Archive for the ‘The Great Interview Experiment 2009’ Category

I was recently interviewed by Rizado for Neil Kramer’s Great Interview Experiment 2009.

Rizado posed this question to me,

“Name your top five foreign locales that everyone should visit?”

Whittling down the list of amazing places that I have visited – to just five… became a battle of the senses…

Travelling to satisfy your five senses
Beijing, China
Beijing is for me the ultimate in contradictions, it’s all high-tech lightning speed, nestled beside ancient hutongs and revolutionary scars.
It’s all about the sights.
The bustle of humanity, the snaking Great Wall, the immensity of the soul-breaking Tiananmen Square and the most delicious of them all, The Forbidden City- home to the Dynastic Emperors and their hundreds of Empresses and Consorts and Concubines and a mind boggling array of offspring. The grounds of which are now visited by Chinese tourist families, who sightsee the magnificent ancient ways of privilege and excess, holding the hands of their single children tightly.
Pentecoste Island, Vanuatu
Every year the local men of this island village perform an amazingly-scary ritual called N’gol or Land Diving,  jumping head first from hand built scaffolds miles in the sky. And between them and death is their Gods and a single ropy green vine.
But this is not what will touch you in Pentecoste.
As we snorkeled the azure waters pointing in delight at extraordinarily coloured corals and fish, my daughter met a smiling and happy island girl on the soft sands of the beach.  And by the very nature of little girls there was no shyness or awkwardness over language barriers, there was just an immediate friendship.
They showed each other their bags.
My daughter had her DS and ipod and lollies and toys and other girly treasures.
The smiling and happy island girl had a shell and the stub of an old grey-lead pencil.
It was a lesson in the material nature of happiness given to my daughter, like a gift wrapped in banana leaves, that touched all of our hearts.
Rome, Italy
In Rome I was taken to a restaurant that screamed so badly of cliché it almost made my eyeballs bleed red, white and green.
From the expected check of the table cloths right through to the stubs of melted candles stuffed into old bottles of chianti, still in their little straw bikinis.
The waiter seeing that we were foreigners took it upon himself to organize the menu. He said it would be traditional. I wasn’t holding out for too much.
But what followed was a meal that was operatic to the palate.
Simple pane, bread slices drizzled with olive oil, melanzane- vinegared slices of purple skinned eggplant, forkfuls of mushrooms clinging to tomato drenched tagiatelle, tender osso buco scattered with shavings of aged romano cheese and flat leaf parsley, and limone gelato so glacial and lemony-brutal that our lips remained puckered in ecstasy till the following morning.
New York City, U.S.A
Good Lawd, the cacophony of New York is the sweetest clang of music to my ears. It’s a heady brilliant scream of conceit, from a goddamn sexy bitch who has every effen right to be conceited.
Traffic and music and words and food and art that’s the hiphop-techno-crunch-folky-rock-ballad of your soul.
And the taxi driver who drives with one hand on his horn and the other waving the bird as he screams out the window at the arsehole who just cut us off.
Don’t worry, no probs, we’re in no hurry! we say wide-eyed-petrified from the back seat.
S’okaaaay the taxi driver sings bringing his head back into the cab,
Relaaaax man!
This is how we do things in New York.
Melbourne, Australia
On any given summer evening there is a smell that wafts, tantalizingly over the suburban fences of my home town, Melbourne.
Can you smell it? Come stand at the front of my house, yes, right here on the footpath. Lift your nose to the air, breath it in deeply. That’s the inhalation of Australia.
It’s blended gum leaves, fresh cut lawn, and steaks grilling on the bbq. You can almost taste the potato salad and smell the coconuty sunscreen on the children who are running around in their bathers eating sausages in square bread squirted with tomato sauce.
The salty air of the ocean is twenty minutes to one side and dark mossy smells from the foresty mountain ranges are twenty minutes the other way.
And in between, is the brackish upside down river that courses through a city so multicultural that it simply smells of the foods from all nations.


You can read the full interview here.

Thank you Rizado… it was fun talking to you about one of my great loves… travel!


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Stretch- Mary Schmich


Recently I signed up for devilishly-evil-literary-genius Neil Kramer’s  world renown- The Great Interview Experiment .

Immediately after I had joined the comment queue I sat wondering who would land on me  (for me to interview) and who would land under me  (to interview me).

I waited, nervously looking up and looking down… 

feeling oddly trapped in the kitschy opening credits of the Brady Bunch… 

then voila! 

I saw that I had luckily ended up the meat in a lovely-erm-lady-sandwich.

*Cue the lights and fanfare* 

I was to interview Ms. Velvet Verbosity.

I tentatively stretched a hand of welcome out into the wobbly ether of the internet, hoping it would be accepted and clasped, (as opposed to slapped and spat at) and much to my delight it was gripped and shook firmly by a character, of wit, warmth and intelligence.

Over the past two days I’ve spent some time tip-toe-ing stalkerishly through Velvet’s web site and found I was fascinated by her penchant for 100 word challenges.

 I love a challenge. 

So I set about designing the Interview based on something I thought Velvet would like (even though it fully screwed with my mind.)

There is not an *and* or a *but* more than 100 words in the questions which I sent her,

and here is how it went…


You have a stunning name, Velvet Verbosity. How did you come up with it?
I’d like to say that my rapier sharp wit just pulled that one out of the air, but choosing the name actually took a lot of time, and a lot of cruising through the dictionary and thesaurus.  What I knew was that I wanted the name to relate to writing, and somehow capture the particular flavor of my writing, and I also knew I wanted it to start with V.   Because V is the most awesome letter in the alphabet when you stop and think about it.   It is completely contradictory.  Visually, it is strong, clean, sharp and decisive, yet acoustically and sensationally it is entirely luxurious. 
What inspired you to create the 100 word challenge?

You know, I started blogging a few times on various other platforms before landing here.  I started out on Friendster (show of hands please!) and had a built in readership with my friends, and whenever I posted something new it showed up on my profile.  Kind of easy-peasy.  When Friendster died, I tried moving it to Myspace.  I wasn’t really looking to blog-blog at that point, I just wanted to write when I felt like it and have a few people read it.  Anyway, Myspace was awful on so many levels, so I joined a small network of blogs that were operated under an early template of social networking sites.  Again, built in readership, only this time it wasn’t people I knew first hand, but I quickly became friends with a few other people that were serious about trying to write something good.  The 100 Word Challenge was started there, and not by me, as a fun writing exercise we could share.  

When I left to set up an independent blog, I didn’t have a clue about “real” blogging, and I also didn’t have any particular direction in mind.  I hadn’t even really started reading other blogs, most I found randomly weren’t very good.  Somehow, I heard about NaBloPoMo and joined that in 2007 where I picked up a small readership, and suddenly felt like I had to pick some sort of direction. I saw some common ingredients in “successful” blogs.  

There was the “Let it All Hang Out” method, where anonymity is thrown to the wind, and entire lives are put out there in the public eye.  I’ve never had the stomach for it.  One of my readers has said I’m radically private for a blogger.  What I’m looking to share are parts of my mind, my art if you will, not my whole life.

Then there was humor, or to be more accurate, snark.  These days the two seem to be interchangeable.  I can do snark, when I want to.  Trouble is, I like snark as much as the next blogger, but I do get bored with reading it after a while, and kind of like I need a shower after reading an abundance of it.  So I feel disingenuous when I try to move my blog in that direction.  I save it for random Twitter moments, and to deflect personal questions. 

Finally, the popular expert method –  staying focused on one topic until you’re deemed an expert by the sheer volume of unique hits per month to your blog. In 2007, I wasn’t ready to dedicate a lot of time to blogging, and would have needed 3-4 blogs to focus on my passions.  

So, as I was wrestling to figure it all out, I introduced the 100 Word Challenge, sort of as a stop gap, but also because I had loved this exercise in the community blogging, and I was really hoping to revive it with the readers from that community that were still following me.  As luck would have it, two of the three bloggers from that community confessed that they had always hated the exercise.  Oh well.  My other readers, however, snapped it right up, so really, it all sort of happened because a butterfly flapped its wings somewhere and this is where I ended up. 

Incidentally, I’ve also seen it done on other blogs. In fact, there’s a blogger whose every post is 100 Words, and another blog where the entire blog is focused on a 100 word challenge, and recently I “met” a college English professor who uses this exercise with her students.    

Banana Sandwiches with ketchup sound positively torturous.
What food is your ultimate pleasure?
Shepherd’s Pie is my comfort food.  When I was in college, there was a market across the street from me that had the best Shepherd’s Pie, so during high stress times (every day for four years), I was single-handedly wiping out their supply. 
And chocolate.  Of course chocolate.
You signed up for NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo? Why? Are you certifiable?
Possibly.  Seriously though, I’m that woman who has been writing her whole life, but never dared call herself a writer or pursue that passion because it wasn’t practical.  Then you reach this point in your life where you realize if you don’t start doing what you love, your soul is going to shrivel and blacken and you’ll end up being that crazy old woman who has a permanent scowl, eats children for breakfast, and smells like decay on burnt toast.  When I thought about that, signing up for both seemed the most sane and practical thing I could do.  
What book on your shelf could you not live without and why?
What is this, like Sophie’s Choice?  I’d have to choose from the Eastern Religions books, the Neuroscience books, the Feminist books, the Fiction, and the beloved Children’s books.  But I guess if you were going to murder them all if I didn’t choose one, it would be “If you Give a Pig a Pancake”, because it makes me laugh, and it makes children laugh, and if all my books were gone I would need that.
On twitter you say your location is: Who Invited the Stalkers?
Who would you like to be stalked by? Why?
Is this a trick question?  Like I’m going to invite the stalkers?  You know, now that I think about it, I wouldn’t mind telling people that Pete “Geeky-Sexy” Cashmore once stalked me.  Why?  Just note the middle name.
Who would you stalk? Why?
In today’s online world, I feel like I’m all-stalk-all-the-time.  You ever feel that way when you’re reading Tweets, or looking at someone’s newly posted photo album on Facebook?  I do.  Every once in a while I suddenly feel like I know way too much about pretty much everybody.  

I would probably totally stalk The Bloggess, because I really want to know if she and Victor really have those conversations the way she says. 

If you were the first sentence in your very own novel what would that line be?

When she was asked the question, “If you were the first sentence in your very own novel, what would that line be?”, she answered, “I don’t give out the genius for free”.

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