My intention was to write a book about an Israeli and a Palestinian who rise above religion, race and politics and together achieve greatness. Somewhere along the way, the story began to take on a life of its own and all I could do was to go with it. Nora’s role shrunk and Abbas’ grew. For whatever reason, I was able to get into his head and become him. Abbas began as Ichmad’s younger brother who an Israeli cripples. When I decided to add Gaza, I need to find a way to get Ichmad to Gaza. And so angry Abbas goes underground only to emerge in Gaza as a Hamas leader.
Nathan Stock, an advisor on Palestine at the Carter Center, really helped me with all the details about Gaza. He suggested that I make Abbas more charismatic. And so I did. Abbas became the angry brother filled with hatred while Ichmad’s ability to forgive allows him to succeed. In the end, both brothers reach a common ground. And somehow, along the way, the focus of my book, for some readers, became less on Professor Sharon and Ichmad and more about two brothers.