It’s my pleasure to introduce this new series by interviewing Uvi Poznansky, author of A Peek at Bathsheba and Rise to Power and other books….
You are an artist and an author. Is your writing influenced by your art?
I paint with a pen, write with a paintbrush. My art strives to tell a story, and my stories strive to bring you into the scene being painted, letting you sense everything my characters touch, see, or hear. Sometimes, I use images from art history to sharpen the vision of what you see through the eyes of my character. Here is a great example: David imagining Bathsheba reading his letter, which is inspired by a famous painting by Rembrandt:
“I must keep myself away from her, to protect both of us from gossip. In secret I send word to Bathsheba, to let her know that I intend to take care of her. I want to do the right thing, one way or another—even though I have no idea, at first, what that may mean. What action should I take? Should I reunite her with her husband, or else take him out of the way, somehow, and make an honest woman out of her?
Utterly baffled I close my eyes. I try not to think about the forbidden woman, not to imagine her nude—but my mind works against me.
There she is, sitting in her bedroom, crossing one leg over another at the edge of the bed. By her side, over the richly embroidered, velvety blankets, lays her robe. It is damp and crumpled, because in my mind she has just come out of the bath. From somewhere above soft, golden light is washing over her, letting her flesh glow against the darkness. Light glances off a teardrop earring that is hanging from her earlobe.
I pay no attention to the maid, who is kneeling there before her, because she is barely seen, sunk in the shadows of my vision. Instead I focus on imagining Bathsheba. I paint her face turned from me, in profile. She is holding back a tear as my note rustles in her hand, with the whisper of my word of honor.
By the look in her eye, she senses that which I have not yet begun to consider. With profound sadness, she can already foresee the calamity, which my promise would cause for her, and for her husband, Uriah. In my mind Bathsheba is already grieving—and yet, she seems to accept her fate, the way I would dictate it.”
Tell us about your trilogy, the David Chronicles
David is a character that has been fascinating me all my life, and the fact that I read the story in the original Hebrew adds an edge to my writing. My new trilogy, The David Chronicles, is in his voice. It is the story of David as you have never heard it before: from the king himself, telling the unofficial version, the one he never allowed his court scribes to recount. In his mind, history is written to praise the victorious—but at the last stretch of his illustrious life, he feels an irresistible urge to tell the truth. Rooted in ancient lore, his is a surprisingly modern memoir.
In the first volume, Rise to Power, David gives you a fascinating account of his early years, culminating with a tribal coronation. The second volume, A Peek at Bathsheba, focuses on the moment of temptation when he saw her bathing, and the far reaching consequences of that moment. And the third volume–The Edge of Revolt–focuses on the mystery of his inaction following the rape of his daughter and the murder of his son, and his eventual awakening to fight for his life and his legacy, when challenged by his son Absalom during a crucial revolt. If you like the story of King Lear, you will love this last novel.
Do you limit yourself to a particular genre?
I strive to stretch the envelope of what I create. In my literary work I write in different genres, which enriches my thinking: My novel Apart From Love is literary fiction; A Peek at Bathsheba is historical romance; Rise to Power is historical fiction; Home is poetry; Twisted is dark fantasy; and A Favorite Son is biblical fiction.
In writing all of them, I often break the confines of the particular genre, because life as we know it–and my art, which mirrors it– constantly changes from one genre to the next. One moment is is humorous; the next, it is erotic; then, it might be a tragedy.
In art, I use different mediums, which enriches my designs: I sculpt (in bronze, clay, and paper, draw in charcoal, ink, and pencils, paint in watercolor and oils, and create animations. I love to be lured outside of my comfort zone, and I hope you do too.
What is the topmost thing you take care of while writing a book?
First and foremost is to listen to the character that sprang out of my mind, and record her voice on paper, faithfully. If she talks too fast, I throw an obstacle in her way, and watch how she solves the problem of overcoming it. This makes for surprising twists and turns in the plot. I learn the history of the character, from cradle to grave, in the same way that I sculpt a figure, adding and reducing wrinkles on her skin. Finally I research every aspect of the setting, down to the very last detail.
Here is an example of how I research the characters. Here, David the boy describes the hairstyle of king Saul:
“And looking at the center of all this, at the king himself, I have to pinch myself. He is a striking figure, and not just because of his royal garb. Just like painted icons—those of the god-kings of Egypt, and of the high priests of Akkadian empire—he has a magnificent beard, the likes of which I have never seen on another man before.
It is carefully groomed, oiled and dressed using tongs and curling irons to create elaborate ringlets and tiered patterns. Often dyed reddish brown with Henna, it is plaited with an interwoven gold thread. And in place of the ornamental scepter of the Egyptian monarchs, Saul holds the next best thing: his weapon. A spear.
I collect these details in my mind and examine them at length, all the while growing more restless. It is hunger for success, hunger for what he has, that turns in my guts.
No longer do I ask, what was it in him that allowed him to become who he is. Instead I wonder, whatever it might be, is it in me? Do I have what it takes to become a leader? A king, even?
And on my way up, how do I overcome my shortcomings? How does a kid like me—who is too young to grow even a single hair on his chin, let alone a fancy beard like his—find a way to project himself into an iconic role, a role that will become memorable for ages to come?
In short: how do I become larger than life?”
Rise to Power Now on sale