Interview with Vanessa MintVanDi

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Athens, and I have never been particularly thrilled about it. It was in the university when my musician friends introduced me to a darker, more absorbing part of that city I thought I knew so well; the nightlife. I became fascinated with the underground bars in the heart of the capital, playing metal and attracting people from all walks of life. A certain sense of familiarity hovered in the air, created by nothing more than our youth and taste in music. This fascination with the nightlife, the way it manipulates people into nearly everything and how people familiarise themselves with it and the darker parts of the city is the feeling I have tried to instill in my writing.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like writers who can create characters with a certain depth and ambiguity. I am particularly fond of antiheroes. I became thrilled with Christopher Marlowe, because unlike writers of his era, he has created characters who are neither uniquely good or bad. Edward II would be a striking example of this. Everything in this play and everything in Marlowe's writing is ambiguous and he is uniquely talented in creating sympathy for his antiheroes.This is also what I thought of Lord Byron when I read Cain, which is one of my favourite plays. I love Marquis de Sade because his writing is so ambiguously careening between good and evil, you can never be certain where he stands. He had his own view on ethics, which I particularly admire, even though I could never agree with. I admire his unique ability to bring forward the most debased and foul arguments with such reason and logic, he may actually convince you he is right. Last but by no means least, I adored Oscar Wilde when I read De Profundis and Salome. Apart from wit, which seems to be brimming out of his books, I like the way he handles beauty and the impact it has on a person.
What are the themes of your writing?
My writing revolves mainly about characters. I don't believe any of my books has any spectacular plot to exhibit, other than the one the characters themselves weave with their own depth and determination. I am greatly fond of anti-heroes. They are all strong characters, particularly stubborn and dynamic, with potential the like of which has yet to be seen. So, what's wrong with them? They fall into the same traps; they become weak in the face of love. In my books, love is more like the Chain of Being by Plotinus. The soul craves to climb upwards and unite with the Divine Element, the One. All my characters seem obsessed with one and only person. Love is true, unearthly and overbearing. The beloved one is idolised and often fused with the role models a family provides to a child. On the other hand, we find the characters entrapped by their own youth and the dangers it comes with. Lost in ambition, thirst and naivety even, they become victimised and vandalised by themselves and their passions. Beauty is an essential factor to their downfall; it corrupts by breeding desire and obsession and leads to loss of innocence. The theme of addiction also comes up quite often; I have so far dealt with both addiction to substances and addiction to a certain person. The concept of good and evil is not treated as a strictly black-and-white theme; it is tackled and reaffirmed as the two forces are fused. In conclusion, all these themes are woven with a heavy touch of the occult and supernatural.
What is your writing process?
I always start with the characters; writing random scenes featuring them always helps me approach them and create that certain depth I want for them. When I do, a certain atmosphere stems from them. Combined with subtlety, atmosphere becomes an essential part of the story-to-be. When I have strong characters to work with, I randomly start with the plot. I write bits and pieces, according to my mood or inspiration. In the end, I stitch it all together and that's why I've always thought my books are more like collages. I would be challenged to write a book from the beginning to the end one day.
What is the best piece of advice you have received about writing?
Two statements come to mind. The first one is to be elliptical in writing. If my memory serves me right, I think it was Gertrude Stein who advised F.Scott FItzgerald and Ernest Hemingway to be more elliptical. During a translation course, we were strictly advised to be in tune with the original text, because "whatever is implicit, must stay implicit". I find both these tips tremendous, because they both require the participation of the reader in the text. I think it is extremely challenging to be able to convey a certain meaning based on the right words and atmosphere and make the reader infer it without being too explicit about anything.
What is Memorabilia about?
Memorabilia is actually a parody novel about the lack of originality with which the rock and roll cliche keeps repeating itself. Anyone who had read The Dirt by Motley Crue or has seen The Velvet Goldmine might see how great an impact this book has had on me. Memorabilia is full of characters who look back on their rockstar careers with a great deal of cynicism and regret. Fused with my own youth and experience, all these influences have resulted in a very romantic book. It should be noted that by romance, I am actually referring to the literary sense of the word; a quest, usually of one's self. I was heavily influenced by The Crimson Idol by W.A.S.P. when I was writing Memorabilia. No less romantic -again, in the literary sense- than Jonathan Steel, Blaze embarks on a quest to find himself and transcend himself. It is a book that deals with many juvenile themes; love, beauty, addictions, life and death.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Kenneth Adams has been moulded by someone I have actually met in my late teens. Being a particularly beautiful man, it has always astonished me how easily he could manipulate people around him. Such a beautiful person leaves you with a lot of question marks; what is his real self? is he lonely? is he unhappy? why do his eyes always seem to betray his sorrow with their charm? You start thinking why a man who can have the world wrapped about his little finger starts to get bored and is actually miserable and unhappy. There comes Alexis. All these ideas actually came together as I was studying Benito Cereno by Herman Melville for a University exam. I was intrigued by the way that, in Delano's eyes, Benito Cereno was so dependent on his servant. I wanted to portray such a cynically romantic relationship and need to be glued on someone else to escape yourself and boredom. But then again, The Secret Life of Kenneth Adams is open to many interpretations; either cynical or romantic ones.
What are you working on next?
I have been working on this book for three years and I'm still nowhere close to perfection... It has to do with a young heir of a ridiculously large mansion that seems to hide some supernatural secret. The sixteen-year-old boy has to deal with a number of issues, such as his failing memory, his hatred towards his own mother, his rivalry with his grandmother and, most of all, his eternal love for his long-lost cousin. In the meanwhile, due to his Swedish roots, the boy is threatened by a racist organisation, as well as an occult movement of people with the ability to hypnotise. It is quite challenging a book and it gives me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and actually deal with a broader spectrum than characters; building up a alternative universe, a demanding plot and a subtle and dark atmosphere.
Apart from writing, what do you do for a living?
I am presently working as an English teacher. I usually come home night after night, reaching for my notebook to take down all sorts of funny lines I have heard throughout the day. It is interesting to strive to conceal the majority of yourself to bring forth one particular part for them, the appropriate one that will render you the proper role model for them to look up to. I find myself very much inspired by children, but In the future, I would like to do something with travelling abroad, so that I can gain inspiration of a different sort.
Published 2014-01-21.
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Books by This Author

The Secret Life of Kenneth Adams
Price: $2.17 USD. Words: 30,710. Language: English. Published: April 27, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Biographical
By the 1960s, Kenneth Adams has made a name for himself not only as the most famous actor of the silver screen, but as a man of passions, creeping about the darkest streets of London in search of whatever he must not have... And, of course, he has taken equally beautiful, talented and charming Alexis Cleveland to be his lawfully wedded wife to torture and love till death does them apart...
Price: $2.27 USD. Words: 112,210. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Biographical, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Blaze, the frontman of one of the most famous bands of the 1980s, mysteriously dies. Twenty years later a stranger shows up, knocking on the doors of everyone the singer ever knew, possessing something no one had even been aware of; Blaze's diary. Is it authentic? If so, does it provide an explanation to the events leading to his death? How did this diary come to this stranger's possession anyway?