Welcome back to the Fire, J. Arlene Culiner. An author, musician, and traveler you don't want to miss.
Welcome back to my Fire! I'm so glad you could join me. It's a little rainy in Northern Florida but it's to be expected. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said," The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." It's so true. Around a campfire the other day someone complained about the rain. I couldn't agree. I love a sunny day being outdoors, but I also love a rainy day, a cup of tea, and a good book. Occasionally I'll stand in the doorway to simply watch it fall. Though I'm in Florida at this time, I think about the snow falling and how pretty and quiet it is. So today is a good day. We have a wonderful guest who has returned with new stories and adventures. So, my friend, why don't you start by telling our visitors a little about you.
Who you are other than your bio?
I think my bio sums everything up nicely, although perhaps it does make me look a bit flighty. Yes, I have spent my life shifting from one country to the other, but I’ve often done it in an original way: on foot. I’ve walked alone with my dogs and slept in fields, and had quite a few adventures. I’ve also traveled on slow trains, getting off in unusual places, exploring countries where I can’t speak the language and where I don’t know a soul.
That sounds both exciting and frightening. What interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I play several instruments in different orchestras and bands. I play the oboe, both modern and baroque, the English horn, the baroque tenor and baritone oboes, the flute, and the tuba.
Music is important to me. I listen to almost any genre but alas, I can't play anything. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
I don’t have one author or one book that inspires me. I have hundreds. I read all across the board — history, Eastern European history, Russian literature, French literature, and English literature. I adore non-fiction and have been reading far less fiction in the last years. Some of the most delightful writers are non-fiction writers. Do you want a name or two? Okay…W.G. Sebald, Robert A. Rosenstone, Neal Acherson, Stephen Morris.
Lol, that's four. Often I have trouble containing the numbers. Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
I’m apparently a good storyteller. People keep asking me to tell my absolutely true stories at events. (I have a sneaking suspicion that I exaggerate a lot.)
Oral storytelling is almost a lost art. How wonderful that you carry on such a long tradition. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in a small village in France. There’s nothing going on. There are no shops. Occasionally a tractor passes through. Ho-hum. There is a main square with a 13th-century church and houses that date from the 16th to the 19th century. There are wonderful bats, quirky pigeons, and many other lovely birds that I delight in. Sometimes people cross the square on foot. That about wraps it up. Yawn.
It sounds charming and peaceful. I think that's a lovely way to live. We can travel for adventure, but home should be a place of rest. Do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
I have a very beautiful, very old necklace, probably from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It came from a man who dealt in stolen paintings, who was also a smuggler. He gave me the necklace when I was twelve (he was trying to con my father and his friend into buying forged art.) Who knows what the history of the necklace is? Beautifully delicate, golden leaves enfold tiny pearls. I have been robbed so many times in my life, and somehow this necklace has always managed to stay with me. How very nice.
What! Robbed more than once! That's awful. I will say the necklace sounds intriguing and would make an excellent story. Let's jump to some fun questions. What is your worst household chore?
I hate all household chores. I don’t own an iron. My partner and I just let everything slide. Then around once a month, we have a blitz.
What's an iron?😜 Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Never have to pay for food at restaurants? What an incredible idea. Yes, please, that’s what I’d like. Imagine all the unusual things you can eat and the delicious things fine chefs create — things you normally can’t pay for. And, I do hope the offer includes wonderful wines, sparkling wines, cider, and champagne.
Of course the beverages are included. Often they make the meal. How do you select the names of your characters?
Funnily enough, my characters’ names just pop into my head. It’s as though everyone is there and waiting for me to tell their story.
I know what you mean. In one of my books, Gloriana Jones simply got in my head and wouldn't leave. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I do read my book reviews. I particularly appreciate those that are well written (unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.) I take very seriously what my readers have to say. If they don’t like a character and I find their reason valid, I certainly keep that in mind for my next book or when I’m about to issue a revised edition. For example, in my romance, Desert Rose, a few people found Rose hard to like because she was so flirtatious. I will be putting out a new version of the book in a few months, and I have enlarged the story so that people will understand why Rose is the way she is.
J. Arlene, thank you so much for spending time at my fire. Before you head out on one of those amazing adventures, will you leave a bit about your book and where to find out more about you? Bonus for visitors I found podcasts today's guest records. She sounds exactly how I imagine. soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner
J. Arlene Culiner
San Francisco, 1971: hippies in the streets, music and revolution in the air. The evening Marek Sumner opened his door to the wild-looking Felicity Powers, he knew nothing would ever be the same. But even love and passion couldn’t keep them together. Forty-three years later, having lived in the world’s most dangerous places as an aid worker, Felicity is back, still offering love, passion, and adventure. Now a well-known author, Marek loves his calm life in an isolated farmhouse, and he knows their relationship would never work : he and Felicity are just too different. Besides, why risk having his heart broken a second time? But Felicity is as fascinating and joyful as ever, and the wonderful sexy magic is still there too. Can love be more delightful the second time around?
I may gush here but hopefully it won't sound like it. . . I am a child of the early 70's. . . A flower child you might say . . . so Marek and Felicity and the conversations they had both with each other and with their younger selves made complete and total sense. While I was reading this book I was thinking about Paul (a beautiful guy from my past). . . 40 years ago. . . what would he be like today. So very easy to put myself in Felicity's place.
I am rating this 5 stars because it is well written and ends in such an awesome way . . . because you know both characters very well by the end. Well done. DLarios
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Storytelling Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner
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Web site: http://www.j-arleneculiner.com
More about the Author
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe alone on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.
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Award winning multi-genre author and blogger. Fantasy, romance, mid-grade. Nothing better than a campfire, book, and glass of wine. Okay maybe there is.📚
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