Category — Interviews

Bye-Bye! Merry, Merry! See you Later! 2

December 16, 2015

 

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The time has come for our very last post of the year. Heads still reeling that it is December and in dire need of some rest, Ria and I are going to take a little holiday and see you, recharged and refreshed, in 2016. But before we do we thought we’d take a look at the Year That Was…

 

The Best Bits of 2015:

Hannah: So many best bits! A trip to Melbourne to see friends and brief holiday to Waitomo caves were both highlights. Work wise – it was a thrill, relief and honour to launch my second book, Season of Salt and Honey, at my local bookstore and I loved the chance to try my hand at food styling with Bonnie Machell of Arkade. But the little moments, the domestic things, as dull as they may sound – renovating our lounge, growing our own vegetables, completing the Run Auckland series with my sister – might have trumped the big stuff. I wished to be more settled in 2015 and that wish came true. For a gal with the heart of an adventurer, the pleasure that has come from that has been something of a revelation.

Ria: Salt Spring Island summer days with family–beach afternoons and ice cream evenings, cows to gaze at and hills to climb on bicycles. Going to Toronto (for the second time ever!) to participate in the Forest of Reading celebration with amazing, talented authors, enthusiastic and inspiring readers and the most bad-ass librarians anywhere around. Seeing my baby turn one and my big girl turn four. Renovating our kitchen in the biggest possible way, and loving the result. Picnics balanced on logs at the beach, golden fall hikes, evenings on the couch as the rain pours down.

 

A lesson you learned or re-learned in 2015:

Ria: Kindness to myself is where it all starts. Beating myself up is unproductive, reductive, violent and mean. It’s also really easy to do, so just stop it. Stop. It. Right, Liz?

Hannah: “To every thing there is a season…A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…” Whilst so easy to lose myself in the frustration, disappointment or grief of a particular situation, I was reminded that every thing has a season, that some years are good vintages and others not so much. It’s simply part of it. When it’s great – rejoice; when it’s sucky – know it is temporary.

 

Favourite food moment of 2015:

Hannah: Meeting Antonio Carluccio, the godfather of Italian cooking. He was placed next to me during a function in November and was every bit as frank, wise and flirtatious as you might expect. I think the cherry-topped tiramisu was my favourite dish of the evening but, like all the best food memories, the context and company were even more special.

Ria: Taking a stellar pie-making course with my friend, Tina, led by the amazing Chef Heidi Fink. We learned that not all pie-worthy apples are created equal, that pie crust is more forgiving than you think, and when in doubt, make a galette.

 

Wisdom or resolution to take into the new year:

Ria: Be more present instead of….everywhere. Multi-tasking can be useful, but the (big) little life things slip past if you’re not watching.

Hannah: Stop. Breathe. Soak it up. The older ladies in the library who stopped me and coo-ed over B1 when she was just a baby were right – “It goes so fast”.

 

We hope 2015 has been good to you and we wish you and yours very merry and happy holidays. May you eat too much, laugh too loud and feel the love and joy of those you cherish the most around you. We can’t wait to see and hear from you in the new year.

With love and good cheer,

Hannah & Ria x x x

 

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In: Books & Reading, Food, From Hannah, From Ria, Interviews, Kids and Parenting, Seasonal, Writing

F&F Book Club: Season of Salt and Honey 2

September 2, 2015

We’re excited to bring you the inaugural Fork & Fiction Book Club post, featuring our Hannah’s newest book (just released in North America!), Season of Salt and Honey. I asked a few avid readers to join me for a chat about their experience of the book, and even though this is a transcript of that conversation, let’s pretend to hear the clinking of teacups and smell fresh-baked scones in the air. Or you could go find yourself something similar and make it really authentic as you read…

 

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Thanks for sitting down with me, Aimee and Michele! I’m excited to get deep into the deliciousness of this book (hee hee). And who can resist that cover? Okay, let’s start with a simple one…

 

What was your favourite moment of the story?

 

Aimee: I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say the surprise involving Frankie’s fiancé near the end! I laughed and cried. It was one of my favorite story twists ever.

Ria: Oh yeah, I know the surprise you mean! The one that was really ironic, right? Is that saying too much? This isn’t really one moment, but I loved Frankie’s first few days in the cabin. How the feel of the place was revealed, and her connection to it. Even as the reader, it felt kind of like I was settling into a big tree fort for the night—an awkward, rustic place, but something romantic and exciting too.

Michele: I’d say when she connects with her sister again, and has a few ah-ha moments on how she managed to get away with a few things when she was a child because the family always blamed her little sister.

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In: Books & Reading, Food, From Ria, Interviews, Writing

Story of a tiny house : And then… 7

July 22, 2015

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A warm welcome back to our three-part series about “Tiny” – the twenty square metres house being built by my sister, Kendall, her husband, Steve, and contributed to by their own tiny one, Elvie (22 months). We first checked in on Kendall and Steve at the end of January, this year. Back then, they were just starting out on their journey, with a trailer bed and some plywood on a bit of land, living in a tent and anticipating all the challenges and rewards to come. The days were sunny and long, the project, in stages yet to be known, lying ahead in much the same fashion. It was the beginning of the story.

 

Now, in July, and deep in the southern hemisphere winter, Kendall and Steve are well into their tiny house journey. Tiny has walls! And a roof! As you can see from the photos Tiny is really taking shape and it’s much easier now to imagine the end result. For them and all of us curious onlookers it’s a thrill to see Tiny becoming real and tangible, an idea that became a thing, a dream coming to life. Even if the fact that they built it with their very own four hands still rattles my mind…

 

Sharing the details of Kendall and Steve’s sea-change and fledgling adventure here on Fork and Fiction was something new for both of them and there was some trepidation about how it might be received. I was nervous too, wanting to make sure I did their (very personal) story justice. Hoping I wouldn’t totally stuff it up and make for awkward family dinners for months to come! Thankfully, the kindness and support has been unequivocal, as Kendall and Steve explain below:

 

What was it like telling your story on the first Tiny House post and how did people react?

S: Surprising! The power of social media… I honestly didn’t consider that many people would be interested in what we are doing. I saw this as a personal thing for me and my little family and that a few mates and immediate family might be interested but not what we received after last time. it was quite uplifting.
K: The response was very motivating. Everybody was positive and interested. We are not always the most communicative people (understatement) so it was great to let everyone know what we were doing in one fell swoop.

 

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In: From Hannah, Interviews, Kids and Parenting

How She Does It: Rachelle Delaney 2

June 3, 2015

We are excited to present another installment of our ongoing How She (or He) Does It series, wherein we ask the deep questions about–you guessed it–food and books. We interview fascinating, passionate people who are striving to balance life’s demands with their drive to create so that we can learn from them and, of course, share their thought-provoking responses with our readers. We’ve had quite the lineup of interviewees over the past few years and here they are if you wish to get caught up:

Louise Lamont, literary agent

Tabitha Emma, graphic designer

Zoe Daniel, journalist

Suzanne Cleary, ceramic jewelry artist

P.J. Tierney, author

Ryan Zuvich, chef

Marissa Stapley, author

Theodora Armstrong, photographer

And now, without further ado, we present Rachelle Delaney, the acclaimed author of multiple-award nominated novels for children. In 2010 Rachelle was named the top under-30 author in Canada and she continues to prolifically produce witty, smart and thoroughly absorbing novels that can (and should!) be read by readers of all ages. Rachelle is the definition of adventurous:  she’s always trying new things and travels to a new place around the world at least every year. She’s gone to circus school, babysat sloths and hung out with orangutans. She’s recently learned to play the fiddle and, as you’ll see below, she’s now trying her hand at visual art. Her novels are equally adventurous, from shipfuls of pirate children to dogs riding the subway in Moscow. It’s always a thrill to speak to her about what she does and how she does it, and we hope you enjoy this interview as much as we have.

 

Welcome to Fork & Fiction, Rachelle! We’re delighted to have you with us. First off, can you tell us what it is you do and where you live?

I write novels for middle-grade readers (ages 8 to 12), including The Metro Dogs of Moscow and The Circus Dogs of Prague. I also usually have a day job—I’ve spent the last four years working in communications and as a project lead for the David Suzuki Foundation, a Canadian environmental organization.

I consider several parts of Canada home, including the west coast, where I spent most of the last 15 years, and Alberta, where I grew up. But for the last year I’ve been calling Toronto home.

Tourist in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tourist in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Can you give us some background for how you came to be doing what you do?

I didn’t ever plan on, or really think about, being a published author. I just always wrote, from the time I was about eight until I reached university, at which point I decided to study it more seriously though still not with publishing in mind. My first degree was in environmental studies and creative writing, and I went on to do an MFA in Creative Writing (where I met Fork and Fiction’s own Ria Voros). My Masters thesis was my first children’s novel, which was published a few years after I graduated.

Way to start strong out of the gates! What’s been your proudest career moment so far?

I’ve published five novels in the last six years, which has been exciting and intense and sometimes totally exhausting. But I’m relieved to report that the thousands of hours I’ve spent writing (and rewriting, and rewriting again) seem to be paying off—I can see and feel myself improving as a writer. So I think my proudest moment was the publication of my last novel, The Circus Dogs of Prague. I knew it was my best yet, and also the one that feels the most me.

I know what you mean; the more you work, the more you know yourself as a writer. What about your work gives you the most joy?

One of the things I love best about writing is that it allows me to study so many things. I spend vast amounts of time (sometimes years) researching and planning before I ever actually start writing a novel. This usually involves interviewing interesting people and travelling wherever possible. When I wrote The Metro Dogs of Moscow, I took the opportunity to spend some time in Russia tracking down stray dogs on the subway. I’ve spent the past three years taking in circus performances for a yet-unpublished novel. And because I’m a firm believer in “method writing,” I had to dabble (albeit clumsily) in some circus skills classes myself. Sometimes research is painful.

Circus

 

 Who is your biggest cheerleader?

My mother. Not only does she read everything I write and offer feedback on drafts, she has gamely accompanied me on a few research trips, including the one to Russia, which involved frostbite, getting lost on the Moscow subway, and a mildly traumatic afternoon the St. Petersburg State Circus, which inspired The Circus Dogs of Prague. She’s a trooper.

Sounds like you’ve had some great adventures together. What do you enjoy least about your work?

Spending vast amounts of time by myself. In my late-twenties I spent a few years freelancing, working from home, often in pyjamas, on my novels and other writing contracts. I was constantly being told I was “living the dream,” so it took me a little while to realize how much I hated it. I mean, I adore writing, but I also absolutely need to work with people. Finding a balance between human interaction and alone time is often tricky.

What do you still hope to achieve creatively?

Confession: this year I decided that, at nearly 35 years old, I would learn to draw. I’d done everything in my power to avoid drawing since about age 10, when I got it in my head that I had zero artistic ability. Whether illustration will ever become part of my creative work will not, I imagine, be determined for a very long time. But I’m loving the challenge and the way it wakes up a different part of my brain.

What quality do you think is most important for a writer to be successful?

Perseverance and dedication. Good writers might have some innate talent, but they get really good by sitting down and writing, every day. My dad used to coach every sport imaginable, and he always told me, while we were practicing lay-ups or the triple-jump or overhand serves, that if things are worth doing, they’re worth doing poorly. And that goes for writing as well.

Good advice, Dad! I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m berating myself over a poorly written paragraph. How do you juggle the work you do with your other demands and responsibilities?

I try as much as possible to make writing my first priority. On my days off, I start the day with writing (well, usually after a run or a yoga session. Otherwise I get too restless). I have a deadline, I’ll get up super early and squeeze in writing time before I go to work as well.

What book made a big impact on your life?

I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak during a pretty formative time in my writing education, and I remember needing to be alone for a few hours after finishing it. I think I felt equal parts shattered by the story and gobsmacked by how Zusak had managed to connect the reader so completely to these characters (including the narrative voice of Death. Death!). An author friend of mine summed it up nicely when she said, “I had no idea you could do that!”

I also think that much of what I know about humour I learned from The Princess Bride by William Goldberg. I’d say anyone who knows me well would agree with that.

Who is your favourite author and why?

I have so many much-loved authors. Isabelle Allende for beautiful magic realism. Jessica Grant for her near-perfect debut, Come Thou Tortoise, which I so admire for being at once hilarious and profound. In the world of contemporary kids books, I’ve recently discovered Katherine Rundell, who wrote Rooftoppers, a delightful middle-grade novel set on the rooftops of Paris.

Digital reader or paper?

Both. I love having a physical library, and some books, like poetry books, just feel like they should be in print. But e-books have kind of revolutionized my travels. No longer do I have to lug around a suitcase or backpack full of novels—they’re all on the iPad.

Who would be on your dream dinner party guest list?

I recently saw the film Iris, so Iris Apfel is definitely invited for her wisdom and sass. Also Maria Popova, the brainy and eloquent creator of Brainpickings. Maybe David Sedaris for hilarity? Oh, and Maria Tagliaferro, the pastry chef at Helmut Newcake (more on that below). Who would, of course, bring cake.

Do you eat while you read? If so, what?

So I recently developed a thing for mug cake. I know, I know—microwaves. But mug cake, guys! In my humble opinion, an adorable little warm cake in a mug is basically the perfect reading snack.

Oh, I just looked up that link…mug cake looks like it’s in my near future. What was the best meal of your life?

I have celiac disease—basically a severe gluten allergy—which you might assume would make travelling a little challenging. But I travel a lot and don’t find it too tricky, especially in France, which happens to be one of my favourite places. So this past November, I was on my way home from Laos and decided to extend a four-hour layover in Paris for four days (because how could I not?). And several people, including my baked goods guru Ria, told me that I had to check out Helmut Newcake, which has basically revolutionized gluten-free desserts. We’re talking true Parisian-quality pastries. My visit resulted in my eating a giant Madame de Fontenay for dinner. And it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever tasted. Tears might have been involved.

 

 

Mme de Fontenay

 

What is always in your fridge and/or pantry?

Right now I live by myself and have a bad habit of only buying food for a few days at a time, so sometimes my fridge is embarrassingly bare. But there is almost always quality dark chocolate around. Because priorities.

What is the most important non-food thing in your kitchen?

My moka pot. I know there are far more sophisticated ways of making espresso, but I just love the ritual of boiling water, heating the pot, and watching the espresso rise out of the spout and (if I’ve done it just right) form a nice crema. I take my coffee to my table and sit down with a book that has nothing to do with the day ahead, and I spend fifteen minutes or so reading before running off to catch the subway. I think of it as taking back my day before I devote it to other things.

Who are you most inspired by?

I recently discovered the illustrator Lisa Congdon, who inspires me not only because she’s crazy talented and accomplished, but because she didn’t take up drawing until her thirties. She’s always very honest about being a “late bloomer,” and how she gets braver and freer, in art as in life, as she gets older. I’m into that right now.

How would you sum up your life in three words?

I’m going to go with this, found on a building in Toronto.

Toute est possible

 

Thank you so much for giving us insight into your writing (and eating) life, Rachelle! We wish you all the best on your next book; no doubt it will involve a lot of adventure…and maybe a trapeze or two? We can only hope!

 

XO

R & H

 

 

In: Books & Reading, From Ria, How She (or he) Does It, Interviews, Writing

How She Does it: Suzanne Cleary (+ Giveaway!) 6

March 17, 2015

I’ll confess: sometimes I use How She Does It posts to learn more about my own friends; incredible friends who have lived complex, interesting lives, overcome challenges, set forth on new paths. Because there are some questions that seem too probing, too nosy to casually ask on email or Facebook (curiosity is a writer’s curse and blessing) so I shamelessly use this forum to do just that. Besides, how selfish it would be to keep their incredible stories to myself when you too can be enthralled and inspired by them!

 

Suzanne Cleary and I met when we were both working at Medibank Private in Melbourne. We were both young New Zealanders keen for fun and adventure. We shared stories and drinks and become good friends. I have always been entranced by Suz’s energy, ambition, intelligence, thirst for knowledge and fearless, independent spirit. Suz and her husband, Dave, stayed with us when we lived in Macau and then again in Vancouver. Not long after her stay with us in Canada I learned she had suffered a terrible accident in Colombia. Only through this interview did I come to appreciate the full extent – “I was crossing the road and was hit by a large motorbike. The impact of the blow sent me flying 20 metres down the road and I landed instantly smashing my pelvis in several places. The impact with the motorbike broke my hip, and my left hand (my dominant one) was badly mangled in the bike’s headlight resulting in 3 severed tendons and several fractures in my hand and fingers. Amazingly my spine, neck and legs were all untouched, but I did have a haematoma in my brain (which meant operations to stabilize my pelvis had to be delayed several days).”

 

These days Suz has not only recovered from her major accident and trauma but is the artist + operator of her own ceramics business, Tess + Trix, works as a Senior Strategic Transport Planner (urban / town planner specialising in transport) and is Mama-bear to a darling 14-month old daughter I recently had the pleasure of meeting. This woman is, in short, an absolute inspiration! But how did she get from a debilitating accident to this happy, busy, creative, fulfilled life? My curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out every little detail.

 

Suz

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In: From Hannah, How She (or he) Does It, Interviews