Yaron Levite is the author of THE MOHANDAS, a thriller set in the hottest current news item – The Gaza-Israeli conflict. On August 5th Yaron launched a Kickstarter campaign aimed at pre-selling enough copies of the book to fund its publication. Yaron lives with his partner and their 5 daughters in the beach side town of Herzliya.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Yaron Levite author of The Mohandas, an Israeli-Palestinian thriller. Hi Yaron, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
First off – thanks for having me here, it’s absolutely great!
I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, (the most beautiful city on earth!) and when I turned twelve my parents decided to emigrate to Israel. So from polite, tea-and-scones little South Africa I found myself in the gruff, no-nonsense culture of Israel. What a shock!
After graduating from high school I served for three years in the Israeli Air Force, reaching 1st Sergeant before being discharged. I then surprised everyone, myself included, by getting accepted into Israel’s most prestigious school of acting where I trained for 3 years. Upon graduating I tried to work as a serious actor, but I became famous as the TV commercial king of Israel. Within 3 years I had starred in no less than 18 commercials. Actors used to groan when they saw me walk into the audition room. They knew their chances had just become slimmer…
But I had become bored with acting, stage or screen, so I began to look for something else. I stumbled into the field of multi-media show creation and I’ve been doing that for the last decade.
When did you decide to try your hand at writing a novel?
As a show director I discovered that I felt best when directing scripts I had written myself. It gave me more control over the artistic process. I have written over 100 scripts for more than 180 productions. Then I thought – what about a novel?
What is The Mohandas about?
The Mohandas is a story about two young men from both sides of the Gaza-Israel border – Hashim, an eighteen year Palestinian high school graduate, and Shalev, an eighteen year old soldier in the IDF paratrooper brigade. The two cross paths and set off on a journey of mutual discovery. On the way they meet a variety of characters; a polls-addicted Prime Minster, an arch terrorist turned pacifist, an undercoer secret service agent and many more. It’s a very fast paced thriller.
How did you choose the subject for your book? Where did the idea come from?
I thought about what kind of book I would like to read. I love well written thrillers that leave you a little smarter when you complete reading them. Take The Da Vinci Code for example – thrilling? Yes. Illuminating? Yes! So I tried to work out what subject am I familiar with, a subject that could hold people’s interest while educating. The answer came in a flash – the Israeli Palestinian conflict. It is a subject I am very familiar with, and I realized that I have a unique opportunity to change the way people see the conflict, to show the world what the situation is really like.
What is the situation really like?
As I sit for this interview there are rockets flying over the border from both sides. It is very depressing that things seem to be getting worse, the hate and mistrust growing on both sides. The situation is complex – we live in a land where people live history, where people hold centuries-old grudges. It’s an impossible conflict in which everyone is right and everyone is wrong. And the world doesn’t seem to be helping. It amazes me the stuff I read online, the things people are ready to believe. So I am using the book to try and show a true, balanced picture of how life is in this corner of the globe.
But how can you, an Israeli, be balanced?
I think that as a former South African I have a perspective that people who were born and raised here don’t have. I’m a bit of an outsider. Always was. A few people living here have read the novel and no matter on what side they were, they were all pissed off. That’s a good sign, if I can cause both sides to get angry, I have done my work well…
What is Kickstarter, what is this campaign you’ve launched?
To simplify it – Kickstarter is a website that allows artists to raise capital by pre-selling their product. It works like this – I have set a monetary goal. People who would like to read my book invest money through the Kickstarter website. If I reach my goal, I receive the money, publish the novel and send it to all my backers. It’s basically buying a book before it’s been published.
And if you don’t meet your goal?
Touch wood it won’t happen! But if I don’t meet my goal, my backers are not charged, and I get nothing.
Good luck with your campaign. One last message you’d like to send?
Last message? The Engineer is an action packed novel, but it is also a book with a purpose. With the historical hatred and violence between the two nations sharing this tiny piece of land, it is my hope that anyone who reads the book will glean insights about the realities of the Middle Eastern conflict. It’s a small step towards peace but hey, you got to start somewhere.
Oh, and to go to the Kickstarter Campaign, click here!
Again – thanks for having me!