The second author to feature on Friday’s Something for the Weekend is Miriam Drori, who writes about what inspired her to write her novel, Neither Here Nor There, a huge seller on Amazon – being in limbo basically – set between London and Jerusalem. Take it away, Miriam…
Greetings from Limbo
I think there are three parts to making a change:
- Make the decision to change
- Make the change happen
- Get used to the change
The first stage can be split-second or it can develop over years. The second can be gradual or quick depending on the nature of the change. The third is bound to take time. The bigger the change, the more time it will take.
I remember my dad talking about giving up smoking. He’d started smoking because it was expected of every young man when he reached maturity. In the army, in the second world war, he didn’t like living with rationing. So one day, he gave his last box of fags to a friend, who thought he’d taken leave of his senses, and never smoked again. My dad described his decision as sudden, but I expect it came at the end of a longer process of indecision. The change itself was sudden, but there must have been a long and painful process of getting used to the change.
In a way, we’re all in limbo. Our lives constantly go through little changes and so we’re constantly between states of some sort. I just made the decision to give Toastmasters a break for a while because I need to make room for other things in my life. I’ll miss seeing the other members and challenging myself to present planned and spontaneous speeches, although I won’t miss the embarrassment that causes. Now I’ll have to get used to a Toastmaster-free existence.
Esty spends the whole of my novel, Neither Here nor There, in a state of limbo (hence the title). Her decision to leave the ultra-orthodox community in which she was brought up was one that germinated over several years. The change itself takes just a few hours. It is the third stage, the process of acclimatising to her new world, that keeps Esty occupied throughout the novel. From the difficulty of dropping beliefs and morals ingrained in her to the shock of meeting up with her previous life, Esty finds herself climbing a mountain she didn’t even know existed.
Here’s an excerpt to give you an idea:
A woman opened the door for her. She was dressed in a skirt and a long-sleeved top, and Esty wondered if she’d dressed that way on purpose to appease her parents.
The woman indicated the room and opened the door for her. “Let yourselves out when you’ve finished.”
Esty managed to say, “Thank you,” before the woman closed the door leaving Esty alone in the room. She sat down on an armchair feeling confused. She was about to see her own parents. The parents she had always loved, respected and honoured. So why did she now feel as if some terrible ordeal awaited her? Then she thought of the poor Afghan girl in the film she’d seen with Mark. That girl’s parents had frightened her at the mere suggestion that she might not want to marry the man they had chosen for her. Later, there had been violence. Esty was shocked that such things could happen. She knew her father would never resort to violence against her, and yet her memories of the film made her more worried.
Esty had no idea what form this meeting would take, but she had tried to prepare for it by listing possible questions and her answers. She would tell them why she left so that they’d understand. She would describe the family she was living with, so that they could be assured that she was being well looked after. Then she might talk about her plans for the future. And of course she would ask after them and all her siblings.
It wasn’t long before the doorbell rang and the door to the room opened. Esty heard her mother’s voice saying, “Thank you,” and she stood up. Then her parents were in the room and her mother rushed to hug her. “Esty, darling.”
Esty hugged her mother back. So they weren’t angry. It was going to be all right after all. Then she looked up at her father and instantly changed her mind. She’d never seen him looking so stern, so angry.
So much more than a romance, this is a tale of transformation in an exotic setting. Esty’s life was laid out for her from birth. She would marry one of a handful of young men suggested to her and settle down to raise a large family in a tiny space within the closed community of her parents, near to and yet far from the modern world. But Esty has decided to risk all by escaping while she still can. Will she make it to the other side? Mark, who is struggling with his own life changes, hopes that Esty will find a way through her troubles. He is fast falling in love with her. Separately and together, in Jerusalem and London, Esty and Mark need to overcome many obstacles in their endeavour to achieve their dream.
Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London and now lives with her husband and two of her grown up children in Jerusalem.
With a degree in Maths and following careers in computer programming and technical writing, Miriam has been writing novels and short stories for eleven years. Two of her short stories have been published in anthologies and others have been published online. Neither Here Nor There is her first novel.
Miriam began writing in order to help raise awareness of social anxiety. Since then, the scope of her writing has widened, but she hasn’t lost sight of her original goal.