Martin Fletcher, journalist-author.
Or is it author-journalist?
“I love both” roles, Fletcher tells TVNewser via phone from his home in Israel.
It’s been nearly two years since Fletcher stepped down from his full-time role as NBC News Tel Aviv bureau chief and correspondent. He’s had more time ever since to write books, and he also kept alive his ties to NBC when he subsequently returned to the network to report on a freelance basis.
“There’s nothing written that you have to have one job your whole life,” Fletcher reflects. “I think I made the transition at the right time of life, and what I am doing now is the right thing for this phase of my life.”
It’s a busy phase for sure. In addition to researching and writing, Fletcher does some public speaking and teaching. And he’ll be back on a book tour soon with the release tomorrow of his third book — and first novel — The List.
“It’s about, in a sense, my family story,” says Fletcher, “but it’s totally fictionalized because my parents never spoke about their story.”
Fletcher’s parents, Edith and Georg — for whom his lead characters are named — fled the Holocaust from Austria, emigrating to England. So, too, did the couple in The List.
Fletcher put his reporting skills to good use, researching the post-war era and learning about what his parents must have gone through during an experience they found so difficult to discuss: desperately trying to learn of their relatives’ fate after the war. The book’s Edith and Georg are expecting their first child as World War II comes to a close in 1945, happy news amidst devastation.
The fictional couple’s experience reminds Fletcher of many of the stories he’s relayed over his four decades as a reporter. “People always asked me,” he says, “‘Oh it’s so depressing… war, famines, drought, how can you [be a reporter]?’
“Actually, it’s stimulating, because you’re essentially meeting these people on the worst day of their lives… it’s the rebuilding of their lives, it’s the coping with tragedy, that is the human triumph.”
And so The List is “not at all depressing. Jews came out of this terrible period and re-built their lives. It’s a book of hope, it really is.”
Fletcher’s first two books, 2008’s autobiographical Breaking News and the 2010 National Jewish Book Award winner Walking Israel, were nonfiction. Fletcher says he’s always wanted to write a novel. “All the books I’ve written are inside my heart,” he says.
Fletcher says he’s “amazingly lucky” that he’s gotten to do so much of what he’s dreamed. “I just decided that in life, I didn’t want to be the 80 year-old who looked back and thought, ‘Why didn’t I do all of those things?’
“I’m just doing what I love.”