Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
During an intense undergraduate program in medical sciences at Western University, Michael DeDominicis needed a creative outlet and decided to join a creative writing class—but it required a submission. He had no recent pieces of writing hanging around, so he sat down at his laptop and the beginnings of Iris of the Willow emerged. He continued writing the book throughout his studies and into his postgraduate program until it was finished. Iris of the Willow: February 29th is the first in a trilogy. Michael grew up in Brantford, Ontario, and is currently living and working in Hamilton, Ontario.
Instagram handle: irisofthewillow
Do you find writing therapeutic?
Writing is therapeutic. It’s like opening a spigot on high-pressured emotion. It’s also like playing a song that is somehow about everything that matters to you, and it feels really good to recognize and honour those things. Editing, on the contrary, is a gauntlet of soul-torture machines.
How many hours a day do you write?
As a resident doctor, I once did a rotation on neurosurgery, and we had to round on patients at 6:15 in the morning (no typos). We were done EVERYTHING by just after sunrise so that the operating rooms could start. I learned that it was in fact possible to get up earlier without crumbling into useless human bits by midday, and I started waking up 1 hour earlier to spend writing or reading every day. This practice was about more than productivity. A career in medicine will ask for all of your time and, until I started this practice, I’d been fooled into giving it most days. This morning routine gave me balance and was a daily reminder that my wellbeing was a priority that I should feel no shame in making time for.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I have yet to find a place for ego. It seems ego always ends up leading us away from our truth and makes it harder for us to connect to people, and I think honesty and relatability are what bring any form of art to life.
How many rewrites did you do for this book?
I completely re-wrote Iris of the Willow (Part 1) once, edited it front to back at least three times, and then spot-edited “problem areas” countless times. Realizing that I would have to redo a certain section of the book knocked the wind out of me at times, but I was always happy that I did because I was enriching and serving the story.
How do you come up with names for your characters?
I think that everyone has an internal compass. As we select words or colours or tools to create something, the needle swings either toward or away from true north, in agreement or disagreement with our choices. Names are funny. Sometimes I don’t feel that a character’s name matters much, because I care more about the role they play, the visual they create, etc. Other times, a name feels crucial, and it takes much brow sweat and lip biting to find the right one. My internal compass tells me whether a name matters or not and when I have combined the right sounds and symbolism to title one of my characters.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
Oh, the final showdown! This is where all the characters showcase their powers, which are only rumours for most of the book. It is also where true colours bleed through and where the strength of bonds are tested to breaking points.
What does literary success look like to you?
I didn’t know what success would look like for me when I started. One of my greatest joys is making my own magic through writing, so that’s been the goal to date. When I first released Iris of the Willow, I had a lot of old friends reach out and show their support in really generous ways. It warmed my heart and these connections were their own kind of success. I genuinely hope that there are people who read my books and feel electrified and inspired. For obvious reasons, this would be a victory too.
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