I grew up with four younger sisters. They made me a feminist.

Ariel Kahn

Ariel Kahn

They are a bit like the spice girls, diverse, feisty, each blazing their own trail. They taught me never to settle for the superficial.

I was on a plane that was struck by lightning

In my my mid-teens en-route to Tel Aviv from London, the plane rocked, one wing sizzled and all the electrical equipment shorted. The pilot had no idea if he could get the wheels out, and started to talk about “when we hit the ground”. As we raced towards the runway, banks of ambulances and fire engines kept pace. I was holding hands with my mother and sister. The plane was full of people praying. “Not yet, I want to be a writer,” I murmured. In the end, we landed beautifully – the electrical surge had locked the wheels.

I was supposed to be a rabbi

My parents are Orthodox Jews. After high school, I spent three years studying in Israel in rabbinical seminary. I became very interested in mystical texts, but realised that the rabbinate was not for me. Now I teach creative writing instead.

My first novel is a way of responding to a personal tragedy

In rabbinical school, I set up a creative writing group with an American colleague, Matt Eisenfeld. He was deeply in love with his best friend, Sarah Duker. I urged him to tell her how he felt. In the end, they got engaged. Tragically, the two were killed on a bus bombing in Jerusalem during the first intifada. Through the lovers in my novel, I try to share what I felt was special about these two amazing people.

In the Kabballah, God is a Woman

In the Kabbalah, or Jewish Mysticism the world is out of balance because the divine within and around us, presented as an ideal relationship, has broken down. If we are fully present in each experience, the Kabbalah suggests that we can “raise the sparks” and bring the two lovers back together.

Waiting for Inspiration

While studying for a masters in Indian and African literature, I worked as a waiter at Villandry restaurant in Great Portland Street. I served the Blairs for breakfast, Lulu for Lunch, and Mick Jagger for dinner. The contrast between the hectic kitchen and the calm of the restaurant itself was fascinating for a budding writer.

I almost gave up on my novel

After a string of rejections, I was ready to put my manuscript in the drawer when a friend posted about the national Pulp Idol Competition for first time novelists. I applied, and came runner up among ten national finalists. My publisher, Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose books, was one of the judges. He wrote to me on my birthday to say they wanted to publish me. I danced.

Yoga saved my shoulder

I was knocked off my bike in a hit and run, dislocating my right shoulder. It kept popping out, until I discovered yoga, which transformed my connection to my body. I never dislocated it again, until a certain silly dance move recently. See next point.

Better together: combining two of my greatest domestic pleasures

I love cooking, and I love dancing. Doing both at the same time in our kitchen causes the maximum embarrassment for my sons, and enhances the joy each brings me.

Hosting homeless teenagers keeps me grounded

We volunteer as a host family for Nightstop, a charity supporting teenagers and young people who have recently been made homeless. The diversity and drive of these people is often humbling.

Raising Sparks by Ariel Kahn is published by Bluemoose Books.