Justine Domagall has always been an avid reader. She grew up writing fantasy but never guessed that her first publication would be a memoir. Though she still writes, most of her creative energy is spent on the visual arts. She enjoys painting, needle felting, and has recently begun doing digital art as well.
1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
Paper Thin is a memoir about my experience with an eating disorder as a teenager. It is told through real journal entries written from the time I was first diagnosed until I was a few years into recovery. I did not do any major editing of the entries but left them in their raw form. I also included pieces written by family members about what the experience was like from their point of view. Eating disorders are such a complex illness and difficult to really understand until you are in the midst of dealing with one yourself. I felt called to compile and publish my journal entries both for those struggling with an eating disorder and for those who know and love someone who has been diagnosed with one. I believe these entries give insight into what really goes on in the mind of someone with an eating disorder, and this insight is often the first step needed in beginning the journey of recovery.
2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Paper Thin is my first published book and since it is a memoir the writing process was a little different than what I imagine writing a traditional novel would be like. It took me two years from start to finish. I began by reading through my journals and typing out word for word the entries which were relevant to my eating disorder. I then further cut down the entries and added in footnotes where they were needed. Once my piece was done I interviewed a few close family members to get a better idea of what the experience of watching a loved one go through an eating disorder was like for them. Both of my parents wrote short summaries of the illness from their point of view, and I added these into the memoir where I felt it was appropriate.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
For me the most difficult part of writing, or doing anything artistic, is forcing myself to sit down and begin. I’ve always struggled with being a perfectionist. I’ve gotten a lot better about letting things go and learning to relax over the years, but I still have high expectations for myself. When I don’t feel inspired or in the perfect creative mood it’s hard for me to begin working on my writing or art. However, once I push myself to start and get past that initial block I quickly get caught up in the process and even enjoy it.
4. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my first book taught me that sometimes it’s important to just sit down and write even when I don’t feel like doing it. If I had always waited to write until I felt the perfect inspiration or creative energy the book never would have been published. Now when I need to write I set aside time to do so and try to follow through whether or not I feel like it. I can always edit or change the content later if needed.
5. Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
I enjoy many different types of books but have always had a special interest in memoirs. There is not one specific memoir that stands out to me, but over the years I have read many and have been inspired by authors who were brave enough to share their stories. Memoirs about mental illness in particular have always fascinated me. It takes courage to share such intimate details of one’s life, but it can have such a positive impact in slowly breaking down the stigma that comes with mental illness and in letting others know that they are not alone in their struggle.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I do not have any other books that I am working on at the moment, but I was constantly writing what I thought were going to be great novels from grade school all the way into my college years. I never imagined that my first published book would be non-fiction.
7. What does literary success look like to you?
To be honest this isn’t something I’ve spent much time thinking about because it’s not very important to me. I suppose traditional literary success is measured in sales and numbers, but that’s not why I chose to write my memoir. I just want my book to do well enough that it gets into the hands of those that need the insight and hope that it offers.
8. What inspired you to start writing?
I journaled during the time I had an eating disorder because it helped me to organize my thoughts and work through all of the internal conflict that the illness caused. Once I had been recovered for a few years, I began to wonder whether what I wrote might help others who were going through what I had. My family, and mother in particular, also encouraged me to share my story.
9. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m not writing I enjoy working on other forms of art. I especially like drawing, acrylic painting, and needle felting. I run a small art shop online and have also done several commission projects.
10. Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?