Yes, this little Cajun is braving the weather to visit the Big Apple with my son. A short turn around trip that began Sunday and ends today. We'll be home late this evening and I'll post some pics and things next week but today I'd like to welcome back to the blog, Janis Susan May Patterson with a guest post about her book, The Jerusalem Connection.
So without much further ado, here's Janis....
When Pamela said I could blog about my recent release The Jerusalem Connection and what led to my writing it, I was so happy. You see, this book is very close to my heart and parts of it are true. Sort of.
I’d better explain. A number of years ago, when I was single and fancy-free, I was part of a crew sent to Jerusalem to film a documentary on Israeli women. It was a real low-budget outfit, run by a screaming narcissist and though the film had an interesting premise, sadly it was never completed. There were only two or three of us from the States; whatever other talent we needed we picked up there. That trip was an education in itself. I had been to Europe a couple of times, and to Mexico many times, but this was my first visit to the Middle East. One of the things I learned quickly was that a fat blue-eyed blonde can do no wrong in a country with a large Arab population. I had never been very popular in the States, and for a small while (a few minutes at most) it was almost giddy to be surrounded with adoring, flattering males. Believe me, that wore off quickly. I bought hats and scarves to cover my hair and wore sunglasses until it was so dark that I tended to walk into walls.
In The Jerusalem Connection Robin Sabine is a last minute substitute for a choir director who takes a mis-matched group of teens to a vocal competition in Jerusalem. She is not happy about the job, but does it because her boss expects it of her. At the opening party she is dismayed to see an old lover, a man who mistrusts her intensely. While her group is off on a city tour she runs to the Old City (a fascinating place – more later) to buy a souvenir for her boss’ wife. Then the fun begins! She is followed, her room searched and everyone seems to think she is a spy.
One of the things about Jerusalem is the sense of history. Even in the newer parts of town, as modern as any American city and cleaner than most, you are so constantly aware of the past. Yes, there’s modern concrete beneath your feet, but below that is the dirt that man has walked for literally thousands of years. In the Old City, that feeling of time slip is breathtaking. You can touch stone walls which have stood for perhaps three thousand years – or more. You can tour a castle built by the Crusaders a thousand years ago. Remember how in the Bible you get the feeling that from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is a lengthy journey of many days? It’s a regular stop on the city bus system. Beneath the Old City are quarries reputed to have been dug by the order of King Solomon. Now they are electrified and have a smooth concrete path running through them, but… King Solomon! I live in a part of the States where anything over a hundred years old is regarded as venerated and ancient. Being in Jerusalem gives an entirely new perspective on time.
And some of the things that happened in the book really did happen (sort of) to me. The champagne on top of the Wall around the Old City is based on a date I really had. The restaurant with the ancient arches actually exists – as does the occasional power blackout. The restaurant in Jericho is also real, though I didn’t sing there. At least, they existed when I was last there, and there is no reason to believe that they don’t now.
The Old City is a rabbit warren of tiny, twisting lanes between two and three story ancient houses, most only a few feet wide. It is an area built for foot traffic, though occasionally you will see a loaded camel, handcart or a donkey-drawn wagon. Twice during my stay I saw motorized traffic – once a pickup, and once a flat-bed truck. Both times were alarming. Everyone in the narrow street had to either find a side street or a shop to duck into, as with alarming regularity the vehicle’s mirrors scraped the stone walls on either side. Outside the Old City, Jerusalem is much like any other country in the world, with four lane streets and some of the wildest drivers you will ever see.
I won’t mention the religious problems of that sad city, but they were there back then, too. A bus was bombed not two hundred yards away from me. Now it’s almost commonplace around the world, but then it was astonishing to see teenagers armed to the teeth with automatic rifles almost everywhere you went.
So obviously Jerusalem is a fascinating city, but what inspired me to write a book about it? We were going to do yet some more remodeling on our 60+ year old house and I was packing things away to clear the room. One of the things was the stack of photo albums from my months in Jerusalem – yes, albums. I shot over 100 rolls of 36 shot film on my trusty old Yashica 35mm. It took me months to afford getting them all developed after I got home. Feeling very travel-deprived, as we had been stuck at home for several years, I looked through the pictures one by one, experiencing memories I hadn’t thought of in years. I remembered the magic of drinking champagne on top of the Old City Wall. I remembered being lost in the maze of Old City streets at night – without, I hasten to add, any villains chasing me. (It was still scary, though.) I remembered the stark beauty of the Dead Sea and the desolate landscape. I packed the photos away carefully – so carefully that now I can’t find them!
One of the beauties of being a writer is that you can visit anywhere anytime you want to. Inspired by the pictures, I concocted a plot, gathered together a host of memories and incidents and wrote the book. It helped keep me sane in that last round of remodeling.
For those curious romantics out there, one of the men who courts the heroine really did exist. Obviously, our romance didn’t end like it did in the book, but it was fun while it lasted. And how many of the incidents which happened to the heroine really happened to me? I’ll never tell.
Author Bio: Janis Susan May is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and non-fiction and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.
Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. She is a founder of RWA and currently serves on a regional MWA Board.
Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.
Well friends I certainly hope you enjoyed this week's Tuesday Treasure. Stay tuned for a great Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight.
I pray Each and Every One of YOU have a Blessed & Merry Christmas!!