THE BOOK: Peter’s Moonlight Photography and Other Stories.
PUBLISHED IN: 2015
THE AUTHOR: Dina Rabadi.
THE EDITOR: Eric Christensen
COVER DESIGN: Kady Dennell
COVER PHOTOGRAPH AND AUTHOR PHOTOGRAPH: Victoria Shapow.
THE PUBLISHER: Dina Rabadi .
SUMMARY: Influenced by the Czech artist Mucha’s series on women and seasons, the title story of Dina Rabadi’s debut fiction collection follows an aging moonlight photographer’s quest for success and his models’ (all ordinary women) quest for a sense of beauty. Like the women in Mucha’s series, each of the women represents a season—summer, fall, winter and spring and in representing seasons represents Everywoman. Other stories range in theme and setting from the questionable success of the building of the atomic bomb to a motherless Spanish boy who becomes a perfume maker in the south of France.
THE BACK STORY: No matter how many times people ask me, “Why did you decide to write this book?” I am filled with awe. I am filled with awe at the creative process, the spiritual world and the way art is given birth. I have been writing since I was a little girl and have felt such little control over deciding what to write, just that I had to. The stories wanted to come out. The stories are told to me and they want to be shared with the world. Having said that, there are other factors that I refer to as, “influences.” The stories in this collection have all been partially experienced in some way or partially, deliberately imagined. My father died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 21– just a couple months after I graduated from Smith College. I was devastated and struggling with the meaning of life. I suppose the timeline is that these issues come up mid-life, mine came up that summer at 21.
An opportunity also came up to help start a sort of “Atlantic Monthly” on DVD in Los Angeles. I took it. My college friend and I drove cross country and I settled in Santa Monica. While working for the start-up, which was then called Short Cinema Journal, I became friends with an incredibly talented photographer named Steve Nelson. He shared some of his moonlight photographs with me and I was stunned at their beauty and his vision. Steve’s moonlight photographs and his stories behind capturing these shots inspired the title story, “Peter’s Moonlight Photography.” Steve Nelson, the actual photographer, is very different than the character I created in the fictionalized piece. I don’t want to get into too many details because that would spoil the story for new readers! Steve’s work can be seen via the G. Ray Hawkins Gallery among other places.
After a couple of years in Los Angeles, I decided that I wanted to get to know my Czech grandmother while I still had the chance. At that point, she was the only living grandparent I had. My other grandparents had passed before I had the chance to know them.
My parents had met and married in Prague and we left what was then communist Czechoslovakia when I was a child. It was expensive and complicated to visit Prague regularly and I was always saddened that I never really got to know grandparents on either side. I very much value history and heritage.
My father’s passing shifted my priorities and I decided to move to Prague for a while. So at 25, I did.
What an incredible year that was. I spent my time learning Czech, studying the history of the Czech Republic, and physically exploring the city and country.
One of my excursions was visiting the Mucha Museum in Prague. I was taken with the work of the world-acclaimed Czech art nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha. Mucha lept to fame in 1895 with his poster, “Gismonda” created for the famous actress, Sarah Bernhardt . He created a series of decorative panels—one of these series, titled, “The Seasons” influenced my short story, “Peter’s Moonlight Photography.” Mucha personified each of the seasons with a woman—a woman who seemed magical, spiritual, sensual and powerful all at the same time. More about Mucha can be found here at http://www.mucha.cz or at the Mucha Foundation http://www.muchafoundation.org.
When I returned from Prague, I began to write the title story.
WHY THIS TITLE?: My short story collection is not linked. I know a book marketer would probably be frustrated with me for that but I wanted to showcase a range of stories and settings. I chose the title because, “Peter’s Moonlight Photography” set the tone for the high artistic standard I was shooting for. Only my readers can tell me if it worked 😊
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? My work tends to explore larger life questions that I am in the process of figuring out. I would love to have my readers join me in figuring these things out together! Between work and bills and social visits and dentist appointments, we have such limited time to reflect on these larger questions—questions about loneliness, grief, obsession and reconciliation. I hope my stories give my readers a chance to do that.
I also respect and admire nature. My writing and my thinking are heavily influenced by nature—I hope that comes through and allows my readers to see that nature isn’t just about a potted plant or a walk in the woods—but its cycles, its creation, its brilliance, its healing power.
Finally, I try to be very pure about my work—I was told by agents going into this, that they loved my writing but short stories — and especially a short story collection that is not linked — won’t sell. I don’t care. I have always kept a day job so I can control what I write—so I can write what I feel compelled to express and what I feel needs to be written to possibly help another human being. We are all doing this earthly experience together and if something I write helps another person make a better decision or see a new perspective…. that’s what’s important to me.
It is difficult to answer what makes my book unique when my soul is in it. I am too blinded by that. This is my first book out so I am not sure about niche audiences yet. What I do value is making literature accessible to anyone who wants to learn and grow. I know a lot of people are not sure what to read next or they want to read “literary” books but are not sure where to start or how to analyze them. I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by literature. This may also be my teaching degree coming out!
“… wit, charm, feeling, depth”– David Evanier, Author, The One-Star Jew and former fiction editor, The Paris Review.
“These are stories Harold Ross would have chosen for the New Yorker because they are so intelligent and literate, but stories about an America he could have never envisioned. Dina Rabadi offers an honest voice about the country that evolved. They are haunting, lonely and so true.”– Vincent J. Schodolski, author and previous West Coast Bureau Chief, The Chicago Tribune
“Dina Rabadi guides us through the labyrinthine complexities of human relationships, embedded as they are in the world of nature.”–Abel Alves, Professor of History and author of The Animals in Spain
AUTHOR PROFILE: Dina Rabadi was born in Ajloun, Jordan in 1974 to a Jordanian father and a Czech mother. Dina and her family immigrated to the United States in 1978. A graduate of Smith College, she has been published in over twenty periodicals including The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and Fiction. Rabadi is the recipient of grants and awards from the Illinois Arts Council, the Vogelstein Foundation and a writing residency from the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Oregon.
Dina believes that artists have the potential to solve social problems in creative and innovative ways. Strongly influenced by the work of Vaclav Havel, playwright and former president of the Czech Republic, Dina founded the Global Alliance of Artists when she was 32. More about her vision for Global Alliance of Artists can be found in this interview: http://www.chicagoartistsresource.org/artist-stories/dina-rabadi.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Keep reading, read widely. There are so many adventures to be had in books. So much wisdom on those paper pages. Be curious, ask questions, and then go out and find a book, a story, a poem that tries to answer it.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: Please feel free to visit my Amazon page for a sample of my book.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Smashwords or you may email me directly for an autographed copy mailed to you.
PRICE: $5.20 paperback via Amazon. $8.99 via Kindle. Please email me if you would like an autographed copy mailed to your home $12.99 (shipping fees are included.)
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