Saturday, May 11, 2024

Q&A with Norman Shabel



Norman Shabel is the author of the novel Four Women. His other books include The Badger Game. Also an attorney and a playwright, he lives in New Jersey and in Florida.


Q: What inspired you to write Four Women, and how did you create your cast of characters?


A: The four women in the story are actually women that I knew, and I thought that joining them together would make a good story and also give a platform to show that every person who went through the Holocaust had a different, yet horrible, story to tell.


I met each of the women separately, at different times, and as I heard their stories, I felt that what each experienced during the Holocaust and afterwards while putting their lives back together was worth telling. Notwithstanding the horrors and heartaches that each suffered, each one was able go on and live a happy, fulfilling life.  It shows the resilience of the human spirit.


I chose to set the story in Miami as I was an attorney with many real estate clients in Miami and was familiar with the real estate and political arena in the area at that time.


In the 1960s Miami was beginning to explode into a major world-class city. It became the home of many interesting types of people from all over the world, including many unsavory individuals. Corruption was rampant in politics, real estate, and other areas of economic growth. I thought this was a great background for my story, and another important issue to spotlight. 


Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?

A: When I was a young man, I visited Europe after the war and became captivated by the horrors of the Holocaust. I realized that every person had their own story.  I was determined to tell the stories of the people that I knew and those that I learned about.


My investigation and research centered around my observations as I traveled through Europe, mingling and discussing the war, hearing the stories, and learning about the feelings among the people who went through this horrible time. I used what I learned from them to write the Holocaust portions of all of my books.


As a real estate lawyer with clients in Miami in the 1960s I did not need to do research to understand the level of corruption that was rampant at that time. I lived through this and became part of the curative aspects while defending my clients and became painfully aware of the many, many problems that it caused in all aspects of their lives.


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


A: I always know the end of the story before I start writing a book. However, as I write and proceed through the story, I do wind up making changes, and continue that process until the story until it reaches a satisfactory culmination.


This describes my process for Four Women, too.


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


A: I hope they enjoy the characters and stories in the book, as well as learning important facts about both the horrors of the Holocaust and the corrupt political and real estate market in Miami in the ‘60’s.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on bringing all of my novels and plays out into the world.  Especially in light of current events, now more than ever their messages must be heard.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: It brings me great joy to interact with readers and to discuss both my books and my plays with audiences who have experienced them.  Being able to touch and inform people with these stories is, I believe, one of the greatest accomplishments of my 87-year journey.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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