The writer who keeps jars full of kisses

Lana Citron keeps collections of kisses stored in jars piled up around her house. Born in Ireland, but now based in London, she’s romantic and passionate, and writes about what she knows – those same two topics (romance and passion), and everything else in between.

Lana’s subject matter isn’t just your run of the mill ‘Sally falls for Jimmy’ type of fare, instead her books, manuscripts and other literary projects are intelligent, well-researched pieces of writing and musings about ordinary, yet extraordinary, acts such as the humble kiss. Khoollect spoke to lana about kissing, romance, passion and the inspiration behind her writing.

Lana Citron

A Day in the Life of Lana Citron

How did you get into writing?

My teen-self wanted to be an A-list Hollywood film star (nothing like aiming high), but reality set in with waitressing (resting), temping (resting), and thumb twiddling (resting), which happily led to writing.

Tell us about your subject matter, romance, and why you’re passionate about it?

I’m lucky as a writer I’ve been able to flirt with different genres, styles and forms of writing; from poetry, short stories, radio plays, film scripts, novels, and non-fiction. At the moment I’m dabbling with a psychological thriller.

However, my passion quite literally is passion; human relationships and all that entails. That said, I’ve been called an anti-romantic, the perfect anecdote if you are schmaltzed up to your eyeballs. Time Out once wrote that one of my characters, Issy Brodsky, ‘would give Bridget Jones a kick up the arse’.

You wrote A Compendium of Kisses – can you tell us about the various types of kisses and their meaning?

My book looks at the anatomy of a kiss, the nature of kissing, cultural kiss differences, Freudian kisses, the cost of a kiss, famous kisses, infamous kisses, stolen and record-breaking kissing.

Writing the book I discovered a world of kisses and how potent the gesture is. Kisses have immense historical and religious significance and are culturally pervasive in art, literature, music and film. They’re politically contentious too – in 2013 a couple were jailed for a year in Dubai for kissing in public, and in 2014 Iranian actress Leila Hatami, narrowly missed a jail sentence and lashes when she kissed the Cannes film festival’s president on the cheek.

Are you working on any interesting projects right now?

I’m working on a few projects, including film scripts and novel ideas, and they’re all at different stages of development. I’m setting my next book in Corsica – somewhere I am hoping to go to do lots of research.

What do you love most about your job?

The freedom to travel … though the reality is, I’m mainly sat at my desk in the front room.

What’s your biggest achievement?

Each book and project has been a unique experience. However, The Brodsky books (comedy detective novels) were such fun. For the purposes of research I turned my hand to standup comedy and ended up doing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – it was terrifying, mortifying and incredibly exciting. See pages 127 -144 of the Brodsky Touch for the epic death scene – it really did happen.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

It’s random; something said, a sighting, a feeling, a situation, wishful thinking.

Can you give us some tips on writing at home?

  • Keep away from the biscuit tin.
  • Discipline, discipline and discipline, especially when times get hot and sticky.
  • Always chase a work to the end – even if it’s not perfect. At least you’ll feel you have completed something.
  • Turn off Facebook.
  • As before, keep away from the biscuit tin.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

With difficulty, but it helps to change your routine; go see an exhibition or a gig, watch some films, read some books etc.

A Compendium of Kisses by Lana Citron

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

Kisses. Jars and jars of bottled kisses stacked up any old way. My first published story, The Kiss Hoarder, was about a woman who kept kisses. As they say, write about what you know.

What’s your favourite item in your #khoollection?

My passport.

A life lesson you’d tell your younger self?

Don’t hold back, trust your instinct and go for it (whatever it may be). People will always help, but you’ve got to make it happen. Try everything at least once, (okay maybe twice).

Favourite corner of the internet for reading and writing-related stuff?

Truth is, I’m a total techno-hick. Nothing beats reality.

Who’s your #khoollectcrush?

The most inspiring person I have had the privilege to meet and interview was Uri Orlev, a survivor of World War II (the Warsaw Ghetto and concentration camps). He now lives in Israel and is a prizewinning writer. His story is truly phenomenal.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home?

London

What do you love most about it?

It vastness, diversity and pace. It’s ever-changing, unconquerable, yet home.

Your favourite places for coffee?

My kitchen table. I have a classic Alessi coffee maker and get beans from Coffee Plant on Portobello Road. I’m a total coffee snob.

Best spot for dinner?

The Ivy, old school, but I’m afraid but I’ve had a lot of fun there.

Favourite nook for reading?

The bath – no-one can disturb me.

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

Being a mum, lazy Sundays are scarce, but if the chance ever arose I would sleep-in til midday, (croissants, coffee and papers), then take a long hike across London (recently my elder son and I walked from St John’s Wood to Mile End via the canal). At the end of the day I’d meet friends at a fab bar or restaurant.

Music, film or art – which couldn’t you live without?

Film. I love film. I’m so proud of my last film, Hannah Cohen’s Holy Communion, which has won six international awards to date.

If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?

Sometimes I think Paris, then again New York or even LA – but I’m open to suggestion.

 

 

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Read more about Lana on her website One-off Kisses

Check out Lana’s blog, ‘The Accidental Mother’

Sign-up to one of Lana’s writing workshops in London.

Photo by Hannah Maule-FFinch