Michelle Cohen Corasanti
http:thealmondtreebook.com I have a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an MA from Harvard, both in Middle Eastern studies. I’m also a lawyer trained in international and human rights law. I lived in Jerusalem for seven years.
1.What got you into writing? I read the book The Kite Runner and realized that a writer can reach into readers’ hearts and change them.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? When I write, I can’t find enough hours in the day. I write from when I get up until I go to sleep.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t get writers’ block.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I would like to be, but it hasn’t worked out that way. My stories take on lives of their own and I just have to go with it.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Try to get the best agent possible because they have the connections with the editors at the publishing houses. Look to see who represented books like yours and who published them and then target those people. Many writers will write who their agent is in the acknowledgements. I was a lawyer, not a writer so I wasn’t familiar with the process. I thought all agents and publishers were created equal. They’re not. Try and get the agent who has had the greatest success. When I wrote The Almond Tree, I thought it would be interesting to those interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My publisher specializes in the Middle East. What I didn’t realize was that The Almond Tree was like The Kite Runner. People across the board like it. My publisher didn’t have adequate distribution to keep up with the demand so I had to buy back my foreign rights and English and South Asia. Then I found the Pontas Agency in Spain that does a lot of foreign rights sales so I signed with them. I think I have a sold rights to 10 different publishers.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Great reviews in publications throughout the world. Translation rights to The Almond Tree sold in 8 languages within a year of publicaton.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? The Almond Tree was about a Palestinian who makes it against all odds. A section in The Almond Tree is about his relationship with a Jewish human rights activist. I wrote from the POV of a Palestinian man. In retrospect, I can say I didn’t want him to see her flaws so I made her perfect. As a result, she could only have a small part in the book because main characters have to be complex. When Moe Diab decided to become my protagonist, he wanted me to expand on the Nora/Ahmed relationship. I started to write from Nora’s POV and the book just poured out. The Almond Tree took 7 years to write, this one was pretty much done in two months. Right now I’m just doing some rewrites.
8.If you could be a superhero, what powers would you possess? The power to cure people.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? As a writer, I have had to become two other people, one is dead now and the other had to overcome great adversity. I wouldn’t wish either of their lives on anyone. I might want to be myself at a younger age during a week of bad decision making so that I could change the trajectory of my life.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you so much for all your support.