Joining me on the couch today is author Elen Ghulam, who has managed to combine two of my favourite things — food and fiction — into a book. Thank you, Elen, for taking the time to chat to me. Please sit down, get comfortable and let’s begin.
About Elen Ghulam
Elen Ghulam is an Iraqi-Canadian living in Vancouver B.C. She worked as a computer programmer for 18 years before turning to writing fiction. Telling stories to silicon chips proved to be easy, and so she graduated to amusing humans. She is a passionate blogger at www.ihath.com.
What’s the name of your new book?
Tell us a bit about your book
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.
Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas always come from the most unexpected places. With Spoonful Chronicles it all started with hummus. Many years ago, I uploaded a video demonstrating how to make the middle eastern recipe. The responses came from far and wide. More surprising were all the responses that had nothing to do with food or cooking. Emails that started with “Your video changed my life” or “You recipe saved my marriage” left me baffled. It all got distilled through the filter of my imagination into an outrageous short story about a woman who experiences existential crisis after making a hummus video. Which led to an angry short story about falafel. By the time I was writing a short story about a marriage falling apart over a shahshuka recipe (eggs cooked in stewed tomatoes) I knew I had the start of a whole novel.
Isn’t life strange? I sent into the world a simple recipe video and got back a novel.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I try to create interesting and unique book trailers for my books. Here is an example:
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I read all the reviews. Both good and bad. I wish I was the sort of person that could honestly say: “I ignore all the bad reviews.” But I am not. The harsh reviews effect me much more that I would like to admit. I have spent hours in bed, crying and feeling sorry for myself as a result of a negative review. I realize that this behavior is childish. I should toughen up and develop thicker skin. I am yet to discover how to make rejection hurt less.
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
I am working on a novel called “Car on a Bus”. It uses traffic as a metaphor for life and tells the story of how impossible it is to get over heart break.
What’s something you’re really good at that few people know about?
I am an ok flamenco dancer. You can watch me perform in this video: https://youtu.be/HMpkLIPrlGE
Dancing is a source of inspiration for my writing.
What’s an interesting fact about your book?
The reader can receive a list of recipes connected to the novel. I have set up a mailing list where recipes shall be mailed directly to the reader’s inbox on a weekly basis. That way you can read the novel and eat it too.
Available formats: ebook and paperback