IndieView with Steven Greenberg, author of Enfold Me

It took me almost four years to finish Enfold Me – but not because I’m a slow writer! I also run a consulting business, and am a full-time work-at-home Dad to my three small children. 

Steven Greenberg 14 June 2012

The Back Flap

Written by an Israeli and IDF veteran, Enfold Me is a provocative, timely, and dark story of one man’s journey through a chillingly-realistic post-Israel Middle East.

Precipitated by a massive earthquake and an Iranian-led attack, the fall of Israel rips Daniel Blum from his suburban family life and scientific career. Isolated and alone, he endures the subjugation and terror of life in Hamas-controlled Northern Liberated Palestine.

Now, Daniel must follow George Farrah, with whom he shares a dark secret, through a no-man’s–land deep under the Carmel mountain and into Egyptian-controlled, quake-ravaged Tel Aviv. Their goal: the ruins of a secret Israeli research facility and a mission crucial to the regional balance of power.

Together, Daniel and George wrestle with the bonds of country, ethnicity, family, and scientific ethics – shadowed all the while by the elusive personal tragedy that haunts Daniel’s every step.

About the book

What is the book about?

Enfold Me is a story about a man striving for comfort and redemption in a nightmare scenario.

The protagonist, Daniel Blum, is a Jewish researcher living in what was the north of Israel following the country’s takeover by Iranian-led forces, on the heels of a massive earthquake. In his part of the country (see the map below), the terrorist organization Hamas has taken over, and reinstituted the historical Islamic framework for minorities, known as Dhimma.

Daniel is contacted by George Farrah, a former acquaintance who now works for a large US defense contractor. Together, they need to travel through the ruined landscape of Northern Liberated Palestine, into the Egyptian Protectorate that is now the center of the country, and through the ruins of Tel Aviv. Their goal is a bombed-out Israeli government research complex, wherein lies a secret that could affect the regional balance of power. Along the way, they both come to doubt much that  they’d believed to be true about their mission and motivations.

When did you start writing the book?

I hatched the idea in 2008, and really got into the swing of writing in 2009.

 How long did it take you to write it?

It took me almost four years to finish Enfold Me – but not because I’m a slow writer! I also run a  consulting business, and am a full-time work-at-home Dad to my three small children. I wrote religiously every Wednesday, and on nights/weekends when I could.

 Where did you get the idea from?

In Israel, there is never any shortage of angst from which to draw dystopian “inspiration.” It’s enough to watch the news daily, especially in the last couple of years. Simply put, Enfold Me was born of my fear. I wanted to harness the existential fear that we all live with here daily. As someone who came to Israel alone and with nothing, and built a life for myself here, I wanted to bring the worst case scenario to life – to look it in the eyes and thus make it less scary.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Many. Enfold Me was a deeply difficult book to write, and emotionally draining. Imagine everything you know and love is taken from you. Put yourself in your worst nightmare, and then live there for four years while creating a story. More specifically, the book’s closing sequence, which was actually written first, had me wandering the house sleepless for weeks.

What came easily?

Surprisingly, the book’s more “standard” dystopian elements – food riots in the ruins of Tel Aviv, the mechanics of life in Northern Liberated Palestine under institutionalized Muslim subjugation – came fairly easily. Perhaps because I’d long imagined them in passing, writing them down was smooth.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

What writer doesn’t – admittedly or secretly – draw on people he knows for characters? I used present and past acquaintances as the basis for a number of characters, while embellishing them for the story, of course. And the protagonist is, not surprisingly, semi-autobiographical.

 We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

My hands-down, all time favorite writer is Isabel Allende. Her books are like a super-rich dessert that you can’t stop eating. I can only aspire to reach the depth of her acquaintance with her most superficial characters. From a dystopian creativity point of view, I’m a Margaret Atwood freak (Oryx and Crake), and my first dystopian love was Aldous Huxley. From a plotting and narrative point of view, Dennis Lehane – specifically Shutter Island, which I read maybe four times to figure out how exactly he fooled me so effectively.

 Do you have a target reader?

I’m obviously aiming for people with an interest in and concern for Israel. Luckily, as a glance at any major international news source will reveal, there’s no shortage of interest in my area of the world!

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

While Enfold Me is my first novel, I have been a professional writer for over a decade. I can’t say I have a process, per se. But I do my best writing in the morning, and only after I’ve been filled to the brim with the subject matter. This takes less time for my professional clients, obviously, and much more for creative writing. But once I’ve reached this critical mass, once I understand the subject matter on a very visceral level, words just come spilling out.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just Chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

For Enfold Me, I not only outlined the book’s chapters, but created entire lists of elements in the “world” I created. How would the Fall of Israel come about exactly, how did people live thereafter –municipal services, transportation, communications. I still have my extensive notes, which are kind of funny to review, ex post facto.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I edited heavily after I finished each section, and then again extensively after the whole work was finished. For some key parts, I read and recorded the book, making changes as I went along.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I was lucky enough to have two professional writers and two professional editors volunteer to proofread and critique the entire book. So, while it was very thoroughly and professionally edited and proofread, I didn’t actually pay anybody, except in prolific thanks!

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I listen to quiet classical music or light jazz when I write, and have done so since college. I favor Chopin’s Nocturnes and Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, but will add in some Miles Davis for flavor.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Early in the publishing process, before I’d actually finished the book but with the end in sight, I did submit to 20-30 agents. But I really had no expectation of actually getting an agent.

What made you decide to go Indie? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

About a year ago, with the book’s end clearly in sight, I started digging in to the world of publishing. There are some great resources out there! Once I realized the balance of powers in the publishing world had shifted so dramatically, and being a do-it-yourself kind of guy, there was really never any question as to how I’d publish.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?

I was lucky enough to receive the rights to the core picture of the Enfold Me cover from a good friend who’s a professional photographer. I used a talented graphic artist to create the cover from this.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Being massively anal-retentive, a professional marketer, and determined to make a go of writing books as a career, I have a detailed marketing plan that is always growing and evolving.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

Having sold all of four copies as of this writing, I’m still a newbie myself!

About You

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Texas, and grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Where do you live now?

I live just outside Tel Aviv, Israel. I moved to Israel in 1990, just before the first Gulf War.

What would you like readers to know about you?

Especially for readers of Enfold Me, it’s important to realize who’s writing this. The end of Israel is a sensitive subject – more of a taboo, in fact. But I’m not writing from an anti-Israel position. Rather, I’m writing it as a patriotic Israeli.

What are you working on now?

The next book, of course! Already getting my research reading list together, and making tentative travel plans to visit the setting (somewhere in Europe).

End of Interview:

Enfold Me can be found at Amazon US and Amazon UK

One response to “IndieView with Steven Greenberg, author of Enfold Me

  1. the best book I ever read!!!