I began to write my story in first person in the voice of Ichmad because it felt natural. Yes, I know that it is somewhat strange that a Jewish American woman felt most comfortable writing in the voice of a Palestinian Muslim. Believe it or not, out of all the characters I created, I felt he was the easiest for me to be. I think that’s because I saw the situation through the experiences and eyes of mainly Palestinian Muslim males. I felt their pain. Ironically, my Hasan rarely ever talked about his past. Almost all the stories I heard were from men that went to school with me or events I witnessed myself. I didn’t meet Hasan and then become interested in the Palestinian plight. Quite the contrary, I was deeply affected by the situation when I met him and had already seen too much not to have my own opinions.
Surprisingly, the most difficult character for me to write was Nora, the Jewish American human rights activist. Maybe that was because I had never met any. Maybe it was because I had failed so completely at that task, abandoning the cause before I even started. When I initially wrote the story, Nora was a much bigger part of it. I think, subconsciously and with the help of hindsight, I tried to make her into everything I wished I could have been. No one who read the earliest drafts of my book (No joke I think there were over 500) liked her. She had no flaws. Readers like characters with flaws. I found it virtually impossible to get into her head. I eventually had to limit her role and then kill her off.