Roll up! Roll up! Welcome to Launch Week, lovely readers! I am so excited to be kicking off this most important, special week for forkandfiction.com with a new feature – How She Does It. It started as an idea between Ria and I during our brainstorming email-a-thons. Interviews with real, honest, successful, passionate people we admire, who juggle many balls, drop a few, and still make a happy life for themselves. Because we’re curious nosey-parkers who absolutely must know – How do they do it??! Advice, please! We aren’t ruling out a few “How He Does It”s either, because the fellas out there are doing a marvellous job too.
**And remember, there will be a prize draw at the end of the week (April 12) which will include enviable goodies in keeping with the theme of this blog… All you have to do is post a comment and subscribe to Fork and Fiction (using the check box when you comment) before midnight Thursday, 11 April. Tell us where you are from as there will be one Southern Hemisphere winner and one Northern Hemisphere winner**
Now…who better to kick off our new feature and the first day of our launch week than the talented, gorgeous Ria Voros?
If you have read our About page, or know us, you know already that Ria and I met at one of her writing courses at Vancouver Community College. I thought she was marvellous from the moment I met her. A real live writer, committed to making a life as an author, who baked cookies and was funny and wore splendid winter coats in leaf-green.
Ria has a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing from University of British Columbia and published her debut novel, Nobody’s Dog, 2013. Nobody’s Dog is the book you wish was on the shelf when you were at school. The protagonist, Jakob, is complex, grief-stricken and confused. He’s longing for the unconditional love only a dog can give a person, to fill up the dark hole inside his young heart. Ria’s characters are so real you believe you could bump into them in your own neighbourhood: brooding, longing Jakob, intense and artistic Libby, joyful Soleil, harried Aunt Laura, and not forgetting the wonderful Chilko, the dog that ultimately changes everyone’s lives.
Ria lives, and writes, in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. She shares her home and life with her husband, DH and her beautiful baby girl, Little e. I am so honoured that this elegant, driven, generous woman is my friend and despite knowing her for years now, I still have lots of questions to ask.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I guess I always did–from early childhood. What I didn’t know was that even working your butt off, it’s really tough to support yourself financially on writing alone. I just thought I’d get to tell stories for a living and that was the best idea ever because I loved stories. Maybe because it was always my dream, I wasn’t hit with the reality of writing life until it I was already a writer. It’s not the easiest choice, but for me, it’s the best choice.
Which book has had the greatest impact on your life and why?
I’m going to have to categorize here, mostly because there is not ONE book, and also because I love lists. Food/cooking life: The Rebar Cookbook. Because it brought ingredients into my kitchen that I’d never seen or used before, and now I can’t do without them. It opened up the world of food in a really tangible way. Writing life: A tie between John Green’s Looking for Alaska and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. LFA because I love the humour and sensitivity and how dang smart John Green is. TGG because it’s so classic and classy and anti-classist. And so true to our current world. Both books make me want to be a better writer and to have really high standards for my work. Also, Family life: Connected Parenting by Jennifer Kolari.
What can always be found in your fridge or pantry?
Fridge: cheese. Pantry: a large collection of whole grain flours. See how I ignored the “or”?
Which writer most inspires you?
I’m pretty inspired by J.K. Rowling. Is that a cliché these days? O, to be a cliché because of the inspiration one gives people…
Where is the best (food) market you have ever been to?
I can only pick one? Then maybe a farmer’s market in Lyon, France. Fresh farmer’s yogurt in little glass jars, produce so fresh it’s seductive, velvet-rinded cheeses, warm bread. And sunshine.
If you had to choose only one dessert for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This question is a form of torture. Thanks. Chocolate cake, but you have to let me have vanilla ice cream with it so there’s the possibility of variety. ‘The rest of my life’ could be a really long time.
What aspect of being a writer and/or being published surprised you?
How looong everything takes. I’m an impatient person. I push myself to get manuscripts finished, and then it takes an age to send out to publishers, get rejected, send out again, get a contract, work on revisions, wait wait wait, get the ARCs and finally the book…then do it all again. It’s all part of the industry and still an exciting process that creates an amazing product, but man, it’s the waitingest time ever!
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received.
Be kind. Compassion solves the vast majority of problems.
What would you consider to be your signature dish?
Pizza. I use this great no-knead dough recipe from Jim Lahey. Toppings vary depending on mood/what’s in fridge. Usually it’s a pile of vegetables.
If I could beam you up anywhere in the world for a date-night dinner with DH, where would it be? What would you order?
Italy. Bologna, or Torino. Hmmm, Rome would do in a pinch. DH would order steamed whole artichoke and something with pork. I’m thinking classic—pasta of some kind, but I’d have to see the menu… And I’d make DH order dessert so I could try mine and his.
If you couldn’t be a writer what would you be?
An anthropologist. Preferably somewhere in Africa. I have a degree in anthropology and when I graduated I had to choose between applying for a Master’s in creative writing or anthro. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I’d made the other choice.
Sum up your life right now in three words.
Anchored. Growing. Fortunate.
[First two photos by the talented Theodora Armstrong]