The Things We Said in Venice

Leave a comment

It’s such a blessing when someone reads your novel and understands the characters and their struggles so well. This post by Stefania Gioffrè, an English teacher in Rome, really struck home. I am so thankful for her post!

e-Tinkerbell

Venice, Italy — A gondola, Venice, Italy — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

There are many reasons why we enjoy traveling. The desire to see dreamlike places, the thrill of meeting new cultures with their art, food, drinks and folklore are of course the most common ones, but sometimes for somebody traveling could also be a way to heal wounds, thus giving the scars the time they need to be barely seen. A change of scenario could reasonably be regarded as the most natural way to turn your back to a distressing past, put all the pieces together and give yourself a new chance.

This is what the two protagonists of Kristin Anderson’s novel “The Things We Said in Venice” have in mind. Sarah Turner, a high school counselor in her late thirties has recently faced a dolorous divorce. She decides to leave her job and home in Bend, Oregon to…

View original post 378 more words

Somebody Feed Phil Vegan Mozzarella

3 Comments

In January 2018, Netflix launched an original documentary series entitled Somebody Feed Phil.*  Phil Rosenthal, a rather famous foodie, is taxed with traveling all over the world in search of mouth watering cuisine.  Instead of focusing on high-end restaurants, Phil enlists his happy disposition to chat up locals and discover everything from the best street food to restaurants and pubs. In the opening lines of the trailer, he says “food is the great connector.” A sage older woman weighs in saying “just find out what people like to eat, and you make them happy.”

17311457_10154268386862213_983549551_oApparently, one episode of Somebody Feed Phil takes place in one of my favorite cities: Venice. As you may have gathered from my second novel The Things We Said in Venice, I also love food, travel and Venice and of course a great love story that makes people happy.  That’s why I’m so excited about this show! Restaurants– both real and fictional–pop up throughout my novel as well as discussions of food, veganism and how our diet effects the planet. But back to love; they say the best way to a person’s heart is through his or her stomach.  Fokke van der Veld, a travel writer like Phil, knows the heart-value of food; he seeks out a vegan restaurant in Venice to woo the vegan of his eye, Sarah Turner. Espen also gives this technique a whirl. Who is Espen? A Norwegian man who also attempts to reach Sarah’s heart through her stomach by making vegan mozzarella.

Based on the trailer, Phil loves all things animal, ranging from pork tacos to lobster fried in egg. I wonder if Phil will add vegan gastronomy into his travel pursuits.

Doing research for a travel novel with a lead character who is vegan required quite a bit of research, including making vegan mozzarella!

Watch this Happy Pear video to see how!

What do you think? Should Somebody Feed Phil Vegan Mozzarella? Would you like to see Phil try some vegan food in the exotic places he visits? Do you think he will? We could tweet him and suggest it! (Twitter handle is @PhilRosenthal )

*Unfortunately, it looks like Somebody Feed Phil is not yet available on Netflix in The Netherlands. Is it available in your country?

Approved by Venice Experts and Dutch Expats!

2 Comments

It has been an exciting last few weeks for me here in The Netherlands. On a personal front, we had the most amazing snow storm that brought the nation to a standstill while whitening the way for snowmen and snowball fights.

On an author front, I had two pleasant surprises!

The Things We Said in Venice was listed as one of the 2017 TOP 10 PICKS by Venice expert and blogger The Venice Insider.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 2.29.25 PM

This is quite an honor, as Katia knows Venice inside and out. I wish I had discovered her blog before I wrote The Things We Said in Venice, as I could have enriched the Venice scenes in my travel romance with tidbits from her blog.  Here is a screen shot of a few of the books that made her list.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 2.30.17 PM

Please follow this Venice Insider link to see her full list of her 2017 Top Ten of Venice-inspired books.

The Things We Said in Venice also made it into the Winter 2017 edition of ACCESS, an expat magazine in The Netherlands with national distribution. Expat journalist Molly Quell wrote the following review:

access review

Print copies of ACCESS magazine are available at expat centers throughout The Netherlands and it is also available digitally. This magazine provides newsworthy information for expats on living abroad, as well as a look at culture and the arts. Here is a link to the online edition of Access magazine.

And my last bit of news is that a shipment of books arrived from the United States a few weeks ago. If you live in The Hague area, you can order a copy through The American Book Center of The Hague, or contact me directly for a signed copy.  It is also available online via Amazon in your respective country in kindle and print format.

 

In Defense of Romance

2 Comments

img_9389

A friend recently sent me an email entitled ‘Reading Suggestions?’

Within the email was a sole link to a September 26th, 2017 article  A Roundup of the Season’s Romance Novels by Robert Gottlieb from the New York Times. That little question mark in the title of my friend’s email threw me off, but as I often ask friends for reading recommendations, I dove right into the article.

My friend has read both of my romance novels and knows I am also a reader of the genre, so perhaps he was sharing some reading tips. Oh the difference a question mark can make!

man-typing-on-a-laptop_1218-559If romance novels were animals, then Robert Gottlieb takes on the role of vivisectionist in this cruel and witty review, using his pen (okay, keyboard and fingers) to slash and dissect the romance genre. And it’s a blood bath, folks. Yes, he’s intelligent. And funny. No. I’m not writing grammatically correct sentences. But Gottlieb has pissed me off.

The first half of his piece is about making fun of the language, plot and sex scenes in both regency (racy) and sweet romance novels by sarcastically summarizing the scenarios and splicing together excerpts from the novels. (Was that alliteration or consonance after my vivisection metaphor?)

Take this passage about Julia Quinn’s The Duke And I:

They: Meet at a ball, banter, begin to fall in love. Yet so many things keep them apart! Will he be able to conquer his demons? Will she be able to help him to? You’ll have to read Julia Quinn’s THE DUKE AND I (Avon/HarperCollins, paper, $7.99) to find out. I can reveal this much, however: The sex is great, he “squirming with desire,” she “writhing with delight.”
Excerpt from A Roundup of the Season’s Romance Novels by Robert Gottlieb. New York Times, Sept 26th, 2017

This is the only novel on his shish kebab list that I’ve actually read (skewered things, get it?).  Although I prefer contemporary romance to historical romance, The Duke and I ended up in my eReader to counterbalance my reading list. I was a bit tired of our contemporary, fast-paced world filled with affairs and deceit and reasoned that something that harkens back to another century might be refreshing.

The Duke and I is set in a romantic period when men gently courted women and innocence (at least in the female characters) was the norm rather than the exception.  Quinn does a reasonable job of creating an interesting cast of characters, defining the historical genre and slowly building the love story. For all the prudishness and innocence of the time, she makes up for it by unleashing passion and connection between the newlyweds in the bedroom. But Gottlieb apparently missed all of that.

Readers of romance don’t approach this genre as a teenage boy (or middle-aged man) with a Playboy or Penthouse magazine. They don’t flip right to the centerfold and get their jollies. Romance readers enjoy the slow build-up of two characters getting to know one another: the banter, the encounters or missed-encounters, those escorted walks through a sprawling estate, the first signs of intimacy, the obstacles they must overcome and yes-oh-yes the sex. More often than not, sex equals intimacy and commitment and eventually love.

Gottlieb the romance vivisectionist ignores this whole build up in Quinn’s novel and unceremoniously flips right to the centerfold. By cutting and splicing “squirming with desire” and “writhing with delight” and plopping them outside of the body of the work, he negates all of that work that brought the characters together and in just a few quick strokes (no pun intended), renders Julia Quinn’s writing as laughable. Not fair!

As someone who will continue reading a bad book just to finish the thing, I have fallen victim to some terrible romance novels with flat characters, God-awful dialogue and truly tasteless sex scenes. But the majority of the romance novels I’ve read create depth of character, realistic obstacles and tastefully written love scenes–some all sugar, some definitely spice.

Gottlieb needs to dig a little deeper into this genre to truly understand it. He could read for example Lauren Layne’s novels primarily set in New York that are smart, funny, witty and sexy. He could delve into Lisa Clark O’Neill’s romantic suspense novels that have self-sufficient female leads, sizzling sex and intelligently written suspense. He might enjoy either of my novels Green and The Things We Said in Venice for their strong female characters and societal depictions, if not the love story itself (or he might put them on the dissecting table!) Or if he prefers chaste but well-written romance novels, consider Outback Hero or Stuck by Australian romance author Elisabeth Rose.

My new favorite discovery is The Civil Wars of Jonah Moran by Marjorie Reynolds.  It addresses racism, fear, love, death and clash of cultures and romance combined with beautiful prose. Or if prose really is your thing, consider Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver: nature, sex, environmentalism and a romance that breaks out of the mold. These might really change his rather toxic view on the genre.

I’ll admit that Gottlieb made me laugh throughout his whole rant about my genre, but it seems he misspelled roundup. He apparently meant to apply RoundUp of the Monsanto ilk to the entire romance genre in an attempt at mass eradication.

Hearts-clip-art-images-imageYet there was one point in his romance roundup with which I fully agree: Nora Roberts is the Queen of Romance. It doesn’t seem to matter if it was written in the 80s, 90s or any time within the 21st century, I have enjoyed almost every Nora Roberts novel I’ve read (her romantic suspense ones can be a bit too brutal).

Cartland’s successor as Queen of Romance is America’s Nora Roberts. And she deserves to be. Roberts is not only extraordinarily industrious — 215 or so novels, including 45 futuristic police procedurals under the pseudonym J. D. Robb, also big best sellers — but her books are sensibly written and on the whole as plausible as genre novels can be.

Excerpt from A Roundup of the Season’s Romance Novels by Robert Gottlieb. New York Times, Sept 26th, 2017

I won’t kid myself and think that Robert Gottlieb will take the time to search out my little author blog and respond. But just in case he does, I invite readers of the romance genre to comment on this post with their top romance picks and WHY they think they are worthy of a readership.

Love, kisses, hot sex and happily ever after! (How’s them apples Mr. Gottlieb?)

Author Kristin Anderson

 

 

 

Sunday Book Review Daphnis and Chloe

Leave a comment

Penguin_Little_Black_Classics Have you seen these cute little black books? They are part of the PENGUIN Little Black Classics series, issued in 2015 to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Penguin Books.

Perhaps by making them pocket-sized, they had hoped to downplay the significance of these works and by doing so, make them appear less daunting / more palatable to the harried, multi-tasking contemporary reader. If that was their ploy, it certainly worked on me.

Why not start out with a highly accessible story in the series entitled Daphnis and Chloe by Longus? It is a pastoral love story that takes place in the 2nd century A.D. on the Greek Isle of Lesbos. This charming tale of two youths, both from unknown origins who were raised by simple farmers in the countryside, comes across as a very simple tale. Yet it has a magical timelessness about it.

Written in an era when people lived off the land, honored the sea nymphs and prayed to the Gods with impressive results, it definitely says 2nd century A.D. But it has a strange modernity about it as well. Homosexuality is seen as perfectly normal and timeless issues of wealth versus poverty, cultural conflicts, deceit, abduction, forgiveness, jealousy, greed, innocence and desire all play a role. Considering so many contemporary novels have mystical elements, Pan intervening on behalf of a love struck man seems almost contemporary.  And for an author of romance such as myself, I was of course happy to learn that at the heart of this little novel is love.

Raised as sheep and goat herders, Daphnis and Chloe spend a lot of time together tending to their flocks out in nature, away from others. Seeing as there’s lots of down time, like when the sheep are resting in the shade, they have plenty of leisure time to swim in the lakes and the rivers, play pipes, weave garlands for the sea nymphs and bathe in the pools of the sea nymphs. Considering the importance of nature and how efficiency in nature is important, it might even be fair to say Daphnis and Chloe is one of the first eco-romances.

Daphnis grows from a happy young boy into a handsome young man. The women of the village liken his beauty to that of the god Dionysus. Chloe transforms from his childhood playmate into a beautiful young woman.  As you can imagine, all of that bathing and touching and time in nature starts to awaken things in them. But do they even recognize what’s going on? No. They don’t. If The Blue Lagoon ever needed a source for depicting innocents discovering the joys of the human body, this could have been their reference book.

Although Daphnis and Chloe are innocent, those around them know the drill. Nevertheless, it takes quite some time before they are enlightened. When Chloe first falls for Daphnis, she has no idea what is happening to her.

“She cared not for her food, lay awake at night and disregarded her flock; she laughed, then she cried; she sat down, then she leaped up; her face was pale, and then again it was fired red.”

Daphnis and Chloe, p.11

Daphnis is equally clueless: “‘Whatever did Chloe’s kiss do to me? Her lips are softer than roses, her mouth is sweeter than honey, but her kiss is sharper than a bee sting. I’ve kissed kids many times, I’ve kissed newborn puppies many times . . . . But this kiss is something new. I’m short of breath, my heart is pounding, my soul is melting away: yet I want to kiss her again.'”

Daphnis and Chloe, p.15

Will these two young lovers ever discover how love works? You’d think with flocks of  animals around them, they could figure out the mechanics, but that would be too easy.  The Greek author Longus lines up a long cast of obstacles: other would-be suitors, abduction, near death, trickery, attempted rape, attacks by foreigners to strange discoveries of their origins. Longus is so good at spinning his tale that he leaves his readers from the 2nd century and the 21st century wondering if these would be lovers will end up together. He does not dissapoint.

Daphnis and Chloe is a fun tale that thoroughly explores the ancient art of falling in love and it’s many confusing phases. A recommended read!

 

Sharing the Love

Leave a comment

Most authors love to read. So it goes without saying that authors read other author’s works. Of course they do. Otherwise we’d be reading books written by robots. On occasion, real authors interview other real authors and write reviews.

In this case I’m not being hypothetical, but sharing a fact. Case in point; after reading my second novel The Things We Said in Venice, talented YA author NJ Simmonds interviewed me for her blog! It was a great experience that I’d like to share with all of you. Click on the title below to read the interview and her thoughts on my novel.

Romance & Europe – with Author Kristin Anderson

Screenshot 2017-08-21 21.08.06

You can also learn more about NJ Simmonds and her debut novel The Path Keeper, Book One in a YA fantasy-Romance series by clicking here. I enjoyed this novel so much, that I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up writing about it on my author blog in the future!