The hardest part of becoming an author is that you have to come to terms with yourself. The job of an author is to observe the world around her intently, filter these observations through her imagination and then come up with a unique creative story that will inflame the reader’s imagination. In the process, all internal darkness springs forth to stop you. Self doubt, anxiety, self loathing and other vicious monsters make an appearance. There is no external enemy. You vs. you. I made a video about this battle, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/8N6eC3KXXFk
Can you give us a short synopsis of your book?
Spoonful Chronicles is the story of a woman that wants to unlock the secret to her destiny by remembering everything she has ever eaten.
What inspired you to write this book?
I uploaded a video to youTube demonstrating how to make hummus. I made it so that I could send it to my friends when they asked me for the recipe. The responses to that video surprised me. I got emails that had nothing to do with food or recipes.
I was earnestly working on a different novel when a bitter sweet short story about making hummus popped out between my fingers. I was amused by it, saved it to my hard drive and went back to my initial intention. Then there was an outrageously imaginative short story involving falafel. Half way through writing a short tense story about a marriage falling apart over a shakshuka(eggs cooked in stewed tomato sauce) recipe, I realized I could write a whole novel in that scheme. Tell a woman’s story through a set of eating experiences. The one third unfinished novel got archived and Spoonful Chronicles began to emerge. As if with Thaniya (the protagonist of Spoonful Chronicles) I had willed ease into my life. Each chapter materialized before my eyes. There was that one day I got stuck. I opened my fridge, fished a plump cauliflower out, sat with it in my lap. As I caressed the lumpy white vegetable my imagination went floating above the city exploring forbidden territories. Half way through the novel, I would dream vivid detailed visions of precisely what was happening next in the story. I would wake up itching to write it all down while the images were still alive in my memory. “I feel like I am cheating” I told my husband during that phase. It was too easy. One night I went to sleep with a bag of spinach beneath my pillow. The next day my fingers were dancing away at the keyboard describing a textured green leafy nightmare that progressed the narrative is just right shade.
Here is the hummus recipe video that started it all: https://youtu.be/-hpeYdNOzlg
How many hours per day do you spend writing?
I don’t have set hours. I simply write when I feel inspired. I do discipline very very well. I am very good at forcing myself to do stuff. In my professional life, this natural tendency was a valued asset. I had a time schedule, project plan and a to-do list. But when you want imagination to reign supreme, you need to put a stop to practicality. It took a long time for me to undiscipline myself. To lie on a couch staring at the wall for hours and not feel guilty. To sleep in. To resist the urge to write for the sake of writing. Whenever I did that, everything that came out was garbage. It felt forced. To develop patience, for inspiration is a faint whisper, I needed lots of practice. The more ardently I pursued it the further away it came from. To sit inside unproductivity and experience joy.
Name your top five favorite books.
Unless by Carol Shields
Cities of Salt by Abdul Rahman Munif
All The Names by José Saramago
The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
Timeskipper by Stefano Benni
What are you working on now?
A novel about traffic. It explores the theme of how impossible it is to get over a heartbreak.
Title: Spoonful Chronicles
Author: Elen Ghulam
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Thaniya Rasid grew up in the Middle East dreaming of becoming a surgeon. Now living an ordinary life as a mother, wife and a hospital lab tech in Vancouver, Canada, she garners unexpected fame as youTube’s Queen of Hummus when her video demonstrating the recipe goes viral. How could blending chickpeas in a food processor generate so much excitement? And how could her life have ended up so far away from all her expectations?
To make sense of the unlikely events that have brought her to this place, Thaniya turns to food, curating memorable eating experiences of her life, searching for clues. Between her childhood aversion to cucumbers, her search for an authentic Iraqi kubeh in the city of Jerusalem, her 10-year tomato wars with her husband Samih, a mood altering encounter with a blood pudding in Edinburgh, and a Kafkaesque nightmare involving a cauliflower, Thaniya unravels repeated patterns occurring in her life. The secrets of love, friendship and destiny hidden in her cauldron of mishmashed cultures begin to reveal themselves.
Between lust and disgust there is a thin line. Spoonful Chronicles is the beguiling story of one woman taking hold of her fate by uncovering the clandestine geography of this divide in her heart.
My name is Elen. I am an Iraqi-Canadian. Please allow me to tell you a story of a curios event that happened to me. I was a perfectly happy computer programmer doing the nerdy stuff that computer programmers do. You know! Geeky stuff. Like the normal stuff that an Iraqi-Canadian would do if they worked as a computer programmer. When one day, out of nowhere, the inspiration to write hit me over the head. It came at me fast and furious and turned my life topsy turvy. I was always an avid reader. Ok I was a bookish geek. But the idea that I would try to write never even occurred to me, until the violent incident with the muse. Since then I have published a memoir called “Don’t Shoot! … I Have Another Story to Tell You“. Which Was followed by a novel called Graffiti Hack. That one tells the story of a hacker who installs lavish graphical designs on commercial websites. Imagine the trouble she gets in? Well I had to. I was writing the story, so I had to imagine every last bit. A third novel is on it way. I don’t know where all these ideas come from, they just pop in my head and I write them down. In addition to writing, I am a flamenco dancer, I enjoy painting and I love to cook. Somehow all these activities inspire each other.
I am a married mother of three, living in a pink house in Vancouver BC. Really I just love telling stories and I love listening to stories.
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