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EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Fantasy Author, Alisse Lee-Goldenberg

Lee-Goldenberg chats with Shalom Life about ‘The The Strings of the Violin’, inspired by Jewish folk lore, and her zombie apocalypse novel, ‘Bath Salts’

By: Ashley Ramnarain
Published: September 10th, 2013 in Culture » Books » Interviews
Alisse Lee-Goldenberg

As a young child, Alisse Lee-Goldenberg fell in love with the stories her bubbe shared with her. That love of Jewish folklore and fantasy has followed her throughout her life, even through a Bachelors of Education and Fine Arts degree. Recently, Lee-Goldenberg published a novel inspired by those interests, “The Strings of the Violin”.

Lee-Goldenberg’s debut novel centers around Carrie, a seventeen-year-old girl on the verge of beginning her post-secondary education, that becomes entangled in a world of magic and music. “Strings of the Violin” has struck a positive chord with many, receiving glowing reviews from E&K Family Book Review, Layers of Learning and more.

In addition to the wondrous “The Strings of the Violin”, Lee-Goldenberg has also released ‘Bath Salts’ with friend and co-author, An Tran, a piece that presents as the complete opposite of her debut novel. Living with her husband, three children and Goldendoodle in Toronto, Lee-Goldenberg was inspired to write “Bath Salts”; the story of a paranoid mother of three who preemptively plans for a zombie apocalypse in order to ensure the protection of her family.

The two very different novels “Bath Salts” and “The Strings of the Violin” showcase Lee-Goldenberg’s diversity as a writer and her impeccable ability to create immaculately detailed and imaginative fantasy based upon her reality.

We recently sat down with Lee-Goldenberg to discuss her first two novels, her Jewish upbringing, and what she would do in a zombie apocalypse.


Alisse Lee-Goldenberg

ASHLEY RAMNARAIN (AR): Congrats on the success of ‘The Strings of the Violin’ and ‘Bath Salts’. Both novels are intended for a young adult audience, but feature very different themes, characters, and writing styles. Do you believe these two books represent different sides of your personality?

ALISSE LEE-GOLDENBERG (ALG): I believe they very much represent different parts of my personality, though I would hesitate to call 'Bath Salts' a YA novel. There is quite a bit of foul language and violence in that one.

I wrote 'The Strings of the Violin' more out of love for my culture, and as a true story of friendship, both things I believe are very important. While 'Bath Salts' was written with An Tran, who is a close friend of mine, and was written for fun, and as a challenge to myself to branch out and try something completely different.

AR: What is ‘The Strings of the Violin’ about?

ALG: 'The Strings of the Violin' is a story about these three girls, Carrie, Lindsay, and Rebecca, who are swept away on an adventure when they are asked to be the champions of the magical world of Hadariah. In this world, Asmodeus the king of the dybbuks, has stolen the strings to a magical violin whose music keeps Hadariah alive. Without these songs, everyone will die as the world withers away. So it is up to Carrie and her friends to stop him and save everyone. It is no small task for three girls who are entering their final year of high school, and it will test their characters, and friendships to do this.

AR: "The Strings of the Violin" focuses on characters that are best friends that, unlike most fantasy novels which center around younger teenage characters, are on the cusp of adulthood and ready to embark on post-secondary education. Why choose characters at an age where they are, if not, almost fully grown?

ALG: I chose characters who are at this age, because it is at this age that there is so much confusion as to who one is as a person. Society puts so much pressure on these teenagers to decide who they are, and what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and it almost seems like it's too much. Who really knows where they're going and what they want to be at seventeen years old? So I took three girls at this age and put them through some rather intense tests to have them find out what type of people they are. Really, as young Jewish people that's what I want for my kids. I don't care if they become doctors, lawyers, or entertainers. I just want them to be the best they can be. I want them to be mensches. That is what I tried to get at through this book.

Check out the second half of our interview with Alisse Lee-Goldenberg on page 2!

Related articles: Interview, Alisse Lee-Goldenberg, Bath Salts, The Strings of the Violin, Jewish, Fantasy, YA, Zombie, Apocalypse, Mythology
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