Dina Nayeri
Writer, New York

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My favorite writing teacher, an author of great literary fiction, once told me, "Good work gets found. Just focus on the work."

About Dina

Dina Nayeri has had an incredibly prolific career. She holds an MBA and a Master of Education, both from Harvard, and a BA from Princeton. She has worked for Saks Fifth Avenue, McKinsey, and UBS before becoming a full time writer.  Her debut novel, A Teaspoon of Earth & Sea, has just been published by Riverhead Books (February 2013). The novel was chosen as a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers book and praised by Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Cosmo and will soon be released in the UK. Her work is scheduled for publication in over 20 countries and has appeared in Granta New Voices, Glamour and Salon among others. Born in Iran, Dina has lived in Italy, Dubai, the US, France and the Netherlands. She is now at the Iowa Writers Workshop where she is a Teaching Writing Fellow and is at work on her second novel.

Questions

Which DeMellier bags do you treasure?

I had the great pleasure of owning one of the first ever Barcelona bags. I loved it and it continues to remind me of the year I spent carrying it around Paris and Amsterdam as I embarked on my first novel.  That bag held many pages of Iranian research notes, a laptop full of scattered chapters, and dozens of tattered old books that I found in used book shops. My new handbag crush is the Zurich.

That they are smart and chic, and that they were made by someone I admire and respect. I also love that they make me look put-together on all those long wintery days of writing when I can't be bothered to do my hair or makeup, or to put on anything but skinny jeans and a sweater.

What are your work wardrobe gems?

Most of the serious writers that I know tend to keep it simple when it comes to fashion. Maybe because there's so little extra space in their minds for another creative distraction. So I don't feel so guilty about my complete lack of style. I like my black skinny jeans, a white sweater, and brown leather boots and belt.

Which beauty product can't you live without?

I use heavy-duty daily moisturizer, usually Precious Cream by L'Occitane because it's so thick and luxurious (we have bad skin-drying winters in Iowa). I have a wonderful black eyeliner by Laura Mercier and waterproof black mascara by Dior. I cry a lot (writers are crazy!) and neither one of them ever runs. I also have some wonderful multi-colored powder beads by Guerlain that are delightful to use, with pink tones that work well even on olive skin.  They look like candy and my face feels all shimmery afterwards. Oh, and I know I'm late to the game, but I recently discovered Nars Orgasm blush.  And who  doesn't want their cheeks to look orgasmic?  (Wow, this is the most I've had to say about makeup… maybe ever! It's fun.)

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Istanbul
What's your top travel tip?
Eat

Istanbul. Eat many skewers of Kabob, endless plates of sticky pastries with sheep's milk cream, and sour cherry rice stuffed into grape leaves.

 

Stay

In a pension near the Topkapi palace.

 

See

Every bazaar and side street and fisherman and bakery you can find. Wander. Talk to locals. Eat with strangers. Bathe in a hammam.

What's your top exercise tip (if any)?

Drink more espresso.

What book would you most recommend?

Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. One of the most gorgeously written works in modern literature. Everyone should read it.  I can't do it justice with any kind of description.

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Drink more espresso!
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Midnight snacks
How did you get to where you are today?

A raging Peter Pan complex and total inability to focus on the real world.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

My favorite writing teacher, an author of great literary fiction, once told me, "Good work gets found. Just focus on the work."

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

Chronically depressed.

Finally, tell us something people don't know about you…

Sometimes I wake up at 3am and watch popular television dramas in bed, and I eat cheap grocery store chocolate and gummy bears and almonds and feel truly happy for ten or fifteen minutes.  Often the next morning I forget having done this.  But I know it happens because I'm always caught up on shows I don't remember watching