Thursday, January 7, 2010

Interview With Dina Nayeri

Another Faust would have been incomplete without partner in crime: Dina Nayeri.

Tell us about research for the book. Did you travel around the different cities to get a feel for how life is?
Dina Nayeri: We’ve traveled a lot already. Daniel and I have lived all over Europe. I live in Amsterdam now and used to live in Paris. Of course, we both have strong ties to New York. So yeah, we like to travel and we do it often. You really can’t understand a place unless you’ve been there and lived among the people.

Tell us more about the Faustian bargain.
The Faustian Bargain is a reference to Goethe’s Faust, a play in which the devil bets God that he can make Faust (God’s favorite, and a scholar who is trying to learn everything there is to know in the world) betray God. The devil appears to Faust and offers him a bargain that he will serve Faust and give him everything he wants on earth if he agrees to serve him in hell.

If you could make your very own Faustian bargain, what would you make it for?
I wouldn’t, because a soul is the only thing on this earth that makes us unique. But is there something I want? Yes! I want to have a big family, I want to have throngs of friends, and I want my voice to be heard and respected.

Why did you choose to focus on five kids?
We were trying to pinpoint some of the most common (and often most excruciating) desires that teens have and to create a character that embodies each one. Some of these desires are so empty that it takes a really terrible person to sell their soul for it. But others are much more desperate and unavoidable, like Christian who has never had even the most basic comforts.

Why do their marks only appear under water?
Good question! Because it has to be a deeply embedded and daily reminder, but it can't be so readily visible to other people.

How was the writing process? Was it hard working together? I imagine there must have been squabbles, as can be seen here. :P
Yes, the video sort of says it all!! :) But yes, we did fight a lot. But we learned to work together and respect each other’s individual styles. At first, it was hard because I kept pushing my outlines on Daniel and he kept wanting to be more spontaneous, and we just kept arguing over tiny stupid stuff. But then, we learned how to give in to each other’s quirks and to be patient so our arguments could be about the important, substantive issues.

Who's your favourite character, and why?
DN: It’s hard to beat Madame Vileroy. She’s evil incarnate. So that makes her extremely intriguing.
Madame Vileroy: What Dina and Daniel think isn’t important.... Not yet. Not until later, when I decide.

Uhhh... oh. What song would you attribute to each of the major characters? It'll be the one song that (if this is a movie) will play when the character is introduced to the viewer for the first time, in slo mo.
HAHA! Great question! This is just off the top of my head. I’m sure Dan could do better.
Valentin - Gives you Hell by Great American Rejects
Victoria – Shove it by Santogold
Belle – Love Game by Lady Gaga
Bice - Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
Christian - All Apologies by Nirvana or Nothing Like You and I by Perishers
Madame Vileroy – O Fortuna by Carl Orff

Do the children miss their families?
No. The ones that don’t remember, don’t remember and the ones that do were never all that happy.

Let's talk about the governess. What was Madame Vileroy before she became what she is now? Was she ever a human, or an overambitious demon who doesn't now when to cut her losses? Are there many of her kind, or better yet, only one of her but in many different forms?
Very good question! Much of Madame Vileroy’s history is revealed in book 2, Another Pan. But your guess is correct, she does have an origin, and she does take on many different forms. But what was her original form? And her original name? That will be revealed in book 2. However, I can tell you that the biggest hint we’ve put in book one is the use of the word “legion”. Madame Vileroy says “there are legions of us” and later, you see an excerpt from the Book of Legion. That is a biblical reference to a demon called legion that is actually thousands of demons.

What does the red and blue box represent?
To me they represent the different realities that can be presented, the different moods the same space can take on depending on how you choose to view it. It’s about perception and how what you see isn’t always the truth.

Describe each of the main characters in 5 words.
Valentin — Possessed, frightened, insecure, charming, sexy
Bice — Traveler, lonely twin, mother-figure
Belle — Misguided beauty, underestimated, selfish
Victoria — Ruthless, cruel, desperate, soulless, alone
Christian — Redeemable human, searching, truly accomplished
Madame Vileroy — Lord of all things creepy and buzzing (Me: Hey, that's more than 5 words! :P)

Tell us five good to know facts about you.

  • Most people think I’m a tough cookie, but I’m really nice.
  • I’m a great cook.
  • I’m both left and right brained.
  • I’m a TV-aholic.
  • I have a tattoo!

Thanks for the interview, Dina!

Cross-posted at: LiyanaLand! on 23 August 2009.


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