Saturday, March 16, 2024

Q&A with Betsy Aldredge




Betsy Aldredge is the author of the new young adult novel Eight Dates and Nights. She is also the co-author of the YA novel Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things. She lives in Connecticut.


Q: What inspired you to write Eight Dates and Nights, and how did you create your characters Hannah and Noah?


A: As a long-time lover of holiday movies and holiday books, I’ve always enjoyed romance stories that take place during the winter holidays. However, every year I wish there were more Hanukkah romances!


I created Hannah and Noah by leaning on some of my favorite romance tropes like “fish out of water” and “grumpy sunshine,” but focused their yearning on some more specific Jewish themes related to family, diaspora, and preserving lost history of a once vibrant community. I would say it’s like a typical holiday romance set to a bittersweet tune.


Q: The novel is set in a small town in Texas--why did you choose this location, and how important is setting in your writing?


A: I spent many a holiday in small-town Texas with my husband’s family. I was often the only Jew for miles and miles which was a very different experience than where I grew up in the Northeast where Jewish life was all around me.


One year we were driving around and came to an old, empty synagogue. That inspired me to find out what happened to the Jewish community that used to worship and live there. It was the seed of the story, so I would say in this case the setting is integral to the plot.


Q: Did you know how the story would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: As it’s a holiday romance it had to have a happy ending! I did know there would be a Hanukkah party and a happy reunion. Some of the other details were surprises, even to me, as I wrote and rewrote the story.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I think one of the main things I want readers to take with them is that you can always find a community wherever you are. As the character of Noah Blum says, “Blum where you are planted!”


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a couple of manuscripts I’m working one. One is another YA romance….


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: There are so many wonderful Jewish books about the Holocaust and modern day anti-Semitism. However, I set out to write a book full of Jewish joy because I think it’s important to show that as well.


I’m really grateful to all the readers, librarians, teachers, booksellers, bloggers, and bookstagrammers who have said that it resonated with them or taught them a little about Hanukkah and Jewish food.


I’ve even heard that the book has made some people crave pickles and latkes. In other words, my work here is done!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Betsy Aldredge.

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