Most people observe the world around them and accept it at face value.
But a select few not only take it all in, they analyze it, turn it around, and novelize it in a way that makes the world, and all the quirky people it holds, smile at itself.
One such is Nicole Chardenet, who takes us into her world as an author and her latest novel, Sumer Lovin (yes, ‘Sumer’, not ‘Summer’).
1) Tell us about your latest novel, Sumer Lovin’.
Sumer Lovin’ (Deux Voiliers Publishing, Quebec) answers that age-old question: “What would Toronto be like if it was suddenly infested by ancient Sumerian demons and badasses? And how would that complicate the search for love?”
If you’re not familiar with Toronto, it’s a great city, I’ve lived here largely stress-free for more than eight years, but it’s also fairly tightassed, particularly when it comes to romance and sex. I don’t know, maybe it’s the British influence or something. Or being next to the famously puritanical United States. But, being an American myself, I can categorically state that Americans have more sex than Canadians. We just feel guiltier about it! Canadians drink more, I think. Maybe that’s why 🙂
Anyway, Sumer Lovin’ follows several characters in their search for love – clueless men who think with their ding-dongs, a clueless woman who thinks with her aging ovaries, and a 35-year-old guy who’s still a virgin and who suddenly finds himself stalked by the most beautiful woman Toronto has ever seen. But he also knows having sex with her would absolutely be the worst thing he could do, so, he’s in a quandary.
Then there are the folks who help others find love: Mahliqa and Amita, Muslim and Indian friends who want to start an arranged marriage service for non-Muslim, non-Indian Canadians, and Rachel, a Jewish matchmaker from New York who came to Toronto to escape her crazy ex-husband.
2) Sounds great!. What inspired you to write it?
A long time ago an Indian said to me, “Americans have it all wrong. You marry for love and half the time it doesn’t work out. Arranged marriages are better. Let your parents find the right person, and love comes later.” The original title of the novel was Love Comes Later, but that changed when it became more humourous and fantastical. Instead of being about Mahliqa and Amita, who find themselves deluged with aging Canadians who seek arranged marriage rather than fresh young people, it became about the search for love in general, and how people always boink it all up like my Indian friend claimed because they value the wrong things, like money and looks. Ancient Sumeria entered the picture when I began searching for a good villain and thought that women never get to the be villains – so I found the female villain to end all villains, and from that came some of the humourous commentary on sexual politics – as well as the Canaanite Liberation Front, which provided humourous commentary on – yes really – the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
3) What would you say has been the most effective way to get the word out about your new book?
Twitter has been good, and getting reviews from book bloggers has helped too. My drive to get Lady Gaga snapped by the paparazzi with Sumer Lovin’ under her arm has failed so far, though. I also find the old-fashioned way works well – my Toronto book launch was highly successful and public appearances help too. Oh, and sacrificing virgins to the dark gods for a higher Amazon ranking. (Kidding, kidding! I would never sacrifice a virgin. Not that they’re hard to find here…)
4) Do you have a favourite author?
I’ve been a fan of the guy who writes all the copy for breakfast cereal boxes ever since I was old enough to read!
5) What was the biggest lesson you learned about the publishing industry since releasing your first book, Young Republican, Yuppie Princess?
Mentioning Republicans in the title. Turns out the word ‘Republican’ (and ‘Democrat’) are like the word ‘abortion’ – all you have to do is mention that one word and you piss absolutely everyone off. Whoever favours Republicans (or Democrats, or abortion choice) automatically assumes you’re against Republicans, and anyone who doesn’t assumes you do.
In this case, it’s the Republicans who got it right. For once 🙂
6) What advice would you give to up-and-coming writers?
NEVER show your first draft to anyone because it’s not good enough, although it’s okay that it’s not good enough, because you’re just getting the story down. Before you start the second draft, though, you need to read a good book on editing fiction because you’ve made a bunch of mistakes you didn’t know about. Once you know what they are your subsequent drafts will be much, much better. Self-published writers in particular are prone to putting out slightly polished first drafts. If you think you don’t need to read a good book on proper editing, get over yourself and do it anyway.
7) You’re originally from the USA. What do you like/dislike about Canada?
Turn-ons: Multiculturalism, a better healthcare system, absinthe, better money, lack of guns, and low crime. Turn-offs: The Tories, Sun News, telemarketers, almost non-existent EI benefits, and über-leftyism. I didn’t think it was possible to be too liberal but I swear some Canadians really make me want to nuke a gay baby whale for Jesus. They’re so far to the left Castro needs a telescope to see them.
8) You identify as Pagan. Do your Pagan beliefs play into your writing at all?
Oh HELL yeah! I’ve been a practicing Pagan for more than twenty years (I hope to go pro some day.) I decided to make all this weird arcane knowledge work for me.
9) What do you do when you’re not writing?
I work for a living in the glamourous sexy world of workforce management professional services business development (try not to be too jealous), I write, I promote, I tease the cat, I go out with my friends, and I say stuff on Facebook and Twitter that will keep Obama and the NSA gang busy for decades to come (if they insist on spying on me, I’m going to make them earn their paycheques!) I’m also going to try and squeeze in a little more travel before Homeland Security becomes a greater threat than any actual terrorists.
10) Where can readers learn more about your work?
I’m doing my best to make myself so ubiquitous on the Internet you won’t be able to eat, sleep, breathe, dream, or poop without thinking about me, because I’ll be everywhere, and you won’t escape me, like an earworm. So I thank you, Richard, for this additional opportunity to help me permeate the Internet in my quest for literary world domination, plus I’m hoping eventually George Clooney will notice and beg me to marry him.
My snarky, irreverent, Canadian/American humour may be found at:
Thanks to Nicole for spending time with us today.
See you out there!
If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!
Richard Todd is a novelist, screenplay writer, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.