THE CHAT: Kelilah - Deadly embrace

Read time: 3 minutes

Today finally the interview with writer Jörgen Eijt. In this conversation he speaks about his new book Kelilah: deadly embrace.

Wow, a real spy novel?
Indeed, why not? (he laughs) I really like the spy genre and I thought, it should work… So I got into it.

What is the book about?
I'll try to tell without giving away the spoiler 🙂 The book is a spy thriller set in four countries of the world: USA, Switzerland, Russia and Israel. In the opening scene of the book, a gruesome murder is committed that also involves Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Mossad sends its best agent, Kelilah Hadad, to investigate the murder. It turns out to be an advanced weapon that could pose a threat to Israel. The moment an assassination attempt with the weapon takes place within Israel's borders, everyone starts to worry and Kelilah and her team will have to do everything they can to neutralize the threat.

Cool! How did you do it?
Actually, I approached it like I did for my previous two books (Tien duistere verhalen voor het slapengaan and Dharma: everything has a price). What I have done is first look at the best books from the Spy thriller genre and the books I like to read. For me, those are books by Daniel Silva. He knows how to make the characters interesting and grow in the story without compromising the plot. Every genre has its own conventions. For a spy thriller, murder and politics are inextricably linked in the story. In the book you see the tension that arises during the operation between the responsible people in the higher echelon of Israel.
What I also always do is use The Story Grid, an interesting tool to keep checking your story for tension and development of the characters. You are actually forced to look at the story from Editor glasses after writing. This prevents you from writing a book that may not be narrative drive has or in which characters are not very interesting for the reader.

You are also in the process of releasing the book in America and Israel, I heard. Tell us more about that.
Yes indeed. Right now I'm working with an Editor from Washington to translate the story and see what needs to be changed to make it suitable for the US market.

To make suitable? That sounds dangerous.
Actually, I'm a bit shocked at what the Editor told me about the US book market. My book has a short sex scene and the crooks use plain words like "bitches" and "whore" a few times. Now these are apparently problematic words, but that was actually not the worst. Whatever she told me, you have to be very careful right now when writing about groups you don't belong to. In my book, a Jewish woman plays the leading role, and an Islamic and a Russian man are the bad guys. I understood from my Editor that you can only write about those groups if you use so-called sensitivity readers. These readers determine whether you don't stereotype a group or say the wrong thing about it.

That is strange, right?
I find that bizarre and actually it is nothing more than censorship. It would mean that fiction writers can no longer write books because most of them write about characters and events that they do not belong to or have never attended. Absurd. I will certainly not participate in that. Funny detail: most of my proofreaders were women and they had no problem with me being a man :-). In fact, they could identify very well with the female lead character Kelilah. So we keep writing!

How are the reviews about the book?
I have a good score on big book platforms in the Netherlands. Of course I am happy with that but I also realize that a large part of the readers do not look at reviews. The subject of the book should appeal to them.
In any case, it's cool when readers respond to your book. Feedback is very important to me.

Last but not least: are you already working on something new?
I always write and I have also started a new book, entitled The Others, but that goes steadily. The book is about the impact of a depressed mother on the rest of the family. A tough and difficult subject. Most books emphasize the lack of understanding by the environment. I find it interesting to emphasize the others: the sister, the brother and the rest of the family.
But to be fair, marketing for the US and Israeli markets is the most energy-consuming right now. We're going for it!


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