While others are still counting sheep this University Professor, and single mother of one, from New York is stringing together the words of future novels. An demiurgic act she has been performing for more than thirty years that has led to the publication of seven novels: When Rocks Dance; Beyond the Limbo Silence; Bruised Hibiscus; Discretion; Grace; Prospero’s Daughter; and her latest Anna In-Between. Enjoy getting to know Elizabeth Nunez.
Moe: When did you ‘know’ you were a writer?
Elizabeth Nunez: From the time I was a kid and read my first books and discovered the pleasures of the imagination.
Moe: What inspires you?
Elizabeth Nunez: Well written novels.
Moe: Every writer has a method to their writing. On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
Elizabeth Nunez: I like writing in the early morning, before I do anything else.
Moe: How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
Elizabeth Nunez: I write right through and afterward revise, some passages as many as ten times. It takes about two years before I let someone read a draft.
Moe: When you sit down to write is any thought given to the genre or type of readers?
Elizabeth Nunez: No. For me, writing is a journey of discovery. I write about topics/issues/ questions that concern or trouble me. I create a world with characters and have them live through situations that address the questions I have. Hopefully, I discover answers. I invite readers to join me in that journey of discovery.
Moe: When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
Elizabeth Nunez: I plot as I go along. The writing gives me the direction and I may plot one chapter ahead as the writing inspires me.
Moe: What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
Elizabeth Nunez: Some books require more research than others, but I do research the period and place when and where a novel is set. I may also research an incident that is related to the situations my characters confront. But I always transform these facts into fiction, in other words, I always feel free to change details of these facts as they fit into my imaginative world.
Moe: Where do your characters come from? How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters?
Elizabeth Nunez: My characters are often a combination of people I either know directly or indirectly. But none of these people exist in my fiction in the way they exist in life. I write an imaginative rendering of these people as the narrative directs.
Moe: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If yes, what measures do you take to get past it?
Elizabeth Nunez: Not really. When I am stumped, I read good books or parts of books for inspiration and courage.
Moe: Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
Elizabeth Nunez: The publishing industry is a business; its eye is on the bottom-line. If your book does not garner readers to make a double-digit profit for your publisher, you will be discarded no matter how brilliant your work. Unfortunately, writers have to become salespersons. Sometimes they spend more time marketing/promoting their work than the actual writing. An alternative is a small press that may be satisfied with single-digit profits and will enthusiastically support a well-written work.
Moe: What is your latest release about?
Elizabeth Nunez: Anna In-Between is essentially about the universal need for belonging, to a family, a community, a country. Anna, the main character, who has a successful publishing career in the U.S., is the daughter of an upper-class Caribbean family. While on vacation in the island home of her birth she discovers that her mother, Beatrice, has breast cancer. Beatrice categorically rejects all efforts to persuade her to go to the U. S. for treatment, even though it is, perhaps, her only chance of survival. Anna and her father, who tries to remain respectful of his wife’s wishes, must convince her to change her mind. The novel explores the age-old love-repulsion relationship between mother and daughter, the Freudian overtones in the strong feelings between daughter and father, and the mutual respect that is essential for a successful marriage. Central to the novel’s themes, however, is the dilemma of the immigrant.
Moe: When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
Elizabeth Nunez: Listen to classical music, read, go to movies and concerts, spend time with family.
Moe: New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Elizabeth Nunez: Read, read, read. Revise, revise, revise your work.
Moe: If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
Elizabeth Nunez: I am both a professor and a writer. If I weren’t a writer, I’d probably be a university administrator.
Moe: What is your favorite word?
Elizabeth Nunez: But.
- Elizabeth Nunez’s book Anna In-Between is available from Amazon.com.
- Elizabeth Nunez’s book Anna In-Between is available from Amazon.ca.
Originally published 11/10/2009 at Literary Fiction, BellaOnline.