Exclusive Interview with

Shem Shmentov

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When did you start writing?

I kept a journal while in the military. Someone got a glimpse at a few of my entries and he said it read like "nutritional information" in a K-Ration. I decided to dress up my following entry. Jimmy Carter was president then. One paragraph led to another... and here we are.

Shem Shmentov
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What makes writing your passion?

- My passion is most passionless/ when biding time restrained;/ But when I leave my padded cell / my writing is more sane.
- My writing is a fervent zeal,/ yet living turns me on;/ Life imagined, or for real/ suppresses every yawn.
- I write my prose with ardor’s joy/ in pencil, pen, or typed;/ Though born a Jew, I’m like a Goy/ who smokes a corncob pipe.
- All in all, I write because/ my muse leans near my bed;/ she motivates me, then she’ll pause/ and smack me in the head.

Shem Shmentov
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How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since the early sixties, since kindergarten. Only recently have the words been somewhat intelligible. Communication is a wonderful thing.

Shem Shmentov
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What was the feeling when you published your first book?

Just for a moment I was on my back/ And felt that old familiar pain;/ Then I thought I had a heart attack,/ It’s just a Slurpee— froze my brain.

Shem Shmentov
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What’s the story behind your choice of characters?

There’s no story behind my characters. They’re real; and live behind the closet door across from the downstairs pantry. I keep it locked at night because they’re cantankerous ‘round midnight. Without a working nightlight, they play Crazy Eights till dawn with a deck of fifty-one.

Shem Shmentov
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What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?

I’ve never been much of one for pursuing a career. I’m not really sure what one is. If the definition of retirement is, “Quitting what you hate to do what you love,” then I’ve been retired since the late seventies. If I did chase a vocation in publishing, the most annoying thing to me would be the purchase of proper footwear for the pursuit.

Shem Shmentov
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How do you get over the “writer’s block”?

I used to get writer’s block but now I just get the individual slices. It’s processed; but the purveyors assure me the slices contain ten percent real milk.

Shem Shmentov
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We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?

A strong cup of French Roast with a double shot of espresso keeps me going. My advice for new authors: become an old author as quickly as possible.

Shem Shmentov
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If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Avoid polyester like the plague; and DON’T pull Uncle Yakov’s finger!

Shem Shmentov
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Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?

I do read reviews. It just is. Someone took the time to read what I wrote, write about what I wrote, so they deserve to have my ear. A review, to me, is neither good or bad. Is the reviewer offering something that will make my writing better? If yes, I hope to apply it. If not, I’m thankful they gave the work a try.

Shem Shmentov
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What is the feeling when you get a good review?

I'll skip.

Shem Shmentov
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Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Of course. I'd be crazy not to.

Shem Shmentov
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Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?

"Amir Hassan" in The Catch. Although Amir was not Jewish, his encounter with prejudice was based upon something I experienced years ago.

Shem Shmentov
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What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?

I’ll skip.

Shem Shmentov
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Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?

I’ll skip.

Shem Shmentov
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How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?

I’ll skip.

Shem Shmentov
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Who is your favorite author? Why?

I’ll skip.

Shem Shmentov
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What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?

I’ll skip.

Shem Shmentov
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Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?

I’ll skip.

Shem Shmentov
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If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?

I’ll skip.</