THE BOOK OF LIFE - No Entry (Books in the Time of Coronavirus)
3:21PM Mar 26, 2020
[Music, Intro] This is The Book of Life, a show about Jewish kidlit, mostly. I'm Heidi Rabinowitz. Welcome to our special series, Books in the Time of Coronavirus. We'll hear from authors who had to cancel their spring 2020 promotional events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today we'll hear from author Gila Green, about her young adult novel No Entry. Not only have her spring promotional activities been canceled, but her publisher, Stormbird Press, is located in Australia, and their offices actually burned to the ground in the wildfires. It's been a rocky path for Gila, to say the least, so please take a listen and give her book a little love.
Hi, my name is Gila Green. I live in Israel, I'm originally Canadian, I'm from Ottawa. and I'm talking to you today about my young adult environmental fiction novel, No Entry. No Entry actually came out in September 2019 with Stormbird Press, Australia. Stormbird is an environmental press. It's a nonprofit and all the staff are dedicated to wildlife conservation and they are all wildlife conservationists themselves. No Entry is my fourth published novel. And what happened was the book came out in September. And then the wildfires in Australia increasingly worsened and got more and more dangerous. And so that made the launch and subsequent events difficult. I was preparing to travel to Vancouver for the Vancouver Jewish Book Festival and they were, you know, struggling to give me support. Obviously, being in Israel, I wasn't completely aware of exactly what they were going through until finally, in December, the press actually burnt to the ground. The staff were evacuated. They lost their homes, they lost their livelihood, they lost everything. So, obviously, there wasn't anything more to be done. I did end up going to the book festival in February, but obviously there was no more support from the press. Obviously, they did what they could; there was very little communication, even internet connection. And so I was looking forward to a type of relaunch at the end of March, beginning of April and now there's coronavirus. So, a couple things that were canceled: I was going to do an event with Ondine Sherman, who is another wonderful young adult author writing in the space of eco fiction. And I just got No Entry into Israel's Biblical Natural History Museum, which I'm really excited about. But of course, their launch, they're moving into a brand new, beautiful building and that launch has been put off because of the virus. So there are various things. I was also invited to speak at a few places in Toronto in the fall, and of course, I can't book for that right now. So that's just some of the things that have been canceled.
No Entry has a Jewish eco-heroine, Yael Amar, who is Canadian with South African parents. She loses her brother in a terrorist attack at the beginning of the novel and she heads to South Africa to an Elephant Conservation Program in order to give herself some space to heal. And there she encounters a murderous elephant poaching ring and has to decide how much she's willing to risk to take it down. It's an adventure. She has a best friend. She has a boyfriend. And on top of that, I tried to work in as much as possible educationally about elephants, elephant poaching and South Africa. I like the idea of creating a Jewish eco-heroine. And I think Judaism, you know, we have Sukkot, we have Tu B'shvat, we have various elements in Judaism that highlight nature, Trumah and Maaser, all kinds of Jewish laws about trees. And therefore, I really thought it was time to have a Jewish eco-heroine. And No Entry was supposed to be the first in a series. It's aimed, I would say at 14 and up, although the heroine herself is 17.
My inspiration for No Entry: basically, I'm a location-driven writer, I've written a few novels that take place in Israel, Ottoman Empire, Canada, etc. And I was looking for a new location and I chose South Africa. As a Canadian, I didn't want to write about South Africa's very important Apartheid history, but was rather drawn to the wildlife aspect of South Africa and I've just always been drawn to elephants in particular. And when I started researching, I was really shocked to find out how strong the ivory trade still was and how close to extinction elephants actually are. It's quite possible that our grandchildren will only see elephants in zoos. And I wanted to do my part to raise awareness about that.
And if I would have been able to do a tour in the fall, I definitely would have created more educational materials for teenagers about elephants and elephant extinction. And Stormbird would have been a great resource for that. I really think that No Entry lends itself to tikkun olam action. You really don't have to spend any money to try to make some noise about the dangers of elephant extinction. Wherever you live, you can pressure your government to ban the ivory trade. That is a very big deal if governments would enforce and ban ivory. That would make a really big difference. You can support local wildlife organizations, even by volunteering if you don't have money to donate. And you can refuse to participate in the exploitation of elephants for human entertainment, such as in circuses, elephant riding, etc. And thanks so much for listening. This is Gila Green once again, and my novel is titled No Entry. It's available on Kindle and there are still some physical copies available for order. Thank you.
[Music, Outro] If you write or illustrate Jewish books, and your new book's spring 2020 promotional events have been canceled due to the pandemic, I invite you to take part in The Book of Life's special series Books in the Time of Coronavirus. Visit tinyurl.com/booksCOVID for instructions or get in touch with me at 561-206-2473 or BookofLifepodcast@gmail.com.
Listeners You know the drill: check out BookofLifepodcast.com for links to every way to reach me, every way to support the show, every way to get more information, and to hear every Book of Life episode since 2005, since you've probably got extra time on your hands right now. Thanks as always to theFreilachmakers Klezmer String Band for our background music. Please stay healthy. And everybody please wash your hands.