my reader to have a gut understanding, to realize there are no easy solutions but that there are the good and the innocent living their lives here.

What was your response to being honored by the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee?

Initially I was flabbergasted because I live at such a distance, and somehow (despite cyberspace and the global village library) my workroom, in my Herzliya apartment, far away from big libraries, seems very far away from that kind of recognition. Then I received the National Jewish Book Award - and recognition in Europe - well, it was quite a year! When I was a kid I couldn't buy books, so I almost lived in my neighborhood library - on the book tours the Sydney Taylor Award gave me a chance to thank my favorite people in the world - librarians

Are you working on anything new?

The writer Cynthia Ozick once warned writers not to talk about ideas, unwritten stories, etc. - saying that all of it could vanish into thin air in the stream of spoken words (a loose rewording.) I'm working on several things, for different age groups, and of a different nature. I'm always working on something new, actually a few new things. Some peter out after the first paragraph, some go into cold storage, some fascinate me enough to keep me plugging at them, like a mouse gnawing at a piece of cheese. I'll try a poem, a script, a memoir - in short any genre that illuminates and brings life to the story. Like every occasion has its correct outfit, so does every idea have the "clothes" that suit it best. At the moment I'm working on a novel, a picture book, two middle-grade novels and some short stories; obviously not all at the same time though they all share one common denominator - words.

Pnina, thanks for joining me and sharing your thoughts and ideas about writing books for childen.



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