Fabulosity Nouveau Chats with RYCJ
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Some things, unapologetically frankly, are worth the wait. Memoirs aren't the only way to gain insight into the human drive. Blogging and social-networking is fast becoming a heavy contender. And thanks to book bloggers, and readers and reviewers like Wendy Ewurum, enhances the joy.
Wendy, who blogs and review books on Fabulosity Nouveau, introduces herself as first "I am like no other." Secondly, "I am a mother." And then third tickled me to tears, "I am a wife to a man that I think God decided in a moment of generosity: "well if she is to marry, I'll let her have this one. I've fortified him with enough resilience to take her eccentricities without inflicting mortal wounds."'
It's this flavoring; a woman sure enough of herself to know she comes first, and yet can splurge on that confidence putting her family first, laughing at herself in the process that stoked my interest, and stoked it even more learning she was native of Johannesburg, South Africa. I promise... if you are anything like me, a romantic of family and moving accounts, you'll really appreciate Wendy the person, her blog Fabulosity Nouveau, and this interview.
Thank You Wendy!
Interview by: RYCJ (OEBooks) August 2011
OEB: Your comment on Book Blogs, and then realizing you lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, piqued my interest. When did you first find an interest in reading? i.e., How old were you and what was the title of the book?
Wendy: As soon as I learnt English and that was when I was 11 years old. That was also the first year I saw white people, Indian, and all other races I might add. I was raised by my grandmother in the villages of the then Transkei where the only people you saw were our tribe.
When I turned eleven, that December we were brought to the city, my brother and I, because my gan had cervical cancer and was in the last stages and needed constant hospital care.
Before eleven I found books fascinating and was very curious about them because when we went to school in the village we did not have access to them. My early school years were spent in a rondaval (chalet like structure), just one round room where all the lower grades were in this one room. So for example, you’d have grades 1-4 separated into one group. School was mainly held in the summer so that some of the groups would have their classes outside in the shade, under a tree, or on the side of the building. I suppose it stands to reason then that the moment I had free access to books, I got hooked on them. They were no longer something you just read a passage from and handed back to teacher.
OEB: Have you found any differences reading varied writing styles across cultures/countries? (Either by style, subject, genre?).
Wendy: I'm not sure if I'm answering your question adequately but what I have noticed is that fiction work does not do as well as text books and other forms of writing. So you will find the more successful writers cover politics, economics, etc. I suppose this can be understood considering that we are a your democracy, 15 years or so and so people are still (debriefing I suppose could be the word). Those who were part of the freedom struggle are sharing their experiences and this is what sells more than fictional titles. So much so that our fiction writers tend to prefer to be published abroad which is really sad because our publishing industry remains small. (OEB: The wording was off, sorry. Your answer however is on point).
OEB: Love your interviews, and the fact that you like to read the author's work before interviewing them. What do you find most fascinating about authors?
Wendy: I find the process of spinning tales so fascinating. How an author gets an idea to germinate into a complete reality (be it in this world or another). The "what if" creative process. I mean most authors don't just get an idea and its a full book in their heads immediately. They have to build this fantasy in their heads day by day, adding to it and do it in such a way that someone else will want to make it their fantasy. It's really a gift to be in this reality and yet live outside of it enough to create another between those pages.
OEB: How do you select books to read? (Reading book synopsis? Reviews? Blogs?)
Wendy: All of the above. When I was younger I just went for the synopsis because I did not have as many readers around me and I was quite shy. Now, if I walk into a bookstore and a book looks interesting, I'll ask staff and whoever is standing around in that section if they'd read it. South Africans are also such that if you have a certain book in your hands and they've read it, they'll volunteer that information without you asking. Just strike up a conversation with you. So now it's more word of mouth buying rather than just picking something up. Since I started blogging in January I've also made great friendships online and found reviewers whose opinion I value so they have quite a bit of influence in my book selection and as a result I cover more genre's than before.
OEB: And I read American Gods is your favourite book? If you were granted an interview by the author of American Gods, what question(s) about the book would you like to ask?
If Easter had been somebody's love interest as he intended, whose would she be?
If Easter had been somebody's love interest as he intended, whose would she be?
How did he go about choosing which gods deserved to be featured in the book out of the hundreds he researched from different countries and times?
OEB: Awesome answer/questions. So what passage in the book stays with you?
Wendy: Sam's "I Believe" speech. I love that scene so much and I am so terribly traumatised because I've just scanned my 10th Anniv. Edition which came out in July and I can't find it where it's supposed to be. This is a catastrophe. I need to read this version completely before I have a fit. But yes, I am a curious human being and my curiosity does extend to beliefs and spirituality.
The other bit that won't leave me is the death of the little girl in Lakeside whom it turned out was the victim of an old God who deeds on young children's souls or pain.
OEB: I also heard that you may be working on a novel. Is this true? Or, have you attempted to write a novel but stopped?
Wendy: Not a novel as such. It keeps evolving. I'm in the process of collecting Xhosa folklore which I feel is fast disappearing because of our oral tradition. And the sad thing is that it's disappearing because we are becoming more westernised. None of my kids know the stories we were raised hearing around the fire at night. None of them know the gods that I grew up hearing about or seeing people worship or even the demons who "continue" to torment believers. The strange thing is that as I started reading I found out that our beliefs, traditions and lore is extremely similar to those of Native Americans (if I offend anyone with that term I apologise because I don't know what the correct one is). For example when the Indian chief and leaders sit around the fire to commune with the spirit world they will burn a herb I think they call it sweetgrass (not sure) to invite them create the appropriate atmosphere. I grew up with the same practices but we call our herb "impepho". So my intention is to capture these in print because each clan has different stories which are linked to their lineage and talisman.
My family has been Christian for a long time but for me it feels like letting that part of my history go is losing a significant part of who I am and I intend to do my bit to preserve it.
OEB: Whether it be writing for your blog, or writing a novel, which do you find most challenging about writing? Expressing the thought? Or coming up with the thought?
Wendy: I am an innovative rather than creative. So I think coming up with the idea or thought is always most challenging for me. For example, once I started working on this folklore project, the fictional part of it came to me so I now know the paranormal story I will write once I finish this book.
OEB: And I must ask, what's going on over there in Joburg? What's your favourite thing to do/attraction to visit outside of the house?
Wendy: Oh, I am very unexciting. My favourite places that I'll even lie to ditch my family, is spending time in bookshops and teagardens. Not coffeshops, teagardens. We also do a lot of dining out because I'm lazy in the kitchen. And I love shopping for house things so the deco shops are another place of extreme interest. I'm about to relocate to Nigeria though, and am in a state of panic because I have to fit in all the things I planned to do sometime later into a few weeks. I have to take my kids to the Kruger National Park which is a must go to venue. As well as the Maropeng Centre (Cradle of Human Kind).This is where the first "human" fossil Mr. Ples was found.
OEB: If I were to visit, what are some things/attractions I must see/do while there?
Wendy: Definitely the two places I've just mentioned and then we have some delightful places outside Johannesbrg such as Cape Town, my hometown of course is the best of all the states. You have to visit Cape Point where two oceans meet, the Benguela and the Indian. After that picnic you'd be off to the wine route the next day and that is magnificent. And if you're feeling frisky you can visit places like Witsands also in the Cape to watch wales mating...LOL. Both cities, including Durban have a fabulous nightlife.
OEB: And saving the best part...I love a good recipe too. (Smile). Salmon, shrimp, and stews are my favourite foods. Can you give me a good recipe, or a good dish to try native to South Africa?
Wendy: Keeping your favourites in mind, here is my meat one. I would have gone more traditional but I was scared of scaring you. Things like trotters and beans or sheep head, etc. Those are SA favourites.
So here for the faint hearted:
1 kg oxtail, cut into pieces; 65 ml flour, salt and freshly ground black pepper. 15 ml oil, 2 rashers bacon, chopped, (1) small onion, peeled 6 whole cloves, 2 cloves garlic, peeled, 2 carrots, peeled and quartered lengthways, 375 ml beef stock, 410 g tomato purée, 1 parsnip, peeled and quartered lengthways, 1 leek, thickly sliced.
1. Place oxtail in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Skim any froth from the surface with a spoon. Drain meat and leave to cool. Pat dry with paper towel.
2. Preheat oven to 160 ºC. Put flour, salt and pepper in a large plastic bag, place oxtail in bag and shake to coat with flour.
3. Heat oil in a large frying pan, add bacon and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from pan.
4. Add oxtail and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Transfer to casserole dish. 5. Add bacon, onion studded with the cloves, garlic and half the carrot. Stir in stock and tomato purée. Cover and bake in oven for 3 hours.
6. Add remaining carrot, parsnip and leek. Cook for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
OEB: And to the passage that nearly caused Wendy a fit because it wasn't where it originally was, she found it and sent this addendum.
Wendy: For the longest time after reading American Gods the first time, I unwittingly saw gods everywhere. For example I'd say people who have drug, alcohol, and such addictions worship the gods of chaos. If like me you are a shopaholic who prefers cards than cash to avoid the guilt then you, unfortunately, are a subject of the gods of plastic. A situation I am working hard to remedy. Plastic is not sexy. LOL, it's just one of the quirky ways I have fun with myself.
OEB: I absolutely enjoyed this interview. Very warm and extremely informative. I couldn't get enough of that mini South African tour. I'm convinced. I might not pull off the oxtails, though I'm going to try, but I'm most certainly bumping South Africa up on destinations to visit.
Read more of Wendy at her blogspots;
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