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MaddAddamites Came Out of Hiding to Meet and Greet Their “Eve”

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MaddAddamites Came Out of Hiding to Meet and Greet Their “Eve”:

In Person: Margaret Atwood at Indigo, Bay and Bloor

09.17.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

If you’ve read the first two books in the Oryx and Crake trilogy, you were most likely at one of the largest literary events at Indigo, Bay and Bloor, this past Sunday. I was. And so were a number of other Margaret Atwood devotees and fans of her latest novel, MaddAddam, which hit the bookshelves three weeks ago and made its way to the Indigo Bestseller list even before its publication based on pre-order numbers alone.

What’s all this buzz about, you ask? Well, aside from the messages we could potentially send or receive from bees in speaking with them, should we have that particular gift as the Eves do in the books, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam, the bees have spoken loud and clear—we, as readers would not be rejected, nor stung, but instead receive a bona fide appearance of our very own, Canadian, and much beloved, prolific writer, Ms. Margaret Atwood at the Manulife Centre in Toronto.

Okay, and yes, the book itself is quite good, too.

Which is why, for a simple purchase of a copy at any Indigo, Chapters, or Coles location, you could get the privilege of not only listening in on an interview with Margaret Atwood by Mark Medley of the National Post (who, by the way, if you’re following him on Twitter, you’ll know that he just had a haircut in perfect time to interview Margaret. Coincidence? Perhaps not.), but also get multiple copies of MaddAddam signed, as well as one to two back copies of Atwood’s books, with one title personally inscribed to you or whomever you choose.

That’s the thing. Out of a full, personal library of her work at home, how can you choose? Which is why my husband and I made the trek early to Toronto to secure a relatively good spot in line. I was expecting or (perhaps hoping for) long lineups, mania, large Atwood billboards, an activist sit-in in support of the fictional, environmental theology of the God’s Gardeners, covert spies of our modern-day CorpSeCorps equivalent, or blue-skinned Craker-inspired costumes minus the large, wagging penises (okay,…I’ll admit I wouldn’t mind seeing a replica of blue wagging penises—it would certainly be a sight).

But, because we were wise and patient enough to come early in the day, we were lodged in a group of the lucky few. We were close enough to the beginning of the line to actually see its event poster, and when it came down to being seated in the first-come-first-serve sitting area where the interview was to be held, my husband and I were quaintly seated in the third row from the front. Waiting time? A devoted two hours. We earned it.

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Indigo, Bay & Bloor, Toronto. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Indigo, Bay & Bloor, Toronto. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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In Person: Margaret Atwood Indigo event poster. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
In Person: Margaret Atwood Indigo event poster. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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And since I’m not necessarily shy, plus I was jittery with excitement in attending my first Indigo book signing event in Toronto to also meet the-one-and-only-Margaret-Atwood-who-I’ve-bought-and-read-almost-every-book-that-she’s-ever-written-and-published—well, yes, I thought it important to make a few bookish friends to pass the time.

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Bookish friends at the Margaret Atwood book signing, September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Bookish friends at the Margaret Atwood book signing, September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Christa, a fellow book blogger was there and was productive enough to work on a book review while waiting; Jessica, a publishing intern was keen to share upcoming author events around town; two women who I’ve irresponsibly forgotten to ask their names while chatting, buzzed about their plans to attend the book festival, Word on the Street, in Toronto, next week. Yes, I was definitely amongst my favourite kind of people, the faithful (and fanatic) fans of the written word. I thought, “Finally. People who understand me.”

We were kind enough to play line tag, taking turns saving spots for one another while one went to take a pee break, grab a Starbucks coffee, peruse the Hot and New Fiction tables, or pound a few keys on the piano on the second floor. Otherwise, we shared our common love for books and not-so-secret-fandom of the author we were so anxiously waiting to see. We even posed for photographs. Time went faster this way and thankfully so.

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Esly and I waiting in line---yes, sitting on the floor. We arrived two hours early before Margaret Atwood's scheduled interview and worth every minute of our time. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Esly and I waiting in line—sitting on the floor. We arrived two hours early before Atwood’s scheduled interview, but it was worth every minute of our time. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Much like crazed fans of famous musicians in concert, we book nerds have our own form of mania—as quiet and introverted as it is, it does exist, and passionately so. Okay, yes, we didn’t push and shove fellow patrons in the lineup. We were respectful enough to follow Indigo’s black rope guideline and signing policy. We whispered in giddy gossip of the literary stars we’ve met in the past. We sipped our coffees like we would our red wine at wine & cheese parties that host elusive poetry readings.

We even refrained from screaming at the sight of Ms. Atwood when she glided into the room behind Mark Hedley onto the Indigo stage. And yes, we even refrained from bombarding her with embarrassing tears of adoration. And, no, I absolutely promised myself, I would above all things, not faint. If any book nerd will confess, it is of a passionate, yet restrained decorum in showing authors we love, some well-deserved respect and grace.

Besides, Margaret Atwood is the type of individual, I think, who would have none of that silliness. Who can really know Atwood as Atwood herself, other than “Atwood-the-Writer,” of whom we wish her to portray, and of whom she’s admitted to impersonating—no, let me correct that—perhaps, showcasing. There is and always will be the private self and the persona. And the one readers are privileged to see in the context of promoting her work is the persona of “Atwood-the-Writer.”

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean she was less genuine nor less interesting. I simply mean, that in seeing her in person, hearing her interviews, reading her books, and even writing this blog post article, by in no way means that I know her anymore than anyone else can know her in a true and intimate way—that privilege is reserved for her close friends and family. (Lucky bunch, those guys.)

But, it does mean, I, along with others present at the Indigo event, were able to “bask in the limelight” of her literary stardom. If not bask, at least actively participate in its peripheral—there—and within the black rope seating area reserved for those devoted enough to come early.

In addition to our privileged seating, those who lined up early enough to snag a spot within the roped-off area were also privileged to choose a MaddAddam button, courtesy of Margaret Atwood (and I suspect, the wonderful marketing group at Random House of Canada). My husband and I chose a button each though I was extremely tempted to grab the entire bucket and make a run for it—thanks Ainsley, I only took one button for myself—(I am a hoarder of anything remotely bookish including swag and particularly of books written by Margaret Atwood, which are definitely high on my nabbing list!).

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Our MaddAddam buttons. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Our MaddAddam buttons. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My partner, in his repulsion and refusal to eat pork, as well as his great sense of irony or perhaps subtle activism, chose the bright, pigoon button. Smart man, my husband, and potentially a donor to the future pigoon-gene-spliced-phenomena. I dug for the simple and sacred God’s Gardeners button as I secretly aspire to become an Eve, should our potential dystopian future demand it.

And while Ms. Atwood said so herself, “…everyone loves a good secret,” my husband and I, both refrained from choosing the Secret Burgers button in a clear stand against unknown dietary substances, which Atwood emphasized are indeed unknown as compared to lab meats, which are not unknown, and written about in her novel.

And as ancestors of the potential Craker blue-breeds, we also didn’t want to presume to be as innocent, nor gifted as those originally hatched in the “Egg,” of Crake’s original vision and creation, so we passed over the MaddAddam egg button.

And in my excitement and the availability of free Wi-Fi on site, I was able to tweet my real-time whereabouts and feelings within 140 characters, including, but not restricted to a clever hashtag and/or (in)direct contact with Margaret Atwood online! (For those of you yet to follow her, she can be found in the Twitterverse as @MargaretAtwood. Go ahead. Follow her now. All 427,079 of us who already do, will wait for you. And I’m sure by the time you finish reading this blog post, that number will have already risen. Betcha five bucks.)

I was ecstatic to discover that my tweet had somehow warranted a connection, however minute, with the humorous Atwood herself (which, by the way, I will enlarge, print, and frame for wistful dinner party conversation—the tweet, not Atwood):

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And that promise was dutifully kept. The Margaret Atwood we were all waiting to see, did arrive in a black ensemble with a red, butterfly printed scarf. (If it was indeed her secret clone or body double, it was surely difficult to tell. It certainly looked like her and sounded like her.) Her red eyeglasses were missing (I’ve seen her wear those before, but they’re most likely reserved for her lectures and readings)—but not her intelligent, articulate,  and sometimes cryptic answers that lashed out a sharp wit by an even sharper tongue.

You have to remember, Ms. Atwood is good at this. She’s been around long enough in the public eye providing a number of interviews in support of the work she’s created (all 59 books of them, as quoted by Mark Medley in the interview, though she made it clear that she didn’t count books that she’s published on her own without the help of a publishing house as part of that tally), as well as in support of the thoughts and opinions she has on society, and the clarifications and rebuttals she’s had to make in an act to ensure that she’s not misunderstood. It’s a big bill.

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The Indigo stage. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The Indigo stage. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Margaret Atwood. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Margaret Atwood. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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When asked if she thinks the future is a “hopeful” one in light of MaddAddam’s story being hopeful since characters and nature are able to survive the epidemic of the “waterless flood,”—bear in mind, I’m paraphrasing here; it’s not as if I actually took notes since I was too busy being starry-eyed while snapping photographs—Margaret Atwood agreed that like the percentage survival of the Black Death epidemic in the 1930’s, survival of the human race can be hopeful, as shown in the natural environment’s response in thriving as it must, and as it had in her novel, MaddAddam, should the human race cease to exist or not.

When asked what she thought made readers resonate with Zeb’s character in the book (a topic that spun off the tidbit that the German title of the book was changed to “The Story of Zeb,” since its original title didn’t translate well in the German language), Atwood’s reasoning was depicted in an honest example of why children like and are fascinated by large, toy dinosaurs. (My nine-year-old son would have applauded her right then and there!)

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toy dinsosaur

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While Atwood also chided that she’s busy “working on her own immortality” as we all are or would like to do, Mark Medley denied his own need to do so, and she blatantly refuted him, teasing him about being a “kid.” That kid is 32.

But, I have to agree with her. We, young pups, in the protection and sometimes naivety of our youth, often feel the bravado of facing the idea of our own deaths, since, in our minds, it’s still so deceptively far away.

I’m 38-years-old, but in a recent response to a serious Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) episode where my heart rate sped away at 200 beats per minute and I was forced to face the thin precipice between life and death with the possibility of no return—I wasn’t brave at all. I pleaded with the doctor as well as with God as who I understand God to be, to prolong whatever time I could get away with. Immortality? Yes, please.

When asked if she thought the character, Crake, was right (and for those of you who have not read the trilogy, well, now, you’ll have to, to guess), Ms. Atwood didn’t feel she could be presumptuous enough to know the psychology of her readers and would leave it up to us to decide. (In my opinion, Crake was right and wrong. And there’s no fence in sight. I may write an essay on it, should I feel so inspired.)

And when positioned with the same power of Crake and asked what she would do in his place, well, she teased again, refusing to share that with Mark Medley by answering back, “Well, I’m not telling you,” while smiling mischieviously back at him and the audience—because remember, she has choices. It’s her interview and she has no qualms about making them. If anyone is familiar with Ms. Atwood’s public personality, they’ll know that she’ll sometimes dodge any question that doesn’t interest her and will only speak to those that do. Good for her. (I’ll have to ask her to teach me how to do that the next time I meet her.)

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Margaret Atwood. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Margaret Atwood. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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There was also talk of the Intestinal Parasites app, a game created to mimic the game that Zeb, the character in MaddAddam plays in the novel, available for purchase through iTunes. And for you enthusiastic MaddAddamites, you’ll be excited to discover that the app is designed for both iPad and iPhone, and for a limited time, has a special launch price of only $0.99! For less than a buck, you’ll be charged with a mission as a MaddAddamite operative that could result in the agonizing death of millions of people. And no, I don’t believe you have to be a bio-geek to play. (Apparently, Margaret Atwood has reached Level 4—I recall reading this on her Twitter feed—but seems adamant in mastering the game. And like I said, I aspire to be an Eve, not a Zeb, so I don’t think I’d get very far.)

She also discussed the “battle” she had in fighting for a less “flowery” cover design of her book to not only better represent the story and context in which it was written, but to also appease the male readers who have also enjoyed the Oryx and Crake trilogy, of whom may be disgruntled by a more feminine, flowery cover design. How does she know this aside from being crowned our “literary prophet?” Well, she told us that she receives mail. A lot of it. From disgruntled readers and that she would most likely receive mail complaints from men who potentially wouldn’t like flowers on the MaddAddam book cover. When Mark Medley stated that she made a good “choice,” she refuted that, insisting that, no, she didn’t have a choice, but that it was a “battle.” We certainly have to pick and choose the ones we fight. And in this case, it’s clear Margaret Atwood, won.

After the interview, the floor was opened to audience questions:

When asked what advice she could give to aspiring writers, Ms. Atwood ‘s recommendation was to, rather than wait and think about writing, one should write and write often since the work of the writer is to do just that, “write letters on the page.” The person who asked the question was interested in writing commercial fiction and so, Margaret Atwood directed him to the website, Terrible Minds, a blog by Chuck Wendig, and warned him of the profanity used on the site.

Students of Victoria College, where Ms. Atwood is prestigious alumni, asked her when she would return to attend plenary, an existing weekly session where guest professors, visiting artists, writers, and ambassadors come to discuss points of interest with students and then offer their time afterwards in allowing students to speak with them informally and personally over coffee. Now, I see why these students were trying to hook Ms. Atwood into it. I’d like to have coffee with her, too! Instead, Ms. Atwood joked about “not being invited,” but also mentioned that should the students ask her publicist, she would most likely say no in consideration of her already busy schedule. Sorry, guys. *Feel free to insert, sad face here. *

When asked which book of hers and/or which character(s) in those books, does she favour the most, Margaret Atwood’s humor and ingenuity shined through her unwillingness to answer the question in order to protect the feelings of those in her books by saying she wouldn’t be able to tell us since her “books would overhear [her],” but that she could only say as most people do, “that [she] loves them each differently.” Ah, the personification of her books meant, too, that as their Creator, she was also unwilling to play favourites. No wonder she’s been so successful. Her books are healthy, and happy, and don’t bicker about who’s the best like most siblings do. (I would have chosen Zenia, from The Robber’s Bride because I found her to be equally sensual as she is frightening.)

But, don’t make any presumptions or judgements about Ms. Atwood when reading her books like one person did in stating that she was “negative about bio-geeks” and presumably about bio-engineering in light of the topic found in her book, MaddAddam. Ms. Atwood was keen to answer back quite sharply, “I’m not negative,” almost as if scolding a child who unfortunately misbehaved.

In posing his question, Ms. Atwood clearly spoke against her readers’ potential misjudgment and presumptions about her in the writing of her work and clarified by giving examples of bio-genetic work that she would welcome. One example she gave was some form of internal “insect repellant.” I forget the other example, but wholeheartedly agree with her on supporting the success of that particular project, should it exist or come into existence. How to mask our carbon dioxide output or imprint, which is how mosquitoes identify its prey through smell, would be a spectacular feat indeed. I know, since I went camping at the end of July this summer.

Thankfully, I braved a question myself by raising my hand and was privileged enough to be chosen from the audience to speak. I asked Margaret if she were a God’s Gardener and an Eve, what would be her particular speciality aside from speaking to bees? I had forgotten to expand on that by asking her what kind of message would she like to send or receive when speaking to bees, should she share that gift with her characters, Pilar and Toby? Or should she fail at completing her task of attaining her own immortality, what kind of tree would she like planted in her honour? See what happens when you get nervous? O, Mo-Hair, Liobam, and Firkin-Pigoon! I wasn’t as “swift” as Swift Fox in bedding her blue Craker-friends in sheer form of heightened libido and heightened curiosity. Bloody Painballer!

But, even more thankfully, when Margaret Atwood did attempt to answer my question, she not only gave it thoughtful consideration, I wasn’t bludgeoned for asking what I thought might come across as a silly question. (Phew.) And yes, I made eye contact with one of my favourite authors and spoke to her directly in a public event that gave me the privilege to do so! She told me that in that particular context, she would most likely be an Eve who specializes “in survival,” and joked about already having experienced enough with “mushrooms.” If you’ve read The Year of the Flood or MaddAddam, you’ll understand these references. If you haven’t, well, by all means, go out there and buy the books already!

We could be nearing a dystopia any day now. If I were to survive, I might just have to ask Margaret Atwood the secret to writing 59 books in a lifetime with a career that doesn’t look like it’s near any end any time soon. That, and how the heck can I make a great tasting coffee from dandelion root? Or befriend a blue Craker without becoming a mother or prophetess to the birth of an entirely new species? Also, how to kill a Painballer, as well as find out the best recipes for mushrooms that don’t necessarily mean I die or hallucinate into a dream-like Fallow State for more than 48 hours? Or—I could just ask her to sign my book… *Zara smiles sheepishly.*

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After the interview and question period with the audience was over, we were treated to a personal book signing. It was enough to want to bodycheck your peers as hockey players do in order to gain advantage on the ice. Security detail was watchful and available, but I was surprised Ms. Atwood didn’t have a personal entourage to accompany her.

While Indigo staff volunteers took photographs, her publicist intelligently played quality crowd control by wedging herself between you and the author for signing. She took your books from you and passed them onto Margaret as a way of quickening the pace, as well as protecting our beloved writer from unexpected and possibly embarrassing forms of adoration and invasion of space.

Simply said, if her publicist wasn’t there, we would have mowed her down with stifling hugs and unwanted gushing, idiotic small talk, and a slew of paparazzi photographs. Okay, correction. There was a slew of paparazzi photographs. It’s not easy being a literary star. (I’d say, “Canadian literary icon,” but I hear Ms. Atwood doesn’t like that.)

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Margaret Atwood signing her book for my partner, Esly. September 15, 2013. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Margaret Atwood signing her book for my partner, Esly. September 15, 2013. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.

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Margaret Atwood signing the Oryx and Crake trilogy for me. September 15, 2013. (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Margaret Atwood signing the “Oryx and Crake” trilogy for me. And me, smiling, ready to burst. September 15, 2013.               (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Margaret Atwood’s poise and patience is all part of her experience as a writer who has gained worldwide recognition. And we were so pleased to be able to meet her in person, as well as take home our tokens: personally signed books by the Canadian author we love.

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"Oryx and Crake" signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
“Oryx and Crake” signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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"The Year of the Flood" signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
“The Year of the Flood” signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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"MaddAddam" signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
“MaddAddam” signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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"The Door," the latest collection of Margaret Atwood's poetry, signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
“The Door,” the latest collection of Margaret Atwood’s poetry, signed. September 15, 2013. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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To read my book review of MaddAddam, you can visit here.

Also a special thanks to the event coordinators at Indigo, Random House of Canada, and the kind and patient patrons in line who made my wait an entertaining one, and to Margaret Atwood for giving us the privilege of meeting her in person.

Are you looking for upcoming events hosted by Indigo? Check out their website.

To connect with Margaret Atwood, you can find her online at a number of social networks:

Margaret Atwood’s Official website

Margaret Atwood on Facebook

Margaret Atwood on Twitter

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Have you had the opportunity of meeting Margaret Atwood in person?

If not Margaret Atwood, which authors have you been privileged to meet so far?

Given the opportunity to ask Margaret Atwood a question, what would you ask her?

What did you think of the book, MaddAddam?

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Until my next post, happy reading fellow bibliotaphes!

zara bird autograph

Book Review and Author Interview: The Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

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Book Review and Author Interview:

The Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

05.21.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

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Category: Fiction

Author: Abigail Tartellin

Format: Advanced Reading Copy, Trade Paperback, 348 pages

Publisher: Atria Books

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0580-4

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

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Summary from publisher:

The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won’t have as much control, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him – desire him – once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?

Written by twenty-five-year-old rising star Abigail Tarttelin, Golden Boy is a novel you’ll read in one sitting but will never forget; at  once a riveting tale of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity and a coming-of-age story like no other.

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Book Review by Zara from The Bibliotaphe Closet:

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin is a wonderfully sensitive novel that addresses the complicated issue of gender and speaks to the unique experience of what it means to be a young person who grows up with the burden of a secret identity—that he is a hermaphrodite or an individual who is intersex.

The convincing narrative is told in first-person by each character in the story:

Karen, a career-oriented lawyer whose self-conscious attitude especially toward outward appearances and the paranoia of what others may or may not think, compel her to be instinctively unhappy and controlling.

Steven, a moral and understanding father, yet busy lawyer whose active ambition tears him away from the knowledge and experience of his children’s emotional turmoil.

Max, an attractive, intelligent, athletic, obedient, and favoured all-star both amongst his peers and his family, is the center of the story’s narrative and the Golden Boy in which the book is named.

Daniel, Max’s highly intelligent, younger brother is an inquisitive, creative, but often overlooked little boy whose avid love for robots and video games affords him an escape from his mother’s critical eye.

Sylvie, a quirky and independent-thinking, social outcast befriends Max in a special way that essentially shows him a window to acceptance and love.

Hunter, Max’s childhood friend not only knows Max’s secret, but abuses it, which catapults and endangers their relationship to a complex level.

And Archie, a doctor who inherits the knowledge of Max’s crisis who learns to be an active advocate on his behalf and possibly others like him.

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The plot is as disturbing as it is moving where the internal landscape of its main character, Max, is both turbulent and empowering.

The book itself is about more than gender and what it means to be intersex, but also about the family dynamic, the complexity of relationship and identity, what it means to be authentic, and ultimately what it means to have and abuse power.

And yet even with the complexity of its subject, the book itself is easily readable and can both be read by the young adult (YA) audience as well as the adult one.

The tensions in the book as well as Max’s secret is primarily sourced from his mother whose high expectations not only stifle him, but emotionally neglect his younger brother.

And while what seems like the absence of Max’s father to a busy and demanding career, it is actually his father who is his most mature advocate regarding his intersexuality, next to Archie, Max’s doctor.

And the innocence of Daniel, Max’s younger, yet precocious brother is refreshing. While they are indeed close siblings, the weight of Max’s secret about his intersexuality is one which causes awkwardness and divide.

The story, while a tumultuous tale of growing up, is also a great testament to the self-discovery of sex, the complexity of gender, and the power of awareness and acceptance, as well as inclusivity.

It makes for an eye-opener to those who are unfamiliar with intersexuality and a reaffirmation and encouragement for those who experience its ambiguity.

Overall, The Golden Boy is an enjoyable narrative about a fascinating and rarely known subject.

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Characters:  3.5 stars

Pacing: 3.5 stars

Cover Design: 3 stars

Plot: 4 stars

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Zara’s Rating

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A special thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada on behalf of Atria Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an unpaid, honest review.

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Interview with Author:

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

  1. The subject of gender is a complicated one. What made you decide to write a book about the intersex experience?

I was thinking more than ever about how living as one gender or another defines us, and I began to believe that the differences between us are less biological and more to do with how we are treated by each other, and what treatment we accept. Having seen XXY in 2009, an Argentinian film featuring an intersex protagonist, I began to wonder how someone who was brought up as a male might feel to suddenly find their body insisting on their womanhood, and if approaching questions about gender from this perspective could highlight how gender makes a huge difference in our experience of the world, particularly in terms of our physical vulnerability and social expectations of how we should behave. In researching intersexuality, I came to understand that conditions that weren’t life threatening were being treated as such. I was particularly perturbed by statistics and stories about the loss of fertility and sensation experienced by individuals following operations on intersex children, and the parallel between this and the way women today disregard their own comfort to perform painful rituals to maintain their beauty and acceptability in society.

  1. What do you think is most challenging personally and socially for an individual who is intersex?

Society’s preconceptions and constructions surrounding gender force intersex individuals to make choices for the benefit of acceptance and not their physical health. In the case of Golden Boy, Max feels so much pressure from so many people to conform to these standards, but these standards are arbitrary and Max is a healthy individual. I do think standards are changing, and on blogs like Tumblr, there are certain courageous young people choosing or inventing their own gender labels, or deciding not to label themselves at all.

  1. How can people help in better supporting an individual who is intersex to ease those challenges?

Finding an online community like Tumblr where people can explore how to be, while remaining as anonymous as they like, could be really helpful in the case of intersex individuals. I think meeting people of any  ‘non-binary’ gender identity would help to realise that they are plenty of ‘different’ people in the world, and at the same time aiming to break down stereotypical gender roles within your community and household, so that there weren’t these strange, arbitrary lines drawn between us, would be beneficial to intersex people as well as women, men and LGBTQIA people in general.

  1. Do you think gender is more influenced by genetics, or an individual’s environment, or both?

I do strongly believe in genetic determinism, which is to say that the genes of an individual, along with environmental factors, determine the physical and behavioural development of an individual. I think more of our behaviour than we know can be attributed to our instinctive need to contribute to the evolution of our species, whether that behaviour be our urge to create art, or argue, or fall in love with a member of the same gender. When it comes to gender, aspects of our genetics, particularly our sex chromosomes, are significant factors in our development, but ‘gender’ itself is a human invention, a word we use to define the difficult to define, the in flux, the strange and unknowable. Like ‘gay’, ‘straight’ or ‘bi’, ‘woman’, ‘man’ and ‘intersex’ are finite terms human beings use to describe things that are not truly finite.

  1. The character, Max, in your book wasn’t told the details of his intersex genetic makeup, nor was his intersex spoken about or addressed by his family, and this seemed to be a crucial mistake in raising him since he had to deal with many unanswered questions about his gender growing up. How does a parent of a child who is intersex raise him/her in a healthy environment without imposing gender upon his/her child until which point the child may identify him/herself as a boy, girl, both, or neither?

To be honest, I think parents of children of all genders – intersex, female, male etc. – should attempt to bring them up neutrally with regards to gender. This is such a hard thing to do, particularly when there are many outside influences on children, and I applaud any parent who is making that really courageous and fairly self-sacrificial attempt. I think it’s important to read up on the subject to make yourself aware of how, for instance, toys are marketed in a gender-specific way, or girls are expected to be less rambunctious than male children, and how meek or fearful behaviour in a boy is often punished, but accepted in a girl. I’m currently reading Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind the Sex Differences by Cordelia Fine.

delusions of gender

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  1. You included statistics on intersex in your book. What is the ratio of individuals in the UK/Canada who identify themselves as men? As women?

I am not personally aware of a study that demonstrates the ratio of individuals who identify as male or female in Canada or the States. But if you find one, I’d love to be!

  1. Can babies who are conceived by individuals who are intersex, come to full-term and survive?

Not in every circumstance, but sometimes yes. For years intersex individuals were widely regarded as infertile by the medical community but, although certain conditions like CAH require immediate treatment to save the life of the baby, it is now known that intersex individuals can be fertile and thought that infertility in the past might have often been due to operations on the genitals at birth.

  1. Is it more likely for an individual who is intersex to have a baby who is also intersex?

Not that I’m aware. The rate of certain conditions is higher in some populations than others, but certainly not every intersex condition is passed down from a parent. As I understand it from my research, it is more likely for an intersex baby to be born to a female-male parental partnership, and for a female or male baby to be born from an intersex parent, than the alternative.

  1. Of all the characters in your book, who is your favourite one? Your least favourite one? Which character in your book was your favourite one to write?

Max is my favourite, but I’m very fond of Sylvie too. They are both heroes in my book. The Daniel/Max scenes were probably the most fun to write, but Max was certainly the most interesting character to be inside. I don’t hate anybody in the book, I try to present all characters – even the ‘bad guys’ – ambiguously.

  1. Of all the characters you have created, who do you believe is most like you?

There are aspects of me in every character in Golden Boy, but I’m probably most like Max and Sylvie. A little less bold than Sylvie, and a little more insistent than Max.

  1. What first inspired you to become a writer?

Everything inspires me to write. Writing is a compulsion for me and I can’t stop!

  1. Who are your favourite authors? Which authors do you think have greatly influenced your work?

When I was sixteen or seventeen, my English teacher gave me a copy of The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan, and I realised that I could write about anything, literally anything. Until then I had just read the classics, and although I love them, they didn’t show me that contemporary culture was an acceptable topic for a novel. I don’t have specific favourite authors, but one of my favourite books is The Good Women of China by Xinran.

cement garden

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good women of china

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  1. What are your top three favourite books?

I couldn’t choose three! I think the point of books is to read hundreds. Three of my favourites are The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson, The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and Just Kids by Patti Smith.

rum diary

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the womens room

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just kids

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  1. What book are you reading right now?

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani. It’s phenomenal, and because we share the same US and UK editors, I know Sahar and she is SO lovely, so for both these reasons, I recommend people read her book.

children of the jacaranda tree

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  1. What does your working schedule look like? What is your writing process like?

Right now it’s crazy, because we are in the run up to publication and at the London Book Fair so I am getting my website up, meeting my publishers, doing reading events – which I love! When I am writing, I switch that world off. When I am beginning a novel, the writing comes in dribs and drabs. When I reach 21,000 words (my tipping point), I run away from society and write for five to six hours non-stop every day to get the first draft done. Usually this takes about a month.

  1. What are you working on right now? If you’re working on a second novel, can you tell us a little bit about it?

My second novel has to be in to my publishers in a year. I have a few ideas but I haven’t begun to write them yet! I am looking forward to touring the US and Canada and making notes about the different places I go to. I think that might get me inspired!

  1. What are some techniques you use to combat writer’s block?

I think you just have to ease up on yourself and not be mean to yourself! I can push myself too hard, where the best writing comes instinctively. The best thing to do is to get out into the world and live your life – that’s the really inspiring stuff.

  1. What do you like to snack on when you read or write?

Sometimes to keep myself going I get jelly babies. It doesn’t help, but my Mum always gets them when she needs a bit of a sugar rush and I’ve picked up the habit just because it reminds me of her! I tend to neglect food when I’m writing because I get too distracted by it’s yumminess, but I always think a big, hearty meal after a good writing session is needed, because it does take a lot of energy! I like a nice beef burger and fries!

jelly-baby

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  1. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to when you’re working on a novel?

Usually nothing, but I do like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and if maps was playing over and over in the background, I think I could write. I listen to The National a lot but that makes me get up and dance too often.

Yeah, for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs!
Yeah, for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs!

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  1. Which is your favourite genre to read? To write?

To read: literary fiction, whatever that means. I like a book to be lusciously written, with beautiful prose and words I don’t know. I like to get to know a character and learn something meaningful about life. I don’t really read thrillers that often, unless they are the quiet, intense, character led kind. I think I’m still finding my voice in terms of writing. I enjoy writing in the first person, and I hope my use of language will continue to develop.

  1. What’s your favourite saying or quote?

“Worry is like a rocking chair, gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

That’s from Van Wilder, Party Liaison.

  1. You’re house is on fire! What three things would you take with you before escaping the smoke and the flames?

Laptop, humans (includes one teddy bear), hard drive.

  1. If you could have dinner with three people at the same time, who would they be and why?

My Mum, my Dad and my brother. It would be hilarious.

  1. If you could describe yourself in only three words, what words would you use?

Cheerful, hopeful and interested.

  1. What do you enjoy most about creative writing?

A lack of boundaries.

  1. What’s the best advice you can give someone who’s an aspiring writer?

Don’t throw everything else away. Live your life out in the world too, because a writer’s words are only as good as their inspiration.

Thanks, Abigail, for taking the time to share a little bit about yourself and your thoughts on your new novel, The Golden Boy! It was certainly a pleasure to read the book and to get to know you through this interview. Congratulations on your publication and the best of success for your next project! – Zara

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About the Author:

abigail tarttelin

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Abigail Tarttelin is a writer, actress, and the book editor for Phoenix magazine in the UK. She lives in London.

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Links:

Abigail Tarttelin’s Official Website

Follow Abigail on Twitter

Like Abigail on Facebook

Follow Abigail on Tumblr

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And for those of you in the GTA, Abigail Tarttelin’s going to be in town

on MAY 26, 2013!

Hope to see you there!

Ecard_GoldenBoy

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Have you picked up your copy of The Golden Boy yet?

What new thing did you learn about Abigail Tarttelin from her interview that you found the most intriguing?

Hope to see you at the Glad Day Bookshop on May 26 for The Golden Boy event!

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zara alexis blog signature

All Things Asian Event Post: 04.15.2012 – Asian Blogger Spotlight – Meet Nancy from Simple Clockwork!

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

All Things Asian: April 2-16

Zara’s All Things Asian Event Post:

Asian Blogger Spotlight:

Meet Nancy from Simple Clockwork!

The blogs: That Hapa Chick; Live, Laugh, I Love Books; and My Words Ate Me are hosting the All Things Asian Event featuring guest posts about anything and everything about the Asian culture!

My guest post blogging interview has been featured on one of the host blogs on April 13! Please visit ThatHapaChick to read my interview!

Each and every day, a guest post will be featured until April 16, 2012, so be sure to drop by and visit the hosting blogs! Just click on the All Things Asian button above that links to the host blog.

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As for me, I couldn’t pass up the chance to post a few articles as part of the All Things Asian Event on my own blog, alongside this important event because quite simply put: I’m Asian! And I’m especially honoured and driven to share the beauty of Asia with my readers to foster awareness, community, and inclusivity—all things that are especially important to me.

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An important part of being a blogger is also being a part of the blogging community. And in my experience, meeting fellow book bloggers have made my blogging experience more fulfilling.

In celebration of the All Things Asian Event, I’d like to introduce you to Nancy from the blog, Simple Clockwork:

Nancy Cudis of the blog, Simple Clockwork

1. What is your blog about?

Nancy: My blog used to be just a personal blog where I post my reflections on what struck me—the beauty of the clouds, the disadvantage of running to cross a street, the importance of valuing others—with the hope that readers will be inspired to do better in their relationships with others. I would make it a point to blog at least once a week. This is why I called the blog, Simple Clockwork, which is short of saying “time is precious.”

One time, I was merely checking the Internet when I stumbled upon one blog (I’m so sorry I forgot the name) and discovered an online book blogging community called Book Blogs. Realizing that books are something I could talk my heart out with the passion of a bull, I then slowly shifted the niche of my blog to book blogging. I still post personal reflections whenever I can.

Zara: Blogging is a wonderful platform to share your thoughts and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

2. When and how did you start blogging?

Nancy: I started “blogging” in 2008. I was a general assignments news reporter then business writer for the same local paper at the time, so for my own archiving purposes, I placed in the next three years, almost all published articles in one blog called, No Mind’s Eye, which surprisingly received many comments and questions from all over the world than I could walking in my own province where the news come from. When I quit news reporting, my blog went defunct as well, but I never deleted it, believing that it could still be a source of information for many.

In April 2010, the boyfriend and I suffered a crime under the hands of a thief, an incident that sent the boyfriend to the hospital with three bloody bullets. There and then, I realized jobs don’t matter, except putting food on the table. I should be doing what I want to do. I should love the boyfriend more than the job, because he deserves it for being caring and patient after all the careless decisions I’ve made during our relationship. I should stop pleasing everyone. Well, it’s quite a long dramatic story.

In October 2011, after I found myself ready to tell my story, I started Simple Clockwork to subtly share these realizations.

Zara: I’m sorry to hear about such an unfortunate incident! It’s interesting to see how our work can influence one format and evolve, through different circumstances, to another.

3. What genres do you enjoy reading and/or writing?

Nancy: I’m an eclectic reader and a consistent writer (that is, I hope so). I enjoy books in these genres: Young Readers (particularly children and teen mysteries); Short Stories (particularly classics); (clean) Romance; Mystery/Detective/Adventure; Historical Fiction; Christian Fiction; Classics; Fantasy; General Fiction; and Humour. I’m beginning to appreciate Science Fiction and Poetry lately.

As for writing, well, I wouldn’t say I’m already a professional writer. But I am at that level wherein I could imagine myself writing my mind and heart away all day long. I started my book, “Plucked Strings,” several months ago. I’m now in Chapter 5. I also returned to writing short stories after five years. My first is The Decision and the second is The Rise and Fall of the Romulo Family. I’m a devotee of realism with trite moral ideas. And it shows in all my works.

Zara: As a creative writer myself, I love what the short story can offer. It’s often under-appreciated, but in consideration of its size, it takes a gifted writer to certainly write a good short story. And, yes, I’m quite a fan of poetry, too!

4. What are you currently reading now?

Nancy: Now this is the question I would like to gracefully veer away because I’m quite ashamed to say I got lots of books in my currently reading and read-to shelf. For now, I’m currently reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Salamanca by Filipino writer Dean Francis Alfar. I finished reading Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones last night.

THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett
SALAMANCA by Filipino writer, Dean Francis Alfar
SAVE THE DATE by Jenny B. Jones

Zara: No need to feel ashamed! I don’t readily admit how many books are on my “to-read” either! The list is far too long! (Just check my Goodreads account…you’ll see!) I love the book, The Secret Garden and I look forward to reading Salamanca because of your recommendation.

5. Who are your favourite authors?

Nancy: Most of my favourite authors are short story writers. They are Irish writers Oscar Wilde and Maria Edgeworth; American writer O. Henry; and Filipino writers Amador DaguioManuel Arguilla, and Paz Marquez-Benitez.

For books, well, there are lots, including Jose Rizal, Charlotte Bronte, Edith Wharton, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Sara Paretsky, George McDonald, Alyson Holman, Margaret Atwood, Jody Hedlund, Barbara Freethy, Arlene Chai, David Sedaris… really, I could go on and on.

On the other side, I also enjoy the poems by Walt Whitman.

Paz Marquez-Benitez

Zara: My favourite short story writer, myself, is J.D. Salinger to name one. And Walt Whitman showed me a great appreciation of the long poem. I look forward to reading works by the Filipino writers that you’ve mentioned.

6. What do you look for in considering a new book to read?

Nancy: I guess it depends on the weather. I mean, a few days ago, one of my close cousins died, so I needed something perky and fun to lift my grieving mood even a notch, so I read Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones, which I really enjoyed because of the admirable wit and good heart of the two main characters.

On normal days, though, I would look up blogs for reviews. I subscribed to many blogs, including yours, through email so that I’ll be regularly posted. I’ve found a lot of good books from people who are honest enough to recommend titles that turn out to be treasures, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose wonderful children’s books I would have merely passed by at the store if not for the strong recommendation of blog friends who are into classics.

Zara: I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your cousin…which makes even this interview more meaningful in that you took the time to participate in it even in consideration of such difficult timing. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of the blogging community. I find, too, that it’s a great resource of literary information and reading and writing support. (Please send my sympathy to your family…you are in my prayers.)

7. What do you look for as you review a book?

Nancy: As long as the plot is unique, the grammar is good, if not perfect, and the characters are convincing, then I got a good book I will be excited to review about.

Zara: I always like to give a book a chance. Every book has potential and you just never know you’ll love something (or hate it) if you don’t open it up and read it.

8. What do you most enjoy about blogging?

Nancy: The sharing experience; that is, I get to tell my thoughts about books and life in general, and learn a lot from others through sharing. Blogging is merely a platform. And the fact that I get to exercise my writing through blogging is bonus fun.

Zara: I agree! It’s a great place to self-publish and share.

9. How do you envision your blog five years from now?

Nancy: Simple. It will be as organized as I want to be, tackling more classics and general fiction and discovering more new-to-me authors than I ever had in the past five years. I joined The Classics Club at A Room of One’s Own, which is a good thing for me because I want to read as many classics as I could.

Through my weekly Short Stories on Wednesdays (originally created by Risa of Breadcrumb Reads), I also hope to encourage more bloggers to read short stories that is often considered a neglected genre. At the same time, I will be writing more short stories posted on my blog.

Zara: I haven’t read as many classics as I would have liked and I have a library collection of them! And please do continue to write short stories. It is a genre that needs more attention in the blogging world. I can’t wait to see how your blog evolves over time.

10. What’s the best advice you can give an aspiring writer/blogger?

Nancy: Oh, that’s tough. I only have seven months of legitimate blogging experience and on-and-off fiction writing practice since grade school. Here’s what I could extract from these experiences, though: Write, write, write. On whatever platform. Doesn’t have to be blogging. And when you do so, write with your heart; meaning, write to express, not to impress. While that may sound boringly cliché, just try doing these golden rules and see what writing miracles your hands could weave.

Zara: Yes, I’ve always found that writing is most difficult when I can get bogged down by self-consciousness. It’s great advice to find your own “voice” and write genuinely about things that move you. Great advice, Nancy!

11. What part of Asia are you from?

Nancy: Philippines! The country is divided into three. I live in the central part, the Visayas, specifically the Central Visayas where my family live in a modest home in the beautiful province of Cebu. Like the rest of the country, my province is tropical and hot, especially when April and May are summer months. But these months mean regular visits to the beaches that surround the island. Weee!

Zara: I have yet to visit Cebu. Maybe when I visit next, we can get together and you can show me all its best parts!

12. What are your favourite Asian foods?

Nancy: You mean Filipino foods? Lots! I love our own local cuisine. My favourites, all native foods, are the following:

Dishes: Lechon (roasted pig), Buwad (dried fish), Liempo (Pork Belly),

Pork Sisig, Kaldereta, Nilat-ang Baboy, Tinolang Isda, Gambas,

Grilled Squid, etc.

Kaldereta

Desserts: Halo-halo, Dried Mangoes

Halo-Halo

Snacks: Bibingka, Budbud, Masareal, Puto, Chicharon, Otap, Ampao

Chicharon

I could go on and on because apart from writing and reading, I love eating!

Zara: Now, I’m inspired to visit our local Filipino store and do some grocery shopping. One of the things I love best about going home to the Philippines is EATING. The food is diverse and SO GOOD!

13. Who are your favourite Asian authors?

Nancy: I think I already mentioned them, including Filipino writers Amador Daguio, Manuel Arguilla, and Paz Marquez-Benitez; they’re all dead, by the way. As others say, I love my own. Cebu has its own wonderful living writers, such as Simeon Dumdum, Erlinda Kintanar-Alburo, Merlie Alunan, Eileen Mangubat, Myke Obenieta, Mayette Tabada, and Lorenzo Niñal, among others.

Zara: Thanks for sharing these, Nancy. It’s important for the Filipino community to uphold its native writers. I’m going to look them up and work my way into reading their collections. Thank you.

Eileen Mangubat

14. Who are your favourite Asian artists?

Nancy: Tough one. I never had the privilege of studying and appreciating series of works of professional artists, so at the moment I wouldn’t know which ones are my favorites. But I would love to learn more about ancient Chinese art; it looks unique and strong. I would also like to study the contemporary Cebuano art through contemporary artists such as Sio Montera, Karl Roque, Wenceslao Cuevas, and Vidal Alcoseba Jr., among others.

Zara: Art is my second love to books and writing (or maybe a close third  to coffee!) so I’m really pleased that you’ve shared some Filipino artists that I can discover. And ancient Chinese art is beautiful.

Visual artist, Dennis "Sio" Montera

15. Who are your favourite Asian musicians?

Nancy: I wish I could say Adele, but since you’re asking for Asians, I’d go for patriotic music artists whose songs speak of pride of our country. They include Gloc-9, Apo Hiking Society, Parokya ni Edgar (now defunct), Francis Magalona, Bamboo (now defunct), Freddie Aguilar, Wolfgang, Yano, The Youth, and Gary Valenciano. I’m sure you’re familiar with many of them, Cha. I have a soft spot for the oldies, you see.

Zara: Nancy, I grew up listening to Freddie Aguilar since he’s one of my Dad’s favourite Filipino musicians! The song, Anak, by Freddie Aguilar, below still makes me nostalgic every time I hear it!

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16. What is your favourite Asian celebration?

Feast of Sto. Niño every third Sunday of January! It’s an awesome way to start a new year, a chance to give thanks to the Lord and asks for forgiveness and protection from harm. I look forward to the procession, which is very overwhelming, what with millions of people walking peacefully and in harmony. Then there’s the mass, too, which never fails to overwhelm me with joy and awe over the spiritual unity of the Cebuanos. After these religious activities, there’s the Sinulog, the exciting sideline activity of the feast with the colourful parade of dances and bright clothes, all dancing to the joy that is Sto. Niño.

Zara: Oh! I think I know when I’ll be booking my flight back home…what a wonderful and festive celebration! I want to go!

Celebrating the Feast of Santo Niño.

17. If you could describe your culture in only three words, what would they be? (In English and in your native language.)

Cha, I can only think of two:

Beautiful. Maanyag.

Pride. Garbo.

18. What part of your Asian culture would you like to see improve?

Nancy: I’d say the colonial mentality of the Filipinos should stop. Let us take pride of our past, our ancestors, and in our culture and heritage before and now. Just because we were colonized several times over long periods does not mean we should feel inferior about the things that are endemic to us as a people. We should visit the museums and other heritage sites or read books or converse lengthily with elders or veteran soldiers, for us to be reminded of what our ancestors and heroes went through to earn the freedom we are enjoying now. Sorry, Cha, I can be passionate about this subject. I love my place after all.

Zara: No need to apologize, Nancy. I agree with you 100%. It’s important to know and reconcile ourselves to our history as well as honour our past and better recognize ourselves from when, where, and how we came to be—with pride. It’s this belief that has motivated me to participate in the All Things Asian event and feature the Philippines on my blog. Stay passionate! You’re right.

19. What part of your Asian culture makes you the most proud?

Nancy: The hospitality of many Filipinos is something many foreign visitors could not refuse. We are always armed with a ready smile… and lots of food! No matter how poor a household is, the poor family will find ways and means to get their visitors comfortable and well-stuffed!

Zara: Yes, the hospitality of the Filipino is quite unmatched anywhere else in the world. It’s integral to who we are as a people.

20. List three of your favourite Asian blogs (Please include URLs).

Only two: CarryUsOff Books and The Reading Life

Zara: Thank you so much, Nance, for taking the time to share a little about yourself, your blog, and the beauty and diversity that Philippines has to offer! I look forward to rediscovering Philippines with fresh eyes and to adding more Filipino writers, artists, and musicians to my personal library. It’s been a pleasure!

You can find Nancy’s blog here: Simple Clockwork

You can also find Nancy’s blog on Facebook.

Nancy is also on Goodreads.

Be sure to visit her and follow! She’s a great Filipina and book blogger!

Note: For those of you who don’t know, my family and Filipino nickname is Chacha, which is why Nancy refers to me as Cha throughout the interview.

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For previously posted features by The Bibliotaphe’s Closet for the All Things Asian Event, visit the Event Page here.

Zara Alexis