I’m thrilled to introduce Anna Levine. Anna is the Regional Advisor for the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in Israel. Her new book, FREEFALL (Greenwillow) is being released this week. Anna was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and grew up in Montreal, Quebec. When she turned eighteen she immigrated to Israel where she lived on a kibbutz for five years picking apples.
Today, Anna lives in a neighborhood outside of Jerusalem with her husband Alex, a professor of plant and environmental sciences at the Hebrew University, and her two sons, Nimrod, who will be studying at Ben Gurion University in the south (now backpacking through India) and Tomer, who has just begun his military service in an elite combat unit.
Anna’s website and blog at www.freefallthenovel.com are full of fascinating information about her life and fabulous photos of Israel. Be sure to check it out!
Tell me about your new book, FREEFALL.
FREEFALL is a novel for young adults that is set in Israel. It tells the story of eighteen-year-old Abigail Jacobs just before her draft into the Israeli army. It’s a novel about everything that being eighteen and living in Israel entails from family to friendships, to military service and of course….to experiencing the thrill of falling in love for the very first time.
How much research was required?
When my son and his friends got their first draft notices, my research was easy in that they sat for hours in my living room discussing the pros and cons of all the different units. But in order to flesh out Abigail, Lily and the other girls in Aggie’s unit, I had to interview a lot of female soldiers. It was an amazing experience to meet and talk with such articulate, mature and determined young women. Other scenes in the novel came from my personal experiences during the first Lebanon war when I lived on the northern border.
What would you hope American kids understand after reading about Israeli teens?
I hope my American readers see themselves in this novel. Yes it takes place in a foreign country and yes there are scenes of rockets falling and war, but Aggie is a girl like them who strives for independence, values friendship, cares about her family and discovers love. I want my American readers to see how much we have in common.
Are your books available in Hebrew?
Tell me a little bit about your life as a writer in Israel.
Well first of all, there must be something in the air in my neighborhood because across the street from me lives David Grossman and Aaron Apelfeld!
Israel is a very central character in all of my work, whether I am writing about the country, the culture or the conflicts. After twenty years of living here, I still feel like an outsider, which helps to give me some distance and perspective. Perhaps that is why my work about Israel tends to be less critical. I am constantly in wonder at the creativity, the scientific and technological developments, and the cultural consciousness of the people for each other and the State. I know we are far from perfect and I’m not blind to the issues we struggle with, but I choose to focus on what I admire about this country and the people.
Anna, it has been a delight getting to know you. Best wishes with the launch of FREEFALL!