Q & A with "The Wayward Moon" author Janice Segal Weizman

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Next week Torontonians will have a chance to visit the Prosserman JCC and attend the book launch of Janice Segal Weizman's debut novel "The Wayward Wood."

I had a chance to discuss some questions with Janice regarding her novel and how her style developed:

Q: What was your first foray into writing?

A: The Wayward Moon was actually my first serious attempt.  Ever since I learned to read and write I wanted to write my own book.  As a child, I was always making up stories and I loved creative writing assignments. But as I grew up, I realized that to write a book requires a lot of time, mental space, and the luxury of disengaging yourself from more pressing concerns, and so I figured that I would make an attempt at a time of life when one can achieve these things, which would be, ideally, following retirement. Over the years, there were moments when ideas for stories would come to me, but I never did anything with them. Ultimately, what inspired me to write The Wayward Moon was the drama of living in the Middle East. I became very curious about Islamic history and culture, and I began to do a lot of reading and studying.  I took a course entitled History of Islam, and as I learned about a time when Islamic culture was advanced and progressive, the story of The Wayward Moon began to take shape in my mind.  I was compelled to try and write it down, and I would do a little every night after my kids were asleep.  A year and a half later, I had a manuscript. 

Q: I see that you spent many of your early years in the world of Jewish education. How do you feel this has shaped you as a writer?

A: Absolutely.  I went to U.S.D.S., and continued on to CHAT. It's obvious to me that this early exposure to Jewish texts and to Jewish history was a powerful influence in shaping my identity. The scope and range of Jewish history touches on so many questions, issues, and challenges regarding the human condition. I find it to be an endless source of inspiration.  And it was the education I received that opened my awareness to this legacy. 

Q: What other pieces of literature inspire you? What are you currently reading?

A: For me, reading is a way of doing research, and because I've been working on a set of stories about Eastern European Jewry, I've been reading some Yiddish writers - Singer, Grade, Peretz, and also other relevant works - Lucy Dawidowicz's memoir of her year in Vilna, Agnon's A Guest for the Night, and David Fogel's Married Life, to name a few.  As for literature that inspires me, I have to mention the works of Isaac Babel, Roberto Bolano, and David Foster Wallace, all of whom have shaped my thinking and my writing in various ways. 

Q:“The Wayward Moon” is a very captivating title. Can you explain to our readers why you chose this title, what it means to you?

A: Actually, the title I originally gave the book was Entelechia, which is Greek for the term Entelechy, meaning the final form. It is a term coined by Aristotle referring to the process by which a living thing fulfills its ultimate potential.  I felt that this title was very relevant to the book, but was told by almost everyone I knew that it was off-putting for readers. The title I chose instead, The Wayward Moon, refers to a Talmudic legend that is mentioned at the end of the book. It implies something that has strayed from it's intended path, and it describes what happens to Rahel, the book's heroine. All she wants is to marry, raise a family, and spend the rest of her life in the town of Sura, but due to forces beyond her control, she takes to the road, where she makes the problematic discovery that life has far more to offer. 

The event, presented by CFHU and Prosserman JCC, will take place December 11. Admission is free but pre-registration is encouraged. For more information click here

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