An Interview with Lou Drofenik
- As an author what do you think is the most enjoyable part of the artistic process, and the most difficult?
The artistic process is the sweat process; it’s very challenging. Unless you sit down and do it, you don’t do it. The writing process starts with your mind; you hear a lot of voices. I’d have a character already in my head who I would’ve absolutely fallen in love with, but I cannot start writing until I have that character’s voice distinguished from the other voices.
There are two types of writers; the architect and the gardener. I am a gardener; I have a little thought in my head, I dig a hole, throw a seed in, and what it grows to be I wouldn’t know until it eventually does. Sometimes I know the beginning but not the ending, and other times vice versa.
I like writing about history. I do a lot of research and once everything is in place, then that character starts to build up. And since my writing includes history, politics and culture, the character then situates himself or herself within that culture, which is usually Maltese.
- How long does researching take, prior to any writing? And would you consider the research to be more challenging than the writing?
I love research and it does take quite a lot of time when you’re reading about history. I get really into it. Typically, I do a year of research and then I write my book in three months. After that the editing takes place.
- Where there any differences you could recognise in your process of writing, prior to publishing your first book and when working on the second?
I had sent my first book to a publisher and it took six months for them to tell me they’re not interested in transnational literature. So I decided to self-publish, and that book did very well. The second book was much easier to write and the process was much easier overall. Experience helped.
- What is the publishing process like? And how involved are you in the book design (cover, etc)?
It’s a fight, and you have to fight it. The publisher has the rights to the cover and the graphic. The book cover takes nearly three months to get right as I do have a say in it, for I know what works because I simply know my book best.
- Has your migration to Australia effected the way you perceive Malta? And if yes, how does your change in perception manifest itself in the way your portray Malta and Maltese people in your novels?
I am insider outsider; it’s like i’m looking through a window. My youth is in Malta and I can look at Maltese culture from a distance. I have a Maltese heart but Australian eyes, and those eyes are very critical. I am not afraid of censorship.
- What advice would you give to an aspiring writer hoping to get published?
Read a lot. Reading not only gives you ideas, but gives you the rhythm of the language.