Our Dream Hanukkah Golem Movie Is Now a Novel

After winning Hey Alma's movie pitch challenge, Beth Kander adapted "I Made It Out of Clay" into a book — and today, we're revealing the cover.

In 2022, playwright and author Beth Kander won the fourth annual Hey Alma Hanukkah movie pitch challenge.”I Made It Out of Clay,” her winning pitch, focuses on 40-year-old, perpetually single Eve. Desiring not to spend Hanukkah and her cousin’s wedding alone, she does something drastic. Eve builds herself a golem. What starts out as a light rom-com fantasy quickly mudslides into something much darker when golem Paul Mudd (yes, we’re still not over how perfect this name is) gets way too overprotective. “I should definitely be able to parlay all this fame and glory into at least one solid high-five from my kids,” she said at the time.

Earlier this year, Hey Alma had the honor of revealing the cover art for A.R. Vishny’s upcoming Jewish YA novel “Night Owls.” Now, we’re excited to do another exclusive cover art reveal… for none other than Beth Kander. In the year-and-a-half since her movie pitch challenge win, she’s been hard at work adapting “I Made It Out of Clay” into a novel which will be published on December 10, 2024. Even more excitingly, the book cover art is heavily inspired by the “I Made It Out of Clay” movie poster Hey Alma’s Avital Dayanim designed as the contest prize.

So, drum roll please…

The vibrant colors! The Hebrew lettering! The imprint of fingerprints in the clay! The hot golem with clearly not a thought in his beautiful head!!! We’re obsessed and cannot wait to read this book.

To learn more about what’s between the pages of this gorgeous cover, Hey Alma spoke with Beth Kander over email about how her Hanukkah movie pitch turned into a novel and why golems are having a literary moment right now.

This interview as been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How did your movie pitch turn into a novel?

It was honestly a surreal process. When Hey Alma posted the announcement about the winning pitch and Avital Dayanim’s incredible movie poster went live, my Instagram exploded. My DMs started filling up with strangers asking when this movie was coming out, and also from film producers (some of whom were absolutely con artists, but some of whom were absolutely legit), agents and other parties. I called my lovely literary agent slash trusted advisor, Alli Hellegers, and explained the situation. She said: “How fast do you think you could write this as a book?”

So I started writing, and within a month, I had a draft. There had been pieces of the story rattling around inside me for a long time, and the excitement and momentum of the pitch competition just pushed it forward in a borderline magical way.

I love the cover art for “I Made It Out of Clay.” Have you seen it yet? If so, what was your immediate reaction?

My editor, April Osborn, and the entire MIRA Books team was really generous about asking me to send over mood boards and inspiration for what the book cover might look like — and, of course, I included Avital’s poster on the mood board. The MIRA design team sent over several different possible looks for the cover, and involved Alli and me in the narrowing-down process. When I saw the final artwork, which is very much inspired by Avital’s design and also weaves in some incredible layering, zoom-in-on-it details, and an eye-popping color palette — my initial reaction was THIS IS IT, I CAN PICTURE THIS BOOK FACE-OUT ON ALL THE BOOKSHELVES. There may have been tears.

Besides “I Made It Out of Clay,” what are some of your favorite Jewish novels?

Ugh there are so many terrific Jewish novels that live in my heart… please stop me from making a terrible “people of the books amirite” joke here. Okay, a few forever-favorites: “Bee Season” by Myla Goldberg, “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant, “The Devil’s Arithmetic” by Jane Yolen. I also love novels that aren’t necessarily overtly-Jewish, but have complex culturally-Jewish-content or characters, like “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin and “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer.

I’m also really excited this year for so many of the Jewish books coming out like Jessica Lepe’s “Flirty Little Secret,” A.R. Vishny’s “Night Owls,” and Jean Meltzer’s “Magical Meet Cute” — not having read them yet, but knowing the diversity, spice and/or lore informing each book, I’m thrilled to feel like I’m part of a “weird and cool new Jewish books” moment we’re having in 2024.

Golems are kind of having a moment in literature right now, with “The Golem of Brooklyn” by Adam Mansbach and “Wrath Becomes Her” by Aden Polydoros for a couple of examples. Any idea why that is?

Yes! First of all, it’s just so awesome that after all the years of zombies and vampires alternating the hot-monster spots, golems are getting in on the monster-moment action. But as far as “why”… I think it’s actually for pretty deep and complicated reasons. Golems are forged out of fear and desperation. Unlike zombies or vampires, they are always inarguable something WE make. They’re something we create to protect ourselves. I think we’re seeing more of them because everyone is living with such an undercurrent of fear these days — and I don’t just mean Jewish people, I mean everyone is living with that undercurrent of fear. (Which is why, hopefully, golem stories are intriguing to all readers, everywhere.) But right now, many of us are layering in something else. We’re not just worried about our own protection; we’re trying to balance our fear with our humanity, and wrestle with what safety really means. How to keep ourselves safe without compromising someone else’s safety in the process. How to reckon with the way our fears sometimes turn us into the real monster. That’s definitely a big theme in “I Made It Out of Clay.”

Do you have any interest in bringing “I Made It Out of Clay” full circle and adapting it into a movie some day?

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

Any other upcoming projects?

I’m working on a novel set in my former home of Jackson, Mississippi. It’s a humid, atmospheric, contemporary gothic novel that has a lot of family secrets, Jewish guilt, local politics and possibly a vengeful ghost!

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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