Escape Route is set in New York City during the tumultuous late 1960s. The story is told by teenager Zach, a first-generation son of Holocaust survivors and NY Mets fan, who becomes obsessed with the Vietnam War and with finding an escape route for his family for when he believes the US will round up and incarcerate its Jews. Zach meets Samm, a seventh-generation Manhattanite whose brother has returned from Vietnam with PTSD. Together they explore protest, friendship, music, faith, and love during a time littered with hope and upheaval around the globe.
I first read Elan’s writing in the Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Vol. 2. His short story about these same characters, “Just Be,” was moving and memorable; it was based on a section of Escape Route. I’m so pleased the full story has now been told and can be read.
Here is an early review:
“Elan Barnehama has given us a powerful coming of age story set against the tumult of the 1960s, the War in Vietnam, and the power of memory and Jewish identity in a family of Holocaust survivors. This is a beautifully rendered novel, populated by unforgettable characters in an unforgettable time. Barnehama is a literary craftsman at the top of his game. Superb.” — Frye Gaillard, author of A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, an NPR Great Read 2018
Meanwhile, I’ve been hard at work on my fantasy novel. If you look deeply into my author photo, you can catch a peek at early lines from my first draft.
All right, honestly, I haven’t been writing it with quill and ink, but I do write the first drafts longhand. I like the ease and physical contact of writing with pen and paper.
During this year, Running Wild Press has been busy with many awesome projects – just check out their twitter. Among their latest offerings are writing courses.
From RWP: we’re launching a fully online creative writing program.
Want to join a supportive, online writing community for feedback and encouragement? Take a Running Wild Press writing course.
These fully online courses will be taught in 4 to 8-week formats entirely online by experienced instructors from higher education institutions from around the country.
Three of these courses will be taught by my anthology colleagues Elan Barnehama, Nick Mazzuca, and Amelia Kibbie. I heartily vouch for their writing abilities, because their stories are honestly some of my favorites. Check out my interviewswiththem for more about them and their stories.
A fourth course will be taught by Dr. Lisa Montagne. I’m not acquainted Lisa, but if you’re interested in reading and writing poetry, have a look! You can check out all the courses here.
As for me, check back soon for more interviews with new authors, and of course I’ll keep you posted with any news!
Now, let me be clear: these are not official Golden Globe bags. They are “Red Carpet Gift Bags honoring Golden Globe nominees,” to quote Hollywood Swag Bag, who will place these gifts in the celebrities’ rooms, working in conjunction with the hotel management. How amazing is that!
Here is a partial list of who will be receiving these excellent books among all the other cool gifts:
‘In our third year of publishing, Running Wild Press has had an impressive year. Already nominated for several awards including the Pushcart Prize, the executive editor, Lisa Diane Kastner, is excited for two of the press’s books to be included in gift bags to 2019 Golden Globe nominees and presenters. The bags will be gifted to actors, actresses, and presenters for the 2019 Golden Globes the weekend of January 7, 2019.
“When we were informed that both ‘Frontal Matter: Glue Gone Wild’ and ‘Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 2’ would be included in the gift bags, I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Lisa Diane Kastner, Founder and Executive Editor of Running Wild Press. “This is the perfect tribute to our authors, our readers, and the stories of 2018 as well as a gorgeous beginning to 2019.”
Lisa founded Running Wild Press with the vision to bring great stories and great writing that do not fit neatly in a box to readers worldwide.
“In 2018, we published nine books with stories ranging from personal narratives to cross-genre fiction and non-fiction,” said Lisa. “These two books represent a great compilation of our narratives.”
Never one to shy from an opportunity to feature talents who don’t necessarily fit in mainstream media, we chatted with Lisa about the press, the Golden Globes, and anything else we could fit in.
How Did You Get Into The Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards Gift Bags? A dear friend reached out to me and mentioned that there was an opportunity to be included. There are only a handful of companies authorized to provide gift baskets for events such as the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars, and SAG Awards. I figured, heck, can’t hurt to have a chat. That chat resulted in our stories being included in 50 gift bags for both Golden Globe nominees and presenters as well as SAG Award nominees and presenters. We couldn’t be more excited. Only a select few are invited to be included in these baskets so this truly is an honor.
Who Among the Recipients Are You Most Excited to Meet? Admittedly, I doubt that I’ll personally meet any of the celebrities or nominees during the weekend of the Golden Globes or the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but I am incredibly excited to have the likes of Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Spike Lee, Constance Wu, Charlize Theron, and Lin-Manuel Miranda read these amazing stories.
I have admired Bradley Cooper’s rise and strategic choices for years. Lady Gaga continues to broaden and expand her repertoire. Her ability to tap into her own meager beginnings in “A Star Is Born” was truly breathtaking. Spike Lee’s true gift to bring forth real life situations and demonstrate their relevance to today’s society is beyond phenomenal. Constance Wu and the rest of the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” not only brought theatrical houses down but showed the world how a Rom-Con should be done. And Lin-Manuel’s gifts for storytelling – no matter the form (Have you seen his Twitter account? Oy!) continues to inspire. I could go on and on. Needless to say, we’re proud to have these stories in such amazingly talented artists’ hands.
What Inspired You to Start Running Wild Press? I had spent over a decade studying the art of storytelling from New York Times Bestsellers, such as Jonathan Maberry, Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Da Chen, Pulitzer Prize nominees such as Luis Alberto Urrea, National Book Award winners such as Julia Glass, Ha Jin, and PEN Award winners such as Percival Everett. I studied fiction, non-fiction, memoir, journalism, screenplay writing. Each experience and interaction brought greater knowledge and understanding.
I ran several writers workshops including Running Wild Writers Community out of Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. I often found writers whose writing was on-point – truly magical stories with great writing; the pieces simply needed a little tweaking. I gave the authors feedback and recommended that they send the pieces out for publication. I checked with each one and was often shocked when they said they couldn’t find home for their work. When I asked why, they informed me that the publications said the author’s writing was wonderful but didn’t quite fit. The more I heard this, the clearer it was that tons of great stories with great writing simply don’t fit into the mainstream media. So, I created Running Wild Press for great stories and great writing that don’t fit neatly in a box to find worldwide audiences. I’ve been humbled by the public’s enthusiastic response to our stories. We’ve been nominated for several “Best of” collections, the Pushcart Prize, and several more honors that are currently in the works.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing. What do you like best to write?
I like writing flash fiction and novels. Opposite ends of the story spectrum – but I like the way they influence each other.
Where do your stories fall on the plot-driven vs. character-driven spectrum?
I would say my stories are more character driven as I like knowing who people are, who characters are. Of course, it’s impossible to separate who they are from how they are in a situation. So maybe the easy answer is both. Clearly, plot influences the choices a character makes, but how they respond reveals who they are.
What authors did you love most as a kid? Now? What authors have influenced your writing most?
When I read EAST OF EDEN as a kid – my mother gave it to me– I loved it and it was the first time I thought to see what else a writer had written. That was followed by falling in love and in awe of the characters and the writing of J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Dylan, and others. Later Toni Morrison and Thomas Pynchon came and knocked me over.
Is there a place that you’ve lived (or visited) that most influences your writing?
I was born and raised in New York City, and while I have lived away from the city more than I lived in it, New York continues to be a large part of who I am. But I have also spent time in Los Angeles, and it’s become a part of me and is the setting of the novel I am working on.
What have you been up to since the Anthology came out? Any other news?
My story in the anthology, “Just Be,” is an excerpt from my novel, ESCAPE ROUTE – which is making rounds with agents/publishers. Since the Anthology was published, another excerpt of Escape Route, “Raining In The Holy Land,” was published in JewishFiction.net, September 2018.
In July, I had a new piece of flash fiction, “Snowflakes and Earthquakes,” published by DrunkMonkeys.us. A book I helped edit, “A Mile In Our Shoes — Personal Stories of Global Journeys,” will be published by Whyte Tracks Publisher, Denmark, in September 2018. And, my flash story, “Everyone to Dance,” will be published in the October issue of BostonAccent.com.
What do you plan to work on next?
I am working on a new novel about starting over and taking risks that is set in Los Angeles.