I’d like B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree Dave Riese to Layered Pages. Dave is a social history buff of the 20th century, collects the memories of relatives and friends. Their experiences inspire him to write about the unexpected events in daily life. He and his wife live in Wilmington, Massachusetts when not visiting grandchildren or travelling throughout the world.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
I found indieBRAG during my search for book reviewers on the internet. I visited many sites which claimed to provide a credible evaluation of my book. IndieBRAG stood out as especially valuable because it based its decision on the book’s physical appearance, the quality of writing, and the plot’s ability to draw the reader into the story.
Please tell me a little about your book.
Montreal, 1951. Rebecca Wiseman, 18 years old, briefly meets a handsome young man, but has little hope of seeing him again. When Sol Gottesman tracks her down and asks her on a date, her joy mingles with disbelief when she learns he is the son of a wealthy businessman.
When Sol takes her in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce to the most expensive restaurant in the city, Rebecca enters a world of upper-class wealth and privilege unknown in her working-class family. She believes her romantic dreams have come true.
She soon learns that despite Sol’s outward charm, he lacks self-confidence. He reveals the simmering conflicts in his family, dominated by his mother and older brother. Rebecca wants to protect Sol, but helping him stand up to the pressure from his family, puts her squarely in the midst of it all.
Class, religion, family conflict and sexual secrets test their love. And then a late night telephone call could change her life forever.
I’ve read several books this year that take place in the 1950’s. What a great period! Did you find any challenges and what interest you the most about this era?
Creating the period of 1950 was challenge, but also great fun. I had three things in my favor. 1) The woman who told me her story lived in Montreal at that time. She had wonderful powers of recollection that gave me many details to help bring that time and place alive; 2) I was born in 1946, so I had some recollections of that decade and an emotional feeling for that time in history; and 3) The Internet is an amazing resource. I could find answers to most questions online, (but I had to verify the information to avoid the inevitable errors.)
Here are some issues I encountered while writing the novel:
When Sol and Rebecca go to the cabin in the Laurentians, I originally had them driving on a highway that did not exist in 1952.
In early drafts, I wrote scenes in which people watch television. Canadian television did not exist until the first TV stations were built in Toronto and Montreal toward the end of 1952.
Using a specific consumer product usually required an Internet search. For example, I remembered the commercial for Ipana toothpaste from my childhood – a cartoon beaver singing “Brusha, brusha, brusha, get the new Ipana.” I had to confirm on the web that Ipana toothpaste was sold in Canada in the early fifties.
Researching radio shows that Rebecca might have heard while looking at her bouquet of roses, I discovered that Princess Elizabeth came to Canada in October, 1951.
Contemporary newspaper descriptions supplied details about Ben’s Deluxe Deli – the décor, waiters’ uniforms, and the Wall of Fame.
The most difficult challenge was capturing the right tone regarding the attitudes, prejudices, and social conventions of people in 1951. What did they think about pre-marital sex, public displays of affection, parental control of daughters, and the revelations of child abuse? I hope I’ve resolved these complaints satisfactorily.
Tell me a little about Rebecca Wiseman. What are the emotional triggers she has and how does she act on them?
Rebecca is an intelligent and independent character who manages to stick up for herself in the face of incredible pressure and unexpected revelations. She often speaks before thinking only to regret her words. In the area of wealth and romance, she has much to learn.
Her family is lower-middle class and her parents are immigrants from Europe. Rebecca has high expectations for herself and a dream to improve her social standing. The men in her life – her father and her fiancé – are flawed in different ways. She must decide how to come to terms with their shortcomings.
Her main challenge is understanding Sol’s family and their effect on Sol’s behavior. She must deal with the uncertainty of her relationship with Sol and find the inner strength to create her future.
How is your character(s) influenced by their setting?
The setting for the story is the two sides of Montreal: the lower-middle class section of Outremont and the wealthy area of Westmount. Rebecca finds herself with a foot in each community and in each of two families all the while trying to find a balance in her life.
Describe Mount Royal.
Mount Royal is the source of the city’s name and the highest point in Montreal. The outlook at the top commands an impressive panorama of the city and the St Lawrence River. Nature trails throughout the park provide hikers and cross-country skiers a respite from the city’s confusion. Most visitors include Mount Royal in their tour of the city.
In the novel, two important events take place on Mount Royal and change the course of the novel. The reverberations of these events echo throughout the decades of Rebecca’s life.
Please tell me about the religious conflicts in your story.
Rebecca’s father is a Catholic from Poland; her mother is Jewish and grew up in the Palestine area of the Ottoman Empire. Although this difference causes no conflict within the family, the mixed religious nature of the marriage is looked at with suspicion by the Wiseman’s neighbors. As a child, Rebecca experiences the prejudice of some of her playmates.
Sol’s parents are Orthodox Jews, although the extent of their commitment to the rituals is only hinted at in the novel. Sol is ambivalent about his parents’ adherence to these beliefs. The reader is left with the feeling that religion could be used to prevent the marriage of Rebecca and Sol.
When Rebecca tells her father she is engaged to Sol, he tells her the story of his engagement to her mother. Once again, religion could be used as a possible wedge to split the couple apart.
Rebecca’s mother grew up in Palestine before the area was annexed to Israel. The mother always had a positive attitude toward Arabs which would be unthinkable in the Gottesman family.
How much time do you spend writing and researching? What is the most rewarding thing to you about writing?
In my retirement, I adopted a new full-time job as a writer. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed with writing and marketing, I have to remind myself, “Wait a minute. You’re retired. You can take time off whenever you want.”
I usually work at my writing about 30 hours a week. Lately, more time (too much really) is taken up by marketing. I keep promising myself to work more on my second novel. Easier said than done. I usually write in a local cafe or coffee shop since I find it too distracting to write at home.
The most rewarding thing about writing is the sense of euphoria after a satisfying day of work. I return to the real world grateful for the time I spent in my imagination. The second best thing is having readers tell me they enjoyed the book.
What do you hope reader come away with your story?
Basically I want readers to come away from my book feeling satisfied, having enjoyed the trip. I hope they will still think about Rebecca after they close the book. I think of her every day. I also wish readers will reaffirm that, with time, a person can recover from what is a tragedy for them.
Where can readers buy your book?
The ebook of Echo from Mount Royal is available from Amazon and from
An ebook of three short stories is available for FREE on Smashwords: http://bit.ly/28YCAne
(Note: Amazon is keeping the price at $.99. The bully!)
These three linked short stories introduce Rebecca, a Canadian teenager, living in Montreal during the 1940s. They are a ‘pre-quel’ to the novel.
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to Dave Riese who is the author of, ECHO FROM MOUNT ROYAL, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, ECHO FROM MOUNT ROYAL, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.