Archive for the ‘youtube’ Category
Posted on August 17, 2012 - by MG
Eight questions for Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of new collection “This Is How You Lose Her”
If you’re one of the six people who regularly read this blog you may remember me turning to goo over my discovery a coupla years back of my new favourite living author, the winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, Junot Diaz. When my publisher asked me to nip down to the printers and sign 5000 books or so, I couldn’t help but be excited to see a pallet of Junot’s books all stacked up and ready to go. As well as horrified to find a few copies of Oscar Wao in the overs bin – of course, I rescued as many as I could carry.
I emailed Junot a photo of his book-stack and we’ve been in contact since. Recently, Goodreads asked me to suggest some interview questions for a forthcoming major feature on the Goodreads site, about Junot’s forthcoming collection of short stories, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER.
If it’s anything like as good as Junot’s debut, DROWN then I will be one happy homegirl. (Dude’s narrative swagger is infectious. He’s got me outgunned with the metaphor and wordplay though, sin duda.)
It made me realise that I’d quite like Junot to answer all of my suggestions. Very kindly, he agreed to answer by email. So, here we go!
1. You must have been asked this one a zillion times but – here goes.
As a former sci-fi obsessive and Dungeon Master, I recognised Oscar, but Yunior, much less. As a fellow author, I have to recognise that most authors are writing something of themselves into every character. Either the person they think they really are, or the person they either would like to be, or fear they might become. Yunior and Oscar seem to me like they could be opposing aspects of your own character. Is there any truth to that? And if so, can you give us a percentage – how much Yunior, how much Oscar? Or could it be that you’ve concealed your true self within Lola?
Hard to parse oneself, especially when we’re talking about our fictional creations. Characters like Lola and Oscar took all my heart to write but does that mean they’re half of me? Hard to say. Though it’s true: what made Oscar and Yunior interesting is that they represent opposite sides of something that they’re each fascinated and tormented by. Yunior is incapable of dropping his social masks – he’s always putting on a persona, always passing for a male, always playing the role, never really letting anyone know who he is.
Throughout the novel we meet many of his various guises but we never truly meet the man himself. One cannot find love unless one drops all masks, all pretenses, unless one reveals oneself and makes oneself totally vulnerable to the person they seek to love. Love after all requires intimacy and intimacy is only possible when you expose yourself utterly. Like many boys of his time and place and upbringing Yunior wants to be able to find love but was raised to avoid vulnerability at all costs. He has many lifelike masks with which he tricks the women he’s with, so many masks in fact he has forgotten that he even has a real face. Oscar on the other hand is never anything but Oscar. He has no masks and therefor cannot adjust himself to a given social situation just to get a girl, which is what Yunior can do all the time. Oscar can play no ‘roles’
and Yunior can never show himself. They each have what the other wants and so they circle each other and this is why Yunior is drawn to Oscar. In him he can see what he’s missing though he’d never admit it openly.
But to answer your question most directly: Yunior is my alter ego and has been for a while. But Oscar is also my alter ego. I grew up with roleplaying games and comic books and scifi books and like Oscar I was tormented by apocalyptic nightmares. As for Lola she was inspired by the Dominican ex girlfriend of my dreams. The woman who completely changed my life. And that means she too is a part of me. How much–hard to say.
(Ooof, fascinating answers! Especially intrigued by the revelation about Lola.)
One trades the lustre of youth for the burden of wisdom, for the weight and power that comes from confronting oneself over a longer span of years, and in the process coming to terms with the consequences of all your choices. I mean, damn, if we’re lucky we all age. And what I’m discovering is that it takes a lot of courage to face the years once youth has faded. I never knew that when I was young. Me, I’m interested in making art about the human experience and this is one confrontation, with growing older, that clearly has never ceased to fascinate artists. And it certainly fascinates me. Doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing about young people. But as an artist one wants to be able to write productively about all the stages of life. Having insight in your work about what it means to be 44 is as important as having insight in your work about being 14.
3. Like many of your readers I am dying to read your sci-fi, post-apocalyptic novel. Is it going to be called Monstro? How is it coming along? YA readers are somewhat obsessed with this subject matter so feel free to tell us as much as you can…
Hard to say. Much mestizaje often leads people to dream strongly about purity. Just check the countries from which we hail where the obsession with all forms of purities, from racial to class, is overwhelming. I think I’m a hybridmonger, not only because of my upbringing and my Caribbean-ness, but also by inclination. It’s how I think. I would love to write a purely genre novel. But I also have to learn to write faster, since at this rate I’ll be lucky to finish MONSTRO before I turn 60.
You’re so much better at this game than I am. I don’t remember the names of any of the clubs I’ve gone to. There was a spot in Bogotá that I adored but whose name escapes me. There’s of course 809 in New York City which is simply fantastic. And in the Dominican Republic R there’s El Secreto Musical where they strictly dance Cuban son and in the days of my youth was about the most fun one could have in the DR.
6. Your favourite salsa band?
I’m a huge fan of Eddie Palmieri’s work and of course Hector Lavoe. When they’re on a track or an album I’m in heaven.
(Let’s take a minute to absorb the genius of Hector…)
7. Salsa, merengue or reggaeton?
I prefer the one you left out–bachata!
(OK – we need no more proof that Junot is in fact a marshmallow – bachata is verrry smoochy and romantic…)
8. Mario Vargas Llosa or Gabriel Garcia Marquez?
That’s easy. GGM all the way. There’s something cold about Vargas Llosa that has never sat well with me. But that’s just me, clearly.
(I wouldn’t agree quite with ‘cold’, but calculated, maybe.)
Thanks so much, Junot! I’m sure you’ll be doing lots of interviews now that we’re all about to read THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER. Junot has promised to get a free (hopefully signed) copy of the book to one lucky reader – if you would like to enter the draw please leave a comment with the title of your favourite short story by Junot, by August 31st, and be sure to use your real name and email address so we can get that book to you.
Junot Diaz is appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Saturday 18th, a ticket event, but also doing a free event in London at Foyles on 22nd August. Sadly I’ll miss both as I’ll be away in Devon *sadface*. If you haven’t yet read DROWN or THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO – I can’t recommend enough. Especially if you happen to be a comic book and sci-fi-obsessed Latin American immigrant, if that’s you then don’t miss out on the chance to meet Junot!
Posted on December 21, 2011 - by MG
Sometimes I don’t blog everything interesting that happens to me right away; I save it up for a rainy day. Back in Nov 2009 I was on BBC TV’s Click – a show devoted to all things techie and presented by a fab fellow geek girl, the multi-talented LJ Rich. I made a little video of our meeting, the clip itself and then a chance meeting with a certain children’s TV presenter…
LJ asked me to go on the show to talk about the emerging phenomenon of self-publishing, mainly fueled by the print-on-demand revolution. You can see what I thought two years ago. My how things have changed, in only two years. Note how little we talk about ebooks! That’s where the action is nowadays.
Maybe I should go on Click again to update LJ on my opinion now… because as some beady-eyed members of the Joshua Files Facebook group may have spotted, I myself will be testing the waters in the brave new world of publishing and putting out an indie-published techno-thriller for older readers, set in the fictional world of The Joshua Files around May 2012…
LJ meanwhile has been developing her talents as a musician. Her latest album features her own gorgeous arrangements of traditional Christmas music, performed by LJ herself. Very tasteful and classically inspired, with a touch of gospel. I think my favourite is “I Saw Three Ships”. Perfect background music for a Christmas drinks party or the long drive to visit family, I’d say.
You can preview or download here at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/ljrich3
Posted on January 28, 2011 - by MG
Josh and Ixchel have travelled back in time, but it might not be so easy to get home again. They’ve landed in the Mayan era, when the prophecy about the world ending in 2012 was first foretold. And they cannot believe who they have found there. Clearly Josh isn’t the only person to have cracked the secret of time travel. But a bigger surprise awaits the pair when they return to the 21st century. Nothing is quite as they remember it – and it’s up to them to work out why.
Thanks to Jamie McIntyre and Paty Simon for the live action sequence, to Dan O’Neill and Jonny Vegas for photography and to Joshua Insider Josh Balfour for help with the editing!
Posted on October 13, 2010 - by MG
From festivals – to prizes!
Last week was off to a cracking start when I was lucky enough to be the guest speaker at the School Librarian of the Year Awards for 2010.
If you watch this video from Teacher’s TV you’ll see my shock and delight that I was able to announce TWO winners. And that’s from a very strong shortlist! It was a joy to be able to see the work that all the honour list of librarians has put into the ‘Learning Resource Centres’ in their schools. I quite envied the kids at Kevin Sheehan’s school in Offerton, Stockport, who got to enjoy, amongst many other activities, a Doctor Who theme day.
Then it was on to St. Gregory the Great School, Oxford, where a House competition was run to find the best school poet for National Poetry Day. Four talented young poets stood up to represent their houses before a packed hall at lunchtime. The brilliant Raymond Pelakamoyo won for Benedict House with a poem about Home that brough the house down. (You can watch the video of Raymond Pelakamoyo below or on Youtube)
Then…back home to hear two exciting announcements – the fabulous news that fellow Redhammer client, author Michelle Paver had won the Guardian Children’s Book Prize. And that one of my favourite authors, Mario Vargas Llosa, novelist and former Peruvian presidential candidate had finally won the greatest prize in Literature, the Nobel Prize.
Huzzah and thank goodness! For those of us who carry resentment that Jorge Luis Borges and Graham Greene were never given their due recognition by the Nobel Committee, Mario Vargas Llosa was another thorn in our side. Now he’s won! Now he is officially the literary equal of his former friend and subject of his doctoral thesis (until he punched him in the face in Mexico City), Gabriel Garcia Marquez!
I’ll confess that I have yet to finish the two books that are considered to be Vargas Llosa’s greatest contributions to the American Novel.
- The Green House
- The Feast of the Goat
And I haven’t yet read Conversations in the Cathedral, which Vargas Llosa told an audience at the 2009 Oxford Literary festival, was his own favourite. Or The War at the End of the World.
But! I have read and loved The Time of the Hero, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, Captain Pantoja and the Special Service, Who Killed Palomino Molero, The Storyteller, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta and The Bad Girl.
Readers who know their onions are now nodding and thinking, yes, she’s a lightweight, only read the shorter, more entertaining novels. That’s what makes Vargas Llosa such a genius and such a worthy winner! Unlike most Nobel winners he can write dense politico historical epics, comedy, thrillers and murder mysteries. As the guy who announced the Nobel said, Vargas Llosa is a STORYTELLER.
He can write ANYTHING and make it awesome.
If you haven’t read anything by him, start with Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. And yet again, thanks to Alan Hoyle, former boyfriend of my mother’s for giving me this book for honeymoon reading over 20 years ago and introducing me to your literary hero and now mine.
Three cheers for Vargitas and Peru!
Posted on January 1, 2010 - by MG
Winners will receive an email/FaceBook message from me soon to ask for a posting address.
For everyone else, Feb 1st isn’t too far away! Meanwhile, I hope this first ever review of ZERO MOMENT whets your appetite…over at the excellent book blog, BookZone4Boys.
Meanwhile, wow, another year. Another decade! I lay in bed last night thinking about things that happened 10, 20 years ago. Once you have kids life does neatly bisect into your pre-kids and post-kids life and I find I rarely think about the pre-kids life, apart from childhood memories. (Like all childrens’ authors I spend a fair amount of time reliving those, it’s kind of necessary.)
So last night I was remembering a visit to Madeira in the early 1990s. A neighbour had come over and talked about spending a couple of months somewhere warm in spring and we started telling him about how Madeira would be ideal. It had been a long time since I thought about that holiday, or the year in which we took it. I could remember a couple of things from work around that time, but mainly the year blurred into the scientific research I was doing at the time and that holiday to Madeira. It was a wonderful time, I could remember the colour of the sea when we swam off the side of a boat, my 3-year old and I, I remembered the moon-like vista of the top of the island, a steak barbeque we enjoyed in the middle of a wood, amidst wild lavender and bees….all that and a great deal more.
For one whole year of my life I remember probably parts of 20 days, no more. Wow. There are ways to dredge up more, I know, but WOW. Once, I could remember everything that happened to me beyond the age of consciousness. Now, well, if I didn’t blog it, I’m not sure I’d remember it!
Then again, it helps to forget bad things. So our leaky minds help us out there.
The moral? Record your thoughts via blog or vlog. But only nice things. Let the hoover of amnesia suck up your sadness – it may be for the best.