(Last updated 9/8/2015)
When is your next book coming out?
I know, I know. It’s been forever, hasn’t it? Strength to Stand (book 2 in the Rabbi David Cohen series) is now on sale! I’m already working on the third book, No One to Fear, with the expectation of releasing it in 2016. You can read the first chapter of No One to Fear at the end of both the paper and ebook copies of Strength to Stand.
What can you tell me about your next book? Is it a sequel?
It’s called Strength to Stand, and yes, it’s a sequel. It takes place about six months after Destined to Choose ends, during the weeks leading up to and during Chanukah. Many of the same characters are in it, including David, Sara, their kids, Batya, Arik, and Eli. A few bit players from DTC have bigger roles this time. And we get to see not only from David’s perspective, but also from Sara’s and Batya’s.
The third book, No One to Fear, takes place about two years after Strength to Stand, in the days leading up to Purim, and is the first post-9/11 book. It starts out with the murder of one of David’s congregants, and the victim’s husband, whom David knows has a history of domestic violence, is the prime suspect. However, after talking to the husband, David is convinced that he didn’t do it, and the real killer is still out there, planning his next victim. In this book, we get to see from the perspective of both David and Arik.
What’s Strength to Stand about?
When Rabbi Batya Zahav first suspects she’s the victim of an anti-Jewish stalker, she enlists the help of her colleague, Rabbi David Cohen. Soon her husband Arik, an Israeli-born Minneapolis cop, is also on the case. As the stalker’s anonymous threats increase in violent intensity, it falls to David to figure out who the stalker is, and stop him or her before someone gets hurt, and before the stalker carries out the latest chilling threat.
Are you a rabbi in real life?
No. I just like playing one (or several) on paper. Besides, this way I have the frequent opportunity to debate myself and lose.
Have you ever thought of going to rabbinical school?
Frequently. But at this point in my life, with two children and roots in the community—not to mention a writing career—it’s just not right for me now. Maybe someday . . .
When you were a child, did you want to be a novelist when you grew up?
I’ve been writing as a hobby and a creative outlet since I was at least seven years old. Since that time, I’ve wanted to be a psychologist, an FBI agent, a pilot, a cop, a journalist, and a teacher. And while I did work as a counselor, a journalist, and a teacher, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child that I considered writing novels as a career (which also allows me to be an at-home mom to my children). Now I indulge my penchant for law enforcement through writing and hunting for clues to the disappearance of Teen Boy’s Other Dress Shoe
Where do you get your ideas?
Fairies. The Shower Fairy. The Car Fairy. The Anywhere There Isn’t A Pen Nearby Fairy. Also a masochistic tendency to ask hard questions and write stories in order to find the answers.
How much of what you write is autobiographical?
None of it. Except . . . in Destined to Choose, there’s a scene where David is on the telephone, waiting to offer an apology or at least an overture, and the Barenaked Ladies’ One Week is playing on the hold music. That actually happened to me.
How do you balance writing and family life?
When I figure that one out, I’ll let you know.
I found a mistake in one of your books. Do you want me to e-mail you about it?
No. There is one that I know about in the print book of Destined to Choose, though it’s fixed in the ebook. I’ve thought about making it a contest: find the typo and win a prize. But then I might spend more time sending out prizes than I do writing, and that’s not good for anyone. If/when Destined to Choose gets another print run, I’ll make sure the publisher fixes it.
Who are your favorite authors? Who influenced your writing? What’s on your reading list right now?
I avidly read, in no particular order: Richard Bach, David Baldacci, Jim Butcher, Lee Child, Janet Evanovich, Vince Flynn, Earlene Fowler, Brian Freeman, Sue Grafton, Erin Hart, Darynda Jones, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, Harry Kemelman, Dean Koontz, William Kent Krueger, Jodi Picoult, John Sandford, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, and Dr. Seuss. To see what I’m actually reading this minute, check out my bookshelf on Goodreads.
Can I send you my unpublished novel to read?
While I’m flattered by the offer, I must respectfully refuse.
Can I send you my novel for a quote or blurb?
E-mail me and we’ll discuss it at greater length.
Will you do readings, signings, interviews or chats, in person or online, with my book club or other organization?
Most likely yes. Please see my page for book clubs. If that doesn’t answer your questions, please e-mail me.
Will you donate an autographed copy of your book for our fundraiser?
E-mail me with DONATION REQUEST in the subject line.
How do you pronounce your first name?
SHAY-nuh, with a long A in the first syllable.
Is that Irish?
Yiddish. It means beautiful, a quality I’m trying to live up to.
Why aren’t you Orthodox?
That’s a long story, but the bottom line is that I tried it and it wasn’t a good fit for me.
Why aren’t you Christian?
Because, among other serious theological considerations, it would be really hard to write Jewish fiction.
If I see you around town, can I say hi to you?
Absolutely! I love meeting readers and talking about books and writing and Judaism, among other things. You’ll have to excuse me if my hair isn’t curled and I’m dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.