Lilian’s Bio

At the end of the day there’s a new book–Lilian’s favourite of all: Web of Angels.

Lilian Nattel’s oldest friend remembers her telling stories when she was five years old, but she didn’t decide to be a writer until she was ten. That was when she discovered not all authors were dead. Her life took detours, as life will. In her twenties, she despaired of ever being a real writer, because she was too tired at the end of a boring work day to write at all. Instead, she put boredom to good use and became a chartered accountant. As her own boss, she had a small consulting practise and wrote part-time in a garret, albeit a dry and relatively warm one. During that time, she signed up twice in a private (but written) contract with herself to see what she could accomplish in the next few years in return for a lot of penny pinching to buy herself time.

Alone in her garret, Lilian had no idea that there was anything like a literary scout. So she was shocked to find out that the manuscript of her first novel, The River Midnight, had been leaked to German scouts. As a result of the buzz (which she thought had something to do with bees), it sold across North America, the UK and Europe in a matter of weeks, just in time for her wedding, thus enabling the purchase of her garret and the house around it.

The River Midnight was a prize-winning, national best-seller. Now that she’d learned the secret of success, Lilian knew that writing her next book would be easy, fast and make piles of money, and that as a new mom of two perfect children, she would spin stories, change diapers, and in her spare time learn to speak Chinese. She did change diapers, many of them, she learned one phrase in Chinese, and took to her bed with the flu for a month while deciding whether she ought to give up writing altogether. Instead she got up and slowly wrote The Singing Fire, which garnered much critical acclaim and the assurance that she had avoided the second novel curse: “Toronto’s Lilian Nattel proves her debut was no fluke” (Nancy Wigston).

Now that her kids were toilet trained, life was obviously too undemanding, for she decided to embark in a new direction and write the most challenging book of her career. As a true optimist and slow learner, she again expected it to be fast and easy. The writing gods had a good laugh. Eight years and ten drafts later, Web of Angels was done. And Lilian doesn’t care if the next one is easy or not because in the end the gods gave her a gift: Web of Angels is an important book and she was privileged with the writing of it.

11 responses

  1. What a wonderful website, Lilian. And the best blog I’ve seen from an author. Love the photos and other pics. The ones of Toronto actually made me nostalgic for the old city, which I left over 20 years ago to head out west. Main reason was the SNOW. With my right leg weakened (but no longer totally paralyzed) post-spinal cord surgery, it was difficult and sometimes impossible getting through the grey stuff. Now, guess what! We’ve got the same here, and it’s still hard getting through it. Thank God for writing, to lose oneself in words; to turn those words into sentences and paragraphs until a story emerges on the screen. It’s more than a calling–it’s a life!

    1. Thank you! I do think so. While between drafts of the novel I’m working on, blogging saves my sanity.

  2. Hello, LN,

    I just wanted to say how wonderful it was to run into your name on comments in Science Blogs. I’ve much enjoyed your books, and have to keep buying new copies since I keep lending them out until they don’t come back. My slight favourite is The River Midnight, but a reread of Singing Fire could change that… again. (My current copy of that has different artwork from above). Anyway, I (and anyone who knows me) have enjoyed your books. Now that I’ve found your website, I can enjoy more of your writing while I await your next novel!

    One of your many fans,
    Brian

  3. Thanks Brian! That’s great to hear. :)
    BTW…have you noticed that Emilia in The Singing Fire is the half-sister of Hayim in The River Midnight? The story of the mill being burned down by the Russians in RM is elaborated on in SF. Hayim was the son of Emilia’s mother and the wealthy miller who was abandoned after he died & she remarried, moving away to Minsk. The unknown half-brother that Emilia’s mother sadly alludes to in SF is Hayim.

    1. That is a cool link between the two books!

  4. No, I didn’t…. (I’m actually lousy at remembering character names after I’ve read a book) Now I guess I’ll just have to read them again… again.

    … And what a quick response!

    Brian

  5. What a wonderful website and interesting articles, I found “Melting Pot or Stew” very touching and asked myself who am I. For some time I live in the Netherlands, but I’m an expat who struggle with the identity. Thank you once again.
    Sara

  6. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. Identity is complex, isn’t it? BTW both The River Midnight and The Singing Fire are available in Dutch (but not Flemish).

  7. Lovely blog, Lilian. As a new member of TWUC, I hope to meet you soon at an event.

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