Gila Green

Canadian writer and editor Gila Green is the author of three novels, White Zion (Cervena Barva Press, March 2019), Passport Control (S&H Publishing, 2018), and King of the Class (NON Publishing). She has published two dozen short stories and writes often about immigration, alienation, and dislocation. Gila is an EFL college lecturer, a manuscript editor, and a flash fiction instructor on the WOW-womenonwriting site. She lives between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with her five children, her husband, and her dog. No Entry is her first South African novel which she wrote based on her own memories of Kruger National Park. She felt compelled to write it when she discovered the horrors encountered by African elephants. She does most of her writing in a converted bomb shelter overlooking the Judaean Hills, which were once the heart of the Kingdom of Judah.

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Interview with Gila Green

Gila Green has published dozens of short stories, three novels, and a short story collection.

She has a fifth novel in submission and she’s busy working on a sequel for Stormbird set in South Africa, as well as an adult novel set in Canada.

She grew up in Ottawa, Canada where she attended Carleton University’s Journalism program and moved to Israel in 1994. She is married to a South African from Johannesburg and they live between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with their five children and their dog, Bella. Gila works as an English as a Foreign Language college lecturer, as well as a freelance writer and editor.

Stormbird Press (SP) is thrilled to welcome Gila Green (GG) to their publishing house.

Stormbird Press (SP): Tell us a little about yourself, including your interests and hobbies. 

GG: I am very proud of my children and my greatest pleasure is to spend time with them. That turns out to be a lot of time but it’s well worth it. After my family, my second love is, of course, writing. In addition, I love power walking, yoga, pilates, nature, travel, hiking, cooking, and I’ll never say no to a day off at a Dead Sea spa.

SP: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your work?

GG: Before I wrote No Entry I searched for something to take my writing away from an Israel landscape. There’s plenty to write about Israel and the Middle East, but after writing three books playing with those settings, I wanted to expand my canvas.

I have a writing partner who once told me that writers are really just writing the same book over and over again with different characters. I didn’t want to be one of those writers!

At the same time, I have always known one of my writing strengths (I have plenty of weaknesses too, structure anyone?) is location. I believed changing location would immediately alter my characters. Characters derive from location and not the other way around, though many writers begin with characters, I always begin with location in time and space.

And it worked! As soon as I delved into Kruger National Park, got caught up in the trees, birds and animals, my characters changed, too and the expansion I was looking for took place. It gave me a breather from what I’d been writing about for years and I loved it. I’m looking forward to the sequel. Yael will be back and Clara’s not too happy with her or Nadine!

SP: Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they impacted your writing?

GG: As an ex-literature major, I admit I was once snobby about books. I only read what is known as literary fiction for decades. It took me a while to realize that was a big mistake. Now I read everything, well, almost everything. I’ll never be a big fantasy or science fiction fan but I’ve learned to really enjoy writers like Neil Gaiman, someone I wouldn’t have looked at when I was twenty.

As a Canadian, I grew up on Canadian literature and love the Canadian writers we all know such as Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. Atwood was also born in Ottawa, by the way, three years after my mother was born there, so that might be one of the reasons I enjoy her. She grew up in the same place and time period as my mother. Alice Munro grew up not far from Ottawa, too and in a similar time period.

Both of these writers influence me to this day. I honestly couldn’t list all the writers I love and who influence me but some of them are: Leonard Cohen, Truman Capote, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor, Joan Didion, and Joyce Carol Oates.

I was once published in Fiction Magazine along a short story by Joyce Carol Oates and I was thrilled to pieces. To this day I wonder if she ever read her courtesy copy and noticed my story. It’s hard for me to believe she would but I can dream. Joyce, if you’re reading, please let me know.

SP: There are some scary moments in No Entry. Did you struggle with how graphic to write the discovery of the poached elephant scene or the violent scene with the poachers?

GG: Yes. I wanted the book to be aimed at young adults because I believe they are the generation that needs to know –and most in the West don’t seem to be aware—that their grandchildren might not see elephants, except in the odd zoo. They will be the most affected by animal extinction and we, as adults, have a responsibility to tell them.

I believe a novel with an admirable heroine and a little romance thrown in will reach more young people than a non-fiction book. So yes, there is some violence but it’s very tempered because I definitely took the audience age into account.

The truth is I believe less is more. There’s no need to sensationalize the scenes. Elephant slaughter in plain language is enough. In addition, there’s a sub-theme of terrorism in the novel because violence is universal. I purposely made the terrorist event happen in Canada because I want to get the message across that senseless violence doesn’t just happen in Africa or the Middle East. That attitude might allow some of us to feel off the hook. It happens everywhere and we all have to make sure we are part of the solution or there won’t be one and that thought is too devastating to imagine. I refuse to go there and No Entry ends on a victorious note for a reason.

SP: Thank you so much, Gila. It has been a pleasure spending time with you. All of us No Entry fans are looking forward to meeting Yael again in your sequel.