Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.
Author Biography: Rachel Mankowitz lives on Long Island with her family, including her two dogs, Cricket and Ellie, and the memories of all of the dogs that came before. She has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College, a Masters of Fine Arts in fiction, from Queens University of Charlotte, and is working on a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University. And yes, that is a lot of student loan debt. Rachel’s first novel, Yeshiva Girl, is now available on Amazon.
Wolf: I remember the day I finally paid off my student loans. It’s a good feeling. What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
Rachel: My father made me eat Ptcha once. He wanted to make sure my brother and I tried all of the Jewish foods (though it’s more Eastern European than specifically Jewish), and we weren’t allowed to say no. Ptcha is Calf’s foot jelly, a cloudy white savory jell, sprinkled with lemon juice. And it is absolutely disgusting.
Wolf: I’ve never tried that one. If you had to pick a weapon, what would it be and why?
Rachel: A Light saber. First of all because I hate weapons and I really don’t want to have one of my own. Second, because light sabers captured my imagination when I was little and first saw the Star Wars movies. The light sabers seemed more like an extension of the person, a way of dancing with light.
Wolf: Good description. Do you consider yourself a cat person, or a dog person?
Rachel: I am absolutely a dog person. I love their enthusiasm for life and the wild rumpus they make of everything. I like cats too, but I’m allergic to them. I used to sleep over at my aunt’s house and her cats would inevitably sleep on my chest and I’d wake up choking, but I still loved them. I just had to make sure that as soon as I got home I took a long shower and set a blow torch to my clothes.
Wolf: That’s one way of getting a new wardrobe. While walking in the woods you come across…
Rachel: The Giving Tree. Shel Silverstein was my favorite poet as a child. I read The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends pretty much every day and memorized as many of the poems as possible to recite back to myself when I was trying to fall asleep at night. My brother and I created a whole fantasy world in our front yard based on a tree that seemed to us like the Giving Tree, and we always trusted that tree to tell us what to do next.
Wolf: Love it. I have fond memories of that book as well. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Rachel: I’m working on a novel with super powers in it, one character can fly, and one can make herself invisible, and one can read minds. I feel like I’ve spent my whole life trying to be a mind reader, so that would be the ideal super power for me, even though I’m not sure I would enjoy it all that much. People have all kinds of crazy going on in their minds that we should never know about.
Wolf: Not sure I’d want to know what people are thinking. What is your favorite body of water and why?
Rachel: My favorite body of water is Lake Placid, in upstate New York. It captured my imagination when I was little and my Mom told us stories about summers spent on the lake with her family. I especially liked to picture her rowing through the mist in the early mornings.
Wolf: Sounds beautiful. What story are you working on now?
Rachel: I’m always working on multiple projects at once, because I can’t choose just one thing to focus on. It’s a problem. I’m thinking about a mystery set at my synagogue, and a memoir of sleep away camp, and a middle grade novel about an older African American actress and a little Jewish girl who become best friends, and there’s the super power story…it’s a long list.
Wolf: That’ll keep you busy. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Rachel: I watch enormous amounts of TV and always have. When I was little I watched TV shows to get an idea of what normal people were like. Most of my sense of the world came from The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, which explains a lot. I watched TV until the shows went off the air late at night, and then we finally got HBO and there was TV to watch all night and I felt like I’d found paradise.
Wolf: Sounds like we both had the same addiction growing up. Thanks for visiting.
Rachel also has a weekly blog on WordPress called The Cricket Pages, where she weaves together stories about her dogs with anything else she can think of, at: https://rachelmankowitz.com/
Eighteen-year-old Tatiana is running from her past and her star-touched powers eight years after a meteor devastates earth’s population. Her power to heal may be overshadowed by more destructive abilities. Fleeing the persecution of those like her, Tatiana seeks refuge in a small town she once visited. But this civil haven, in a world where society has broken down, is beginning to crumble. Will Tatiana flee or stay and fight for the new life she has built? Only by harnessing the very forces that haunt her can Tatiana save her friends…and herself.