Friday, 21 September 2012


What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Dana K. Haffar. I was born in Beirut and now divide my time between South Africa and Lebanon.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I can’t say that I always wanted to be a writer but I knew that I would choose a career that involved books (editing/translating).
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
It seems to have taken forever.  About two years.

Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I do some freelance work in editing and copy-writing, in addition to raising three kids.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The novel is titled “Leah”.  Years after little Leah mysteriously drowns off Puerto Franco, a community is still haunted by the curse of her tragedy.

BLURB from Goodreads
On the remote island of Puerto Franco, young Leah wades into the sea and disappears. Her body is never found. Thirty years later, visual artist Mar arrives on the island with her daughter, Lemay. She anticipates a haven where she can work on her craft, away from her controlling husband. Instead, Mar finds herself in the midst of a close-knit community haunted by a curse three-decades old.

Available at

Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
This time round, I self-published.

Do you have a "lucky charm" or "lucky routine" you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
No, I don’t actually. But I make sure I start a new project, a short story, plots for forthcoming novels, etc… while I’m waiting for a response.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It takes me roughly a year to plan and write the first draft. After that, I work on several rewrites until I’m happy with the end-product.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
Neither was easy to write. They both required a lot of thought, discipline and revisions.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Probably more books in the same genre. It’s what I enjoy reading and what I feel most comfortable with.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m currently working on my third novel, set in Italy between the wars.  It’s a stand-alone book for now but that might change.

What genre would you place your books into?
Women’s fiction.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
It’s mainly the genre that I gravitate towards. Though I do read non-fiction, some travel books, and so on, Women’s fiction would be my first choice.

 Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I work in my study, surrounded by books, notes and family photos. Much as I love music, I need silence to hear my characters speak and follow the rhythm in my writing.

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I wouldn’t dream of releasing a book without asking others to read it. Members of my family are editors and writers, so they get to tear it apart first. Then I normally send it for assessment by an independent editorial service.

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I do send a complimentary copy to reviewers who accept to read them.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, I do. I think it’s important to know what people have to say about my work. I’m sure I’ll feel the sting of a bad review but so far I’ve had relatively good ones.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Not at all. Putting a book out is as good as inviting readers to comment.  The whole industry is subjective and few books escape one or two negative reviews.  It all comes down to what the majority thinks.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
The book definitely comes first, because the title will have to reflect content and atmosphere.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I write entire character biographies for my primary characters and shorter ones for the secondary. But they are all pretty well formed before I start writing.

Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I always start off with a plan even if I stray from it as I go along and my characters take a life of their own.  I’d love to be one of those characters in a movie who sits down at an empty desk, stares out the window for a split second, then types out the first sentence. Cut to the last scene, and we see a thick manuscript at her elbow and THE END in bold on the laptop screen. Wishful thinking.

How do you market/promote your books?
Through writers’ websites, online catalogues, and with the help of bloggers, such as yourself, who give writers the opportunity to reach their readers. 

What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller?
If I had the formula for what makes a “bestseller”, I’d be churning them out. Difficult one, but I’ve come across “bestsellers” that did not impress me.
A good book is one that makes me want to retreat to a quiet spot and lose myself in the story. I appreciate a beautiful/lyrical style of writing and lean towards character-driven rather than plot-driven novels.   

Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
‘Writer’s block” normally happens when I’m preoccupied with other matters. If I’m working on a novel that requires research then I concentrate on that for a while. Or I give it a break, and more often than not, I get back on track eventually. 

What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
I swim or take long walks along the beach. I used to dance but stopped a few years back. Swimming is the most therapeutic exercise, because it allows me to shut myself off completely.

Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
Many, I imagine, subconsciously.

Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?

What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
“Anna Karenina” which I read in my late teens. I was moved by its intensity, whether in Karenina’s passion and anguish, or the socio-political situation in Russia at the time. I only read it once. There are so many books to get through that I rarely re-read a novel.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
“South of Broad” by Pat Conroy, in paperback. I’m only half-way through and enjoying it.

Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Women’s fiction.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
Vampires and dystopia are not my cup of tea.

Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I don’t think so. I only release my books when I’m happy with them. And once they’re done, I move on, although I do take what I’ve learnt from writing them and apply it to new novels.  

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Keep your audience in mind.  Assume that your readers have high expectations and give them the best that you can.  Your aim is to build a readership and if they like what they read, they’re likely to come back for more.

Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
Possibly, if I were to write in a different genre.

If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Isabel Allende, Aminatta Forna and Kate Morton.

Where can readers follow you?

 Your Facebook page?

Your Goodreads author page?
Book Links?

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