Scbwi Israel presents our Author of the Month – Noa Becker
I am Noa Becker, a multidisciplinary artist, focusing amongst other things on writing and preforming in a puppet theatre. My first children's book "Lila Climbs Up" was published in Hebrew in Israel in 2012 and was highly successful. It appeared for two years running on the Israeli Ministry of Education's recommended list for young children, was recently translated into Swedish and published in Sweden by Olika Publishers, and now a days translated into Arabic.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I do not know, I just wrote all of a sudden, and came out with this book.
So, what have you written?
I wrote a picture book called "Lila climbs up" for the ages of 3-6. It was illustrated with great talent by Shira Korach.
Can you tell us about the reasons you chose to write about this subject?
My child's name is Lila.
When Lila was very little, I chased her around, trying to take her off from high places, which were almost impossible to climb on.
She loved to climb and run but she hated going to bed. I used to sit next to her in the dark for a very long time, waiting for her to fall asleep. She often made me believe she fell asleep by closing her eyes, only to trick me. That's how I found myself, one regular evening, pondering about a story, so I took a paper and a pencil and started writing with only a tiny strip of light that came from the hallway, and that's in fact a story that was written in the dark. Basically, I wanted to write about my naughty girl, who loves to play with cats and loves to climb.
When I started writing the story, I didn't have a complete idea or an end, up until it was done. I was observing the story from the outside, as a viewer observing a play.
The story is written as if the writer doesn't have a clue about how the story is going to evolve. When the reader goes through another stage of the story, he can observe things that weren't seen before, as if one goes further up the ladder, step by step. I didn't have a certain direction when I wrote it. The story didn't have a planned sequence of events. I was free – writing.
The story has elements of courage of the girl on the one hand and a fear of the father on the other hand. What do you have to say about this subject?
Children love to do dangerous things, but the idea here is that sometimes children can't measure the risk in stake, for them it is another adventure. That is the reason why most of the time they do not understand why they are being mad at. I don't think "courage" is the right term, because children that age do not know what courage is. We, adults call it courage because we detect the fear and then get over it, but children do not need to get over fear that doesn't exist.
In the story, Lila is naive. She does not even begin to test boundaries. She has a goal and she follows it, without calculating the risk. On how many adults can you make that statement?
Because she is a child and she is not thinking of the consequences and the danger, there is a need to show her what could happen and enlighten her.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing children's stories about a wooden dreidel and about a boy who wanted to be tall.
How much research do you do?
If I write about stuff that I don't understand I review the subject thoroughly in order to be accurate and as close to reality as I can. It is true that it's fun to make stuff up, but if I have a character which resembles a war ship, which I know nothing about, there is a need for me to learn about types of war ships, the cannons and other materials. I find it very comforting when I expand my knowledge.
Where do your ideas come from?
When it comes to stories the wheels are turning and the ideas are floating in the room. There is something mystic in hand writing or typing, it creates a smooth and fast channel for the superior me.
But the real answer is that I really do not know what sparked the inspiration.
Do you write stories for your performances and what kind of theatre do you have?
My performances are based on books which have already been written. But when I write for the theatre, I always give my own interpretation. I add dialogues, monologues, situations and characters that do not necessarily exist in the original story. Time of play is different than the time of the story.
I have a cheater of puppets and objects. Each presentation is entirely different than the other, because it bores me to repeat myself. Each presentation makes use of different objects. I have a puppet show with classic puppet (flat Sami), another show where laundry hangs from a rope becomes characters in the play (Ugly Duckling), a play with kitchen objects which are the characters in the story (Snow White) and more.
Did you create a new play recently?
My last performance was inspired by a book by Israeli writer Nurit Zarchi "See you in Antarctica”.
It is a paper theatre with paper dolls. Paper theatre or Toy theatre is ancient, but it gets a rebirth in recent years, and I inserted in it modern elements. The show is accompanied by swing music that I really like, and it talks about searching and finding love in the big city.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I have many ideas, and I want to apply my inspiration and write it out, and not just keep it inside my head.
How do you market your books?
I created a trailer for my book, with excellent story board, music and dubbing. You can watch the trailer here.
I sent it to hundreds of publishers, and indeed the Swedish publishing house OLIKA was very impressed and bought the rights for the book.
I also use my skills as a storyteller and actress, and tell the story in kindergartens and libraries.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Do not rely too much on the marketing of publishers, because they have hundreds of titles a year and if you're not a famous writer they do not offer a long-term promotion.
If you are not performers, find some good storytellers to tell your stories. And do not ask for money for the rights for their performances. Storytellers do not making a lot of money (I know, because I spent years telling stories), and they will do the best advertisement for your books.
As for the story itself, write first of all to yourself, not to succeed, not to teach, not to influence others, nor to be famous. That way your writing will be real and authentic. When something comes from the heart has the biggest impact.
Lila cimbs up trailer (Hebrew version) – voice over by Lila
Would you like to be our next Author of the Month?
Israeli authors who are current members of Scbwi can apply to be Author of the Month. Contact Miri for more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org