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June 9, 2014

Interview with Naomi Zener

If you were to describe your book in only one word, what would it be?


What would you say inspired you to write it?

A hodge podge of personal experiences as a lawyer, my love of Los Angeles (and anything California), the unprecedented intergenerational wealth transfer and ensuing legal battles set to occur with the demise of the parents of the Baby Boomer generation, and then the Baby Boomers themselves.

What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist?

I would be lying if I denied that parts of Joely Zeller weren't modelled after me. While I never was jilted by a gay fiance (I've been happily married to and with the love of my life for close to 13 years and we have two kids), I do have a Master of Laws in Trust Law and I studied Estates law in school and was fascinated by both the area of practice and my professional experiences as a young lawyer having trained for a while in that field. I ended up becoming an entertainment lawyer and spent a fair amount of time in Los Angeles, so all of that combined went into the basic foundation for Joely. However, everything else that went into Joely was pure fabrication based on inspiration of what I've seen, heard or spoken about with friends, some of whom are lawyers and some who are not. As for the antagonist, there are a few. Chip is a composite of a number of people I've had the displeasure of encountering, working with or for in my professional life.

What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?

Five years on Deathbed Dimes. I'm currently working on the second draft of my second novel, which hopefully won't experience the same long (and hopefully not longer) trajectory from idea seedling to published novel.

Deathbed Dimes
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?

It absolutely has changed me, but it is not the fact that I'm now a published author that has changed me. Once I realized that I could write, get lost in a world of characters and stories of my own creation, I found my passion. My children, my family are the lifeblood to my being, but writing is my soul.

Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?

Constantly. With every lit agent's rejection letter. Every time I faced a rewrite. But, if one word was used to describe me, it would be tenacious.

Buy Deathbed Dime$ at Amazon

What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?

I'm still a practising entertainment lawyer and I have a baby boy who is 8 months old and a daughter who is 2.5 years old. I also have a husband that gets some of my attention some of the time ;).

How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?

I know that not everyone is going to like me, as a person, or as a writer. Criticism, when constructive, motivates me to do better in all aspects of my life. I welcome it. I don't welcome personal attacks or abuse - that stuff I simply ignore, although I do have to admit that I enjoy a good debate, so if someone goes after me personally, they picked the wrong person with whom to spar. I've developed a fairly tough elephantine skin when it comes to rejection because I know that in the creative arts, everyone's taste is so subjective. What used to hurt deeply to my core, may only sting for a second, or not at all, depending on who is delivering the message.  I live by a few mottos: "I'm not mean, I'm honest," and "Suck it up, buttercup."  If I can be honest with others and hope not to hurt someone, then I should be able to accept the same. And, even if my feelings are on the precipice of being hurt, I remind myself to toughen up, take it, learn from it and move on.

What are you working on right now?

My second novel and writing for my satire blog: .  The novel is tentatively entitled Platinum Palms, and revolves around the lives of three generations of women, each with their own personal struggles, achievements and foibles, who come together to help, in essence, raise a child.

What have you learned from your current project?

First and foremost, I've learned how to be a better writer and be self-critical. I've learned how to abandon ship when necessary, veer off course when the characters and story need me to take a sharp left and the importance of getting your audience to love the characters you want them to love, and dislike or possibly even hate those you want them to hate. My debut novel, Deathbed Dime$ is my freshman novel, yet it gave me my PhD in writing. It started out as a personal endeavour five years ago, a box to check off on my bucket list, but then ignited a passion for writing that had been hidden and remained dormant deep in my psyche.

What is your revision process?

A learned author, Brian T. Francis, gave me the best piece of advice I've received to date. Only return to the work to revisit, revise and redraft once you've forgotten the process of writing the last draft in the first place. I think I've been doing that without realizing it, but when he enunciated those sound words to me, a light bulb went off, and I've stuck with it. For now, the second draft of my novel is undergoing a quasi-revision process: I'm reading it and making notes. I've forgotten the process of writing it, but yet I'm not quite yet ready to commit to a second draft. I love the book and the characters, but like a good second date, you don't want to rush it. I want to build my anticipation and excitement to write. I think I should be there in a few weeks time.

Why do you write?

To nourish my soul. To feed my passion. To keep me sane and happy.

Have a favorite quote or personal motto?

"I'm not mean, I'm honest."

Cats or dogs?


Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?

Sleeping - I'm a mom of two kids under the age of 3!

About the Author
Naomi Elana Zener is a new writer with a fresh satirical voice. Her d├ębut novel entitled Deathbed Dime$ was released on May 30, 2014 by Iguana Books.
In addition to her freshman novel, Naomi writes satire and fiction on her blog Her vociferous blogging has been read and appreciated by industry bigwigs such as Giller Prize winner Dr. Vincent Lam and New York Times best-selling author and journalist Paula Froelich. Passionate about the creative process and writing, Her articles have also been published by Erica Ehm's She's currently working on her sophomore novel.
Naomi was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She obtained her BA in Political Science at McGill University, her JD at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and her LLM at the University of Toronto. She is licensed to practice law in both Ontario, Canada, and California, USA. Naomi became an entertainment lawyer and started practicing in Toronto, advising several production, distribution, and broadcasting companies during her decade-long career.
Naomi currently resides in Toronto with her husband and two children. 
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  1. A wonderful interview with great questions that cast the scope of the author herself. On'Ya.