Friday, August 9, 2013

Ellis Shuman

Ellis Shuman
Location: Israel



Question:  How long have you been writing?

I have been writing all my life. I think I wrote my first short before I even began school. I was inspired to write by my father, who was a journalist. When I was a teenager, I spent my summer vacations writing, editing and producing a neighborhood newspaper. I would go door to door asking "How are you spending your summer? What are your children doing? Do you have any other news to report?" After that, with my father's help I would type up the answers on a stencil and run off copies on a mimeograph machine. Then I would again go knocking on doors, selling copies at 10 cents each. I didn't get rich, but I set myself on a career path toward telling stories.

Question:  What was the name of the first book you ever published, and when was it published?

I moved to Israel as a teenager and finished high school in Jerusalem. Like other Israeli youth, I enlisted in the army and served for three years. After my service I became a member of a kibbutz, a communal settlement in Israel's southern desert. I lived on the kibbutz for seven years, working in agriculture and milking cows. I married and began raising a family but with children, I realized that communal life was not for me. We moved to another community near Jerusalem.

I look back fondly on my pioneering days. Ten years ago I felt an urge to write about them. I wrote a collection of short stories about the different aspects of kibbutz life, and how that unique Israeli society was changing. Idealism is a great thing, but it's hard to be faithful to your ideals in the modern world. My short story collection entitled "The Virtual Kibbutz" was published in 2003.

Question:  Was this book published by a publisher; or did you self-publish?

I was eager to see "The Virtual Kibbuz" in print and I doubted whether it would be picked up by a major publisher. I published the book with iUniverse, a leading self-publishing company at the time. This was before authors could self-publish on their own. And, this before iUniverse was bought out by Authors Solutions and lost its respectability. I was happy with the paperback I had written. Today, I would go about the self-publishing process entirely on my own, and in fact, I regained the rights to this book and recently re-self-published a revised digital version of "The Virtual Kibbutz".

Question:  Can a person still buy this book?  If so, where?

Readers can buy "The Virtual Kibbutz" on Amazon. The digital version is revised and updated.

Question:  How many total books have you published?

This year I published a suspense novel, set in modern day Bulgaria. Let me tell you how this came about. In recent years I have been working in a marketing company, one that promotes online gaming. My position was relocated for two years to Sofia, Bulgaria, where we had established an international support center. My boss didn't think that I would agree to the relocation. I didn't think that my wife would agree. But in the end we went for the two year assignment, looking at it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

During the two years we lived in Sofia, we spent every free minute exploring and learning about Bulgaria. We traveled extensively, to the Black Sea coast, the Greek border, and into the Balkan Mountains. We visited the cities, and the picturesque villages. We ate the tasty local food, drank the strong rakia liquor, and learned about Bulgaria's fascinating history and culture. We made many friends but failed in one thing. Although we studied, we never managed to learn the Bulgarian language, but we did just fine in English.

Coming back to Israel I couldn't get Bulgaria out of my mind. I began to write articles encouraging tourists to visit the country, which is so stunningly beautiful, and very affordable. And I wrote "Valley of Thracians", a suspense novel that not only captivates readers with a mystery about a missing Peace Corps volunteer and an ancient Thracian artifact, but serves as a travelogue depicting many aspects of life in Bulgaria.

Readers can buy "Valley of Thracians" in either a digital or paperback version. It will appeal to people who love mysteries and ancient cultures, and to those who love to travel and explore new places.

Question:  Any future writing projects in the works? 

I am currently writing a new novel, but it's a bit early to talk about it. What I can say is that like my previous book, it will take readers on a fascinating adventure.

Last question, if someone comes across this article and reads it, what would you like to tell them about why you think they should try reading your books?

I love to read. I am particularly attracted to books that take me away on an adventure to places that I have never visited nor, which I can accurately imagine. No, I don't refer to science fiction or fantasy. There are so many interesting places in this real world that I can always find a book describing a location or setting that I have not yet visited.

I recently read a book set in Burma. That's a country I have never visited and the book made it seem so interesting. I enjoyed reading the book not just because of the plot and the characters, but also because of its descriptions of Burmese culture and village life.

This is why I would like readers to read my books. Not everyone can imagine what it's like to live and work on a social community like the kibbutz. And, not everyone has a chance to visit an off-the-beaten-path destination like Bulgaria. My books will take readers to these places, where they will learn about different ways of life and unique cultures.

Armchair travelers will enjoy the stories of "The Virtual Kibbutz" and the adventures of "Valley of Thracians".

For more information about me and my books, please visit the following sites:

Valley of Thracians - Suspense novel set in Bulgaria

The Virtual Kibbutz - Short stories about Israel's unique society

Follow Ellis on Twitter -

Ellis Shuman's Blog -
Blog Writer's Note to Author: It seems to me that you've led quite an interesting life.  For someone like me who lives in the United States, I have to admit that your interview literally blew me away.  I never really think a lot about how powerful the Internet can truly be when interviewing a person, until I started writing this blog.  The fact that I could interview someone in Israel amazes me.  Your books sound really interesting as well, and I hope all readers who read this interview check them out.  Thanks again for the interview.

1 comment:

  1. You must follow his blog. So many lovely posts.