Saturday, October 31, 2009

Author Interview: Daniela Norris

Today's interview is with Daniela Norris, author of "A Reason to Go On", a short story in the Never Hit by Lightning anthology. Visit her on the web at

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about the story you have in Never Hit by Lightning. What is it about, and what inspired it?

Daniela Norris:
A Reason to Go On is one of my earlier stories, written about five years ago. At the time, my writing was leaning towards darker tales, and this one is about a young man whose job as a high-earning banker caused him to focus on the wrong things in life. It drove him to a mental institution, where he was able to escape all demands and expectations for a whole year. But as soon as he leaves the institution, he meets someone who gives him a new perspective on life – and on death. It explores such themes as what keeps us going, what drives us on and what switches us off.

Jennifer Walker: Did you have any misgivings about submitting your work? How did you get over them?

Daniela Norris:
I love submitting work to new markets and to competitions. Deadlines are important to me as a writer, because they oblige me to focus on a story, finish it, polish it and send it off. Without deadlines, I would be lingering within my tales for years and never sending them out. In fact, A Reason to Go On is one such story – it was hard to part with, and never felt quite finished – until recently.

Jennifer Walker: How did you learn about this anthology, and what made you submit?

Daniela Norris:
I’ve submitted a different story to an anthology in the UK. It was accepted, but then the production of the anthology was canceled. That’s when Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey, the editors of Never Hit by Lightning, invited submissions from all those whose work was previously accepted for the original anthology. I submitted three stories, and A Reason to Go On was selected.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about other writing projects you have--past, present and future.

Daniela Norris:
I’ve written dozens of short stories. Some of them have been published in magazines and anthologies; some were shortlisted or won prizes in competitions. Others are still doing the rounds. The most recent success is a short story titled Gathering Storm, now shortlisted for the Bridgeport Prize in the UK.

I love writing short stories, but have recently turned to longer works and I have two books coming out in 2010 – Patient Zero, a political thriller, due out in January 2010 from Mosaic Press, and Crossing Qalandiya, co-authored with my dear friend Shireen Anabtawi, due out from Reportage Press in the UK in March 2010.

Jennifer Walker: What is your educational background and writing experience?

Daniela Norris:
I have trained as a political scientist, and am a former diplomat and adviser to one of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva. I left my day-job two years ago, in order to write full time – and to spend more time with my two young boys. However, current affairs remain my passion, and inspire much of my writing – both fiction and non-fiction.

Jennifer Walker: What do you do for a living?

Daniela Norris:
I read and write – fiction, non-fiction and book reviews. I do book reviews on WRS, Swiss radio in English, for The Short Review website and some other writing related gigs. It is the best job ever – but it does pay less than most jobs, at least for time being.

Jennifer Walker: To what do you attribute your success as a writer so far?

Daniela Norris:
I think it is important to realize that writing is a life-long process, and perseverance is the most important attribute that a debut-writer should posses. Your writing can improve with time and dedication – but if you give up upon the first – or even twentieth – rejection, you will never see your work in print. If you are passionate about your writing and willing to work hard at it, you will succeed.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?

Daniela Norris: Yes, they are. I am very lucky to have a husband who carries the main financial burden while I work on becoming a widely published author… and a son who at the age of six already writes his own stories. He hasn’t sold any yet, but he will.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite genre of book to read?

Daniela Norris:
I read everything – but tend to enjoy non-fiction and current affairs related fiction more than general fiction or romance. I always have a big pile of books on my bedside table, and I know I am behind on my reading when it becomes dangerously wobbly. I read six books a month on average, and wish I had time to read more.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me one thing about yourself that you think most people don't know.

Daniela Norris:
I had done many different jobs before the age of thirty, and they all provide constant inspiration years after I gave them up. I worked as a waitress, translator, air-hostess, rode a big motorcycle across the country in an advertising campaign and was even in the army for just over two years. And I’ve always taken copious notes for future use, as I knew that at the end of all that, I will become a writer one day.

Thanks to Daniela for stopping by!

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