Jaclyn Goldis’ new book, When We Were Young, recalls the early loves of three generations of women in a Jewish family.
Jaclyn Goldis has written and critiqued her own novels and feels confident about the time to pursue publication.
Her first, completed when she was 17 and living in Bloomfield Hills, never reached an agent’s desk. Almost 20 years later, her fourth, completed in Tel Aviv, became the first submitted for agent consideration and was moved along to be accepted by a publisher.
When We Were Young (Grand Central, Forever Imprint), with a release date of Feb. 16, recalls the early loves of three generations of women in a Jewish family. It reaches from a Greek island during World War II to Florida in current times.
“The book mostly focuses on the grandmother and granddaughter,” said Goldis, who shares a close relationship with her maternal grandmother, Libby Newman of West Bloomfield.
“It’s the story of a bride just before her wedding. The bride’s old boyfriend comes back to tell her why he broke up with her the last summer their families vacationed together on the island of Corfu.
“Meanwhile, the girl’s grandmother begins to correspond with the lover she had during World War II on a Greek island.”
Goldis wanted a beach setting for her novel, and she picked Corfu because she was looking for a lesser-known area with the history of being invaded by the Nazis. Research brought her focus to Greek territory, where she spent three weeks, about four years ago, as she started the book.
“I don’t know that I could write about a place I hadn’t been to,” she said.
Goldis, who attended Hillel Day School and graduated from Andover High School while her family belonged to Congregation Beth Ahm, majored in economics at the University of Michigan and earned a law degree from New York University. She practiced estate law in Chicago between 2007 and 2015 before deciding to devote her days to writing.
“I always want to follow my dreams,” she explained. “I’ve been a writer since my earliest memory. When I left my job in Chicago, I was up for a partnership, but I think there’s really something to be said about following your heart.”
Before deciding to move into a Tel Aviv apartment in 2017, Goldis traveled the world.
“I have traveled a lot in my life, and I believe that those experiences generally have contributed to my writing in that I enjoy writing about American women abroad, perhaps also because I live abroad,” said Goldis, a single who enjoys running and meditating daily.
“I think there is something interesting about exiting your everyday life and assimilating or trying to assimilate to another culture and people.
“I went to Tel Aviv and thought I would just stay for a month but never left. I love warm weather and living 20 steps from the sea. I like that Tel Aviv is a small city. I walk down the street and see people I know. It feels like home because I have a ton of family here.”
Stages of Writing
As the author develops books beyond her debut novel, she follows a routine depending on the stage of development. During the brainstorming/outlining phase, she needs quiet time and spaces for ideas to flourish and takes her notebook wherever she goes.
The research stage comes next, and that includes interviews. Moving into the first draft, she writes new material in the morning and edits in the afternoon.
“I am not a writer who subscribes to the philosophy that one needs to write every day,” she said. “I like to be in flow, and there are many days I don’t write new material because I am in a different stage of the process, like brainstorming or editing or doing promotional things.”
Goldis, whose favorite authors include Pat Conroy and Daniel Silva, labels her style as “book club fiction,” which she defines as offering thought-provoking themes and conflicts that lend themselves to discussion. She also classifies her books as women’s fiction with historical and romantic elements.
With the pandemic restrictions, Goldis is scheduling digital presentations — for other writers and for readers. A visit to her website, jaclyngoldis.com, provides details for an upcoming workshop, Feb. 21, on how to pitch a manuscript. More and varied presentations are in the works and will be posted.