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Unveiling Desires: An Interview with Daniel Victor, author of The Evil Inclination

Daniel Victor 1

Daniel Victor specializes in writing Jewish-themed fiction and has written three novels, two novellas, and a collection of short fiction. The Evil Inclination is his first published novel. He practiced law for more than forty years, concentrating on international media transactions (including fifteen years as a senior executive for Sesame Street). He is a father and grandfather and lives in New York City with his wife, Ester Fuchs.

You can buy The Evil Inclination here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The novel’s title, “The Evil Inclination,” is a term taken from the Babylonian Talmud, the 5,400-page text that serves as the primary basis for Jewish law and thought. The Babylonian Talmud, which is written in Hebrew and Aramaic, records the discussions, stories, and arguments of early Rabbinic authorities and was formulated between 200 to 800 AD. The term “Evil Inclination” in the Talmud describes erotic desire and the power it exerts over human behavior. The Rabbis of antiquity were familiar with erotic desire and they neither condemned nor extolled it. But they remained mystified by the incredible power it had to affect human beings. The novel is an account of an illicit love affair between an Orthodox Jewish young man and an Italian Catholic young woman, a relationship which in great part is fueled by erotic obsession. The novel is highlighted by quotations from the Talmud about sexual attraction; accordingly, the title was a natural fit for this love story.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

It was both an exhilarating and a terrifying experience. The exhilaration came from the tactile experience of actually holding the physical manifestation of so many years of cerebral work. The terror came from the realization that it was finally finished—no more revisions, corrections, or improvements. Whatever the book was, it was forever that thing.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I was an avid reader as a child, and that more than anything made me want to be a writer. I got sidetracked, however, and didn’t really write seriously until my mid-sixties. At that point, however, I had a burst of productivity and wrote three novels, two novellas, and a collection of short fiction in the space of six years. I guess I made up for lost time…

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have practiced law in New York City for more than 40 years, including 15 years as chief counsel for Sesame Street. I traveled the world for Sesame and logged more than a million miles doing deals for various local versions of Sesame Street in every continent except Antarctica.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

I had a launch party and 150 people showed up, drank whiskey, ate herring, and bought books. Since then, I have received a considerable number of unsolicited emails telling me how much my readers have enjoyed the book. That was something I hoped for but never really expected.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Mostly Jewish music—wedding songs, klezmer (Jewish jazz), maybe a little Jewish liturgical music. But I would also include “You Sexy Thing,” a 1975 song by Hot Chocolate.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I’m editing my next novel, entitled “Chickentown Betrothal.” It’s the story of first love that takes place in the chicken-farming communities of central New Jersey. I hope to have it ready for publication by early 2024.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

It was a terrific experience from start to finish. I found the Atmosphere staff to be responsive and as committed as I was to producing a book that we could all be proud of. I have already referred other writers to Atmosphere. My one bit of advice to first novelists is to take the time to conceive very clearly of the cover you might want. The most talented designers in the world will not know what your book is really about as much as you do. So give them very clear direction about one or multiple concepts—and then turn them loose.

You can buy The Evil Inclination here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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