• Karen Hugg Book Reading, The Strange Sensation of Being a Book Star for an Hour, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/07/14/book-reading/ #KarenHugg #book #reading #TheForgettingFlower #Paris #fiction #literary #thrillers #Seattle #ThirdPlaceBooks

    The Strange Sensation of Being a Book Star for an Hour

    A few weeks ago, I debuted as an author. Just me, no one else. I’d read in public many times, but I had always read alongside other fellow writers, never on my own. This was the first time I would give a talk and read from The Forgetting Flower, solo. People were coming, if any came at all, to see me and no one else. I was the sole entertainment for about an hour. And it scared the sh*t out of me.

    Don’t Panic, Yes, Panic

    To stave off the panic beforehand, I focused on being as prepared as possible. I emailed the Third Place Books contact and made sure all was ready and that they would order the books in time, I politely asked for a promo poster when every author’s in June and July was made except mine. I registered the talk with all of the local newspapers and blogs, and lastly, I figured out what I would talk about.

    That last task was more difficult than I expected. The store had asked me to give a short talk and do a reading. I figured I could do that but how to make it not boring? How to break the ice? I wrestled with my brain in an effort to figure out a joke to start off the speech. While eating lunch with my husband, I’d say, “How about this,” and then lay a joke on him. Silence. Or he’d say, “I don’t know. If you want.” I’d frown. Nothing impressed him. So, I kept working on it.

    A couple of days before the reading, I nailed down what I wanted to talk about. Three things the book covered: plants, Paris, and Poland. I had a little story to share about each, so I wrote out what I wanted to say word for word. I told myself I could read from it or just use it as a guide. Then I decided I’d read a few pages from The Forgetting Flower, enough to hopefully get people interested in the book. I was done.

    My Other Angst

    During the days leading up to the reading, I worried no one would show. Yes, I had close friends in Seattle but more were scattered across the U.S. and Europe. They weren’t able to make a global trek for my one evening. At the last minute my sister, thrilled at my publishing my novel, asked if I’d feel better if she came from Chicago. I said yes. So she did. Just like that. And I thought, okay, that makes an audience of seven people.

    On the night before the reading, in a fit of desperation, I lay in bed and told my husband my last idea for a joke. He laughed. Thank God.

    And a Party?

    I have trouble managing my calendar sometimes. I doublebook myself and forget about appointments. Sometimes I literally don’t know where one of my three kids is at any given moment. So, in my pre-reading launch haze, I thought it would be a good idea to throw a party at my house, which was two minutes by car from the bookstore. Really? Well, guess what? That adds a layer of tidying and cleaning and window washing and cat box scooping and lawn mowing that I hadn’t thought about! How dense am I?

    Well, thanks to my family and friends, I got all of that part done. And by the time the reading came around, I knew some of my neighbors were coming so I knew I’d have more in the audience than seven people. But I didn’t know how many would actually show. I mean, people get busy, right? Well, a lot showed. They and my outer circle of friends and fellow writers and even some folks I didn’t know! I was delighted to see the bookstore add chairs. The total was 40 plus people. Whew.

    Karen Hugg Book Reading 2, The Strange Sensation of Being a Book Star for an Hour, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/07/14/book-reading/ #KarenHugg #book #reading #TheForgettingFlower #Paris #fiction #literary #thrillers #Seattle #ThirdPlaceBooks
    Karen Hugg, Book Reading, 2019
    All Eyes on Me

    It’s strange for everyone from your sister who’s known you since you were kids to your newest fellow author friends to be waiting for your words. So before launching into my stories, I gave them my most honest feelings about the whole thing. I told everyone that I had tried to get on top of this event by writing out an agenda. I showed them the paper. But I told them that for some reason the first item I’d put at the very top was: “hide in bathroom and wait until everyone leaves.”

    It got a laugh. I felt relieved. Then I realized that I hadn’t brought my glasses to the podium and couldn’t see a spec of what I’d written, unless of course I crammed the paper at my face. So I launched into the story of plants and fragrance, then searched for the highlighted, bolded sentences. Those bolded sentences saved me. I got through the talk, I read the first pages. I even got through the book signing. And before I knew it, I was at home drinking a cocktail and laughing with friends. Turns out I could handle being a temporary book “star” after all.

    Karen Hugg Book Reading Party, The Strange Sensation of Being a Book Star for an Hour, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/07/14/book-reading/ #KarenHugg #book #reading #TheForgettingFlower #Paris #fiction #literary #thrillers #Seattle #ThirdPlaceBooks
    Karen Hugg, Book Reading Party, 2019
  • St. Petersburg, Russia, How an Odd Stain on a Russian Sidewalk Inspired My Novel, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/18/sidewalk-russia/ #Russia #StPetersburg #crime #blood #fiction #sidewalk #books #novels
    Books,  Writing

    How an Odd Stain on a Sidewalk in Russia Inspired My Novel

    It was late afternoon in St. Petersburg, Russia. A cloudy day but warm. I was walking back to the inn where I was staying for a writer’s workshop through the Summer Literary Seminars program. Soon, I came to a strange dried puddle on the sidewalk and almost stepped in it. I had to take a wide turn into the street to go around. Red and crusted, about a two-foot-wide blob, I thought it was paint. I looked up at the line of apartment windows, wondering where the scaffolding or ladders were. There were no workers in overalls or any such thing, so I walked on, wondering where the paint had come from but ultimately thinking nothing of it.

    A Friend’s Story

    Later that evening, after a group of us writers had had dinner and were chatting, my friend Adrian said he’d seen the craziest scene earlier that day. He was in a nearby bar having lunch when he saw a man beat up another man across the street. “Oh God, the one guy just kept pounding the other guy, so viciously, over and over and over,” he said. He shook his head as if to clear it. “Ugh. It was like the sound of a club hitting raw meat.”

    Apparently, a woman had been at the fight too, trying to pull off the aggressor from the victim. After the guy beat the hell out of his nemesis, Adrian said, he did something that struck Adrian as funny. “He went over to his car, unlocked the trunk, and took off his T-shirt. It was soaked in blood. Then, he took out a fresh T-shirt, put it on, closed the trunk, and walked across the street into the bar,” Adrian said. “He just sat down and ordered a drink like what he’d done was no big deal.”

    Shocked, we laughed and shook our heads. We’d all seen intense, crazy things in St. Petersburg but this was truly the story that epitomized Russia. It could be a mean nasty place where somehow life went on. A few minutes later, I realized something. I asked Adrian where the fight had happened. He said about 50 feet from the inn, on the same side of the street. Where I’d been earlier. It dawned on me: that dried stain on the sidewalk hadn’t been paint. It was blood.

    A Lasting Image in My Mind

    That realization stayed with me for years. The image of the dried blood on the sidewalk that had drained into the street. It was so big! The brutality of it was extraordinary. Still, I’ve always wondered how I could have mistaken blood for paint. It was so obvious after Adrian told the story. But the dark stain looked exactly like scarlet paint. As if someone had accidentally kicked over a bucket. I didn’t think in a million years it could be blood.

    So when I started outlining The Forgetting Flower, I had this experience sitting in the back of my mind. And when I started drafting the first chapter, it just came out in the story. Renia walks by a building, sees a streak of red liquid rolling down a building. She thinks it’s paint. What else could it be, right? Well, she figures out soon enough that it’s not, and when she figures out what it is and where it’s from, her entire world turns upside down. It’s not from a fight, it’s from a different kind of event. And the rest, of course, is the unraveling of events that make up her story. If you’d like to read it, click here.

    If you’d like information on the Summer Literary Seminars, which is a fantastic, supportive program for writers, go here. I highly recommend it!

  • Pierre T-shirt Paris, Where in the World is The Forgetting Flower T-shirt? Paris! Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/17/t-shirt-paris/ #books #Paris #France #TheForgettingFlower #T-shirt #French #thrillers #literary #Pierre
    Books,  Paris & France

    Where in the World is The Forgetting Flower T-shirt? Paris!

    On the eve of The Forgetting Flower‘s book release, the TFF T-shirt is in Paris with my dear friend Pierre-Marie Dufour! When he isn’t taking photos in front of flower shops and being a part-time model, he manages a magazine and travels the world. We talked about his first impressions of Paris, his translation of Dan Savage’s The Kid, a dreamy vacation home in Spain, and the secrets of the Vatican.

    Who are you and what do you do for fun (either in your job or outside of your job)?

    My name is Pierre, I’m 55 years old (already!) and I’ve been married to Frédéric for five years now (although we’ve been together for 15 years). My main occupation is being editor-in-chief of a magazine aimed at owners of second homes in south Brittany in France. It’s called Le Journal des Propriétaires de la baie de Quiberon.

    As you can imagine, writing is one of my passions, so is culture in general. I translated the book, The Kid by Dan Savage, into French, a few years ago. I especially love to attend concerts featuring my favorite pop or jazz artists, visit art exhibitions … and read good books.

    Frederic T-shirt Paris, Where in the World is The Forgetting Flower T-shirt? Paris! Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/17/t-shirt-paris/ #books #Paris #France #TheForgettingFlower #T-shirt #French #thrillers #literary #Frederic
    Frédéric in Paris
    You were born and raised in France, and have lived in Paris for decades. How has the city changed since you first moved there?

    I was born in Normandy, but since it was a period of economic boom, my parents moved around the country each time my dad was offered a better-paying job. They eventually settled in the Poitiers area. 

    In the late 1980s, I spent a year in Paris as a student. I hated it. I had very little money and thought everything was expensive. The people seemed unfriendly. Later, I moved to Paris in 1994 when I became the assistant to Fnac Music‘s general manager. After I settled in, I loved living in the City of Light. I’ve made many friends here, including my partner. Now, I love the fact that the city, as it’s one of the world’s cultural hubs, is much more environmentally friendly.

    You also live in Mijas, Spain. Why did you choose Spain? What do you like about it? What’s not so great?

    Through our friend Laurent, we got a chance to buy a small house with a pool overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. At first, we had no intention to buy a second home, as we thought it would diminish our opportunities to travel to other parts of the world, but we fell in love with the place. As we are now able to receive Internet through optical fiber there, I am able to work from Spain, and I try to spend at least 15 days every two months there. I even tend to extend my stay when the weather is beautiful — which is very often!

    What’s not so great about Spain is Spanish people are very friendly but it is sometimes difficult to navigate through the administrative processes.

    The Forgetting Flower T-shirt Paris, Where in the World is The Forgetting Flower T-shirt? Paris! Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/17/t-shirt-paris/ #books #Paris #France #TheForgettingFlower #T-shirt #French #thrillers #literary #Pierre
    Pierre in Paris
    What are some of your favorite books and why?

    Let’s talk about French authors. Most of their publications are not translated in English, but this one is, and it’s one of the last books I’ve read and enjoyed: In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexulality, Hypocrisy. Its author, Frédéric Martel, is a well-regarded journalist, who spent four years researching for the book. The title tells what it is all about, and I read its 500 plus pages like it was a captivating novel.

    Do you have a website or project you’d like people to know about?

    The magazine website is not kept up to date as it takes lots of effort to maintain. Most of our readers subscribe to the paper magazine and the rest buy it at newsstands anyway. That brings in half of our revenue. The other half comes from print advertising. Advertisers love the fact that we have a very targeted audience that they have no other way to reach. So our print magazine is still going strong after 15 years! If you’re in Brittany, you can check it out at a local newsstand.

  • Natasha Oliver, Where in the World is The Forgetting Flower T-shirt? England, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/05/t-shirt-england #TheForgettingFlower #T-shirt #NatashaOliver #author #books #novels #scifi #England

    Where in the World is The Forgetting Flower T-shirt? England

    Today, The Forgetting Flower T-shirt is in near Reading, England with author Natasha Oliver. Natasha talks about moving to England after living in Singapore, her love of Brené Brown, and her new book The Evolved Ones, Awakening. Check out our talk.

    Who are you and what do you do for fun (either in your job or outside of your job)?

    My name is Natasha Oliver and I’m a wife, a mom, and a writer. The order depends on the time of day. For fun, I like a variety of things. I like to go for walks because now I live in the English countryside. I also like reading, playing with my kids, and traveling.

    Why do you live where you live? What do you like about it? What’s not so great?

    We just moved from Singapore a few months ago to the countryside of England to take some time out and focus on family. While I love the open space and the fresh, country air, the weather has been the hardest to adjust to. I really miss the consistency of Singapore’s climate. I’m told that it gets warm here for more than a few days a year, but I’ll have to wait and see—not trusting anybody’s word on it just yet.

    Natasha Oliver in England, Where in the World is The Forgetting Flower T-shirt? England, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/06/05/t-shirt-england #TheForgettingFlower #T-shirt #NatashaOliver #author #books #novels #scifi #England
    What are some of your favorite books and why?

    Oh, this is a hard one as I read a little bit of every kind of fiction. I really like The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo because the main character resonates with me. Each time I read it, I get something new from it. I think he wrote that from his soul because it speaks to mine. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown because she is a genius and I respect the hell out of each word she puts on the page. I admire her ability to be vulnerable and to speak the truth, and the fact that her truth is similar to mine only makes it a better read. The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne because I can tell he had fun writing it, and I had just as much fun reading it.

    What is it about The Alchemist that speaks to your soul? Why that special connection?

    In all honesty, every time I read that book, I get something new and different out of it. Most recently, what resonated the most was Santiago’s journey of self-discovery. Oh sure, that was always there, but it didn’t resonate with me like it had the previous times. I see so much of myself in Santiago: the drive to explore, to see different things, to think the grass is greener on the other side. Yet, what impressed me was how despite all the wonders that Santiago experienced in each place, he didn’t allow himself to get distracted for long from his ultimate goal. Instead, those experiences aided him.

    Also, Santiago fumbles. How often do we fumble in life? He makes bad choices, but he’s human and his quest is one that I think regardless of who you are and what stage of life you’re in, you can relate to him. Old or young, male or female, parent or not, our journeys are intertwined when we approach them with an open mind. It’s like Coehlo said, “Following your dream is like learning a foreign language: you will make mistakes but you will get there in the end.”

    Do you have a website or project you’d like people to know about?

    Yes. I have a book coming out in late July, 2019: The Evolved Ones, Awakening. It’s the first in an exciting urban fantasy series set in a world where human evolution has resulted in a small group of individuals developing special abilities that others would do anything to replicate.

    If Harry Dresden (Dresden Files by Jim Butcher) and Atticus O’Sullivan (The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne) were women, they’d be similar to my character, Rox. My book is like theirs because their characters are chronically flawed but always try to do the right thing. In my genre (urban fantasy and paranormal romance) so often the protagonist is a twenty-something, fair-headed beauty who is a spit-fire of perfection. Her flaws are the types of answers you’d give in a job interview. You know the kind: “My weakness is that I work too hard, it’s like I can’t go home until the job is done.” [insert eye roll]

    I wanted to write a character who had depth to her, who has lived long enough to realize that beauty fades and that with all of the knowledge you gain, you ultimately learn that you don’t know jack shit. Her poor choices—not matter why she chose them—have consequences, and she was going to have to suffer them.

    The best place to find out more information about The Evolved Ones: Awakening is on Natasha’s Facebook page. Also, follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her blog (peaceandcenter.com) is very personal and where you can find out the most about who she is as a human being.

  • Benny Martinson, Where in the World Is the Forgetting Flower T-Shirt? New York City, Karen Hugg, https://karenhugg.com/2019/05/26/t-shirt-new-york-city/, #BennyMartinson #Google #choralsinging #Khorikos #NewYorkCity #GerardManleyHopkins #Harlem #Brooklyn

    Where in the World Is the Forgetting Flower T-Shirt? New York City

    Today, The Forgetting Flower T-shirt is in New York City with Benny Martinson. Benny talks about his work as a programmer, the poetry of felled forests, and the evolution of cephalopods! Not your everyday conversation. Oh, and he doesn’t mention it much here, but he’s an amazing singer. Check out our talk.

    Who are you and what do you do for fun (either in your job or outside of your job)?

    I’m Benny. I grew up in Alaska and have called New York City home for six years now. I’m a composer by training, but by day I work for Google, as a programmer on Google Docs. I’ve always loved making things. When I’m not at work, I spend much of my time writing music, programming, and experimenting in the kitchen. Lately, I’ve been trying to master cheesecake. My latest, Oreo coffee cheesecake, was not bad.

    Why do you live where you live? What do you like about it? What’s not so great?

    I live in Harlem. It’s a great neighborhood. Our neighbors are friendly and everybody looks out for each other. The commute to work is not bad (about 45 minutes), and the apartments are larger than average for NYC. The only downside is that most people I know live in Brooklyn, which is about an hour away on the subway.

    Living in New York is generally great. There is so much great music, culture, art, and food. We have three terrible airports, but among them there’s always a great flight to wherever I need to go.

    What are some of your favorite books and why?

    My favorite book that I’ve read recently is Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith. The author gave a fascinating talk about it at my office. Our nearest common ancestor with octopuses is a small worm-like creature with extremely limited capacities, so the intelligence of octopuses and other cephalopods evolved completely separately from our own.  This book describes the history of their evolution and uses these incredible creatures to explore philosophy of the mind.

    Other favorites include Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, 1493 by Charles C Mann, and the first 20 pages of Moby Dick.

    As you might have guessed, I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I love poetry.  Probably my favorite poet is Gerard Manley Hopkins. His work is so beautiful and vivid. His vocabulary is archaic and quirky, so it takes some work to penetrate its outer shell, but it’s worth it. “Binsey Poplars,” a tribute to a felled forest, is probably my favorite.

    Do you have a website or project you’d like people to know about?

    You can check out my music at www.benjaminmartinson.com.