In the lead up to the HNSA 2021 Virtual Conference, G.S. Johnston recently interviewed Nadine Davidoff who will be facilitating a Manuscript Bootcamp.
Nadine Davidoff is a freelance book editor and writing teacher with extensive trade publishing experience. She has worked as a senior editor at Random House and a commissioning editor at Black Inc. Nadine conducts regular seminars and workshops for RMIT, Melbourne University and writers’ centres across Australia. For further information:
Q: For you, what range of features makes a piece of fiction fascinating?
To me, voice is the feature of all writing that interests me. It encompasses so much: the writer’s ethos and sensibility, how they see the world and capture what they see in language that is precise and specific. If the voice grabs me, I am in, regardless of what the novel is about. But of course, to maintain my engagement, I want to be pulled into the world of the characters—their external circumstances as much as their complex interiority. And what fascinates me is observing how the characters respond to the events of the novel, showing us who they really are.
I am also interested in how the characters react to place—how setting actives their particular point of view and shows us something more about them. I love writing that is subtle, unobtrusive, creating space for the reader to enter the story and come to our own conclusions based on what we have witnessed.
Q: How easy is it to learn the craft of writing?
There is much to learn about the craft of writing—understanding point of view, controlling narrative pace, cultivating voice, revealing character etc. But to me, the best writers are those who are curious about the human condition and can reveal, in language that is sharp and emotionally precise, the complex workings of the heart. Without this abiding interest in human behavior, and an ability to write from a place of authentic emotion within themselves, even the most beautifully crafted writing will seem performative—by which I mean, contrived rather than felt.
Q: What are the major secrets you’ll reveal in your Bootcamp session?
Well, I don’t want to give too much away … but the crucial ingredient to writing that feels alive, dynamic and urgent is understanding the role of emotion in creating work that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
Q: What’s the BEST part of lockdown?
For me, the best part of lockdown is the slower pace of life—less time in the car, more time to read, go for long walks, observe the world around me without rushing to the next thing.