11 January 2018

Special Guest Post by Ralph Webster, Author of One More Moon: Goodbye Mussolini! One Woman's Story of Fate and Survival

Available for per-order from Amazon UK and Amazon US
Scheduled for release on February 28 2018

Goodreads Choice Nominee Ralph Webster tells the true story of his grandmother’s desperate journey from her life at the Pensione Alexandra in Naples to America - after Mussolini and the Fascists join with Hitler - and as countries across the world close their doors to Jewish refugees fleeing the spread of Nazi evil.

Whose voice?  A woman’s or a man’s?

This past week I was asked “how was writing One More Moon different from what I’d experienced when I wrote my last book?”  It’s a curious question - one that I find myself reflecting upon now that One More Moon is finished and I sit here not so patiently awaiting its release.  I can’t say I was overly conscious of this question when I was writing.  So now I ask myself had I considered the difference, had I recognized its significance, what would I have changed?  I am not big on second guessing.  What’s done is done.  Would it have changed the way I wrote One More Moon?

Old habits are hard to break.  At my age I am sure that I don’t change too much.  I like my chair and my desk.  I didn’t change the way I approached the writing  - the way I researched, my daily routine, the thought process - that all stayed the same.  I always take my craft seriously.  Even though this was a different story, little else in the process changed.  I still had the same sleepless nights when it seemed my head would burst with all the thoughts looking for a way out.  I still struggled to get the words on paper.  My emotions ran high and low.  My editor never asked about the difference.  Only one initial reviewer noticed.  I suppose that gave me a moment’s pause, but then I shrugged it off, and never gave it much more thought.

I realize now that it’s very obvious.  It was part of each and every word.  The difference?  My first book, A Smile in One Eye, is told by a man, my father.  Then I tried to put myself into my father’s head and explain his world from a man’s perspective.  My new book, One More Moon, is told by a woman, my grandmother.  This time I had to find her voice, understand the world from her vantage point, and speak the words she would have said. 

I was so focused on their journeys - so entirely different, one from Germany, the other from Italy, both grown, but at different ages in life, and from different sides of my family.  I remain convinced that they shared many of the same difficulties and emotions - the anguish, the loss, the confusion, the uncertainty, the isolation, the fears, the unknown, the way others reacted.  Yet, I don’t think I stopped and tried to express these emotions differently just because one was a man and the other a woman.  I didn’t instinctively prepare or choose male words and female words or male voices and female voices.  I simply was unaware of that nuance.  And, quite honestly, I really don’t want there to be one, at least one that’s recognizable.  My aim was to portray and project the individual characters as I knew them.  More than anything else, I wanted them to be real, true, and intimately known by the reader.

Now I wonder how readers will react.  Is there a commercial aspect to all of this?  Do readers prefer books written in a woman’s voice versus a man’s?  Did I make these characters authentic?  Should I have used a different pen name?  Will their voices stand up to the scrutiny of my readers?  When put to paper, what does distinguish a man’s voice from a woman’s?  Is there a stereotype one is supposed to follow? 

As One More Moon rolls out in the coming weeks and months I am sure I will learn many of the answers.  Readers have a way of being very direct in their observations.  They will tell me the answers.  Now I am just curious.

Ralph Webster 
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About the Author

Award winning author Ralph Webster received worldwide acclaim for his first book, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other, which tells the story of his father’s flight from the Holocaust. Voted by readers as a Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards Nominee for Best Memoir/Autobiography, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other and his second book, One More Moon, are proven book club selections for thought-provoking and engaging discussions. Whether in person or online, Ralph welcomes and values his exchanges with readers and makes every effort to participate in conversations about his books. Now retired, he lives with his wife, Ginger, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Please contact Ralph to schedule via Skype or in person for your book club. Find out more at Ralph's website 

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