May 17, 2010
Most of us are starving for success, but there are some people who take their obsessions to a whole other level. Training a carefully-honed eye on the secret world of eating disorders, author Lisa deNikolits delves into the sensitive topic of beauty in her well-received novel, THE HUNGRY MIRROR.
WordHustler sat down with deNikolits to talk fame, fashion, and being famished. This savvy South-African-turned-Canadian author has done an amazing job of churning out many projects while still maintaining her other career as an art director for top fashion magazines. Read on to find out how this talented writer is taking the fashion world- and the world at large- by storm!
WordHustler: You have an amazing and eclectic background from growing up in multiple countries, working as a writer and an art director in the fashion magazine world…what do you consider your first big break, writing-wise?
Lisa deNikolits: My first big break came, oddly enough, in the form of a rejection letter from Carolyn Jackson, the managing editor of a publishing house in Toronto. With characteristic generosity of spirit, she pointed me in the direction of Inanna, and The Hungry Mirror came to be as a result. My second big break would of course be the offer by Luciana Ricciutelli and Inanna to publish the book.
WH: You’ve written a few short story collections and some other novels- what made you decide you HAD to write this book in particular?
LD: If anything, it was The Hungry Mirror who made the decision for me! The Hungry Mirror wanted to be written and it was insistent. There were times when I wished it hadn’t “chosen” me as its conduit, because it was a tough book to write and the writing spanned a very long time. But I feel the book explores a number of important and controversial social and mental health issues, and I am very pleased to be the author.
WH: When drawing from your experiences in the fashion world, do you find it difficult to disguise people you actually know? Or do you make the characters amalgams of many people?
LD: All amalgams, absolutely! I borrow bits and pieces shamelessly from everywhere, from everyone and I create character collages. And in return, I am quite happy for anyone to borrow anything from me! The only real difficulty I have encountered so far is when people misinterpreting themselves to be the basis for a fictional character. Then it’s awkward to have to say well actually that character originated from my imaginings – meanwhile a lot has been revealed that might better have been left unsaid.
WH: What for you is the most challenging part of writing? Realistic-sounding dialogue? Educating/getting your message across without sacrificing story?
LD: I struggle with tenses. I start off writing in the past tense, I swing into the present, then veer into the future. When I go back and tackle a first draft, I am dismayed by the mess I have created. It can be hard to untangle mixed up tenses, like trying to fix bad knitting. I also need to learn more about the intricacies and rules of punctuation.
WH: You are doing a fantastic job of marketing yourself and your book. What advice can you give other writers looking to promote and market themselves?
LD: Thank you for the kind words! Yes, the marketing is going very well and while I would love to take credit, all kudos go to my publisher, friends and family. The support and generosity of their time, their enthusiasm, their help and encouragement have just been incredible.
For my part, I worked hard to set up a number of social networking infrastructures but that was really just like mailing out a lot of invites; the party is a great success because people show up and bring their passion and energy.
Other key points to successful marketing would be; start thinking about this early on in the process, leave no stone unturned, do a lot of research, make a lot of lists, keep knocking on doors.
WH: What are a few of your favorite books out there today (besides your own, of course! 😉 )?
LD: Two of my favourite women authors are Edeet Ravel: Your Sad Eyes and Unforgettable Mouth, Ten Thousand Lovers, Wall of Light, Look for Me, and Annie Proulx: Close Range: Wyoming Stories, Bad Dirt, and of course, The Shipping News.
I love Harry Crews: Body, The Gospel Singer, Feast of Snakes. In terms of recently published books, I’ve been enjoying a number of Inanna’s books – Butterfly Tears by Zoë S Roy, Women’s Spirituality by Johanna S. Stuckey, First Voices (An Aboriginal Womens’ Reader), edited by Patricia A. Monture and Patricia D. McGuire, Truth and Other Fictions by Eva Tihanyi. I thoroughly enjoyed Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and I am halfway through Linden MacIntyre’s The Bishop’s Man.
WH: What is your preferred writing method? Do you have a certain writing spot/technique?
LD: I used to write longhand but then I got tired of inputting all the copy. So I switched to writing on my iMac, and I sit at my Hungarian grandfather’s old dining table which is set high on wooden blocks, to accommodate my red retro step chair stool with polished red vinyl seat. It is an unusual setup but one that works for me! It’s all quite elevated and precarious!
WH: How do you best balance your fiction writing with your art direction commitments?
LD: I squeeze time! I can fit a lot into a day! And when I feel start to feel a bit sorry for myself, trying to do all these things, I remind myself of all the mothers out there who have to juggle more than I could even imagine, and it’s not like they can take a break whenever they feel like it. So, it’s all a matter of perspective.
WH: What are three things you’d advise aspiring writers to do?
LD: Read style manuals. Attend writing workshops. Print your work out and read it a aloud.
WH: What are three things you’d advise aspiring writers to NEVER do?
LD: Never give up. Never stop reading with the intent to learn. Never write an entire 220,000 word manuscript as internal narrative (I learned this one the hard way!).
WH: Do you think WordHustler is a valuable resource in helping writers successfully get their work out there, professionally and effectively?
LD: Yes I do think WordHustler is a valuable resource. Finding one’s way through the maze of agents and publishers can be much more daunting than writing the book. So when you say: “Bottom line: you’re a writer. You should be spending your time writing.” Well, I just love that!
She’s a savvy writer, indeed. Saving time with all the paperwork so you can get back to writing is WordHustler‘s goal for you. Use our helpful Advanced Search Wizard in the Markets section to help you target the perfect agents, publications, and publishers for your work, or submit your wonderful writing to any of our thousands of writing contests!
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