Juliene Berk – NE Fla Writer

JulieneBerkpicMs. Juliene Berk was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida but is currently living in New York. Her first published novel was a historical account of her family and their lives coming to America and settling in Florida. Ms. Berk was born in the Springfield area and then Riverside until her last semester in high school when the family moved to the Southside. There are still a couple of generations of her family living in the area. Her book, Glimpses of Southern Jewish Roots is still available at the Downtown Public Library and several University and Jewish Libraries throughout the U.S. Ms. Berk was a child prodigy singer and didn’t begin to write until her 30’s. Her mother inspired her to write her first novel based on the stories of her and her family

Current Residence: New York


Books Published:
The Down Comforter : How to Beat Depression and Pull Yourself Out of the Blues
Glimpses of Southern Jewish Roots – Historical Novel
Call Her Blessed – Historical Novel
She has also written 4 Plays and is working on a 5th

Genre: Historical Novels, Plays

Who or What Got You Started in Writing?
Always wanted to write “someday”. Was a child prodigy (singer) and didn’t begin writing until my middle thirties.

What Do You Like Most About Writing?
The wish to communicate my thoughts and feelings inspires me to write.

What Inspires You As You Are Writing?
Same as above.

What Do You Dislike Most About Writing?
Waiting for feedback.

Which Books Do You Read Most? (Top Five Authors and/or Series)
This changes with time. Colette’s EARTHLY PARADISE is an all-time favorite; non-fiction now on subjects that fascinate me.

What Do You Do To Relax? (What are your hobbies)
I watch TV, read, travel. Love animals, history of our cosmos, astrophysics, evolution and anthropology. Love to cook and love good food. Have created a TV series based on food.

Do You Do A Lot Of Research For Your Stories? And if so, what sources do you find the most valuable?
Yes, lots of research — many, many interviews, (oral history) books, articles. THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS is a great source of enjoyment, insight and inspiration.

What are you working on now?
I have a new play based on one of my short stories: ROSA BELLA TAKES CARE OF THE WORLD.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to upcoming writers?
Write because you love it and you must — not for money or fame… your heart will break many times for many different reasons. Your main consolation will be that most writers and artists are in the same boat, so read what they have to say about their struggles and know that yours is a noble calling.

Here are excerpts from Ms. Berk’s Website of two of her books:

A collection of original short stories about real people and actual events involving Jews who arrived in the South in the early part of the last century. We see glimpses of what life was like for them in the New World. The stories are rich with the customs, attitudes and struggles of these newcomers and the ways they created to adapt to America. A piece of living Jewish history can be seen in the humorous and moving tales of the people who helped make it. Here are the new immigrants interacting with their new country and with each other.

Lara Moskovitz Berkovitz wrote her story in her own unique voice and language. It reveals how a shy uncertain girl, through struggles, hardships and great losses, became an extraordinary woman. Her moving memoir is embedded in a narrative by her daughter giving the history, background and setting of her life. The events of the early 20th century played out powerfully against the lives of Lara and her newly southern American Jewish family. At the end Lara wrote:
“You get what you Build. That’s my Life.”

Both of these books sound like they are worth reading. It would be nice if our local public library had them both. However, I could only find one in the search engine:

Glimpses of Southern Jewish roots
by Berk, Juliene.
Call Number 973.04924 BERK
Publication Date 2006

If you would like to read it you will have to place a “Hold” on it either online or go to the nearest branch. Did you know that our online library system is now hooked up to Amazon to buy books from them? I didn’t know that until I looked for this book. When I click on the “Buy This Book” button it brought me directly to the Amazon Page. And just for the fun of it I put a search into the little library of Lafayette County Florida, where we are camping, for Ms. Berk and her first book, the Down Comforter, was listed in the non-fiction section and available for check out but not the newer books. It is amazing what libraries will think is important to keep on their shelves.

We hope you will go online to Buy Ms. Berk’s Books, all three of them sound fascinating. And we wish her luck with her play.

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