First, a reminder that I'm giving away TWO signed copies of Driving Sideways over at Free Book Friday, the brainchild of the gracious and talented Jessica Brody. Again, these books are FREE. If you have a first name, a last name, an email address, and an appreciation for a good booger joke, you have what it takes to win. It's that simple.
Second, I'm pleased to be a tour-stop on the GCC today for the fascinating Nadine Dajani, whose new novel Cutting Loose is in stores now. But wait!!! There's more!!! I have a SIGNED ADVANCE COPY of that very same book, which I will give away FOR FREE to a commenter on this post plucked at random. (If you don't want to comment and publicly admit to actually reading my blog, which--I can't really say I blame you--please email me at jess(at)jessriley.com and say, "Hey Tootyacker Breath! Enter me in that contest, aah-ite?" Or something like that.)
About Nadine: Born in Beirut, Lebanon to Palestinian parents, Nadine spent the first nine years of her life in Saudi Arabia before settling in Montreal. While Nadine could definitely think of better ways of spending a year than devoting it to mastering the French language, the experience (and all that duty-free terminal shopping) would turn Nadine onto the wonders of world travel and the quirky, unexpected (and usually hilarious) ways cultures meshed (or stubbornly refused to). As an adult she moved to the Cayman Islands to pursue a career in, what else – offshore banking. And while Nadine has yet to see her “golden parachute” she did get to reap the rewards of Caribbean relocation by island-hopping to nearby Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras and Miami whenever the travel bug bites.
Nadine’s travel articles have been published in Atmosphere magazine. Cutting Loose is her second novel. For a beefier bio, author pics, and assorted trivia, please visit http://www.nadinedajani.com/, and Nadine’s blog, where she feels free to pontificate on whatever strikes her fancy that day.
Praise for Cutting Loose: “Dajani spins a tale of three women and their individual journeys to find happiness. Through strong writing and distinctive characters, readers are drawn into their lives, their loves, and their internal struggles. Dajani wraps it up nicely in the end, leaving us with a delectable tale that is hard to put down” – Romantic Times
“Engrossing” – Publishers Weekly
Finally, Nadine provided some great answers to my Question Sampler Platter:
1) Now that you are published, what (if anything) have you changed about your writing routine?
Now I write on deadline, which is a whole other animal! It’s more stressful but I’m still one of those people who thinks she does better work under pressure (I don’t care what the studies say!). I don’t have much time for “error” so to speak because it still takes a while for the plot and characters to percolate in my head… many, many months as a matter of fact, which doesn’t leave much time for getting the words down on paper and revision. Luckily, once I’ve put in a lot of thinking time, I can write quickly and fairly “clean” as well.
2) Do you listen to music while you write?
No – I get so lost in the music that I don’t feel like writing anymore! I’m the same way with picturing the characters or pinning the roles on real life actors – I prefer to keep writing in that weird, intangible, subconscious world, and when I listen to music or picture real characters, it tends to ground my imagination and the feelings I’m trying to tap into.
3) Have you found that as you've developed your writing and story telling skills, you watch movies or read books 'differently?'
ABSOLUTELY! And sometimes I’m really obnoxious and I’ll explain to one of my siblings in mid-movie that what hero just did was actually a plot device, which is designed to make him more sympathetic, blah, blah, blah. But what’s fun is seeing that those mechanics we read about in the craft books really do work.
(Jess jumping in here: I TOTALLY DO THIS TOO!!!)
4) What vacation would be most inspiring to you as a writer?
I get inspired from a change of scenery, no matter how big or small. I find that when I’m stuck in a writing rut, just going away for the weekend will make me see things in a different way, and suddenly I’m dying to get back to the keyboard. Having said that, my first trip to Cuba many years ago is probably responsible for my being published (or even writing at all!). It was one of those “Aha! Moment” inducing trips (as Oprah might put it). It was after this trip that I decided I wouldn’t put up with bleak Canadian winters anymore (nothing against people who like winter, I wish I did but I just don’t) and when I started looking at my life a lot more actively, rather than just letting life happen to me. I moved to the Cayman Islands , started work on my first novel, Fashionably Late, and now my second one is coming out! I’m ready to move onto my next “inspiration vacation” and I’m going eco this time – I found a fabulous-sounding hacienda in the wilderness of Honduras, at the foot of the ancient Mayan city of Copan, where they use little electricity (so no iPod that weekend…), the food is supposed to be great, and you can do yoga at 8 am every morning, overlooking the Mayan ruins… I have a feeling this is going to be a very inspiring trip!
5) What is one of your strangest / most quirky author experiences?
I feel bad telling this one but it was funny, so here goes. At the RWA Nationals this year in San Francisco , I was signing copies of Cutting Loose. Browsers would pick it up, flip it over, and raise an eyebrow in what I assume was interest, at the bio. One lady (and she was really, really nice), after chatting for a minute or so and seeing that my bio stated I was born in Lebanon , commented about how I spoke English “beautifully”. I laughed and said: “I should hope so, that’s my first language”. It just burst out of my loud mouth… I think the lady blushed and backtracked, so if you’re out there nice lady, I wasn’t being mean, and it’s a totally legit comment given the quirky bio, but it still gets me every time to hear how great my English is… I did manage to write two books in that language after all, so I must be doing something marginally right. I suppose, technically, I did learn Arabic first, but it only has a 3 year edge over Shakespeare’s language… as soon as I was old enough for pre-school, it was English all the way – except for a brief interlude of French junior high school in Montreal because I had no choice – and then back to English for senior high and University. And for the rest of my life since. If I hadn’t figured out English by now, then I probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote : ) A great many Canadians are at least bilingual (English, varying degrees of French), with a huge chuck of Montrealers trilingual (Perfect or near-perfect English and French, and varying degrees of fluency in their mother tongue), so though we do have “accents”, it’s not because English isn’t the dominant language for many of us, but because gets injected with a lot of other linguistic influences too.
Nadine, I think I have a girl-crush on you. Can I tag along on your trip to Honduras? Thank you so much, and best of luck with the book release!
Reminder: FREE BOOKS, EVERYONE! Get all up in that! Get some on ya!
Double reminder: For those of you in the Madison, Wisconsin area this Thursday, October 16, I will be at A Room of One's Own Feminist Bookstore with Gail Konop-Baker and Danielle Younge-Ullman at 7 pm as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. They're letting me sit with them despite the fact that I only have one last name and my book contains not one but TWO sex jokes involving carrots, which I think speaks very highly of their character.