Vesna, a Serbian PhD student in Art History living in Tuscany, is a master rock climber. The only thing she can’t get a grip on is her love life. Beset by terrifying panic attacks that strike every time she allows herself to be intimate with another woman, she strives to avoid the so-called mermaids in her life. Olga is a widened-eye nurse trainee in Sarajevo. It’s 1912 and Olga is all too keen to document her life and the world changing around her in her diaries. Olga’s passion for nursing is only rivalled by her love for her anguished boyfriend Gav. The arrival of the obscure Patient J.D. 347 at the hospital is about to change everything for Olga. Everything will change for Vesna too, when she meets the compelling art restorer Rafaella Guaritore. Rafaella holds the key to Vesna’s research into influential women painters of the Renaissance and the metaphorical Lilith Gene that all the rebellious ladies in art are believed to share. Will Rafaella hold the key to solving Vesna’s mysterious recurring dreams and find the root of all her anxiety? Or is the answer to Vesna’s problems hidden in Olga’s diaries?
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
The learning curve that is researching for the plot. In “The Lilith Gene” I spent hours reading about history, art, science and the more I read, the more it changed the plot. It was almost like the story had it’s own way of conducting the development and the book turned out to be nothing like what I had in mind at the beginning, transforming into something far better that I thought I could produce.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
If I say that characters are like children, I will sound too cliche, but indeed all of them are special. In “The Lilith Gene” if I had to choose one, it would be Perzie. I don’t want to spoilt the plot too much, but she was based on a true magnificent woman and everyone should read about her. Her name is Milunka Savić and she was a Serbian war hero and an extraordinary lady.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
When I have the privilege of having a day all to myself to write, I am stuck in a constant loop of “is it too late for coffee/too early for wine?”
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
When I am thinking, I tend to to be very fidgety with my fingers and my cuticles end up paying the price.
How do you research your books?
Internet. Human kind’s greatest achievement. But also tend to talk a lot with people that have been through situations that are featured in the book. For “The Lilith Gene” I had long chats with people that suffer from anxiety (so I could describe the real feeling of a panic attack) and also people that have tried ayahuasca, the hallucinogenic plant called the Vine of Spirits, so what I’ve written could be as accurate as possible.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am both really. With all the good intentions I had a straight forward plot in mind, but clearly the women that live in my head and are telling their stories trough me have other ideas and I end up in a complete different place.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s Amazon island. Not only it’s the lesbian paradise, I really would not mind looking a Gal Gador all day long.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I would definitely apply for the position of Uma Thurman’s side quick in Kill Bill. I can already see both of us, the Bride (AKA Black Mamba) and I, with matching outfits (although I would prefer a all red outfit and trainers instead of the yellow one) samurai swords, pursing the ultimate vengeance.
I would also need a strong killer name, being Brazilian would probably be something like “Amazonian Sucuri”.