Irina Slav, the author of The Lamiastriga, released her book in May 2019. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life had been treating her since she was published.
- Did you always dream of becoming an author?
Not really, no. I dreamed of becoming a clinical psychologist because I was so fascinated with the human mind and all the ways it can suffer. I still am but it’s for the best I never got to become a psychologist. Failing to help anyone would have been difficult to accept.
- What was your first job?
My very first job was as a waitress at a small eatery in Cambridge, canned soup and powdered cappuccino. I don’t even remember its name. My second job was a rung higher, at a downtown pizza restaurant called Don Pascuale, if I remember correctly. I got fired for refusing to go on a date with the owner’s nephew and only realised this years later. It’s still a precious memory.
- How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
It started as fun, in a film and TV show forum where I’d found a group of like-minded individuals. The first entries of A Day in the Life of a Lamiastriga were humorous but I soon dropped it because the story didn’t want to stay funny and carefree. I started writing to see what happened next. If I’d known it would take me several years to make the story work I might have thought twice about embarking on this colossal task. Then again, knowing how it feels to write The End and be happy with what comes before it, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice.
- What was your life like before you became an author?
In hindsight, quite boring, even though I love my job as a journalist. There is no place for imagination in news and it took me a while to realise I actually needed an outlet for my imagination. I also urgently needed a distraction from the real world before it damaged me with its gruesomeness. I’m certainly not an oversensitive person but there is more than one reason why journalism is among the most stressful professions. So, writing began as a distraction but it evolved into a necessity, as so often happens with addictions. Luckily, this one’s beneficial. Now, every day I don’t write, plot, edit or simply mull over a story idea feels somehow wrong and incomplete.
- Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
My only struggle was and still is finding the right words. Sometimes they pour out and sometimes they refuse to show their faces for a while, if only to give me a constant reminder writing is anything but easy. Yet this is what makes is so gratifying in the end, when I do find the right words.
- Now that you are a published author, how has your life changed, if at all?
Besides the knowledge that someone I’ve never met and never will has liked my writing enough to consider it for publication nothing has changed. But this knowledge has been a strong motivator for me to continue writing as have the reactions of my friends to my novel. They tend to complain I’ve ruined a day or two of their lives because they were too busy reading The Lamiastriga to do anything else they had planned. I can only hope I can ruin the days of strangers, too.
- Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
I usually get up about 4-4.30 am to write. I love the dark and the quiet, when I have the world to myself, or I’m at least free to imagine so. Between 6 and 8 it’s parenting time: I take my daughter to school. Then it’s time for news writing and, if I have a book to translate, I do that afterwards. My afternoons are my personal time, when I either read or, more often these days, watch a TV show I’ve seen countless times as background to editing or plotting the next book or draft. Evenings are family time, so they’re boring in the best possible way.
- What is your most memorable moment of your life as an author?
That would be the time I got my first acceptance letter for a short story I had submitted for an anthology. It was only the second story I had ever submitted anywhere and it got accepted right away. It was the first time someone I didn’t know effectively said they’d enjoyed something I’d written. This acceptance gave me unrealistic expectations that took a while to get rid of but it also gave me a feel of that exhilaration of being appreciated as a writer.
- In a few words, how would you review your experience with Pegasus Publishers?
Everything’s been great so far.
- Why did you choose Pegasus Publishers?
Because it’s based in Cambridge and that’s the only town other than my birthplace I’ve called home.