February 21 2018
Karen Lyons started running to escape hardship–and couldn’t stop.
Vivien is not a strict professional with a heart of stone; she’s not an emotional worrywart; she doesn’t spend her days daydreaming of a picture-perfect family; and she doesn’t have nine cats or a “shaky grip” on reality. “In every fictional account I was reading with a smart, talented female leader, she was either evil or diabolical, or she didn’t like other women, or she was very neurotic in her personal life,” Shaz said. “I’ve been surprised by how few strong, positive female role models are portrayed in fiction. I just thought, I know so many women who are talented: they have great leadership skills, people love working with them and they’re really interesting people. How come nobody’s writing about these women?”
As Vivien proves her talents with prioritizing and compartmentalizing, Shaz shows some of the skills that helped her in business through the way she writes. “To be successful at business, you have to be focused, you have to be decisive, you have to be relentless,” Shaz said. Risk-taking and collaboration are two more qualities important to Shaz, each of which she demonstrates through her portrayal of Vivien. While Vivien takes personal approaches to encourage collaboration between her apparel designers, Shaz welcomed input from her editors as she shaped her story. Though writing The Closer took Shaz just 10 months, the editing process took more than two years, during which time Shaz was working full-time and raising her twin daughters.
Given Shaz’s background in turning business profits at record speeds, it’s not surprising to learn that she prefers to work quickly. This underlying sense of efficiency is evident from the first page of The Closer, as readers are thrown into Vivien’s world and given basic details about her and the significant people in her life. Shaz writes with a lot of forward movement, providing just enough detail as any given scene requires. She develops her characters much in the way humans develop their understanding of the people with whom they interact: with time and patience, but it’s worth the investment. There’s no extra fluff—just the essentials to keep the product marching forward. It’s another way in which Vivien and her approach to problem-solving are mirrored by the author herself.