“A rewarding element (mostly) of the memoir genre is that one is transported to the places one is writing about.”
A member of the Writers’ League since 1992, Bernadette Nason lives in Austin, TX.
Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?
Bernadette Nason: Memoir and YA so far, but I have a novel, already finished as a screenplay, simply screaming for attention.
Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?
BN: I’d like to drink wine with Italian author Andrea Camilleri (Inspector Montalbano series) and ask about the way he depicts Italian women in his books, and whether they’re based on people he knows. Italians have such distinctive national characteristics, which seem peculiar to that part of the world, that stereotypes have emerged. When I was describing my Italian colleagues in Tea in Tripoli, I feared they might come across as stereotypes, rather than the very real people they were to me.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
BN: I think about this regularly (really) and have considered, variously, the dictionary, the thesaurus, and the Bible. At the moment, I’d choose The Forest by Edward Rutherford because it’s set in Hampshire in England and would remind me of my home. If I were allowed to take a series, I’d take Outlander because I’ve enjoyed a few of the TV episodes, but never read any of the books.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
BN: Hard to list in a short piece like this, but when I think of WLT, I think of classes and community. When I joined in 1992, I was immediately connected with like-minded others, giving me an incredible boost when I was a flailing newbie. When I was close to my first draft of Tea in Tripoli, I rejoined after a long break, and, frankly, it saved my bacon. Not only did I learn a huge amount from the fabulous classes (memoir writing and many others), but I also met supportive people who were following the same path, and we picked each other’s brains and gave each other confidence. Even more important, when I’d been closed off at my desk for hours, days, weeks at a time, the writers’ gatherings kept me rational and somewhat coherent! On a day-to-day basis, the staff have always been there for me, answering quick (and neurotically long) questions, about everything from writing technique to how to find an agent. This all sounds a bit obsequious, but it’s true – I can’t imagine a better resource.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
BN: A rewarding element (mostly) of the memoir genre is that one is transported to the places one is writing about. Having spent more than five years researching, revisiting, then writing Tea in Tripoli, I felt as if I were in North Africa for way longer than the fifteen months I actually lived there! In theory, chronologically, Dinner in Dubai is up next; it’s in “detailed outline” stage with many individual chapters completed. Since I did, in real-life, spend five years there, it’s a much more complex situation than Tea, and extremely difficult to sift through as far as what stays and what goes. My editor will have a field day when I present 700 pages of expatriate shenanigans! I’m leaning therefore towards a book of witty seasonal anecdotes about dysfunctional Christmases around the world, Stealing Baby Jesus, which is close to being a completed first draft.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
BN: My immediate thought was Bret Anthony Johnston’s Remember Me Like This, which I loved, but I think it’s more than a year old, so I’ll go with Houston author Apply Gidley’s compelling new novel Fireburn, a meticulously researched historical romance with a storyline involving class, race and gender. Set in St. Croix, Fireburn‘s release coincided with recent hurricane activity, and having read it at that time, I’m now rooting for the US Virgin Islands to make a valiant comeback!
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
BN: Although I’m known as an actor/storyteller/voice-over artist, I’ve been writing all my life. Tea in Tripoli: A Memoir is my first book, inspired by my expatriate adventures during Gaddafi’s turbulent regime, c. 1984-85. Running away from the UK, I took the first available overseas job and found myself in Libya working for an oil company with eleven other British secretaries. The book covers my attempts to escape my past on a sometimes comic, often perilous, journey of self-discovery.
Here are several reviews:
“Nason weaves her spell on the reader with her witty prose, conversational style and peerless storytelling…an utterly fascinating personal account of an adventurous woman…both amusing and frightening…” –Broadway World Book Review
“Drenched in the aftermath of colonialism, Tea in Tripoli is a coming of age tale like no other. Nason is a brave and witty travel companion who leaves you looking forward to the next trip.” –Donna Johnson, Author of Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir
Tea in Tripoli was released by Brave Bear & Co. on August 21, 2017, and is available at Amazon, BookPeople in Austin and The Twig in San Antonio. To learn more about it and me, please visit my website: bernadettenason.com.
If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on! Please also email us, at the same address, if you’d like to learn more about WLT board service.