Today on the blog, I’m delighted to welcome back fellow Crooked Cat author, and friend, the lovely Miriam Drori, to tell us more about the historical aspect of her new novel, Cultivating a Fuji, released tomorrow, the 15th May. Over to you, Miriam!
Thank you, Jen. I’m delighted to be here, even though this post has to show my age!
All the events in my brand-new novel, Cultivating a Fuji, take place in my lifetime. That’s why it’s hard for me to see any part of the novel as historical, although I have to accept that the story begins an awfully long time ago. Martin, the main character, was born when I was, in 1953. Like me, he was bullied at school and this led to him catching social anxiety. But that’s where the similarities end. His family background and other experiences were different from mine and he turns into a very different person.
Having Martin born when I was and growing up close to where I grew up, made the planning easier. I didn’t have to think about whether he took O-levels or GCSEs, and similar minor facts. But I still had to do plenty of research. I had many questions, some of which were easy to find answers to, while others were much harder. What was the weather like in London in the summer of 1973? Which songs were popular then? Was there a waxwork of Jimmy Greeves in Madame Tussaud’s in March, 1965? These were just three of the questions.
Writing the book forced me remember how much has changed since 1977, the year of Part 1 of the novel. (The previous years turn up in flashbacks.) Telephones have changed, of course, and computers. When Martin learns computer programming, he works on a punched card machine and then has to hand in his cards to be processed.
Nevertheless, despite all the technological changes over the decades, people are just the same. Bullying is unfortunately still rampant in schools, and sometimes worse now because the victim’s home can cease to be a refuge as the bullying follows him in. And reactions to people who are different – amongst children and adults alike – also tend to be the same as they were then, despite attempts to change such attitudes.
Cultivating a Fuji
Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?
Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…
Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last for ever. It’s the one in which she’s happiest and most settled and finally free to do what she wants. Miriam lives in a delightful house and garden in Jerusalem with her lovely husband and one of three children. She enjoys frequent trips around the world. She dances, hikes, reads and listens to music. And she’s realised that social anxiety is here to stay, so she might as well make friends with it. On top of that, she has moved away from computer programming and technical writing (although both of those provided interest in previous stages) and now spends her time editing and writing fiction.
Neither Here Nor There, a romance with a difference set in Jerusalem, was published in 2014. The Women Friends: Selina, co-written with Emma Rose Millar, is the first of a series of novellas based on the famous painting by Gustav Klimt. Social Anxiety Revealed (non-fiction) provides a comprehensive description of social anxiety from many different viewpoints. Cultivating a Fuji is an uplifting tale of combating difference. Future books will include a sequel to Neither Here Nor There.
Cultivating a Fuji is available as a paperback or an ebook from Amazon.
Everyone is invited to tomorrow’s online launch party, which will take place over two time periods: 7:00 – 9:00 and 18:00 – 20:00, UK time. If you go there now and click Going, Facebook will (hopefully) remind you tomorrow.