Monday, November 19, 2018

Indie Author Interview: Mike H. Mizrahi

Indie Author Interview with Mike H. Mizrahi - Author of the Historical Fiction Novel The Unnamed Girl.

Mike H. Mizrahi's first historical novel, The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race, was published in 2017. His upcoming projects include a book of short stories entitled The Power of Yes, and a novella about the harshness of life in war-torn Congo entitled Kabirizi’s Revenge.

Interview with Mike H. Mizrahi

Author Mike H. Mizrahi
Author Mike H. Mizrahi
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Mike H. Mizrahi: I’ve been writing since I was a kid (a long, long time ago!). Songs, mostly, which I still do. I earned a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter and magazine writer for a while, then turned my communications skills to corporate arena. Along the way, I toyed with the idea of writing fiction but never dove in. Five years ago I was smitten by the bug and haven’t stopped.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
Kristin Hannah: The Great Alone, The Nightingale; Lisa Wingate: Before We Were Yours; Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; Charles Frazier: Cold Mountain; Marcus Zusak: The Book Thief; Khaled Hosseini: The Kite Runner

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
After reading my first James Mitchner novel, The Source. Seeing my first bylined story printed in my high school newspaper sealed the deal.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I remember came as a reporter on a community chain of newspapers. It was about the drug Antabuse, a potent drug for alcoholics that produces unpleasant side effects when combined with alcohol. My wife and I were watching the evening TV newscast a few nights after my story appeared and saw an on-camera reporter filing his story based on my reporting. A badge of honor!

"I set time goals, not words per day goals."

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
Early mornings are best for me. I start with a devotion time and hot coffee, and then transition to my desk. My writing buddy (my 15-year-old cat) quickly joins me in her fluffy desk bed by my keyboard. A bit of feline inspiration always helps. I set time goals, not words per day goals. My max is four hours a day. Any longer, and the Walter Mitty in me daydreams the scene(s) for the rest of the day and I lose track of the here and now. So…I try to keep my Mitty in check. Work-life balance is important for me. In the evening, I’ll take a pass at what I wrote that day and make some quick edits before turning the lights out. I also plan certain days off.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
Actually, my office is in storage while we build our new home in Poulsbo, WA. We’re currently living in an 850-square-foot apartment on my best friend’s picturesque five-acre property. My desk is a built-in shelf in a small cubbyhole. My computer is surrounded by small mementos, organizers, and scattered papers. And, of course, Kiki’s (my cat) bed sits to my right side. A few feet away are several windows that offer spectacular views of the property and the Olympic Mountains beyond. Very cozy!

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?


"I believe we were made to be creative beings."

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Two things: discovering and creating. Research is critical for historical fiction writers. When I discover that missing link or site or historical tidbit in my story, it’s a feeling of ahh. Likewise, the process of creating a short story or a novel brings me deep joy because I believe we were made to be creative beings. The development of interesting characters and bringing them to life through story stimulates and expands my imagination. It’s my avenue of creativity. Writing is just plain fun!

Mike, please tell us a little about your Historical Fiction Novel The Unnamed Girl
It’s a quest with twists and turns that take the reader from the battlefields of Virginia to a Union prison in the Sandusky Bay of Lake Erie. And then to the small Southern Ohio town of Ripley on the banks of the Ohio River, one of the pathways for the Underground Railroad. A battle-weary Confederate private, Jonathan Woodard, finds a photograph of a young girl near the dead body of a soldier he assumes is her father. The image sustains him, like locks of hair and photos and letters and Bibles that help most soldiers to survive the ravages of war with something of their humanity intact. His spirit compels him to return the photograph to the family. For their closure. For his own. The quest leads him to Rebecca Johnston, an abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor who offers to help him. The most unlikely of loves develops. But a lie must be confessed and be made right. Will that love survive?

The Unnamed Girl (Mike H. Mizrahi)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What inspired you to write the book?
I was internet hopping like I often do for ideas, and I ran across some newspaper articles written about a series of mysterious Civil War photographs. The Museum of the Confederacy was trying to identify the subjects of these photos, so they blasted them out to the media nationwide. One of these images, a sweet young girl, was the inspiration for my fictional "unnamed girl” character. There was a story attached to this photo. In the media release, the museum included the photo of a Confederate soldier who had found the image of the girl after the battle of Port Republic, Virginia in 1862. He kept it until his death, after which his family donated the ambrotype to the museum. The Unnamed Girl tells the fictional story of what happened after the soldier found the photo.

"Readers who aren’t afraid to dive into a novel that combines romance and action [...]"

Who do you see as your target audience?
Anyone who loves a story that moves. And people forever intrigued by the Civil War years, like me. Readers who aren’t afraid to dive into a novel that combines romance and action and characters who overcome adversity to become all they were meant to be. That’s everyone, right? (But, if I must, I’d say women between 35-65.)

What makes your book special?
So many of the soldiers in this cruel war suffered from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. A small link with their former world was all they had to cling to. The real private who found the little girl’s photo kept it throughout the rest of his life. The item must have held some special meaning for him. Who knows? Maybe that photo saw him through the remainder of the war, like it did for my character, Private Woodard.

How would you describe the success of your self-published books so far?
I’m in the process of building my audience. I’ve yet to meet a self-published author who’s completely satisfied with the pace of this task. Slow and steady! Readers are enjoying my stories.

"Write. Then write some more. And then some more."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Write. Then write some more. And then some more. Don’t give way to discouragement or self-doubt. To become a writer is to engage a passion. Feed it with words. Write every day, and then be brave. Let others read your work. Finally, learn the craft, fiction or non-fiction.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I plan to release two new books in 2019. In early spring, a book of short stories (with the working title of The Power of Yes). Then in the summer, a novella entitled Kabirizi’s Revenge. The novella is a break from my normal genre of historical fiction. A young woman receives word that her father is dying in her home country. So she travels back to the Democratic Republic of Congo with her boyfriend to see him one more time, but gets kidnapped in a rebel attack. Her boyfriend and an old Congolese friend mount a rescue attempt deep in the Virunga Mountains.

"[...] still enjoy the feel of paper books in their hands."

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
Certainly the ebook market will continue to grow. But millions of people still enjoy the feel of paper books in their hands. I suspect they’ll continue to buy paperbacks well into the future. They’re easy to buy and receive, and online publishing has been made easy for authors. Now book stores…? Sadly, that’s another story.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer to read novels on my iPad, non-fiction with a good old fashioned book in my hands.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I retired after a 35-year-corporate career in public relations/communications. So writing is my passion. But when I’m not…? My wife and I love to hike on the beautiful trails of Washington State. I play the guitar and write songs. And, we enjoy volunteer activities in the community and through our church.

How can readers connect with you?
Visit me at I’d love to stay connected and hope readers will join my special e-mail list when they visit my website.

Thank you very much for the Interview, Mike.

About the Book The Unnamed Girl

The Unnamed Girl (Mike H. Mizrahi)
Click to Read an Excerpt
When Confederate Private Jonathan “Woody” Woodard scours the battlefield of Port Republic, Virginia, an innocent voice beckons him. He picks up a gold-cased ambrotype and gazes at the image of a little girl. Over time, the photograph becomes Woody’s only respite from the nighttime demons of war that torture him. His permanent renewal is somehow dependent upon returning the gold case to the family of the dead bluecoat, whose haversack yields its treasure when he hits the ground.

Woody is captured, and months later a prison escape during a North Ohio blizzard claims his foot. The quest to find the girl begins. Woody enlists the help of the widow Rebecca Johnston in exchange for free labor around her Southern Ohio farm. He soon learns she is an abolitionist and conductor on the Underground Railroad. Complications arise: love enters the equation, but an insurmountable lie stands between them.

Does Woody come clean with his secret?

Will he put his search on hold to help Rebecca rescue a freedman and his son, sent to Lumpkin’s notorious slave jail in Richmond through the Reverse Underground Railroad?

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback The Unnamed Girl on Amazon

Link to the eBook The Unnamed Girl on Amazon

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