1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
Ever since returning to the States, I wrote all different kinds of articles on the side, but it wasn’t until I realized I needed to tell the story of serving in the Israel Defense Forces and understand what happened to me that I jumped into memoir writing.
I started out my career as an EFL (English a foreign language) teacher in Israel and since then I’ve pivoted several times. My last pivot was as a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialist and copywriter and that happened right after the university where I was teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) let me go.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
With both my memoirs Sand and Steel and Accidental Soldier, there was a burning desire to understand the WHY behind the WHAT. What happened in the IDF led to discovering the real cultural struggle of finding home.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
How misunderstood Reverse Culture Shock really is and how hard it is for returning Americans like myself it is to find a home. As an Israel expat, my energy is spent understanding longing and straddling two different cultures and this can be an extremely emotional and lonely experience that can make or break a person and a family over time if not addressed well. RCS is very individual, personal and subjective.
I have 2 passports – American and Israeli but no one ever told me how hard it would be to find a home again on U.S. soil. Writing the book helped me understand the fluidity of home — in that it’s always changing and evolving so long as we evolve and change and that’s okay.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I could never fictionalize my story without really telling the truth. Memoir is a truth-seeking genre. I needed the power of reflections and takeaways to show how my character grows and develops and ultimately comes full circle at the end.
5) For those who have never had to move to another country, what would you say was one of the biggest changes you experienced moving back to the United States? What impacted you the most personally after your time serving in Israel?
I’ll just be blunt about this: From experience, not many Americans want to get to know another culture and where a person comes from. We’re a very ego-centered, “me, me, me” culture and this does not serve in bridging cultures and build compassion. With that said, the Jewish community where I live acts a bit differently than my overall experience.
When I served in the IDF with many foreign recruits, I got a crash course in understanding the psychology of cultures and people. The intimacy and learning. I couldn’t afford to stay anonymous. Israel is a tight-knit country and is like one big family. It’s the size of New Jersey and you’ve got no choice but stay connected to each other for better or worse. In many ways, this inter-connectedness is deeply missing from the American landscape. We don’t do well as a culture when we prefer to stay in our bubbles.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Over the years, I’ve floundered between Facebook and Instagram and I feel Instagram helps cater to my message and storytelling. I can capture the emotional essence of what I’m trying to say in an Instagram post. The visual element is also motivating.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Quite a bit actually as I can’t help myself.
Worry more about the craft than marketing.
Write to that one person.
Writing is the fun part. Enjoy it as long as it lasts.
Don’t rush the writing either. You’ve got just one chance to make a good first impression.
Hire an editor earlier on in the process and/or join a critique group when you’ve fleshed out the story as best as you can.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I’m currently taking a short story course and writing my way through fiction because I’m tired writing about myself. It’s time to use my imagination to create characters from scratch. I’m also doing a fair amount of pitching to different outlets to help promote Sand and Steel.
About the Author
Dorit Sasson writes for a wide range of print and online publications, including The Huffington Post and The Writer, and speaks at conferences, libraries, and community centers. She is the author of the a featured chapter in Pebbles in the Pond: Transforming the World One Person at a Time, the latest installment of that best-selling series, and. She is the host of the global radio show “Giving Voice to Your Courageous Story.” She lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two children.
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