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Conclusion of Interview with Stephanie Silberstein
7) When I read a story of any length, I like for it to have a satisfying ending. Your ending was good, but not everything was settled. So much was left open. Are you planning a sequel?
Stepanie: Originally, Winterís Silence was going to be longer and include Emilyís struggles with Passover/Easter as well. That didnít fit the narrative structure as I wrote; I just liked the symbolism of eight days of Chanukah and eight days of Emilyís struggle too much. I kind of threw that idea out and forgot about it. However, several readers have been asking for a sequel so I may turn that into a second book at some point. Right now Iím working on a very different novelóa novel for LGBT teens that will be out in the late fallóso it will be at least a year or two before I can write a sequel to Winterís Silence.
8) Religious discrimination against Jews is part of your story. Do you face discrimination today because of your religion? If so, how much and how often?
Stephanie: Living and working in the South, which is mainly Christian, has its challenges. Most stores do not sell Jewish foods, and there are no kosher restaurants. I ended up breaking up with a boyfriend who, among other things, made fun of my best friend and me because we sent back soup that had bacon in it in a restaurant.
None of that is discriminatory per se, but it is very frustrating and makes it difficult to practice Judaism. More discriminatory, though probably unintentional, are comments other teachers made when I was teaching. For example, a teacher asked me if I was planning on having an Easter egg hunt for my kids. When I told her I was not familiar with Easter egg hunts since Iím Jewish, she said that it was important the kids have one since theyíre not Jewish and I shouldnít force my religion on them. I also always have to request time off from any outside job for observation of Jewish holidays.
My best friend, who is the cover designer for Shades of Gay, has faced more discrimination than I have because she was raised Christian and some members of her family or former religious circles believe she is condemned for turning from Christianity to Judaism. I have not experienced this, although I have had colleagues express shock that I donít go to church on Sundays. I also have experienced the reverse: Jewish people (particularly older generation Jews) who donít associate with non-Jews and think I shouldnít either.
9) When did you first realize that you were an author, that you had a great ability to write? How long have you been writing?
Stephanie: I have wanted to be a writer since I was six or seven, if not before. I wrote a ďnovelĒ in a composition store notebook after school when I was in first grade. The only thing I remember about it now is that it was about a parrot. I also wrote poems from an early age. As a child, I thought I would be a writer and teacher like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I flirted with the idea of other careers as a child (when I was nine I remember deciding Iíd be a wildlife photographer instead and sell my photographs whenever I came back from exotic lands), and by high school I became very interested in science and didnít really think seriously of a writing career. Later on I wanted to be a journalist, but I did not get accepted at the journalism school I wanted to go to so I let that idea go. After college, I kind of drifted around from office job to office job while trying to figure out what I wanted to. I didnít seriously consider writing again until after I finished Winterís Silence.
10) Does your belief in God affect every aspect of your life? How important is your faith to you?
Stephanie: My religious beliefs have changed somewhat since I wrote this book. I still believe in a higher power, but I combine my Jewish belief with reverence for nature and some mystical beliefs and practices. My spirituality is very important to me; I canít imagine living without a belief in some sort of higher power, personally, and I am always exploring other religions to learn more. I donít pray daily and havenít found a temple to go to, but I do try to have a grateful and optimistic attitude.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Winter's Silence from Amazon, I have provided a link for you below.
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