I’m delighted to welcome Miriam Drori back to my blog today to discuss the themes of her exciting new novel, brilliantly titled ‘Cultivating a Fuji’.
Thank you, Jo. I’m delighted to be able to bring the themes of my brand-new novel, Cultivating a Fuji, to your esteemed blog.
The main theme of the novel is social anxiety. As an introduction to this topic, I would say that social anxiety is a fear of people – in particular of what those people think of the “sufferer”. For more information, from multiple points of view, see my non-fiction book, Social Anxiety Revealed.
Martin has social anxiety. The people he meets don’t know that, and even Martin doesn’t know that for most of his life. All he knows is that he doesn’t fit into society. Other people see him as different… not normal. Their reactions range from bullying to raised shoulders and smirks. Very few attempt to draw him out or include him in social activities.
It was important for me to drill into the heads of these other people and examine why they have little room for empathy. There are the schoolchildren, always striving to remain popular and lacking guidance from those who should provide it. Teachers and parents have other agendas. One woman is juggling work and childcare, and another’s partner has just dumped her. Fellow office workers are fearful they might lose their jobs.
Another theme of the novel is place, in particular Bournemouth (UK) and Japan. Bournemouth is where Martin lives. It’s a town he loves to explore on his solitary walks. It also very nearly becomes his downfall. Japan, with all its strangeness, is the place that could save him from his humdrum existence, although it could also do the opposite.
Cultivating a Fuji
Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?
Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…
Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last for ever. It’s the one in which she’s happiest and most settled and finally free to do what she wants. Miriam lives in a delightful house and garden in Jerusalem with her lovely husband and one of three children. She enjoys frequent trips around the world. She dances, hikes, reads and listens to music. And she’s realised that social anxiety is here to stay, so she might as well make friends with it. On top of that, she has moved away from computer programming and technical writing (although both of those provided interest in previous stages) and now spends her time editing and writing fiction.
Neither Here Nor There, a romance with a difference set in Jerusalem, was published in 2014. The Women Friends: Selina, co-written with Emma Rose Millar, is the first of a series of novellas based on the famous painting by Gustav Klimt. Social Anxiety Revealed (non-fiction) provides a comprehensive description of social anxiety from many different viewpoints. Cultivating a Fuji is an uplifting tale of combating difference. Future books will include a sequel to Neither Here Nor There.
Cultivating a Fuji is available as a paperback or an ebook from Amazon.