Author Interview

Interview with Nina mancuso, author of everybody cheats

How often do you write?

Every day. I don’t blog as often as I used to, but I journal, sometimes three to four times a day. I love journaling because it helps me deal with thoughts and feelings that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Currently, I have one journal, and three different notebooks, all for random writings.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

Sometimes it’s difficult, but in the case of Everybody Cheats, it was incredibly easy. The idea sparked, and I was on a roll. I had a completed, but awful, first draft within one month. The ideas were there, but the revising was the painful and tedious portion of the process.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?

With me, yes, but I can’t speak for everyone. For me, I think it comes from constantly wanting to understand the world around me, and a lot of times people want to see things as they are. I am on the opposite side of the spectrum. I like to try and understand why certain things happen, and why events appear the way they do. Constantly wondering about the endless possibilities is a thought process that requires alone time. Unless, of course, you can find someone who also likes discussing the universe and why it works the way it does, then it’s pleasant to share those ideas with another person. But those types of individuals are hard to find, so I have some loner tendencies.

Do you think writers have a normal life like others?

I guess it depends on what you consider normal. Regarding having a career and doing basic life things, I think writers lead a pretty normal life. I think it’s the thought process that differentiates writers from the rest of the crowd, though. Writers are constantly thinking about the world and how things manifest, and how those things affect our society and what not. I think the only way we lead different lives is by the constant level of obnoxious brain activity. Not every idea can become a story, but an idea appears at least forty times a day, and each thought needs to be thoroughly analyzed. It’s not a great process, but it almost seems unavoidable.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

I think having the confidence in your writing is the most difficult thing about writing. Particularly during the revision process. When editing, it’s a constant battle of wondering if the strings of words get your point across. Then wondering if those same sequences are appropriate. And then there is just the basic thought of “does my writing suck?” And that’s a whole different battle in it of itself.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I love to read! My favorite author is Brandon Sanderson. I also love Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer saw the world as it was, and conveyed his thoughts through brilliant satires.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

That it makes you think. Everybody has the capability of learning from books, and the great books force you to reconsider what you thought you knew.

How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?

I would be sad, but not surprised. I’ve had worse things happen.

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I’m not sure why but that book resonated with me. We read it in elementary school, and I felt connected to the story, and it made me want to tell mine.  It was shortly after reading that book that I started to journal. That is, until my brother hacked into all my diaries and told my parents. Then I stopped journaling until college.

Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

It’s blunt. I say what I’m trying to get across without hiding it in messages. But my book is a non-fiction work, so I don’t need to hide messages through characters and their actions. Oh, and I curse a lot.

What books have influenced your life the most?

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. Seeing how Hank Morgan tried to change a society of people and having absolutely no luck with it was eye-opening, and a joy to read. I’m a big fan of satire. Also, A Separate Peace by John Knowles. There were points in my life where I felt a little bit like Finny, so it was beautiful to see why the others mistreated him. Also, it has the best last line out of any book I have ever read to date.

Are there any books that you are currently reading and why?

I’m currently reading three books. I’m reading The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson because it’s the final book in the Wax and Wayne series. I’m also reading Corralled by Lorelei James because every woman needs some good smut in her life. And finally, A House in Sicily by Daphne Phillips because I love Sicily, and had the universe not given me a dramatic detour, I would be living in Sicily right now.

Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

To my family. I was born and raised in a Sicilian household, and my parents taught us that nothing comes before the family. The main reason I wrote a book is to provide my parents with a retirement fund that they otherwise would never have in this lifetime. I haven’t gotten to that level of success yet, but when I do, a majority of that paycheck is going straight to my father.

Poets and writers in general, have a reputation of committing suicide; in your opinion, why is that the case?

I think it’s the endless thinking. I know that if I had a dollar for every time I contemplated suicide, I would be a billionaire. For me, it’s the endless thinking and the constant need to overanalyze everything all the time. Sometimes you just want your brain to shut up, and you know that suicide is really one of the only ways to make that happen. Or check yourself into a mental institution and hope that they zonk you out for a few months. But, I know that suicide is not an answer for me. I have attended over twenty funerals and about fifteen of them were suicides. I saw the pain it caused their family members. I know that although sometimes suicide would be the best answer, my poor cats would have nowhere to go, and no one to do my installation guides at work, and no one to help find fosters for our rescue. Even when your brain is tired and exhausted, you are needed, and I enjoy being needed. But the thought sometimes occurs, it all depends on the mental and emotional state at the time. Last year, I thought about killing myself eight times a day, every single day. But since it’s such an unfeasible option for me, I make my life the best I can make it and walk forward with my inner light shining brightly.

Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?

I love to travel! Unfortunately, I haven’t traveled lately, but I love to see new places. I traveled a lot in my early twenties. I went to Belgium, Amsterdam, Sicily, and multiple locations in the US. I just love seeing new places and immersing myself into the culture. I had so much writing inspiration during my trip to Belgium that those bits are probably going to be in another book when I decide to write another one.

Writers are permanently depressed; how true is that?

I think it’s true, but I think it’s different for each person. In general, I think being alone a lot contributes to depression, as well as seeing how the outside world acts when you know that as a species, we should have learned from our mistakes. And writers watch the world. It’s what they do, and they can see the same patterns being repeated when most people refuse to see it. And being able to see the things that no one else can see makes you feel isolated and alone. Then people tell you you’re crazy because you question what you see instead of blindly accepting the knowledge that you’re told to accept. But it all depends on how much focus you want to put on the things that depress you. I think the depression will always be there, but you need to shift your focus to things that make you feel complete and whole regardless of the outside world.

For me, I generally have a very optimistic view on life, but that’s because I’ve dealt with a lot of horrible things during this lifetime. So really, small inconveniences don’t affect me much. I’m an optimistic depressed person, if those exist. I always look for the good in every situation. I wake up and say the things that I’m grateful for to put me in a positive mood. I laugh a lot, and I make a lot of jokes. But I have battled depression for several years, and I think it’s because I’m always alone, like most writers are. I never had anyone to lean on or to tell me everything will be ok. I had to convince myself of that ever since I was a child. And I think that all that time alone and wondering if I will ever meet someone who cares about my journey is incredibly depressing. Especially when you’re still waiting to hear someone say “it’s going to be ok.” And that thought crosses my mind at least once a day. But I acknowledge it, I tell myself that one day it will happen, and I move on. I’m an incredibly strong woman because I never had anyone comfort me except myself, but that thought is truly depressing. But, what can you do? At least I am my own best friend.

Do you keep a diary?

Several. To date, I have about sixteen journals. But that doesn’t include work journals, dream journals, and random letter journals. I especially love reading through my college diaries and remembering things I completely forgot. It’s like giving your younger self a high five through the sands of time.

Some writers create a bubble around themselves until they’re finished with their project – how true is that in your case?

Incredibly true. My days consisted of smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, listening to Y2K pop music, and only seeing the daylight when I needed to go to the store. Very rarely did I leave my house.

Is privacy an issue for you?

No, and I hope it never will be. That’s one of the beauties of being a writer. I hope for success mainly so I can pay for my father’s retirement and to build a shelter for the animal rescue I work for in Nashville. But the best part of being a successful author is that most people won’t recognize you in the grocery store. And I need that because I usually do my errands in comfy pants and a hoodie.

How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?

I try to be more active on social media, mainly for marketing concerns. But truth be told, I hate social media. I never know what to say or post. It literally takes me about three minutes to draft a tweet because I feel like it has to be perfect or all hell will break lose. I don’t know if what I wrote is appropriate, or if it’s going to cause me to lose a ton of followers. It’s a puzzle trying to figure out what kind of tweet will get the most attention. And it’s not something that I truly care about, which makes social media such a hassle. And Facebook just sucks.

I don’t like the fact that I’m forced to participate to get the word out, but that’s part of the process. I’m a private person and I don’t like revealing much about myself on social media. I reveal a lot about myself in the book, but that’s different. I don’t have an urge to share my every thought or activity or to post selfies. I can’t wait for the day that I tweet solely out of want, and not need.

As for how it affects my writing, I think it makes me more conscious of what I’m writing. When I write in my journals, or blog entries, I’m not looking at the wording. So, really, constantly trying to make a tweet perfect has helped me become a better writer on the first draft. See, there is always good in everything.