Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Accidental Activist Blog Tour by Alon Shalev - Interview and Giveaway!

Virtual Author Book Tours and Me and Reading present:

Welcome to my stop of The Accidental Activist Blog Tour organized by Virtual Author Book Tours and by the author Alon Shalev! My stop will include information about the book, the author, interview and giveaway. I did the review of The Accidental Activist yesterday, you can read it here. I really liked this book and it got 5 stars review from me.

Summary from Goodreads:

David meets Goliath in the law courts of England in the 1990's. The advent of the Internet is leveling the playing field as a multinational corporation tries to silence two young political activists in a riveting court case that captivates the political and business world's attention.

Author Bio:

Alon Shalev has been a political activist since his early teens and believes that fiction can help create a better world. Shalev strives through his writing to highlight social and political injustice and to inspire action for change. A consistent theme that runs through Shalev's novels is his characters' capacity to become empowered to help create a better and more just world.

His novels, the latest being The Accidental Activist, all highlight a social injustice and provides everyday characters who discover that they can help make a difference. Shalev writes regularly for the popular blog Left Coast Voices at and facilitates the Berkeley Writer's Group.

Alon's Web

And now ladies and gentlemen, give warm welcome to the author Alon Shalev who agreed to give an interview!!
Part I

MR: Please describe yourself with few sentences. Who are you?

AS: My name is Alon Shalev. I am the wrong side of my mid-40's, blessed with a wonderful wife and two amazing sons. I live in Berkeley, California, and run a Jewish student center in San Francisco. Working in the non-profit world provides me with many insights into the need to empower individuals and create communities. I have written four social justice themed novels, the third being Unwanted Heroes that will be published at the beginning of next year. Last summer, I offered to write a fantasy novel with my eldest son (12yr). What began as an exercise has quickly developed into two 90,000 YA novels and we have a plan for the third to complete the trilogy.

MR: What inspired you to want to become writer?

AS: I became politically aware in my teens and campaigned with the anti-apartheid movement and to free the Jews in the Soviet Union. From here I became involved in Amnesty International and building community in London. I sought creative and meaningful ways to inspire people, having quickly realized that I am not inspired by politics or demonstrations.

MR: Who did you want to become when you were a kid? What did you dream about?

AS: I always wanted to help people, so once I realized I wasn't going to become a rock singer or soccer player, I began to look for community organizing opportunities and studied social work.

MR: What brought you to writing? When did the idea of writing your first book formed?

AS: I have always written, but breaking my collarbone in the early 90's was the turning point. A friend taught me how to use a computer and suddenly I had an efficient tool to express myself.

MR: What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have any hobbies?

AS: I have too many hobbies. I work out, practice Tai Chi, enjoy fishing, camping, and being in nature. I look for any opportunity to do something with my sons. Though they are only 12 and 8, I don't want to miss out on this period of my life.

MR: What is the most difficult aspect of being a writer for you?

AS: The previous question brings me naturally to this one. Time is the hardest aspect. Sleep, for me, is overrated. I rise and write at 6am and often continue after the children have gone to bed. My very supportive wife helps me find time on the weekend as well. When I am in the creative phase (actually writing a novel rather than editing or promoting), it is a struggle to keep up with the story that is unfolding.

MR: If you wouldn’t be a writer, what would you be and do?

AS: I would have to find other ways to help inspire and empower people to work for a better world. Politics do not excite me so it would have to be grassroots. I have become very interested in micro lending as a tool to help people change their lives. Perhaps I could have gone in this direction.

MR: Who or what is your Muse?

AS: I'm not aware that I have one. Each book seems to come out of an experience or a chance meeting with someone. From then the process feels very natural.

MR: Did you ever experience writer’s block when the writing process just wasn’t moving ahead?

AS: No. I feel very lucky. Even with only 1-3 hours a day, I can write a first draft for a 90,000-word novel in 100 days. I have great faith in the creative process and in my characters. I sometimes think that when people encounter such problems, it is something deeper in their personal faith in themselves, or maybe they have 'forced' themselves to write something that isn't a good fit for them. But I am not an authority on this.

MR: I understood that you have been working and living in Kibbutz. What did you do there? What kind of experiences did you get there?

AS: Kibbutz is an amazing journey in creating community. My kibbutz was barely a year old when I joined and this allowed me to be an integral part of the community building process. It gave me a high commitment to communication and facilitation, which helps me as a writer connect both with my readers and my characters. I love being with other writers and talking with readers. Since coming to Berkeley, I have created a writers group and facilitate the marketing group of the local California Writers Club. I spend time listening and offering help to other writers, and receive and learn a lot in return.

MR:  In your bio it is mentioned, that you work in the non-profit organization with young people and helping them to come back to their religious roots. How has it influenced your writing?

AS: More than I anticipated. Firstly, working with students keeps me in touch with what is happening in San Francisco and the vibrancy of this age group. Every year I take a group to the Gulf Coast and, as well as helping there, enjoy the opportunity to share my belief with students of social justice. I came to the US a few months before Hurricane Katrina and it was an intense insight into American society.

Part II

Let’s talk about books!

MR: You have three published books. Would you briefly give us an overview what are these about?

AS: It's actually two books for now. Oilspill dotcom was self-published and then picked up by Three Clover Press, and re-released as The Accidental Activist. A third book, Unwanted Heroes, will be released in January and is the first of three books based in San Francisco with many of the same characters, while each focuses on a different social issue. All my novels (including a couple that I have not published) include two elements: the social issue and the protagonist who experiences something transformational that empower them to work for a better world.

MD: What went through your mind when the first book you wrote was published?

AS: It's a huge trip every time. Seeing it on a bookshelf in a store, in someone's hand, hearing that someone read and enjoyed it - never gets old and, I sincerely hope, never will.

MR: How do you write? Do you sketch a plot first, create characters first and then starting to write?

AS: Usually, once I have the idea, I just write. I trust the story that it will develop and I trust my characters. I often go to bed not sure what I am going to write in the morning and that can be a bit scary. But it is all about trust. If I have ideas that are out of sequence, I make a note. I also keep track of my characters - clothes, feelings, actions etc. - which I write as they reveal themselves.

MR: What do you think is the most important thing while writing?

AS: Trusting your character, trusting the story, trusting yourself. I know this seems repetitive, but it is the core of how I write.

MR: Where did you get the idea for your last book The Accidental Activist from? How was the book born?

AS: The Accidental Activist is based on a true story when McDonalds sued two individuals for libel in England in the 1990's. There was no legal aid then for libel, unlike any other forms of law. These two individuals were able to defend themselves against one of the biggest law firms in England when a group (including a friend of mine) put up what I believe, was the first interactive advocacy website. Both the David .v. Goliath aspect and the role of the Internet fascinated me and I followed it closely.

MR: Which character do you love most in your books? Which character and in which books can you mostly relate to?

AS: My favorite character is an old homeless man called the professor in Unwanted Heroes. Though he is balanced precariously between reality and insanity, he has stunning insights and a great sense of humor. He sees himself as a mentor, which I think we all should. While he is a minor character in Unwanted Heroes, I received so much positive feedback about him and so loved writing about him, that he became the protagonist in the following book.

MR: Do you base your fiction on some experiences you have had and people you have met?

AS: All the time. I mentioned earlier about what stimulated The Accidental Activist. Unwanted Heroes came out of a conversation with a war veteran, and so many characters or scenes have come out of the people I have met or an incident that I was involved with. I feel very lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is so full of vibrant and interested people.

MR: What was the best summer read for you this summer? Why?

AS: Since I am writing fantasy, I read the first two books of R. A Salvatore's The Legend of Drizzt series. I also read Christopher Moore's Bite Me - hilarious, and perfect for the summer.

MR:  I must ask you about new book to be published. What will it be about? Anything you can tell us already?

AS: It is about a young Englishman who comes to San Francisco with aspirations to become the next Kerouac. He works as a barista for an Asian-American war vet, and helps him comes to terms with his own past. While this is a hard-hitting critique of how we treat war veterans and the homeless, it is also a fun view of San Francisco, a city which you probably realize by now, I have fallen in love with.

Part III – Favorites

Who is your favorite author? Christopher Buckley
What is your favorite book or series? Christopher Moore's SF vampire series - hilarious.
What is your favorite book blog you follow?
What is your favorite song? One Day - Matisyahu (watch the You Tube video when you listen to it).
What is your favorite season? Summer, which means in San Francisco I also get to enjoy the fog.
What is your favorite food? Fish and Chips (did I mention I'm a Brit?).
What is your favorite car? If it runs, is comfortable, environmental and has a good sound system - I'll take it.
What is your favorite color? Green
What is your favorite movie? Lord of the Rings
What is your favorite time of the day? Evening - both before and after my sons go to bed.
What is your favorite weather? Whatever is conducive for a good sunset.

Thank you so much, Alon, taking time to answer all my many questions! It is really appreciated!

And now... to the giveaway!

The author has been so kind to let Me and Reading organize a giveaway!!

There will be on winner of The Accidental Activist. It is international giveaway in that sense, that in case the winner is from US/Canada he or she will get paperbook or ebook and in case the winner is from all the other parts of the world, the winner will get ecopy of the book.

Giveaway details:

Giveaway runs from 2-16 November 2011.
You need to be follower of Me and Reading.
Leave a comment with your email address and follower name and that's it!
Winner will be announced during 17-18 of November.

Good luck and start commenting to win!

Next stop is going to be already tomorrow, on the 3rd of November at Have fun following The Accidental Activist Blog Tour!

Happy reading!


  1. Thank you for the chance to win! Looks interesting :) GFC Krystal Larson edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  2. Thanks for the giveaway!!

    GFC name - sweety


  3. An interesting read.

    GFC: Mary Preston



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