Today I have the honor of talking with Romana Van Lissum. Thank you for talking with me.
- 1. Tell us about your book The Life of a Stripper.
The Life of a Stripper contains short biographies from 50 Canadian exotic dancers who have been dancing from just a few weeks to 23 years. Each woman explains what motivated her to step into this line of work and what her daily life as a stripper holds. The stories reveal what their childhood was like, advice they would give new exotic dancers, strange customer encounters, any regrets regarding choosing this as a career choice, embarrassing moments, plus a lot more. To keep identities anonymous, the name of a flower has been substituted as this allows the women to open up further.
This is the book to read for anyone curious about what goes on behind the strip bar scenes or for the woman who contemplates going into this line of work.
2. In the blurb you talk about “inside view of the world of exotic dancing.” What did you mean by that?
What I meant by the quote, “inside view of the world of exotic dancing,” is that each girl gives her own story which allows the reader a peek into this taboo world; an inside look at the business side of this industry, the clientele, how a girl mentally handles this job and if her family accepts her career choice or not.
Working as a cocktail waitress in a popular Canadian strip club for over 17 years, I have come to know that the general public basically stereotypes exotic dancers. Many assume that all strippers are drug addicts, alcoholics and prostitutes who come from broken homes, have been molested or abused and are even too brainless to be employed in a regular job. The reader will obviously read about some heart breaking stories, but well-educated women who save/invest their money, have children, are married, who never touch alcohol or tried drugs are some of the positive stories the reader will learn about.
3. What gave you the innovation to write this particular story?
I had just sent the manuscript of my first book, How to Be a Waitress and Make Big Tips to the printer. I was at work the next day and as I watched one of the girls spinning around the pole, I thought, “I wonder why she’s taking her clothes off for a living. She’s so pretty. She could be a model. This could be an interesting book.” Within ten minutes, I had the idea and outline of the book planned out in my head.
Friends and family found this funny because as soon as I got the manuscript off my hands, after spending 2 ½ years working on it, I barely had time to breathe and I was off and running with another book!
4. Has your writing been inspired by family/friends?
My dad has always been the person to inspire me to be a writer. I was always writing stories as a kid, and he never forgot to mention to me that I should write a book one day.
5. Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
I can’t pick a favorite excerpt but I will say that one of my favorite things about the book is how each story is so different from another. It was interesting for me to interview the girls and find their motivation and reasoning as to why and how they got to this point in their lives. Every girl had a different kind of hardship to deal with in her life and this book proves that these women are tough little cookies who don’t give up!
6. What are you working on now?
Right now, I am compiling the information needed to write my fourth book, a true story of when the Russians invaded my birthplace Czechoslovakia and how my parents escaped and came to Canada.
7. Have you written anything previously?
The first book I published is “How To be a Waitress and Make Big Tips. Get a Top Server’s Secrets to Maximizing Your Tip Earning Potential.”
My third book is an ebook “The Life of a Stripper Special Bonus Edition. 5 Exotic Dancers Confess Their Personal Experiences in the Adult Entertainment Industry.” The link to this free ebook can be found on my website, www.thelifeofastripper.com. This ebook is a taster for The Life of a Stripper.
8. Are there any stories that were cut in the editing process you wish had made it into the book?
Yes, there was a story that was cut from the book and I wish it made it into the book because I feel that other girls can learn from it. It wasn’t my choice to pull the story, but one of the dancers that it belonged to. She did it out of respect for a friend…her girlfriend was underage and ended up drinking with a group of men in an after-hours bar. She passed out, was gang raped and thrown into the back alley with no pants on. This story makes me cringe whenever I think about it.
9. Can you give us one fun fact we might not know about The Life of a Stripper? Something about the story itself or the writing process?
Something the reader would find interesting is the fact that during my interview process, five girls had pulled their stories from this project. Although the names of flowers were used as an alias, reading about their life on paper was too real and raw for them. The funny thing is that out of those five stories, there was nothing bad or unusual about them. Well educated girls with parents still happily married, these stories were possibly the tamest of all!
10. How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
When I was in grade school, my favorite subject was language arts/English/writing. I loved writing short stories! At the age of 12, a girlfriend and I had written a poem together called Alberta In The Future which was submitted by our teacher to a writing contest, sponsored by the province of Alberta. It was chosen among many and published in the book, 75 And Growing. This was my first taste as a young, published writer.
11. If you were stranded on a desert island, what are three material things you couldn’t be without?
Three things I couldn’t be without if I was stranded on a desert island would be my laptop, my kindle jam-packed full of various ebooks and my dog Charly. (Charly isn’t a material thing, so then I would pick a hammock.)
12. What are you reading now?
I’m such a geek. Right now I’m reading a random book on grammar and sentence structure. I’m also reading 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer and Cold Hard Truth on Business, Money and Life by Kevin O’Leary.
13. Which author has inspired you most and why?
The author which has inspired me the most is Danielle Steel. I own every one of her books and I’m amazed at the knowledge and research she must do to capture the different eras she writes about. I lose myself in her books and find myself thinking about her characters for days after finishing. She’s a great story-teller.
14. What advice would you give aspiring authors?
The advice I would give aspiring authors is to always write and always read. Get educated and always try to improve your writing. Write what you’re passionate about and dedicate time to your writing.
I like to carry a notebook with me at all times so if I hear a quote or think of an idea, I can jot it down before it escapes me. (I also have pen and paper on my nightstand beside my bed).
15. As a quotes person I always like to finish off with a special saying, do you have a quote or poem that has stuck with you over the years and what is the story behind it?
I heard one of my quotes from Oprah Winfrey, years ago…”Devote today to something so daring even you can’t believe you’re doing it.”
It’s a powerful quote that reminds me to try and get out of my comfort zone every day.
Thank you so much for taking time out to talk with me, Romana Van Lissum. I wish you much success.