Twenty Years of Adulthood in Fast Forward

The general path was well known. The signal intelligence unit in the army, becoming an officer, university, entering the media and politics, and hopefully, on the top of that hill, Israel’s prime minister’s position was waiting for me. I knew all that from a young age. I studied piano, filled notebooks with my poems, and loved singing, but hey, Arts are hobbies, not professions, in most people’s eyes.

The military service changed my whole perspective on life. I loved my job, but I was miserable and wasn’t up to military life. A challenging revelation also hit me for a young man that didn’t help with my misery during my service. I’m not straight… I was never in the closet, but it was a challenging, kind of rebirthing process.

Out of the distress, I started to compose my songs, and it had changed everything. I’d realized how much I wanted to be creative, how much its self-healing, but also the best way I could deliver my message to the world.

I finished the service, and unlike all the rest, I wasn’t into a long, post-military trip to India, the Far East, or Latin America. I moved to Tel Aviv, signed up for the modern music & jazz academy, and breathed deeply for the first time in a long, long while.

It took few years, but my songs evolved and became a full album, named “The Freedom to Decide” 3 singles and one video clip was released, but while my dreams came true, I also learned the hard way about the darkest parts of that industry. Despite incredible peaks, I raised a white flag quite quickly, like performing in the pride parade with an original song and dancers in front of 50,000 people or having a very positive review in one of the most popular magazines. It wasn’t enough to overcome the “bad stuff.” I chose more of a backstage kind of art. I shelved the album, left the city for a year, and pursued my other dream, which I only felt mature enough to fulfill. I went climbing the hill once again and wrote my debut novel.

That’s how “NIV” was born. I knew that an author couldn’t provide for oneself with only writing for such a small market as Israel, so I did a quick translation to English and bought a one-way ticket to my cousin in Woodstock, NY. She was a journalist and, a year before had her debut novel. I had no idea what to expect because I’d only seen her one time in my life back. Blood is thicker than water, and I felt at home from the first hug when she came to pick me up from the bus station on the first snow of winter 2010. My American family extended when she introduced me to the woman who became my linguistic editor, or as I call her, my English-English translator and also a big sister.

If you want to make God laugh, tell her you’ve got plans. The one-way ticket lasted for a little less than a year. My father got sick and died. I was lucky enough to be with him and my family in the last couple of months. I knew it would make him happy to see me getting an academic education just before he moved on, so I went to the university. I have always loved to study. Even the meaning of my name, Itamar, is self-taught in ancient Aramaic’ but again, the problem was with the institute, not the content. What I thought would end in a couple of courses became a fantastic and enjoyable Ban in the history of the Middle East and Political Science. Today I’m halfway to get my M.A in Democracy.

My novel found its home with a British publisher for gay literary fiction, Wilkinson House. The book’s launch was in Amsterdam. It was unbelievable, but something was missing. I was there alone, in the Dutch winter, with no family or friends to share this incredible moment. Leave aside the launch, most of my friends and family hadn’t even read the book because most Israelis have good English, but they read only Hebrew. When White Smoke was conceived a few years later (under Amal-Hope), I was sure it must be born first in my home country. And so it was. Now is the time for the English version! The message of this book is international, but I was sure my people must hear it in their language.

Well, I believe the arts are a profession, but you must pay the bills until you get there. Fortunately, I had been infected with another bug after the military service, the bug of the restaurants’ industry.

My work started with clubs and bars and evolved to restaurants, from bartending to management, training, and setting up new restaurants. I will always carry this bug, but writing and dining businesses demand 24/7 occupations that I had to choose. I chose writing. Maybe I should thank Covid19 for making this decision even easier…

While promoting “White Smoke,” I’ve already begun the research for my next novel. I can’t tell you the “top secret” plot, but I will only say that this Queen is one of the best Kings ever graced the earth…

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