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My First Time...with Ariel Kahn

Ariel Kahn, The Riff Raff

Debut novelist, Ariel Kahn is a prize-winning writer and academic. He initially trained to be a rabbi in Israel, where he discovered a love of mystical texts such as the Zohar. He has won the Bloomsbury New Voices competition, the London Writing Competition, and came runner-up in the national Pulp Idol Fiction competition in 2017. He has an MA in African and Indian literature and a PhD in Creative Writing and currently lives in North London. Raising Sparks is currently shortlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

And if that's not enough, Ariel will be reading at The Riff Raff on Thursday 11 October. Come and join us...

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?

Sitting in a garden in Suffolk trying to write, and watching a cat walk along the wall in the sunlight. I had an image of a young girl following the cat through a crowded market in Jerusalem’s Old City, and decided to follow her to find out who she was.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?

How may drafts it would take. (Six)

What did you enjoy most about writing it?

I loved inhabiting the characters, sometimes going food shopping as if I was them. And the worst part?

Getting many, many rejections.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

Going to watch Marvel movies. In the daytime.

Go-to writing snacks?

Definitely coffee and cake from lovely local café Joie de Vie.

The book that changed you?

Someone To Run With by David Grossman. This depiction of homeless street kids in Jerusalem, showed me a hidden face of the city I thought I knew. So raw, tender, and moving. I wanted to write back to it.

Raising Sparks, The Riff Raff

Your pump up song?

Human by The Killers.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?

David Grossman (see above). He speaks of literature as 'an empathy machine', and his warmth, wit and ability to find wonder in the darkness are an inspiration.

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get published?

Apply for lots of writing competitions! Pulp Idol, run by Wowfest, helped me find my publisher Bluemoose, last year.

Why do you write?

I’m trying to create the book I would love to read, but can’t find.

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