Interview with Kfir Luzzatto, Author of TESSA

07 Jul 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, TESSA?

TESSA is the first of a planned series. Tessa is a regular sixteen-year-old girl, except that she sees things that are far away. A government agency took her away from her family when she was thirteen and trained her in the remote viewing project. When they assign her to a new project, her innate extra-sensorial ability is unleashed by accident. A chain of events forces her to move fast, using her newly found powers, to complete an unwelcome task and to stay alive when it’s done.

This is a sci-fi/urban fantasy tale for young adults and adults alike, and when you read the last page of TESSA you will be glad that a sequel is coming.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I grew up a bookworm and that played a central role in my drive to write, which I attempted (failing miserably) already at 11. My father was a prolific writer, and so was my great-grandmother, so there is probably a genetic component to that as well.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

1. The Trial, by Franz Kafka – because of the genius that emanates from every page, dialogue and situation in the book.

2. I, Claudius, by Robert Graves – because the people and struggles of the time come alive in this book like nowhere else.

3. Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, by P. G. Wodehouse – because it is the funniest, wittiest and most enjoyable book I ever read, the dialogue is simply outstanding and the prose is perfect.

4. The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham – because of the vision of a possible, haunting future, which is all the scarier because it is based on human nature, and not so different from the present we witness in some parts of the globe.

5. Memoirs Of A Geisha, by Arthur Golden – because Golden managed to make me care for the protagonist, and to keep reading on, in spite of the long and winding descriptions that should have made me stop reading after page 50.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask

I’d love to interview John Wyndham (although, of course, this might prove a bit difficult since he’s dead). The amazing author of The Chrysalids, The Day of the Triffids, and other great books, once wrote a book titled Plan for Chaos, which he very judiciously suppressed since it is a terrible book. Nevertheless, someone with little literary scruples allowed it to be published posthumously. I’d really like to know how he came to write it, and why he didn’t burn it as soon as it was finished.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

There is this point in a first draft, when all the pieces come together and you truly become immersed in the story. That’s when you really start to write full throttle, the world you have created becomes real to you, and you find yourself wondering what will happen next. I’ve never done drugs or alcohol in excess, so I can’t compare, but I guess that this amounts to being high on writing.

What is a typical day like for you?

Since I have a very busy day job, I relegate reading and writing to evenings and weekends, which means that sometimes writing takes precedence over sleeping, and that’s why I do most of my reading on weekdays, and most of my writing during weekends. I’m not very disciplined, however, so I don’t have specific hours set aside for writing, as many people suggest writers should do. I find that having a plan gets in the way of creativity.

What scene from TESSA was your favorite to write?

Without spoilers, there is a point in the book in which Tessa discovers that the powers that allow her to manipulate others also make her see their human side and force her to be empathetic. That is a turning point in the character development, and writing that scene was especially emotionally satisfying.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Not really. I’m a bit more complex than that … but I do like Sir Winston Churchill’s quip, “Those who seek to appease the alligator will be eaten last.” I find that it applies to many current situations.

Kfir Luzzatto is the author of the new book TESSA.

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