*Featured Author of the Month…Adina Rishe Gewirtz*


I’m a person who’s always been fascinated both with people and with language. From the time I was very young, I loved listening to the sound of voices, and all the stories people told about themselves, their lives, and their relationships. I guess that’s as good a description of me as any. Otherwise, I’m not that distinctive, but I never do think people are as interesting on the outside as they are on the inside.

Sierra:  When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

Adina: I started writing when I was pretty young – I remember I wrote a little novella that had to do with a girl plagued by annoying brothers. At the time, that was my attempt at veiled autobiography. When I was 12 years old, I read To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and was so taken with it that I decided right then I had to be a writer too. After that, I never really changed my mind.


Sierra:  Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.

Adina: My first novel was Zebra Forest, which is the story of a brother and a sister, Annie and Rew, who grow up in a house full of secrets. They don’t even really know the story of their own family, which leaves them with a hole that they try to fill with stories. At a certain point, they find out what they were missing, and in a very explosive way.


Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?

Adina: I just write what’s on my mind. Sometimes it’s realistic fiction, sometimes its fantasy. My next book is a fantasy, Blue Window, which should be coming out next year.


Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?

Adina: Almost every chapter in that book held a lot of pleasure for me, but I most loved the times when Annie and Rew are talking together.


Sierra:  Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Adina: I take a few things from life, but only minor details. For example, in Zebra Forest, the kids know their grandmother grew up in Chicago. Mine did, and so I developed that little bit of biography from real life. Everything that happens to the Snow family in the book, however, is fiction, which my family is happy about, since some of it is hard to live through.


Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Adina: Well, Harper Lee made me into a writer, and when I was younger, I read To Kill A Mockingbird something like 15 times, just to figure out how she did what she did. I also learned a lot from reading the incredible fantasy writer Ursula LeGuin, and also J.D. Salinger, who I was absolutely devoted to while in college.


Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?

Adina: All the time! I find that it has to do with the stage I’m at in the book. Beginnings are very hard. I take a lot of walks and long drives while trying to figure out how to start a book.


Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?

Adina: Harper Lee, of course. Also Ursula LeGuin. Love them both!


Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?

Adina: My next book, Blue Window, should be out next year. It’s a fantasy in which five kids find themselves in another world, where they’ve got a lot of challenges to face. It’s a complete departure from Zebra Forest, but as I said, I like to write across genres.


Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?

Adina: Probably not, now that I’m looking back on it. It took a long time to get published (I began writing it while in college!) but I learned so much over the years that if I had been lucky enough to have it published then, I don’t think it would have been as good a book.


Sierra: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Adina: Keep writing, and don’t lose hope, even if it takes a long time. And read a lot – other authors are the best teachers.


Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Adina: I’d just like to thank all the people who’ve read Zebra Forest, especially the kids who’ve written to me. One of the things I like best about writing is getting to have a conversation with my readers, and every letter or email I get is part of that conversation.




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