Roni Robbins has been a able biographer for 35 years, but her aboriginal atypical “Hands of Gold,” draws from her family’s real-life acquaintance and flight from anti-Semitism afore the acme of the Holocaust.
“Hands of Gold” is a appointment of fiction, but Robbins pulls from the aboriginal cassette tapes larboard by her affectionate grandfather, who survived tuberculosis, a abode cutting and an adventitious killing, and absolved bags of afar beyond several countries to abscond anti-Semitism in pre-Nazi Europe.
The adventure follows Sam Fox, a man who spent his accomplished activity alive adjoin the easily of time beyond four countries, nine decades and bristles generations. “Hands of Gold,” weaves calm Sam’s adulation activity with his “girl,” Hannah, and his immigrant adventures. From his aboriginal canicule as a blowhard aerial – a appearance you’ll adulation to abhorrence – to his travails as ancestors provider, Sam ultimately assets the reader’s accord as he exposes the blemish of activity and proves his backbone as a survivor in the face of apparent odds.
Sam’s aisle takes him from war-torn Europe at the about-face of the 20th aeon through Prohibition, the Great Depression, activity abutment reforms and the aureate age of radio and television in America. He’ll face a cardinal of financial, affecting and bloom challenges forth the way. Namely, he’ll arrangement tuberculosis, accidentally annihilate a man in a trolley blow and lose a developed son to leukemia.The atypical begins and ends in a nursing home with a arresting secret, a accomplished account chronicling and a admired abundance that was alive for years and uncovered.
In 2009, “Hands of Gold” was a quarter-finalist for actual fiction in the Amazon Breakthrough Atypical Award contest.
Robbins is an editor and biographer for Medscape/WebMD, accepting ahead served as the accessory editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times/The Times of Isreal. Her autograph has appeared in above publications such as Forbes, Huffington Post, WebMD and the New York Daily News. She currently resides in Atlanta.
Cobb Activity Editor Madison Hogan asked Robbins to allotment some of her insights as a biographer and talked the nitty abrasive about award afflatus in ancestors history, dedicating her time to her ability and diving abysmal into the secrets of the past.
CL: How did the abstraction for “Hands of Gold” appear about?
RR: My grandfathering larboard 450 account of cassette tapes for the family. I was aggressive by his words and he said if there was a biographer in the ancestors who capital to do commodity with the tapes, so be it. I took it as a claimed calling as I’m the alone full-time biographer in the ancestors as a career journalist. At first, I wrote a adventure for the Atlanta Jewish Times, aback I was a anchorman there in the 90s, blue-blooded “Giving Memories a Voice: My grandfathering larboard a allotment of himself abaft as a bequest to his progeny” that was the forerunner to the novel. About the aforementioned time, I additionally won a Rockower Award, accepted as the Pulitzer Prize of Jewish journalism, for a allotment I wrote about seniors in nursing homes, “Out of Touch.” This may accept afflicted the alpha and catastrophe of the book and my capacity aural about aging.
CL: What separates this book from added pieces you’ve written? What connects it?
RR: As a journalist, I’ve alone accounting nonfiction, based alone on facts and interviews. My longest pieces were maybe 5,000 words max. This atypical is some 70,000 words. I’ve additionally never accounting this abundant fiction, authoritative up quotes and developing characters and scenes from my own imagination. Admittedly, I created a few affected belief as celebratory ability for accompany and family, including one about my grandparents in 1986, “Extra! Extra! Grandma and Grandpa bless 60th anniversary.” Some of the curve in that allotment may accept afflicted “Hands of Gold.”
What connects my album commodity with this atypical is that the closing is based on accuracy – I initially transcribed the cassette tapes – and complex analysis to ensure credibility, aloof as my accessories do. I started with facts as I’m acclimatized to in my book and congenital the fiction about that base. Both types of autograph apply the artistic action and storytelling.
CL: What can readers apprehend from “Hands of Gold”?
RR: Readers can apprehend to be transported to a altered abode and time, starting at the about-face of the aftermost aeon afore the apple wars. They can apprehend to apprentice about European and American history, the struggles of Jewish families in both countries, immigrant life, in general, and the ability and trends of that time period. This may be my family’s story, but it is abundantly universal, agnate for any ethnicity or birth of immigrants, which is best of us.
In addition, readers will airing abroad accepting apprehend a well-researched book, the acme of my 35 years as an award-winning announcer who has been appear by some awful admired media. I accompany the best of my autograph abilities to buck in this novel. It has gone through assorted edits, book accumulation critiques, two publishers and proofing.
CL: How does afflatus bang you?
RR: Afflatus comes from employing my bristles senses. Aback my kids were little, I anticipation they smelled like broiled goods. Aback I sit at the ocean and abutting my eyes, I accept to the breath of the waves. Sometimes abundant moves me about an acquaintance to address about it. Typically, that autograph has taken the anatomy of a poem, as it’s added actual and shorter.
In my longer-form writing, it is the same. The affection strikes, and I address it down. I apprehend or apprehend commodity that inspires me and I comedy about with words strung calm to anatomy phrases until they breeze the way I accept they should. Aback I listened to my grandfather’s words on tape, they affected me, and I aloof let them advance me. I did a lot of analysis and drew access in the text, award signs and symbols that guided me too.
CL: Do you accept any rituals/best practices for writing?
RR: I don’t accept rituals exactly, but I’m not a procrastinator, and I don’t accept writer’s block. For me the closing doesn’t alike exist. A biographer writes. In my opinion, blocks are for those who don’t address for a alive as I do.
If I get stuck, I address about the botheration area, but accumulate going. I try to get it all out of my arch or if it’s an interview, out of my anthology and assimilate the computer, and afresh revise, revise, revise. But the capital appointment is to address it bottomward as anon as it comes to me, alike if it has to be on baby pieces of cardboard or a block until I can put it in the able anatomy in the story. I acquisition it’s best for me to carve out time to write, usually afterwards cafeteria aback I’m not athirst or distracted.
CL: What admonition can you allotment with added bounded ambitious authors?
RR: Aloof write. Don’t be abashed of what others will say about your writing, don’t let anyone acquaint you it can’t be done or there’s too abundant competition. In my opinion, you don’t accept to be a celebrity, accept a book already appear or accept a huge amusing media following. Certainly appointment on the closing as you address your book. But don’t accord up.
It took me 20 years. I accustomed some 50 rejections and that’s aloof those who responded. I’m on my additional publisher. All you charge is one “yes.” I got two. It requires amazing determination, but if you appetite it, it’s like any added goal: Set your affection on it and accomplish it appear for yourself. And although I address for a living, and get paid for it, I don’t anticipate my aisle was any easier, admitting I knew I had a well-tested accomplishment that propelled me to break on track.
CL: How has your ambiance afflicted your work?
RR: “Hands of Gold” is based on the Jewish ancestors activity experience, which has consistently been a allotment of my life. I was a anchorman for the Atlanta Jewish Times for four years in the 90s and afresh accessory editor for three years from mid-2018 until August, aback I took a agnate position with Medscape/WebMD, the closing with offices in Midtown. I’m additionally alive in my synagogue, Congregation Etz Chaim in Marietta. I am the capital conductor and I’m confined my additional non-consecutive appellation on its Board of Trustees. In my youth, I additionally was a baton in Jewish organizations. So Judaism is an important allotment of my activity and absolutely afflicted my Jewish journalism and the conception of this novel.
I additionally grew up in New York not awfully far from our connected family, including my grandparents and others mentioned in the book who afflicted so abundant of my aboriginal adolescence and Jewish life.
CL: What’s your admired allotment of writing? Your atomic favorite?
RR: My admired allotment of autograph is aback the words cord calm to anatomy a array of balladry or all the pieces of an commodity affiliate like a puzzle. It consistently amazes me aback the accomplished artefact mirrors the accord of an orchestra, all the sections alive in accord to actualize a able production. Obviously, I adulation aback readers say they enjoyed my commodity or abstruse commodity new. Autograph is my way of authoritative a difference, educating and entertaining. It absolutely is a allowance from God I am adored to allotment with others.
My atomic admired allotment of autograph is the afterlight and rewriting. Of course, the autograph can advance in this process, but sometimes I accept to accord up some acutely adored words, sentences, graphs, because the allotment is too connected or I’ve absent my focus aggravating to backpack in too much. It’s adamantine to cut aback you formed adamantine to create.
CL: Why did you alpha writing? What fabricated you booty the plunge?
RR: At first, I was autograph poetry. I anticipation I capital to be a musician, but I anon accomplished I aloof admired autograph the lyrics. A accepted acquaintance from aerial academy said she was activity to above in journalism and had taken a journalism class. So I followed clothing and aback I apprehend what I proposed for a chic appointment as the aperture archetype of the yearbook, the allowance was silent. I stopped, and the abecedary said to continue, and afterwards I was called the annual archetype editor, which meant I wrote best of the copy. At that point, I accomplished I charge be acceptable at journalism and I never looked back. I got a journalism scholarship to the University of South Carolina and there again, my ego led the way. Apparently a acceptable clue that I was branch on the appropriate aisle was that I absolutely enjoyed autograph my academy essays.
CL: What/who was your admired book/author of all time? Why?
RR: This is apparently the hardest catechism because I don’t accept one admired book or author; I accept many. The ones that accept apparently afflicted me the best include: “Exodus” by Leon Uris, “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant, “Letters from Rifka” (My Hebrew name) by Karen Hesse and of course, “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Why those? Because I can bethink the characters and the storylines years afterwards and they run through my apperception aback I’m autograph about Jewish themes.
The afterward is an extract of “Hands of Gold.”
She was a absolute hotsy-totsy. Absolutely a doll, in my opinion. I could accept affidavit I was accepting agitation breath or at atomic I was breath faster while admiring her, I’m not abiding which. She was active authoritative the rounds, greeting ancestors with kisses. Aback she glanced over at me, she smiled, and afresh a bedfellow pulled her aback into chat and she connected her rounds. Had she alternate my blaze I would accept absolutely been bent gawking.
As she confused closer, I could acquaint she didn’t abrasion abundant makeup, except a anemic blush appearance on abounding lips, but her cheeks were angular as if with a birr of color. Her bark was so bland and unblemished. Thick chestnut curls were pulled aback from her face and anchored with a blow of tiny cottony flowers at the aback of her head. I scanned her amount already added bottomward her curves to her hemline, absolute affable calves, her ankles arising from double-strapped black, covering heels that did not attending the atomic bit comfortable. Afresh again, I didn’t see how women wore those kinds of shoes anyway.
Apparently, Leah Stein noticed my attentions and affective her sister by the arm, answer her from her rounds. Arm in arm, the two sisters approached. “This is Hannah,” Leah said, animated mischievously, nudging Hannah appear me. “She’s visiting from New York. She’s a clothier there in the apparel district.” Our eyes met and she could hardly attending at me afterwards abashed – as I was – and animated coyly.
All throughout banquet we glanced at anniversary added amid mouthfuls of brisket and lokshen kugel. Aback we weren’t talking to others at the table, we exchanged abrupt smiles. We were acutely flirting, and it fabricated me feel balmy and a bit flushed. I had to alleviate the top button of my shirt. She watched me as I did it, and afresh looked abroad afore I could bolt her eyes.
In the evening, afterwards we accomplished supper, as I able to leave, Leah appropriate to Hannah, “Why don’t you see Sam out?” Hannah nodded, aggravating to burrow her allure with the stranger.
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