By Nora Vasconcelos
By Nora Vasconcelos
“I think Artificial needed the time it has taken me to write it, to understand where the characters were going, and what journey the book would take me on.”
One of the most amazing things about internet is the way it connects us to the rest of the world, giving us the chance, not only to learn most of what happens everywhere immediately, but also, to achieve goals that for some time they might have seem difficult to reach.
That is the case of the international online challenge that every November thousands of writers around the world take. Thanks to the initiative National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, many manuscripts are completed in one month, from which, published and unpublished books give a sense of completion and success to those who dedicate their days and nights in order for them to make their dreams come true.
Last November, I met Ian Robinson, a writer from Hertfordshire, England, who lives with his wife and family, as well as with a multitude of pets. At that time he had just started with the NaNoWriMo challenge and I found very interesting how this project became the incentive he needed to complete an old manuscript.
Ian spent most of his early years living abroad, and worked in the public sector for 27 years until retiring this year, then he launched his own business, Bladeshunner Ltd.
A little more than one month has passed since the beginning of our conversations about his writing aims, and now, that he’s achieve his goal, he’s been very nice and has shared with me some of his experiences while working on his manuscript:
How was it that you decided to be part of the NaNoWriMo challenge?
I used it as an opportunity to complete my first novel rather than starting a new one. My novel, Artificial, had been with me for over thirteen years and I was half way through, so I decided it was time to finish what I had set out to complete. I had also had the privilege of meeting other writers and authors who have provided advice and encouragement.
Once you committed yourself to this challenge, how difficult was it to go on with it?
I think writing is as tough as we wish to make it. Personally, I try and enjoy the process, and if that means a book takes years to complete, then so be it.
I don’t believe in forcing myself to write a certain number of words each day. The discipline of writing each day I found to be the most beneficial thing. It makes you routined and gifts you the space to do what you enjoy. I reached the 50,000 word limit simply because I wrote more on some days than others.
I think Artificial needed the time it has taken me to write it, to understand where the characters were going, and what journey the book would take me on. After all, there are plenty of things in life we have to do that we would rather not, so why make writing one of them!
Which was the toughest part of achieving your goal, and how did you manage to cope with the difficult times?
The toughest part was giving myself the time to write, giving myself permission to write, that was the biggest challenge. My writing times were when the kids were all in bed, then I wrote. Having my family’s support during the process was a major help.
What is your manuscript about?
Artificial is about following one man through a year of his life. The main character is a man called Arthur Wint, an unassuming type of guy who is in his late thirties, living at home with his mother.
The book is set in the mid-eighties, just before the Miners strike in the UK, and is set within the county of Nottingham. Arthur is a gardener by trade and he works for an eccentric retired Psychiatrist. From his interactions with her and others, we see how his life evolves. The book is a mixture of humour, life, music and crime!
What was your inspiration for this novel?
In the beginning it was to present my wife with a book I had written, as she collects first editions, particularly the first thousand Penguin books. This still is my purpose, but in addition I also wanted to write a book that a reader would find entertaining and thought provoking. I intend when published to donate 10% of year-end sales to the Muscular Dystrophy Charity.
In my spare time, when not with the family, I enjoy music, play drums, I’m an ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy campaign, and play wheelchair basketball with The London Titans.
Now that you’ve completed your manuscript, what’s next?
I have three other novels I outlined when I first started Artificial. I kept the notes and will look at one of these to resurrect it and continue with it whilst editing this one, and looking for a publisher. But as in life, where next?.. is always an open and unknown area.
By Nora Vasconcelos
Beyond the continuous hustle and bustle that characterizes the capital of Mexico, there’s always something new that transforms this city into a magical place.
Very often, unexpected pieces of art pop up on the streets and manage to surprise locals and visitors with their colorful forms and themes that usually bring a smile to anyone who spares a second or a minute from their usually tight schedule.
A recent example of this was an installation presented in different areas of the city by Guitar Town. Thanks to this initiative several 3-meter high guitars showed around the city different characteristics of the Mexican culture, both ancient and modern.
The guitars are gone now, but the photos and the good memories that these unique pieces of art brought to many people will remain for a long while.
By Nora Vasconcelos
In 2010, Dorothy Kern started her blog Crazy for Crust because she wanted to increase the attention towards the pie crusts. But her love for desserts led her to create new fun and delicious recipes.
Throughout the years she started to see how entertaining and tasty was to transform two desserts into a totally different one. It was the beginning of a new trend and of a new book.
Dessert Mash-Ups presents recipes that combine all sort of textures and flavors into colorful and mouthwatering creations such as Sconuts, Blueberry Muffin Waffles and Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bites.
Going through the pages of this book, recently published by Ulysses Press, is a total delight for dessert lovers, either because one wants to try them all, or because it’s really tempting to go straight to the kitchen and to start preparing them.
Last week, Dorothy was kind enough as to answer some questions for me about her book, here are her answers:
- When and how did you come up with the idea of “mashing up” desserts?
Actually, I’ve been doing it from the very beginning on my blog, Crazy for Crust. One of my earliest recipes was what I called a “Pieookie” which was a shortbread cookie shaped like a pie. Ever since then I’ve been mashing up desserts on a regular basis, so writing a book on the topic was just a natural progression.
- How did you decide which dessert could work well with which other one?
I tried to think of things that would work well as something else. I do this with pie on my blog all the time (pie fudge or pie cookies). I’ll regularly think: what can I turn into a s’more? or What will go good with brownies? and I go from there.
- Did you have to go through many attempts before you were able to develop all the recipes of this book?
Some of them were easier than others, for sure. Some of them I was able to do on the first try, and others to several attempts. I think the Lemon Bar Cheesecake took the prize: I made it about 4 times!
- Which was the funniest part and the most complex one of this process of creating new desserts?
I think the funniest part is seeing the looks on peoples’ faces when I tell them an idea. You see them process that you can turn fudge into pie and you can almost see the lightbulb moment they have, followed by the look that says “I want a piece of that!”
The most complex would definitely be the science behind it all. How can you make the recipe the way you want it to turn out and make it actually work? Sometimes that was successful and sometimes, like in the case of the Lemon Bar Cheesecake, I had to adjust my vision as I went along.
And here, some of her recipies: