GMB: Hi Nicole ... Welcome to the 'Anything But a Tired Barn' ... I see you dressed up for this interview...
NC: I sure did ... *Huge smile * Wanna' see my shoes?
GMB: Oh yeah ... You going to tell me its all about the shoes?
NC: Well sure ... What were you thinkin'?
GMB: Uh, well ... I um ... Hey Nicole why don't you tell us a little about yourself ... Something for our Barn Blog fans to get to know you better...
NC: Well... according to my driver’s license, I’m a XX-year-old 163cm-tall white female with crappy vision and an attitude problem.
GMB: Nice... ;-)
NC: I thought so... Yes ... Well okay then ... That last part’s not true, but it’s not my fault, they just wouldn't let me smile for the photo.
GMB: And pray tell ... were you dressed like an Egyptian for your Driver's photo?
GMB: Perhaps that is why they wouldn't let you smile? Tell us Nicole ... is it your smile or your affinity for dressing like an Egyptian that provides your greatest inspiration?
NC: Nope ... Inspiration is everywhere. Anything can strike me funny at any time. Bad behavior can inspire a character (the jerkoff Homeland Security ex-husband in Sumer Lovin’ was inspired by an HS power Nazi I saw at a New York airport.)
GMB: I see... Does he know?
NC: Well I had on my T-shirt that reads, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.” Ahem ... Mitch ... You've been forewarned ... ;-)
GMB: You bet ... Now what has you choosing to write humorous fantasy in particular? Please don't tell me that HS guy in the Airport inspired you to write about...?
NC: No ... No ... I've been a lifelong smart-ass and I like to make people laugh. Plus, I've been a Pagan for over 20 years now and I've learned a lot of really weird stuff along the way that I decided to put to work for me.
GMB: No kidding...
NC: Yep again ... Then I moved to Canada in 2005 and now I have a new mandate: To make Canada funnier. Or at least weirder. I find Canadian humor tends to be a bit staid and low-key because Canadians live in constant mortal fear that anything they say can and will give offence to someone somewhere. Which it probably will. While I’m not in favor of intentionally giving offence, humor can challenge our assumptions and belief systems and sometimes what we think we find offensive actually means we've just had our worldview shaken up a little.
GMB: Now that is a huge task ... You know ... making Canada laugh the right way ... I mean unintentionally and all--
NC: But I'm up for it... *Big Egyptian Smile* You wanna' see?
GMB: Sure ... maybe after ...
NC: No no ...
GMB: Ahem ... Well okay then, is there any other genre, subject matter you like to write about?
If so, why?
NC: I've actually written some dark fantasy but haven’t done anything with those projects. Long story why involving American publishers, the Great Financial Collapse of 2008, and my vampire-free story-line. Well, except for one wannabe who reads waaaay too much Anne Rice. I have currently approached one dark fantasy publishing company that has expressed an interest in it and re-reading both novels made me think there’s a possible third book to make it a trilogy. Both explore the evil that lies within normal people like you and me.
NC: Sure ... But I don’t know that dark fantasy is something I would pursue further. Making people laugh (sometimes unintentionally ;) is something I’m better at ... more than exploring our own inner Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer.
GMB: And speaking of the old 'own inner' ... Has your own life influenced your novels? How have your novels influenced your life?
NC: Well my brother just accused me of cadging from our childhood when he read my latest novel Sumer Lovin’ – and he’s right, that whole gerbil-raising thing is lifted directly from our adolescence. Some of the dating tribulations happened to me as well, like the guy who blew me off through his mother, not to mention the Universal Pickup Script which has since changed a little – now Toronto horndogs are starting off with a stock “pretty eyes” line in an effort to butter you up for a date. But I also read pretty widely, mostly non-fiction, so I get a lot of ideas from everywhere.
GMB: Now ... If I was a publisher, I believe my first question would be, “Why were you chosen to write Sumer Lovin'?” How would you respond to the inquisitive publisher?
NC: Because I’m the one who thought of it!
GMB: Well okay then ... I'd have to agree with your choice to follow the funny, and to also opt for unintentionally providing humor to all of Canada ... Nicole, now I have to ask...
NC: No don't ...
GMB: But I have to...
NC: Okay then... get it over with...
GMB: First tell us your shoe size, and then tell the Barn Bloggers which appears first for you when contemplating a new project: Is it a character, the plot or perhaps the title?
NC: No comment and I almost never consider the title first ... but I do confess my feet are .... "No!" I can't go there...
GMB: But you said ...
NC: Nope ... But I can tell you I have a few titles with no story-lines that I should probably write: Satanic Gerbils (don’t ask, I have a weird affinity for gerbils), Canadian Badasses (really; can you think of anything funnier?) and You Can’t Say ****** In Church, based on a conversation that had to be given to an adult friend of mine who went off on a rant in church during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal...
GMB: I see... Kind of read-between-the-line kinda of stuff that turns into unintentional humor and...
NC: Yep ... And sometimes I start off with a set of disparate weird characters and sometimes I come up with the plot line first. I seem to be on a trend in which Toronto is this desperately mystical place and no one really understands that; sort of like Buffy’s Sunnydale except without the vampires, great tans, or perfect hair. Toronto’s a great city to live in but the people are famously reserved and occasionally a little tight ... so smiting them with paranormal weirdness is something I find a tough funny...
GMB: What is the hardest part of a novel for you to write: beginning, middle, or end? Why?
NC: All of the above. First drafts are a bitch. I generally start off with a rough outline that is subject to change as the story progresses; arcs can move in a different direction, characters can become good guys or bad guys depending on where the story is going. Although I love the writing part, doing it is difficult; I keep having the feeling whatever I’m writing totally sucks, even though I know yes, of course it does, it’s a first draft that no one will ever see except me, and it’ll get much better with the next few drafts. Often I know the beginning and end but have no idea what goes in the middle.
GMB: Who is your favorite character that you have created? Moreover, why is this character a favorite?
NC: There’s a character in my as yet-unpublished project that I just adore – a burnt-out ex-rock ‘n’ roller who’s an alcoholic loser and a giant pain in the ass to his half-his age next-door neighbor, after whom he lusts greatly. He claims he’s a former guitar god from some incredibly popular ‘80s band that no one’s ever heard of and he’s in major denial that he’s not the muscle-bound sex symbol he clearly sees himself as. I think we’ve all known people like this – I just had a blast with him coming to terms with what a loser he’d become and facing whether he was going to get his shit together or not. Alcoholism is a subject close to my heart because people close to me have suffered from it.
GMB: Tell us about your newest release or a project you are working on.
NC: Depends on whether you’re referring to the next project coming out or the first draft that I’m working on. The next novel to come out will also be set in Toronto and involve a young witch who brings a famous rock star back from the dead to be her boyfriend; the aforementioned alcoholic self-proclaimed former rock star with hot bananas for her; a male friend who’s not sure if he’s still a virgin or not (he was so drunk the one night he was sure he was in bed with a woman he can’t remember what happened) and a neighbor who thinks he’s the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley, The Great Beast. And it answers the burning question we all have – “If Sarah Palin was a Pagan witch, what would she be like?”
The first draft I’m working on now is a time travel story in which a recently unemployed and sexually liberated babelicious actress accidentally travels back to the late 60s when people only think they’re sexually liberated…
GMB: Soooo ... 'Pretty eyes' ... Its been a while since I heard the term 'babelicious' ... Now I think we here in the Barn have the 'XX's on your driver's license figured out...
NC: Oh you big, bad investigator you... *batting eyelashes* What else you got?
GMB: Oh ... Okay I get it ... *winks* Now ... which do you prefer, a great hero or a great villain? Why don’t you name one of each…
NC: I like villains more than heroes. They’re so much more interesting; why are they the way they are? No one cares what made Mother Theresa; but people are far more interested in why Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer or the Boston bombers turned out as they did. One of my favorite villains is Hannibal Lecter; so brilliant, so clever—so decidedly evil. Although when I explore themes of evil I’m far more interested in the evil within everyday people like ourselves – inspired when I Googled years ago on American lynchings and wondered at the white people photographed beneath black bodies swinging above them; they’re laughing and pointing. WTF? Did these people go to church the next morning and confess their sins, and if they did, did they happen to mention they were party to MURDER? Or, to cite another example, all the good little Germans who helped carry out Hitler’s Final Solution; they were not all psychopaths. Most of the rank-and-file were people like you and me who were just, you know, doing their job. It really was far more banal than most people guess.
GMB: What is your favorite movie? And why? What is NOT your favorite movie?
NC: I don’t really have favorites and non-favorites. I loved Star Wars back in the day, more recently I love the Jurassic Park trilogy – my inner 6-year-old is still jumping up and down and screaming, “Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!” I don’t go to the movies much anymore because Hollywood hasn’t had an original idea in years and nothing they put out is worth the $13.00. I’m very much not a fan of inscrutable foreign films of the artsy-fartsy variety.
I wonder if the movie industry is ripe for an upheaval like we’ve seen in Big Publishing in recent years – sooner or later people have got to get sick of the 18th Iron Man release, movies based on lame-ass TV shows, Batman LXIX: The Dark Knight Rises With Some Help From Viagra, and geez, at this point there must be more Star Trek movies than there are episodes in the original TV series.
I’m ready to let the indies take a whack at entertaining us. While traditional publishing keeps looking for the next Harry Potter or Dan Brown, self-publishers, micropress, subsidy presses and hybrid presses are showing that there are some pretty damn talented writers out there who aren’t represented by the Big Six Five (possibly soon to be Big Four) Publishing Companies because they know the world doesn’t need another damn zombie story or formulaic art history murder mystery with puzzles. It’s time to let the indy movie producers give it a whirl now.
GMB: I tend to agree ... If you could be anyone in the world, space, and designated realm, who would it be? And why?
NC: Y’know, I really don’t lust after anyone else’s life. I figure I’ve gotten a fairly good deal with this life and shouldn’t complain. My goal is to be a widely-read writer. I don’t care about winning awards; it doesn’t matter to me if I never win the Giller Prize or even the Bulwer-Lytton prize; but you know what, it would be really funny if I did win the Bulwer-Lytton (for the worst writing ever), because then I could claim to be an “award-winning author” and most people wouldn’t know the difference between the Bulwer-Lytton and, say, a REAL writing award ;) And ‘Bulwer-Lytton Prize’ sounds soooo British and pompous! So you KNOW this has to be a really good book, right?!?!
I want to stay here in Toronto where I have lots of friends and more money than I had in the States and be a famous writer. I do love it here although I do wish the men weren’t so timid around women. But hey, that’s also where some of my inspiration comes from.
GMB: Where do you see your writing career in the next five to ten years?
NC: I haven’t the foggiest idea. I could never answer that question in job interviews either. My life hasn’t turned out how I planned it thirty years ago, but come to think of it, I didn’t really have a plan then either. I just kind of went with the flow. And that’s what I’ll do now – not plan for five or ten years down the line, just see where my writing career takes me. You know .. that is except for planning my marriage to George Clooney after he lifts the restraining order, of course!GMB: So where can we find you if we're looking for your website?
NC: My website Link is http://www.nicolechardenet.com
GMB: And Sumer Lovin' is humourous fantasy fiction that can be found...
NC: The Purchase Link is http://www.amazon.ca/Sumer-Lovin-Nicole-Chardenet/dp/0988104849 and the Publisher's Link is https://sites.google.com/site/deuxvoilierspublishing/
GMB: Nice again ... now I was wondering of you could share with the Barn Bloggers a blurb for 'Sumer Lovin''
NC: Yes ... Sumer Lovin' tells the story of Rachel Brinkerhoff, a vivacious New Yorker who dumps her psycho macho husband and immigrates to Canada. Rachel is keen to re-launch her matching business for Jewish singles and find new love, but nobody told her that female-aversive Toronto is definitely BYOB (bring your own boy). Then an earthquake shakes up Canada's metropolis in more ways than one, releasing from an ancient underworld, a male-hungry Sumerian demi-goddess and a rag-tag army of Canaanite warriors. The novel is a brash poke at male-female relations and an artful offering of paranormal adventure and romance.
GMB: Sounds great ... I like how the paranormal kind of sneaks in there ... And did you bring an excerpt or perhaps a review you like, and that you might share with us today?
NC: Why of course... I have a book review I'd like to share...
GMB: Well okay then ... Can you give us a taste?
NC: Sure ... Here ... take a peek at this...
Reviewed by Carlos Savanera
Canadian humour?! Since Leacock? From Toronto? You gotta be kidding! Well, that was my first reaction when Sumer Lovin’ was pitched to me for a review. I was wrong. Nicole Chardenet has certainly pulled off a Canuck version of Woody Allen. Beyond a doubt, this hilarious story is the best humour from Canada in a decade.
Sumer Lovin’ combines a mischievous poke at Canadian über-politeness and Toronto's unter-machismo with a wicked use of Sumerian mythology. The heroine, Rachel Brinkerhoff, is a very attractive 41-year-old New Yorker, who has fled the Big Apple and her psychotic ex, Austin, a Homeland Security Rambo. Her goals are to re-establish her matchmaking business in Toronto and find a Canadian soul mate. Pretty simple, eh? Well, Toronto ain’t New York and finding Jewish singles to match up is pretty slim pickings. As for finding a new soul mate, as author Nicole Chardenet puts it, it is BYOB – bring your own boy.
The solution? Rachel teams up with Mahliqa and Amita, immigrants from Pakistan and India, who run Love Comes Later, a service to counsel Canadian parents who want to “arrange” marriages for their hapless progeny. Thus enters Dave the Tarantula Guy and Dave the Gerbil Guy, typical IT nerds who are more drawn to arachnids and rodents than to the vivacious, albeit demanding, women that Rachel, Mahliqa and Amita line up for them.
When all seems hopeless, an earthquake mystically shakes up the libido of Torontonians and opens a portal to an ancient underworld. Out of the fountain at Nathan Philips Square, emerges the lascivious Lamashtu, a Sumerian demigoddess. The divine Lamashtu, famished by her centuries-long celibacy, goes right to work to replenish her powers by sucking out the energy of the city’s myriad male virgins. When her Sumerian sights set on Dave the Gerbil Guy, Rachel is caught up in a wild rescue plan to save her client from Lamashtu’s nasty and lethal little “surprise.”
Lamashtu is not the only trimillenarian to cross through from the underworld. An army of Canaanite warriors march forward, guided by their map-challenged scribe who confuses Canada for Canaan. Their mission is to lay claim to their ancestral homeland and boot out every “squatter” since the first millennium A.D. When the Canaanites realize that their land claim is six thousand miles off the mark, they offer their martial skills to help Rachel and her friends save Toronto from Lamishtu's murderous intent. The new alliance proves promising in more ways than one as Rachel finds herself drawn to the bronzed and well-muscled Canaanite leader, Ammishtamru.
Chardenet, herself an American transplant, has earned her spurs in Sumer Lovin’. The humour is on par with the best of Canadian comedians, who have made their names on the silver screen – Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Martin, John Candy, Dan Akroyd and the list goes on. Sumer Lovin’ is a delightful, absolutely zany story, which pushes the boundaries in many directions. A highly recommended read for 2013.
GMB: Well that is great ... that's a lot of good company you are keeping with these comparisons... Nicole, Thanks for joining us in the "Anything But a Tired Barn" and I hope you have enjoyed your visit...
NC: Its been great Mitch ... Except when you tried to cover the duck's ears when I said...
GMB: I swear I thought there were ears to cover...
GMB: Well to learn something new each and every day is to...
NC: Be alive and on a quest to conquer Canada with more unintentional humor!
GMB: Yeah ... That's it... Ducks do not have ears and you will be conquer Canada with more unintentional humor...
NC: That's it ... Now you're getting the big picture... Nice to see you Mitch ... Let's do this again soon...
GMB: You got it Nicole ... Quack, an unintentionally chortle and a bye for now...
by Nicole Chardenet
Deux Voiliers Publishing 2012
Amazon Author Page for G. Mitchell Baker
G. Mitchell Baker, Author
Interviews with authors and friends