Today we’re celebrating not only the paperback release of Sheila Curran’s EVERYTHING SHE LOVED, but also her health after a bout with cancer. Read more at her blog. Hurray Sheila–may you live in good health to write many, many more!
Archive for March, 2010
ROBERTA: Today I’m happy to welcome another one of my cybergirlfriends, Jenny Gardiner, with a different kind of book and a hysterical title. Welcome Jenny! Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.
JENNY: This time around my book is a memoir, titled WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO’S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Gallery Books). Think of it as David Sedaris meets Marley & Me, with a deadly beak. It’s about an African gray parrot with an attitude who arrived as a surprise Christmas gift the year we had our new baby. Life has never been the same.
The idea grew over many years. We got this parrot as a gift–my brother-in-law came back from Africa one Christmas with parrots for the family, and we ended up with the ornery one. And over the years, stories about her have become so legendary, she is such an entertaining thing (when she’s not being vicious). I have written about her for my newspaper column before and people were so interested in her. At dinner parties, she becomes the focus of everyone’s interest–we’ve had her now for almost 2 decades and people are always so entertained by her and stories about her, so I thought it would be fun to do a book. My sort of funny backstory is YEARS ago, I was sitting in a bat mitzvah, and I get really antsy when I’m a captive audience, especially when everything isn’t in a language I can remotely understand. So when I was sitting there for like 3-1/2 arduous hours (it was a high holiday so they had a huge service with it), I pulled out a notebook and pen and HANDWROTE four chapters of what would eventually become this book…
ROBERTA: Now I have to ask my standard question. If my character, psychologist Dr. Rebecca Butterman, was to see your character in therapy, what would they discuss?
JENNY: Oy, this is a tricky one!
But let’s say my parrot, Graycie, has an appointment with Dr. Butterman. As if that could fix her.
I think it would go something like this:
“Dr. Butterman,” she snaps, pecking at the good doctor, aiming her steely beak at anything within striking distance, “I was separated as an infant from the only family I knew, and taken to this strange land and expected to adapt to this family but I want to be back in my land. I want to be free, to soar through the air, to flap my wings and have them work as they were intended.”
“How does that make you feel?” Dr. Butterman asks her, dodging that beak again, just a split second before it hit its intended target (her face). “Ouch, dammit. What the hell was that for?”
“I’m mad. That’s what. And bored. And lonely. How do you think it would be, spending all of your days stuck in a house, no breeze wafting through your feathers, just hanging around? would you like it?”
“But your family loves you,” the doctor replies. “They care for you and make certain you are safe.”
Graycie hangs her head. “Safe? For what? So I can hang around here and do nothing for the rest of my life?”
Dr. Butterman nods, understanding her point. “Well, look at this, you’ll have plenty of practice time to nail that family of yours with your beak, right?”
Graycie juts her beak out, looking pensive. “Hmmm. Good point. Well, it does feel pretty good when I clamp my beak down into that lady’s flesh.”
“Perhaps you might want to consider a more civilized approach to whiling away the hours, though? Say, maybe wood carving?”
“Hey, woodcarving. Now why didn’t I think of that?”
“That’s what you’re paying me the big bucks for, Graycie. That’s what you’re paying me for.”