Caroline Topperman is a European-Canadian writer, entrepreneur, dancer and world traveler. As the founder of Style on the Side, Caroline has infused her professional background with fitness and beauty with her worldly upbringing to share her personal experiences, insights and ultimately give others permission to step outside their boxes and discover their own unique style/voice. For more about Caroline, visit www.CarolineTopperman.com
Please tell our readers a little about yourself.
I was born in Sweden and came to Canada when I was still very young. I have a degree in screenwriting, but I’ve also danced, worked in the beauty and fashion industries, insurance and the automotive industry, real estate development, and even owned a Pilates studio that was frequented by pro athletes, celebrities, and everyone in between. I’m now a full-time writer and blogger who loves to travel with my small dog Pixie whenever I can.
Could you tell us a bit about your book and why it is a must-read?
I believe that creativity breeds creativity. Tell Me What You See is for anyone who is looking to be more creative. Maybe their job is very technical or maybe they feel like they’ve lost a piece of themselves from being over-tired and overworked, and if that’s the case then this book will help them stop, see the world around them, and create. It is also, of course, for writers who are either suffering from writer’s block or who merely want to practice expanding their genre repertoire. Something like 60% of the population, myself included, are visual learners, so I’m sure there are a lot of people looking to tap into their creativity that way.
What inspired you to write your book?
A really bad case of writer’s block. I had just moved, didn’t know anyone in my new town, and was missing living in Europe. I found myself sitting and staring blankly out the window for days on end, barely being able to write a single word. I got the idea to go around town, taking Polaroid photos, and when I got home, writing what I saw. I was surprised at how quickly my descriptions turned into stories, which motivated me to write again. I even had fun! I wanted to share this with other writers.
Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have a special hangout or any writing rituals?
While I do have a beautiful writing desk, it has mainly become a place to show off my fountain pen inks. Somehow, I always wind up sitting on the couch. I wish I could say that I like writing in coffee shops, but I find them very distracting. While I do love wandering around a city or going to an art gallery to find inspiration, I do need my own private space to actually work.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while writing your book?
I love merging words and images. The combination of the visual and the written reminded me of my screenwriting days, and I discovered just how much I missed that type of creative thinking.
What do you find are the most rewarding aspects of being an author?
I get to let my imagination run wild every single day, and I get to share my creations with the world.
Who are some of the writers who have influenced you?
Camus, Kafka, Murakami, and even Lucy Maud Montgomery. But it’s not just specific authors. Any book that has the power to capture my attention and transport me to a different world is inspiring.
On a more personal note: Tell us a little about your “real” (non-writing) life — family, job, hobbies, etc.
My husband and I get to travel a lot because of his job, which makes life exciting and hectic. We spent the past four and a half years living in Warsaw, Poland because we decided to move on a whim, but his job recently brought us back to Canada. I love being on the move because I constantly get to discover new places. I also used to dance, and I still love performing and taking ballet classes whenever I can.
Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work?
In addition to writing, I also spent many years dancing. I would have to say one of my favorite teachers, Debbie Wilson, because she believed in me and worked tirelessly with me to help bring out my artistry. Not only that, but she always had great, inspiring stories about her performing past.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who may be reading this interview?
Read, write, and then write some more. I find that many writers love talking about writing without actually doing it. I went to school for screenwriting (with a minor in English), and one of the first things they taught us was the importance of writing every single day. Even if we were writing the same word over and over again, even if our sentences didn’t make sense, we had to write. We were also taught to understand our craft. In my case, it meant watching a lot of movies of every genre and decade. Whether you are writing nonfiction or fiction, you need to understand your craft and there is no better way to do that than to read everything you can get your hands on and notice how it’s constructed. You need to understand the bones of the story, what worked, what didn’t, and why.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I’ve completed a family memoir that I’m actively shopping around to agents, and I’m also working on a collection of short fictional stories that are based on my travels through Europe.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, etc.) and link(s)?
I always love connecting with my readers and other writers. Writing can be a lonely endeavor at times and human connections are always welcome. The best way to reach me is on Instagram, @styleontheside, my blog, www.styleontheside.com, or my author site, www.carolinetopperman.com
TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE is the fresh perspective writers and creatives have been looking for. Rather than trying to work through the same written prompts when you catch a case of writer's block, Caroline Topperman offers photographs from around the world to spark your imagination. More than just writing prompts, Tell Me What You See inspires readers to take an extra second to absorb their surroundings. A lifelong explorer and wanderer herself, Caroline has compiled her travels and her thoughts into one book that will keep your creative juices flowing across time and continents through 99 different prompts.
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