Pat Black-Gould

Award-Winning Author

Author Interview - Life is what it's called blogspot

Jul 12, 2022 by Pat Black-Gould

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write The Crystal Beads?

Pat Black-Gould - Many years ago, my rabbi told me about the experiences of a little girl during the Holocaust. What he said haunted me so much that I wrote it down as a short story, telling it through the eyes of a seven-year-old girl. The story was published in Jewish Fiction. net as The Crystal Beads and then won first place in both state and national writing competitions. Following that, I conducted presentations on my work and found that the story’s themes led to thoughtful and passionate discussions and questions. I felt I had to do something more with this story to reach a wider audience. That’s when I wrote a picture book, and the title became The Crystal Beads, Lalka’s Journey.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think readers will gain from reading this story?

Pat Black-Gould - We are at a time in our history when we are witnessing the rise of hate crimes and of anti- semitism. Additionally, just as I was completing this book, we saw the unfolding horror of war crimes in Ukraine. I believe my book is a timely reminder of the consequences of allowing hatred to gain a powerful foothold in any environment.

Life Is What It's Called - How does this book stand apart from the others on the market?

Pat Black-Gould - Although this book is written as a picture book, it’s a story for almost all ages, from age eight upwards. I designed the book specifically to include two study guide questionnaires. One for children to discuss with their parents and teachers. The other is for adults who gather in places of worship, book clubs, and small groups. Further, this book also contains the experiences of a Holocaust survivor, the words of a son of survivor, and the words of a granddaughter of a survivor, Katya Royz, who also illustrated the book. I wanted readers, especially young ones, to have a connection to generations of survivors to foster an understanding that the Holocaust did not end when the camps were liberated.

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see this book being used in the classroom?

Pat Black-Gould - The study guide questions will aid teachers in framing discussions. There’s also a section in the Afterword about the Paper Clip Project conducted at Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee. Readers will learn how a group of students at this small school made a big difference in the lives of others after they studied the Holocaust. This story may inspire children to develop ideas for their own projects aimed at helping others.

Life Is What It's Called - Why is it important to share stories about the past?

Pat Black-Gould - In answer to this question, I can't improve on the words of George Santayana, who said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905).

Life Is What It's Called - What other books will be good companions to this one?

Pat Black-Gould - I have not found any other books that include all the components that I added to my book, but I have noted some that stand out. These include:

Life Is What It's Called - What themes run throughout your writing and why?

Pat Black-Gould - Love, courage, compassion, empathy. The love of a mother for her daughter gives her the courage to make a heartbreaking sacrifice to keep her daughter safe. Sister Teresa demonstrates empathy, compassion, and courage in offering sanctuary to the little girl, knowing she is putting her own life at risk.

Life Is What It's Called - How has your psychology background helped you write this story?

Pat Black-Gould - The child in the book is interrogated by Nazis. This is obviously a harrowing and confusing experience for this little girl. As a psychologist who works in the trauma field, I wanted to be able to convey these emotional experiences while being mindful of the necessity of not provoking vicarious trauma in young readers. This was a difficult balancing act, and I believe the words of Rabbi Mark W. Kiel are validation that I achieved this balance: Concerned parents often ask if children can handle the subject of the Holocaust. The answer is yes, if its story is told with subtlety and grace, as is true in “Crystal Beads, and where the tragedy is redeemed by love.

Life Is What It's Called - How can this story relate to present-day circumstances?

Pat Black-Gould - In our country and many others across the globe, we are seeing the rise of hate crimes and anti-Semitism on an almost daily basis. We are also witnessing an ongoing war in Ukraine that has resulted in millions of innocents fleeing for their lives from Russian forces. My illustrator’s grandfather also fled Ukraine as a child when the Nazis invaded his hometown, but the safe haven for his family was Russia. This is a reminder that we must be aware that hatred may be cloaked in many different guises and come from many different directions, but the target is always the same: the innocents.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want readers to know about you as an author?

Pat Black-Gould - As well as being an author, I’m also a playwright, and I believe stories can be told not just with words. I have been working on turning the book into a play. Additionally, I recently collaborated with a dancer, Genevieve Fortner, who choreographed and performed a section from the book to music written by Sheila Firestone, a Jewish composer. I believe we should encourage this type of creative interaction, as it helps to bring our stories to a broader audience.

Life Is What It's Called -What are you working on now with your writing?

Pat Black-Gould - I am writing a coming-of-age novel about a young girl growing up during the Vietnam War era with a co-writer, Steve Hardiman. The title is Limbo of the Moon. This adult novel has the same themes as my children’s book: Love, courage, sacrifice, compassion, and empathy.