Gila Arnold writes fiction and feature articles, and is a regular contributor to Mishpacha Magazine and the Jewish Press. She recently published her first novel, It’s a Learning Curve (Menucha Publishers), originally serialized in Mishpacha’s Family First. Her current serialized novel, Center Stage, is running in Family First. She also works as a freelance copywriter and translator, as well as a speech therapist. She lives with her family in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Can you describe your writing habits?
Just like fiction mirrors life, my writing habits mirror my other life habits. I write really strongly and steadily when under an adrenaline-pumping deadline, and when not, there are always just too many distractions going on (laundry! children! Email!)
Which do you more enjoy writing: fiction or non-fiction?
Definitely fiction. While I do a lot of non-fiction writing, including copy writing for organizations which involves its own form of creativity, fiction was, and still is, my first writing love. I’ve been making up stories in my head for as long as I can remember; there’s nothing as satisfying as becoming anyone or experiencing anything you want without leaving the comfort of your couch!
Which do you more enjoy reading: fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction, hands down. Yes, there’s great non-fiction out there, including the explosion of frum magazines in the past decade, but for sheer pleasure and escapism value, there’s nothing like reading a well-done work of fiction.
What do you read now? Is that different from what you read when you were younger?
Painful question! The difference is in the lifestyle… where I used to go through a pile of books every week, now I’m lucky to get through a magazine article. But I’m not complaining – Baruch Hashem for the busyness!
If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
Am I allowed three?
I read Little Women when I was quite young, and I was so mesmerized by the story and characters that I think that’s when I first decided I wanted to be a writer.
All for the Boss, which I read in eighth grade, was a powerful read, coming at a particular juncture in my own life, and made a lasting impression on me about the power of one person to accomplish.
Miriam Adahan’s Awareness gives great insight into different personality types, based on the 9-type Enneagram system. My friends and I would analyze it back in my seminary days to discover who we were. Now I also use it as a great tool to help develop fictional characters.
Does being a speech therapist inform your writing?
Well, it certainly informed my novel, It’s a Learning Curve, which is set in a speech therapy clinic! Aside from that, I think it gives me a certain perspective, particularly on children with special needs, which is a theme that tends to crop up often in my feature writing.
Does having made aliyah?
My aliyah has had a direct influence on my writing career; in fact, it jumpstarted it. Back when I made aliyah, almost ten years ago, I was still just a hobby writer, who thought of doing this professionally as a pipe dream. But then I made aliyah.., another dream which I never imagined I’d actualize. And once I accomplished that, I said to myself, hey, why not writing, as well? Within my first year in Israel, I already had several pieces published, including my first story in Mishpacha. I have no doubt that I’ve benefited from the extra inspiration that comes from breathing the air of Eretz Yisrael.
Do you have an all-time favorite author?
Jane Austen’s character sketches were deliciously humorous and on target. Too bad she wrote so few books (and she didn’t even have email to distract her).
I also love Sara Yocheved Rigler’s writing. I just finished reading her new biography about Rebbetzin Henny Machlis, Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup. A really inspirational read!
Right now, I’m working on finishing up my second serial, which I hope to put out in book form after it finishes running. I’m also busy with my expanding copywriting and translating business, as well as continuing to work part time as a speech therapist. Oh, and raising my wonderful children, of course!