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Writer’s Profile: An Interview With Erica Lyons

Erica Lyons

Erica Lyons

I went to law school entirely by default. When I proclaim that I didn’t get very much out of law school, my husband is quick to object. We met my second year when as President of the Jewish Law Student Association, I was giving free kosher for Pesach food out on campus.

How do you choose the specific topics you write about?

I choose topics I am interested in but balance that with what my readers want as well. I love narrative and hearing individual personal stories, finding out what inspires or moves people. I enjoy any opportunity I have to interview people about their passions.

Is there anything you are interested in writing about, outside of your regular column?

Since I have lived in Hong Kong for a decade, my work always ties in to Jewish life in Asia or Jewish history and Asia. While my interests are broader than that, I really enjoy giving others a glimpse of the remarkable imprint Jews have left on the region, as well as insight into what Jewish life is like today in this part of the world. A visitor who had read my article (Nei Hou From Jewish Hong Kong, 3-23) on costume shopping in Hong Kong for Purim, remarked that it was exactly as I had described and that she could see my story unfold as she walked down Pottinger Street. Sharing glimpses of my world with others is definitely something I would like to continue to do.

Do your family and friends play a role in your writing?

My family is heavily involved in the process. While my children love hearing how they are woven into my articles, my husband is an incredible first editor. He is my biggest fan but is also critical when I really need him to be.

Describe your writing process.

Once I decide on a topic, I walk around thinking of ideas and actually formulating sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes things come together best at night, perhaps because I work from home and it is quietest then, or when I am out walking in alone. Typically by the time I sit down at the computer I have already formulated most of the piece and the actual “writing” is a rather quick process.

Also, since I like to write about my personal experiences, I am often writing stories that I have told a number of times. Each time I retell the story is sort of a draft.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part about writing personal pieces is the ability for my work to move someone else and being able to connect with so many other people. I attended a conference recently while I was in Jerusalem and someone there had read an article I wrote for The Jewish Press (1-21-2011) called Zionism – Made in China. She told me she had shared it with countless others and laughed hysterically at the line: On Passover we didn’t conclude our Seder with next year in Jerusalem. “Next year in Boca Raton,” we would shout, tongue-in-cheek.

Her enthusiasm is what makes writing enjoyable; that as a writer I have the ability to make people I have never met laugh, cry, find comfort or reflect is an incredible feeling.

Likewise, writing has also opened the door for me to interview and meet some pretty amazing people and hear their stories.

Are you writing a book?

I recently started work on a novel for middle grade kids. I have the story mapped out and have done some preliminary research. I have always wanted to write fiction. Searching for books for my daughter made me see how few contemporary appropriate books are out there for girls in that age range. I also would love for there to be more stories with Jewish characters for the middle grade range.

About the Author: Karen Greenberg lives in Queens, NY. She attended the Yeshiva University High School for Girls (Central) and spent her year in Israel studying at Midreshet Harova. She is now a junior at Queens College with a major in English and a double minor in business and secondary education. This article was originally posted at www.cross-currents.com.


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