Interview: Eytan Halaban

Why is this book important to you?

It was the thrill of completing it. When I pulled out of the box a volume of my published book, a rush of elation, wonder, and excitement overwhelmed me. Like the first kiss from the girl I loved in high school. Hugging the book was the culmination of years of toil, from inception to my typing, “…and the sun set over the mountain. The End.” And now, here I was, holding a volume, a sleek graphic on the cover, the title, and my name.

What motivates or drives you?

I enjoy writing about people and characters. .

There’s a story my grandfather told me many years ago when I was confused and bewildered writer. A story about a lad on his way to seek his fortune. He came upon competition among writers who possessed the most fertile imagination. The judges put a brick on a pedestal and invited one by one to describe the brick. The first competitor touched the surface of the brick and depicted the tundra, miles upon miles of flat frozen land. The next expounded on the perfect edges and angles of the brick. One by one each in his or her fashion painted the brick in florid language. The lad raised his hand to enter the competition. He approached the pedestal and addressed the judges: “Honorable judges, none of these esteemed writers has any imagination. Don’t they see that this is nothing but a brick? But let me tell you about Jack the bricklayer. He lives with his wife and three kids at the edge of the village by the forest…”.

My grandfather would empty his pipe and say to me, “Always tell about the Jack the bricklayer.” And that’s what I’ve tried to do.

What have been some of the most challenging moments?

Books are not written, they are rewritten.

One of the most challenging moments was editing, when I learned the truth in the adage, “Books are not written, they are rewritten.”

I also learned of the challenge of dealing with writer’s block. “As a writer, you’re more powerful than all the superheroes combined,” a teacher once told me. I was skeptical—superheroes don’t have writer’s block. But he told me about a famous writer committed to a mental hospital. He couldn’t write a word for years. After weeks of therapy, he asked for a typewriter and a sheaf of papers. The doctors cheered a breakthrough. After days of nonstop typing, the writer submitted his manuscript. The excited doctors read about a hero jumping onto a horse and shouting, “Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up” … for 300 pages.

According to my teacher, when asked about the redundancy, the writer shrugged and said, “Don’t blame me that the horse didn’t want to move.”

I’m glad that in my case I was at least able to move the horses!

About Eytan Halaban

Eytan Halaban has been writing, editing, and telling stories for decades. For twenty years Eytan was Resident Fellow in Davenport College, Yale University, mentoring student filmmakers and writers. His previous publications include the novels The Kid From Naphtali (Dodd Mead, 1987), The Perfect Wish (Inkwater Press, 2013), The Last Commission (Inkwater Press, 2014), The Vermeer Conspiracy (Inkwater Press, 2015), and Don Quixote Goes to Yale (Inkwater Press, 2017).

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