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Interview with Sandra Biber Didner, author of The Conspiracies of Dreams

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My new book is about Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Canaanites who all share an ancient dream of possessing the land that lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea which they hold sacred. In 1956 an Egyptian spy, Ishmael al Mohammed, is determined to gain information which will reclaim the infant state of Israel for the displaced Palestinian Arabs. While on an espionage mission posing as an Israeli, he falls passionately in love with a Jewish woman, Rebecca Silverman. He must decide if he will betray the only person he will ever care for or be true to Islam, Egypt, and his family.

A Christian, Danny O’Halloran, dreams of walking the Stations of the Cross while the pagan donkey goddess Palés dreams of being worshipped again by the original natives of Canaan.

Israeli politicians dream of making Israel a nuclear power while Britain and France conspire to regain the Suez Canal, which the President of Egypt nationalized.

Against the backdrop of circumstances leading to the 1956 Suez War between Israel and Egypt a love story which encompasses the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet, Delilah’s betrayal of Samson, and the treachery of Britain’s MI6 double agents unfolds as Ishmael and Rebecca’s story spans three millennia of history.

What genre is it?
historical fiction

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
People who like a great love story, political intrigue, symbolism, metaphors, and poetry.

Tell us a little more about the spy Ishmael al Mohammed and the woman he fell in love with.
The spy is a reluctant secret service agent who decided to join military intelligence after he was in charge of a military training exercise in which his brother was killed.

He has been groomed from birth to become a general in the Egyptian army, but he wants nothing to do with actual fighting after his brother’s tragic death.  On an espionage mission to Israel he falls in love with a beautiful, sensitive, patriotic Jewish actress and is torn between his feelings for her and his duty to his country and his religion.   She never suspects that he is a spy and when he abandons her, she thinks he has died in the 1956 Suez War and continues to cherish the time they spent together.  When he accidentally meets her 23 years later, they both learn surprising truths about their relationship.  Actually, the Israeli woman is my sister-in-law and 80 per cent of the novel actually occurred.

What?! So Ishmael al Mohammed is a real person too?
My sister-in-law never knew the spy’s real name.  Therefore, I called him Ishmael al Mohammed and had him use a cover name of Isaac Ben Abraham when he was in Israel.  Many of my early readers did not know why I used those two names.  Therefore, I included three chapters, one narrated by the biblical Abraham, another by his wife Sarah, and the third by his concubine Hagar to explain my choice of names for the spy.  Thus, my novel begins in 1956, flashes back to 1800 B.C., then depicts events in 1939, 1948, 1968, and ends in 1979.  Each chapter has a different first person narrator, and as I said above, the prologue and epilogue are narrated by a donkey.

Not another family member, we’re sure! Complete this sentence for us: if you like _____________________, you’ll love The Conspiracies of Dreams.
If you like Romeo and Juliet and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, you’ll love my book. 

What has been the reaction to the book?
Many people have told me that as soon as they read the last word, they began to read the novel again to savour the metaphors, symbols and foreshadowing. Since the prologue and epilogue are narrated by a donkey, most people reread the prologue since it and the epilogue are a chain which is broken by the novel.

Have you written any other books that we should read next?
No, but I am adapting this book into a screenplay.

That’s exciting. But won’t you write any more novels?
After I finish the screenplay I am writing a novel about the 1956 Russian invasion of Hungary which affected one of my students in an amazing manner.

Come back and talk to us about it when it’s published. In the meantime, tell us a bit about yourself.
I teach Literature and Composition at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida.  I play tennis, try to play the piano and enjoy hiking with my two dogs.  In fact, I walk the dogs about 5 miles a day, and that is when I get most of my inspiration.

Do you have a website where we can keep up with your work?
Didner.blogspot.com and www.sandradidner.weebly.com.

How can we follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook?
@didner_sandy and I have yet to set up an author page on Facebook, but I do have a regular Facebook page.

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  1. Pingback: Top 10 Books: Week ending June 28, 2013 | Indie Author Land

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