Along with Sarah Jio, Lilian Nattel was kind enough to answer some questions I had for her with regards to one of her books, Web of Angels. If you missed my review of this book, it was posted on January 19th, 2012 and was a WONDERFUL read. It is not an easy book to get through at times due to the nature of the content, but it sure opened my eyes to a whole group of people I have not given much thought to in the past. I strongly recommend you try Nattel’s book, not just because it was a great read, but because she is CANADIAN and we need to support our own!!!!!
Tammy: Where did the idea for Web of Angels come from?Lilian: When my children were young, I participated in a chat room for people healing from difficult life experiences. There I encountered many people who’d survived early trauma by developing multiple personalities, i.e. DID (dissociative identity disorder)—in fact more than 2 dozen. In the process, I discovered that someone close to me was multiple, which I hadn’t at all suspected, but made a lot of sense when I found out. I had thought being DID was like Sybil. It drove me crazy that the media images were so far from the reality, and that the quiet heroism of the people I knew was never recognized or acknowledged.
I asked myself a question: what would a mom with multiple personalities see that nobody else could? And then: what was that about? The answer was that many of the people I’d known who had DID had been victims of the crime that underlies Web of Angels. Then on Christmas Eve in 2004, a friend sent me a link to a news story that haunted me. It formed the basis for the opening paragraph of Web of Angels.
T: When writing a book as intricate as this, how do you keep all the details straight? Do you start out with an outline and work your way through it or does the story come in bits and pieces and you have to put them together like puzzle pieces?
L: This is a great question. I would love to work with an outline but I find it doesn’t work for me in the early stages of a book. I need to write a few drafts to develop the characters and get the story down scene by scene. Once I have that, I outline the story as it’s written and work with that to polish, revise, and polish some more to get it tight. With Web of Angels, I used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the scenes, the voices, and the pacing.
T: There are some disturbing parts in this book which are hard to read. How did you feel when you were writing them?
L: I live what I write; I laugh out loud, I cry, I shiver. That’s how I know it’s strong. Every month there are news stories from across Canada, and the world, like the one in the climax of Web of Angels. I wanted readers to know, when they see those stories in the news, what is really happening. It was hard, but I was buoyed up by looking forward to the resolution I intended to write!
T: How did you come up with the different "personalities" within Sharon Lewis? Are they based on people you know?
L: Having a male personality, a feisty teen, child alters, a stern personality, and someone who thinks rather than feels, for example, is typical. But at the same time what they do and how they work together has to do with who they are as a whole in this story, a middle-of-the-road mom who values home and hearth.
T: Who is your favourite "personality" within Sharon Lewis?
L: Oh, I can’t choose. When I am friends with someone who is multiple, I love the whole and all the parts.
T: When did you first start writing and what did you write (poetry, short stories, novel, etc.)?
L: When I was young, I wrote poetry and short stories but I was frustrated because my characters and stories were always too large for those forms. Finally I realized I needed to write novels.
T: How many novels have you written? What would you say is your favourite one and why?
L: Web of Angels is my third novel and my favourite because it’s been the most challenging and the most rewarding. I love the fact that I’m already getting emails from readers!
T: Are you working on a novel right now? If so, what is it about and when can readers expect it?
L: I’ve got three projects in mind, one contemporary and two historical. And by now I know better than to make predictions.
T: Do you ever do book signings? If so, do you have any planned for the near future?
L: I sign books at every event and readers can check out my website http://liliannattel.com for upcoming events and news. There is a calendar on the events page.
T: How do you spend your free time?
L: Free? (grin) Reading of course. But I have two children ages 10 and 13. Homework and going to their games and lessons take up a lot of my time. I also skate, swim, walk, go to the museum and art gallery when I have the chance, and watch silly TV with my husband, holding hands. I also love old sewing machines.
T: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
L: I wanted to be a writer and have my own school for orphans like Jo in Little Men.
T: If you ever lost the interest in writing and decided you wanted to do something else, what would you do?
L: I was an accountant before I was able to write full-time, but I was just an okay accountant, and I’m a good writer. In fact there isn’t anything else I’m as good at, so I’d better not lose my interest in it!
Thank you again to Lilian Nattel for answering all of my questions! I did not intend to ask so many, but they just kept coming and coming, I could not stop! I really hope those of you who are reading this will give this book a try, as well as Lilian’s other works,The Singing Fire and The River Midnight. Thanks Lilian, and Happy Reading everyone!!!!!