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Category: News

Welcome to Guest Author Nadine Dajani

Today’s guest author is Nadine Dajani, who’s led quite an interesting life, in many exotic locales, which certainly influence her novels.  Her second novel, Cutting Loose, has drawn praise from Publishers Weekly as “engrossing.”

Please Welcome Nadine Dajani:

JG: Tell me a little about your book.
 
ND: It’s a friendship tale that unfolds backwards… and spans a few continents! When Ranya, the pampered, sheltered daughter of wealthy Middle-Eastern parents finds out that the Prince Charming she’d shelved her virginity for would rather bed Paolo the decorator-cum-underwear-model than her, she decides to leave humiliation behind and flees towards the comfort of Harrods and Harvey Nic’s across the pond. Except her parents don’t let her have her way this time, and demand she come home or else find a way to fend for herself. Luckily an accidental run-in with a hot young Miami mogul and a less lucky encounter with an unfriendly childhood acquaintance, Zahra, see Ranya accepting a job working for Rio, a Latina editor of a Miami fashion magazine with a serious chip on her shoulder. The different ethnic backgrounds and temperaments of this unlikely trio – not to mention their romantic designs over a couple of seriously eligible bachelors – is what sets off the fireworks. Think of this book as Girls of Riyadh meets The Dirty Girls Social Club. 
 
JG: What got you writing in the genre in which you write?
 
ND: I fell in love with the voices of chick lit authors early on, and the versatility of the genre. I know that for marketing reasons publishers started slapping pastel colored covers on anything that was lighthearted in tone and directed at women. And though I never took issue with the covers, it did annoy me that all chick lit writers, the good, the bad, and the ugly, were looked down upon as inferior in the same way. I think that much of chick lit leans towards mainstream fiction, which is just a way of saying “topical” or “of general interest” and that’s why I love writing in this genre – the freedom to cover whatever topics I want, even potential downers like racism and immigration, with a light, funny tone.
 
JG: Favorite thing about being a writer?
 
ND: I love “research”. The first scene in Cutting Loose is inspired by an actual (unfortunate) event that transpired while I was visiting a friend in London and was having lunch on the rooftop terrace at Harvey Nichols. Every morning when my friend would leave for work and I’d hit the London shops, she would say: aren’t you supposed to be writing??
And I would say: I am! Promise! I’m researching!
Now that she’s read Cutting Loose and recognized her city in the pages, she has conceded that I was in fact “researching” : )
I love that writing is essentially an excuse to learn about things that have always interested you, or at least to be open enough about the world around you that you see every chance encounter, every unexpected interesting locale or event as potential fodder for creativity.
 
JG: Least favorite thing about being a writer?
ND: The discipline. I have to admit that it’s a struggle for me to get words on the page every single day, though I really wish I was one of those writers who could sit down and be creative every morning between the hours of 5 and 8 am and then go off and start the rest of their day. I also hate this newfound addiction to Amazon rankings… 
 
JG: What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author?
 
ND: I live in the Cayman Islands, which is a small enough pond that you can easily feel like a big fish if you tried. I love that after a spread in the local paper when my first book came out, everyone – from the girl who usually books my airline tickets, to barristas at my favorite coffee shop to a stranger who’d actually read my book and recognized me from my author photo – they now smile and ask me how the writing is going when they see me. Being published in fiction also opened the door for my travel writing – a huge dream that fell right into my lap after Fashionably Late was released. 
 
JG: What’s your favorite type of pie?
 
ND: Apple, hands down. There’s something about the baked-apples-and-cinnamon combo that gets me no matter what shape it’s presented in. And pumpkin isn’t exactly popular in the Middle East, so I’ve yet to taste pumpkin pie… I guess apple wins by default anyway.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon to Palestinian parents, Nadine spent the first nine years of her life in Saudi Arabia before settling in Montreal. While Nadine could definitely think of better ways of spending a year than devoting it to mastering the French language, the experience (and all that duty-free terminal shopping) would turn Nadine onto the wonders of world travel and the quirky, unexpected (and usually hilarious) ways cultures meshed (or stubbornly refused to). As an adult she moved to the Cayman Islands to pursue a career in, what else – offshore banking. And while Nadine has yet to see her “golden parachute” she did get to reap the rewards of Caribbean relocation by island-hopping to nearby Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras and Miami whenever the travel bug bites.

Nadine’s travel articles have been published in Atmosphere magazine. Cutting Loose is her second novel.  

Please Welcome My First GCC Guest Roberta Isleib!

I belong to a writing group called the Girlfriend’s Cyber Circuit. We love to help promote each other’s books when they are released, and so occasionally I will welcome guest authors to visit the blog. This week please welcome Roberta Isleib, whose mystery, Asking for Murder, is the latest in a popular mystery series featuring psychologist/advice columnist/sleuth Dr. Rebecca Butterman.

Isleib’s advice column series debuted in 2007 with Deadly Advice and (I love this title) Preaching to the Corpse. A clinical psychologist, Isleib says the work of the detective in a mystery has quite a bit in common with long-term psychotherapy: Start with a problem, follow the threads looking for clues, and gradually fill in the big picture. So we’ll follow our own clues to learn more about Roberta Isleib (who is a fellow Nancy Drew/Bobbsey Twins fan!)

JG: Tell me a little about your book.

RI: When Dr. Rebecca Butterman’s dear friend, a sandplay therapist, is found beaten and left for dead, Rebecca’s determined to help search for answers. With a would-be killer on the loose, she can only hope the clues are buried within easy reach. Besides the mystery, the book is about best friends, craziness in families, and the mysteries of sandplay therapy.

JG: What got you writing in the genre in which you write.

RI:  I’ve been a mystery fan as long as I can remember, starting with the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames…and I still read tons of them. So writing one myself was a natural progression.

JG:  Favorite thing about being a writer?

RI:  I love looking at what I’ve written and feeling excited about it. And seeing the new book in all its stages. And meeting fans and talking books. And I simply adore the friends I’ve made along the way.

JG:  Least favorite thing about being a writer?

RI:  The business part is hard–the part I have no control over. I can produce a fabulous book, but unless the publisher is really behind it and I have a bit of luck somewhere along the line, it’s unlikely to be a commercial success. That’s why I do as much as I can to promote, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my writing! I want to be able to say I gave it my all…

JG:  What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author? 

RI:  This year I served as the president of Sisters in Crime, which was founded in 1986 by Sara Paretsky, Nancy Pickard, and others. It’s been a fabulous experience to walk in their footsteps and help guide this organization as it supports professional women mystery writers. Oh, and I loved going to our special conference: Sisters in Crime goes to Hollywood!

JG:  What’s your favorite type of pie?

RI:  Hmmm, only one? I’m going with chocolate cream pie!

 

I Yam What I Yam (so says Popeye)

When I was first married and took on the surname of my husband, I often got quizzical looks when I met new people.

“Jenny Gardiner,” they’d say as they shook my hand. “That name sounds familiar.”

Of course I knew why it was memorable. Because everybody knew I had been blown up in a ski boat a few years earlier while my beloved husband–the intended target–watched helplessly from the shore.  I was the hapless victim of my former fiancé, a fellow supermodel. Well, not really. This was on a soap opera. All My Children, circa 1984: I was one half of the star-crossed couple that enjoyed very little bliss, wedded or otherwise, over their tortured four-year courtship.

Sometimes having a common name can lead to uncommon problems. A couple of years ago a friend was on his way to an elegant wedding when he was pulled over by the police. Seems a routine run of his license plate revealed that he shared the name of a local criminal with a number of warrants out for his arrest. My friend, wedding-bound and attired in black-tie, sat nervously in his car with his entire family until the cop could ascertain that he was not the felon in question.

Nowadays, I enjoy the many alter-egos I never knew I had with the help of my search engine of choice, Google.

Originally I Googled myself to find out if someone owned my domain name. As a writer, I thought it might be useful to own it outright. I was dismayed to learn that I am already owned, by an androgynous minister of Parliament in Australia. Damn, it’s bad enough that I can’t own my own name, but now when my “adoring” fans (or worse-yet old boyfriends!) Google me, the first thing they’re going to pull up is a picture of an impossible-to-discern man/woman who might just send them running for cover.

Once I clicked onto Jenny-the-androgynous-one, I became hooked. I had to see what else I’ve been up to in this world. And I’ve learned Jenny Gardiner is quite the talented woman. I am a Scots fiddle tutor somewhere in Scotland (I assume that’s where Scots fiddlers fiddle.) I’m also an actress, whose 2003 blockbuster film, Queen City Blowout–with the lamentable tagline: Drugs, Death and Bratwurst–may well have been direct-to-video. I just hope it’s not hard-core porn. It’s bad enough that people already think I’m a man.

So what other crazy things have I been up to? Well, for starters, I’m the assistant treasurer and uniforms coordinator of the Saint Mary’s Old Girls Netball Club (affectionately dubbed SMOG) in Wellington. I am pretty certain that netball is like basketball, and I think this is somewhere in New Zealand. It looks like a sport I might enjoy as they wear these adorable tennis-style skirts instead of gym shorts. Must be because I’m in charge of coordinating uniforms and all. Oh, and the upside, based on the pictures from their website: it’s a very good looking group of women. At least I’ve made up for the whole androgyny thing.

Some of my other skills include mixology. I got a rave review for a mean white sangria I concocted at an art-gallery-turned-chic-café in Portland, Maine. My secret ingredient? A wine-poached pear. Evidently the double-maceration does wonders to boost the buzz in the punch.

Onward, though, as I have careers and alter-egos awaiting. Library media teacher at the Terman Library in, oh, darn, I’ll never know where, because Google couldn’t find it. Well, it did indicate that the library might be closed due to budget constraints, so I guess I got the axe.

My husband Robin and I (I have a husband named Robin? Wait till my own spouse hears about that) evidently have naughty cats who have scratched up our wood-chip wallpaper. Which leaves me to wonder, exactly what is wood-chip wallpaper, and why would I want it? Further, why would I want it enough to contact an internet helpline for suggestions on how to repair it?

 I’m a jobs coordinator with the Learning Skills Council in Bedfordshire and Luton. England, I suppose. Good for me, helping to boost local employment.  Oh, and a social worker, also in England (though I look again a bit like that man/woman from Australia.)

I’m a basic skills social worker who enjoys writing. Writing? Another Jenny Gardiner who writes? Oh, no, that’s her colleague. I read the wrong line. Phew.

I came in 84th place in the over-55 division of the Great Scottish Walk. Twelve miles. Not bad. Except 84 women beat me. I wonder how old the ones who finished after me were. Not to be outdone, in Edmonton, Alberta, I ran the 300-meters in just under 45 seconds. That can’t be too bad. The website said it regretfully didn’t have the results in the naked 200-meter run. Let’s just hope there aren’t any pictures of that!

My husband Phil (!) and I own a farm in Australia and my other Australian husband Trent and I have a straw farm and a snazzy eighteen-wheeler in which to haul it. Apparently there’s a lot of me’s in Oz.

In addition, according to a news-hires listing, I have  “vast and diverse experience in all areas of accounting” and now work for Catering Services International. Well, I do love fine food.

Okay, so I did find a blog of a 14-year old Jenny Gardiner who proudly declares that she loves “getting pissed.” Getting pissed? At fourteen! And her boyfriend Chris says that he’s happiest when he’s getting pissed with his girlfriend. She wants “to be a glamour model or sumfink to do wif being a social worker or counciler (sic)” and mentions something about thanking her psychiatrist for fixing her problems. Yikes! I hope she learns to pay more attention in her language arts class in the meantime.

Well, I’m proud of all of those Jenny Gardiners out there. Not a stripper (not counting the naked 200-meter dash!) or hired escort amongst them. As an added bonus, no arrest warrants. It seems that those stewards of my name the world over are keeping the rest of us out of trouble. Thank goodness. Now, if I can only get back to my writing. And whatever you do, don’t bother looking for me at www.jennygardiner.com. S/he’s an imposter, trust me.