Lili Anolik ’00 has just published her debut novel, Dark Rooms. It is a story of “sex and murder and glamour set at a New England prep school,” as she describes it. Both a mystery and a coming-of-age story, Anolik wanted to write something that was “heavy on mood and atmospherics … sly and seductive … spooky, and [has] a fairy tale quality.”
The novel was six years in the making. “The writing process was pretty brutal,” Anolik said. “I loved writing the book but it definitely wasn’t a snap.”
Anolik was an English major and tennis player at Princeton, and wrote for The Daily Princetonian her senior year. Princeton, she said, “was hugely influential on my taste and sensibility.” She recalls the many great and inspiring teachers she had — Laura Quinney on film noir, Larry Danson on Shakespeare, Michael Cadden on Irish drama — but also the slow, agonizing process of churning out papers. “I used to spend forever on my papers when I was an undergraduate — was just completely anal retentive and obsessive about them,” she said.
As a contributing editor now at Vanity Fair (a “contributing editor” is actually someone who writes regularly for a publication; it doesn’t involve any editing), Anolik works on profiles and cover stories regularly.
“I think writing for Vanity Fair is the best job in the world. Not only does the magazine give its writers space, it’s respectful of voice. Meaning they don’t mess with your prose!” she said. Continue reading