We asked author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen a few questions about her debut novel One Night, Markovich, the challenges of writing a screenplay based on her own book, and which authors have had the most influence on her writing. Here’s what she had to say:
1. You work as a news editor by day, and also work in film. What made you decide to take the plunge into writing a fiction book with One Night, Markovich?
I worked as a news editor during my BA studies. When I started my MA in psychology, I needed a change. I had enough with reality, all those things that you write about in the news. I wanted to use the same material—words—to try and make something new, rather than report what really happened.
2. The film rights for One Night, Markovich have been bought and you’re already writing the screenplay. Are you finding any challenges in trying to adapt a book you spent nearly two years writing to a format (screenplay/film) in which details might have to be removed (or new details added altogether)?
It’s a very hard work. After spending so much time with your characters while writing the novel, suddenly they change. In order to do it, you have to understand that you don’t own your characters, they have their lives. And that’s a hard thing to realize.
3. What are the major differences between writing a script for film and television versus writing a novel?
The smell. The taste. In the novel, a woman can smell like an orange. It works with words, much harder on screen. In a novel, you can dive as deep as you like into the mind of your characters. You can skip between past and present, fantasy and reality, inner thoughts and outside actions. In film, you are much more tied up to reality. And, of course, 200 readers can sit in the same room, each one meeting a different Bella – because the words are sharpened in their mind according to their individual fantasies. While in the cinema, all 200 viewers watch the same Bella.
4. Do you find that your M.A. in Clinical Psychology helps you write characters that are more in-depth and intricate—more real—as compared to what your characters would be like if you pursued an M.A. in a more “traditional” writing field (e.g. an M.A. in Literature)?
i don’t know how other studies would have effected my writing, just like I don’t know how changing any other biographical fact would effect it. A writer is always rooted in his own past. Of course, I feel there’s a strong connection between literature and psychology. In both cases we deal with the human mind, the pain, the loss, the hope. As a psychologist, instead of judging automatically you’re supposed to ask “Why?”, and that’s what I tried to do in the novel as well.
5. Is Yaacov an anti-hero, villain, or simply a real person?
I don’t think villains or heroes exist. It’s always people, real people, who do the most terrible and wonderful things.
6. Since writing One Night, Markovich, you’ve also written Walking Lions. Can we expect to see that in English and in Canadian bookstores soon?
Waking Lions is being translated these days, so I hope next year will be the year of the lion.
7. Which authors would you say have had the most influence on your own fiction writing?
Mario Vergas LIosa. There are good writers that make you cry, and there are good writers that make you laugh, but only excellent writers make you do both. Vergas LIosa is one of them. Reading him makes you want to write.
Romain Gary is also one of my favourite writers. In Kites he manages to deal with his characters with both irony and compassion. I tried my best to learn.
8. Are there any translated works by Israeli authors you would recommend our audience to read?
Anything by David Grossman.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin meets The Marrying of Chani Kaufman in this cinematic novel about the birth of Israel and the true story of the marriages of convenience that were arranged to smuggle Jewish women out of Nazi-occupied Europe.
On the eve of World War II, a ship bearing twenty young men sets sail from the Palestine Territory toward Europe. Eagerly awaiting them on the other side are twenty young women, whom the men have never met. They have been set up in arranged marriages to enable Jewish women to escape Nazi Germany and enter Palestine without being turned back by the British.
But when Yaacov Markovitch, a thoroughly unremarkable man, finds himself married to Bella Zeigerman, the most beautiful woman he has ever set eyes upon, things start to get complicated. Yaacov’s fake marriage is the beginning of a lifelong obsession, as he vows to make his beautiful bride, Bella, love him, despite her determination to break free. Their changing fortunes take them through war, upheaval, terrible secrets, tragedy, joy, and loss.
Vital, funny, and tender, One Night, Markovitch brilliantly fuses personal lives and epic history in an unforgettable story of endless, hopeless longing and the desperate search for love.