Wis­dom of the Ages


“In the de­spair­ing days af­ter the U.S. elec­tion, the only thing that worked to take my mind off the news was re­watch­ing old movies. Re­becca is a favourite,” ex­plains Wind­sor, Ont.-born Lisa Gabriele, 51, the best­selling au­thor of Tempt­ing Faith DiNapoli and The Al­most Archer Sis­ters. Her lat­est novel, The Win­ters, is a reimag­in­ing of the 1938 mod­ern Gothic clas­sic by Daphne du Mau­rier, which was turned into the 1940 Os­car-win­ning film star­ring Lau­rence Olivier and Joan Fon­taine. “I’m ob­sessed with fe­male re­la­tion­ships, sex and power and how they in­ter­sect. And though I love du Mau­rier’s book, I be­gan think­ing about all the ways mod­ern fe­male char­ac­ters and a new set­ting would com­pletely change their re­la­tion­ship with each other and the story. So you could say nos­tal­gia in­spired me to reread Re­becca, but anger drove me to write The Win­ters.” Gabriele is also an award-win­ning TV pro­ducer, writer and di­rec­tor and the au­thor of the S.E.C.R.E.T. erot­ica tril­ogy, un­der the pseu­do­nym L. Marie Ade­line.

What ad­vice do you wish you’d given your 25-year-old self? Quit drink­ing now. It’s never go­ing to be more fun than it is at 25. In fact, it’s pretty much down­hill from there.

What ad­vice would you give your 80-year-old self? I know you want to, but please don’t adopt those two cats when you’re 65 years old be­cause they might out­live you. (Note: I will ig­nore this ad­vice.)

What do you know for sure? Not ev­ery­one is go­ing to like my work, and that’s okay. It means I’m do­ing some­thing right. It means I’m not peo­ple-pleas­ing.

What have you learned? How to say no. This didn’t come nat­u­rally, but I have learned to say no all the time now, to things and peo­ple that aren’t good for me, that don’t have my best in­ter­ests in mind.

What will you never learn? I should not cut my own bangs no mat­ter how cer­tain I am that this time it’ll be dif­fer­ent.

Best piece of ad­vice? Don’t wait to get over fear be­fore you make that big leap. Leap, then the courage comes. Also, for women in par­tic­u­lar: ap­ply for jobs for which you’re not com­pletely qual­i­fied. Men do it all the time.

Did it work? Yes. I got the jobs. And though I didn’t lie about my qual­i­fi­ca­tions, I had to scram­ble a bit.

What in­spires you? My sis­ter, who has dealt with the ill­ness of her son with grace, anger and hu­mour. I deeply bow to all par­ents who haunt hos­pi­tal hall­ways.

The mo­ment that changed ev­ery­thing? Feb. 12, 2006, when I quit drink­ing, (hope­fully) for good.

Hap­pi­ness is … work­ing on a project where ev­ery­thing just flows, time passes, there are no blocks, and you hand it in feel­ing like no mat­ter what any­one says you’ve done your best work. There is no feel­ing like this.

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