Stephanie: I would like to welcome, E.E. Giorgi to Layered Pages today about her writing. E.E. is a scientist and an award winning author and photographer. She spends her days analyzing genetic data, her evenings chasing sunsets, and her nights pretending she’s somebody else.
Why do you write?
My biggest inspiration is science. I am a scientist working on viral genetics, and whenever I come across a new concept at work, I can’t help but imagine all the possible “what-if” scenarios. What if viruses could “infect” us with new genes? What if bacteria could express genes that would suddenly make us behave differently? The possibilities are endless!
I especially love genetics. All forms of life are a miracle, but it’s not until you get into the depth of molecular biology and genetics that you realize how complex and awe-striking life is. Each one of us is unique not just because of his/her unique DNA, but because of an intricate network and complex interactions spread out on multiple levels, from the cell nucleus all the way up to our bones, muscles, neurons and so on.
The inspiration for my debut novel, Chimeras sparked when I learned that most of the genes in our DNA are inactivated, evolutionary footprints we inherited from our ancestors. So, what if those genes that once made us predators and hunters where to be suddenly activated again?
But I also write because I need to escape my own fears and uncertainties about the future. What kind of world are our children going to live in? What if by the time they are adults the world is overcrowded and there’s not enough food for everybody? Will they still experience the beauty of our planet or, by then, will we have completely ruined it with pollution and species extinctions? My dystopian stories take place in the future I’m scared of, and my main characters overcome obstacles and meet challenges that I would otherwise think impossible to win. Writing has become a form of escapism that helps me conquer my fears.
I came up with the premise for my latest novel, Gene Cards, after researching genetically modified foods for an article I posted on my blog. People were asking me about GMOs and frankly I’d never given them too much thought: I’m a sucker for genetics, and honestly I prefer to eat a plant with a few extra genes that make it bug-resistant instead of one that’s drenched in pesticides.
However, while I researched GMOs, I also learned a bunch of things that corporations have been doing that are not exactly “healthy” for our planet. I started envisioning a future in which we may become more and more dependent on GMOs because we are changing the planet faster than evolution can possibly catch up.
How has writing impacted your life?
Writing has impacted my life in the most beautiful way. I’ve often wondered why I never kept my stories locked in a drawer. Why can’t I just write for my own self, why do I have this drive to share my books? I think it’s because writing is, in its own nature, a lonely task. You sit at your desk, shut the whole world out, and listen to voices in your head. During that time, there is no family, and no social life that can take place. If you are serious about your writing you have to make some sacrifices, and often those sacrifices involve giving up partying with your friends, social dinners with your coworkers, even family events. But humans are social in nature. I believe writers cope with that lack of social life by seeking approval from readers. A simple comment like, “I loved your main character so much,” makes it all the worthwhile. Suddenly, you are not just listening to voices in your head, but you are creating a whole new world where other people can get lost and dream.
That’s what writing has given me: the joy of connecting with readers, of sharing my stories with them. This is priceless, totally worth the lonely nights spent clacking away at my computer while listening to voices in my head.
What advice would you give to beginner writers?
Write. Write because those stories in your head demand to be told. Write because you need to, because you’ll grow as you keep doing it. It’s really hard to silence self-doubt as you write. So the first phase should be focusing on just getting the story out and shutting out all other voices. Worry about the worthiness of the story once you’ve finished it, not while you are still writing it. If you doubt too much while writing it, you may never finish the story. But once the story is finished, that’s the time to go back and listen to those self-doubt voices. Not because they are right, but because they will help you make your story better. This is also the time to share your work with a few trusted beta readers. If they slam your work, purge out the acidic comments, but do keep those few gems you might find in there: it’ll be painful—criticism always is—but you’ll learn a lot and your story will benefit. Same thing goes with too much praise—not very helpful unless there’s something constructive in it.
And in the end, no matter what, just keep writing. If you are passionate about it, you also need to be perseverant.
More about E.E. Giorgi
You can find her books on Amazon and her debut novel, Chimeras, is a Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Winner. Her latest novel, Gene Cards, a dystopian thriller, is a Stargazer Literary Prizes Finalist Winner and E.E. is a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree