Sunday, August 9, 2020

Nina Sadowsky

A New York City native, Nina R. Sadowsky is an entertainment lawyer (in recovery) who has worked as a film and television producer and writer for most of her career.

Her debut thriller, Just Fall, was published by Ballantine in March 2016. Her second novel, The Burial Society, was published in 2018, and is the first of The Burial Society Series; the second novel in the series, The Empty Bed, came out earlier this year.

Sadowsky's new novel is Convince Me.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Convince Me lifts a heavy load in this regard. A novel that explores the havoc created by pathological lying, the title operates on numerous levels, from the unreliable narrators that populate the book to my sleight of hand as an author. The definition of the word "Convincer" even adds a dramatic flourish on the very last page.

What's in a name?

Whenever I begin a new project, I create extensive biographies for all my main characters. During my first, free association pass on this self-created questionnaire, I determine what I instinctively know about a character and what I can reverse engineer to best use that character to explore the thematic playground in which I've decided to play. The first question of hundreds is what is the character's name? Names matters. They can indicate such things as ethnicity, race or heritage, or can be used to confound expectations of same. A character's relationship with his or her name can also be indicative of personality traits, an Elizabeth who will never allow herself to be called Liz or Betsy, or a William who prefers the more mature sounding Will, rather than the more childish Billy. Names can also be shorthand indicators of such things as age (we might assume a Mildred is an older character) or locations (a Betty-Sue is more likely to be a rural character than an urban one). Sometimes, I will start to draft and then change a character's name if the person that begins to emerge as the work progresses doesn't match up with the name I initially used. I recently changed a "Karen" to a "Lana," in a work in progress because of the negative social media association of Karens as entitled and opinionated bigots.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Sixteen year old me is still very much front and center in my being. She was daring and a rule breaker, rebelliously roaming the streets and subways of New York City, often looking for and finding trouble. Even then I processed the world around me by writing about it so while I think teenage me might be surprised by the wealth of personal experiences with liars that informed the book, she would be excited that I wrote it and that it's being published.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Since I work primarily in the suspense/thriller genre, I need to have a rough idea of my ending before I start. If I've done solid work along the way, the ending unfurls naturally and easily in congruence with what I've established previously. My openings are usually inspired by a visual image, an approach I use to immerse both myself and the reader in the experience. I don't find one harder than the other and change everything, always, because writing is rewriting!

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

There is a piece of me in all my characters, even the sociopaths! Sometimes the connections are more direct than others (the sociopaths being less direct as I'm sure everyone will be relieved to know). Nonetheless, there's always a piece of me imbued in each character as I need to find that empathetic connection that will allow a reader to fully relate to a character's dilemma. I believe the object of good fiction writing is to create characters for whom readers feel empathy, create anxiety about what will happen to those characters, and then deliver a catharsis when the dilemma is resolved. That task is easier if I can see a little piece of myself in a character I've created.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Films and television of course, as that was my first career path and continues to be a part of my work as I have two pilots in development, one of which is based on my Burial Society series. In fact, when I was working on my first novel, Just Fall, my editor frequently encouraged me to "lose my TV and film training" and lean more into the advantages prose offers to explore and exploit character dynamics. All character in filmed content must be revealed through action, a much harder task than also having characters' internal thoughts to utilize. I'm also a film buff and so draw from a deep well of inspiration provided by favorite filmmakers such as Francis Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and dozens of others. Visual art also influences me, and I almost always create a painting or other work in conjunction with a writing project. When I get stuck and need to solve a story problem, I'll make a piece of art and allow my brain to roam free. Almost inevitably, I'll find inspiration and find myself frantically scribbling notes with paint smeared fingers.
Visit Nina Sadowsky's website.

The Page 69 Test: Convince Me.

--Marshal Zeringue