Recently I had the amazing opportunity to interview Nina Revoyr, author of several books including “Southland” and her most recent novel, “Lost Canyon”. I read “Southland” as a suggested read through the college I am attending and in November, I will be attending one of her events being held on campus. It was really great getting to interview her and here’s what she had to say…
What did you want to be when you were young?
I always wanted to be a writer—I always wanted to tell stories. Beyond that, really, I wanted to play sports. I played basketball through high school and part of college. But if I were in my teens or twenties now, I’d want to climb mountains—a passion I came to late, which is probably a good thing.
What inspired you to start writing?
I started writing for the same reason I loved reading—to keep myself company, and to enter a world that’s different than the everyday one I live in. That’s still fundamentally the same reason I write now—to create a world that’s different, and more ordered, than the real one.
What’s your favorite book?
I’m not sure I have one favorite book. But if I could only take a few books with me to a desert island, they would include Beloved by Toni Morrison, Emily Dickinson’s poems, a collection of James Baldwin’s essays, A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean, and a few others that change depending on when you ask me.
If you could be in any of your stories, which one would you choose?
My new one, Lost Canyon. It’s an adventure gone wrong in the Sierra Nevada. I love mountains, and I love adventure, and while the characters run into some tough situations, that’s also kind of exciting.
What is your favorite place to visit in LA?
I have several favorites. The Watts Towers for sure. Little Tokyo. Sacred Cove in Palos Verdes. I love my own neighborhood of Glassell Park—the views in every direction are amazing. And the San Gabriel mountains—technically L.A. County, not city, but it’s amazing that we have real mountains, with bears and mountain lions and longhorn sheep, right here bordering the city.
What/who inspires you?
Great writing inspires me. And people who work to help other people, to help communities. I am constantly humbled by the efforts of the people who work at my nonprofit—as well community residents and activists in Watts, and the Rampart/Westlake area.
What’s your new book about?
Lost Canyon is about a multiracial group of people from Los Angeles who go on a backpacking trip to the Sierras and have everything go wrong. They run into some bad guys who are indicative of things we’re facing in our country right now, and they end up having to run for their lives.
What was your favorite book to write?
I’ve loved writing all of them. But the first one—The Necessary Hunger—and the new one were probably the most fun. Southland was really hard at first, but then I finally figured out what I was doing.
If you were anything else, what would you be?
My personal fantasy would be mountain climber or adventure athlete. But professionally, my fantasy job would be detective.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope to have written two more books by then. And to have hiked a lot more trails in the Sierra, and have climbed another mountain or two. I also hope to still be doing work that’s important to me.
What would you say to inspiring writers and/or people moving to LA?
For writers: read everything you can, write about what you care about, and stick with it. For people moving to L.A.: get outside! There’s a lot of beautiful stuff out there. And go visit other parts of the city. We have such an amazing variety of people, cultures, food. Go out and take advantage of it.
Thank you so much again, Nina, for making this interview possible! If you would like to keep up with Nina’s works, check her out at the following links: