Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Uma Krishnaswami's THE PROBLEM WITH BEING SLIGHTLY HEROIC: Interview & Giveaway

Uma Krishnaswami is one of my favorite people, not to mention one of my favorite authors, not to mention a true talent, crafting delightful middle grade books. Like her newest - The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic, a sequel to her charming The Grand Plan to Fix Everything - rich with humor, cultural interest, and fabulous characters. (Full disclosure: Uma was my advisor at Vermont College of Fine Arts during my critical thesis semester, and she Made. It. Happen.)

At my urging (okay, I had to beg...okay, I had to promise the Chef my own grandmother's secret granache recipe) Uma was able to persuade the one and only Chef Armend Latifi (yes, people, "Cooking With the Stars" Chef Armend!) to join me on the blog for an interview.

But before we go too far, we do have a giveaway!! There's a giveaway copy of The Problem With Being Slightly Heroic (U.S. addresses, please), so check out the Rafflecopter at the bottom!

Now, here we go into the Chef's inner sanctum...

Chef Armend, please forgive the intrusion into your busy schedule. I hope you don’t mind my stepping into your kitchen to ask you a few questions.

WHO are you? Blogs? What is a blog? Never heard of you. Young lady, listen to me. If your business is not haute cuisine, I have no time for it.

Um—can we talk…[looks around for inspiration] pastry crust? [Steps inside the door]. Please. Pretty please?

Whatwhat? You’re interested in pastry crust? Why didn’t you say so? Sit. Here. Take a look at that. Fine, yes? Look at that surface, that texture! That is a divine crust, you hear, divine. It is a symphony made with flour and butter and a delicate sprinkling of sea salt. [Stands there for a moment, lost in admiration of his own handiwork].

[Interviewer happens to think her pastry crust is pretty darn good, thank you very much...um, sorry.] Chef, what is your opinion of rose petal milk shakes? Of rose petal chocolate cake? Of rose petals in general?

Rose petals? Rose petals? [Kisses his fingertips.] I am a connoisseur of rose petals. There are rumors flying around that I used to be allergic to them. [Mutters] That is all nonsense. You be sure and tell your readers—all fabrication and lies. I am a sensitive soul, that’s all, and roses are a vital part of my family history. As for rose petal chocolate cake, let me tell you that MY cake is to be entered in the next Great British Bake-off. They’re taking bets on it, I’m told—what do you think about that?

Most impressive, Chef. On another subject, how do you feel about your first meeting with Dolly Singh?

Whowhowho? Oh, Dolly. We have a good working relationship now, don’t get me wrong. But she—she’s a bit touchy. [Shudders.] All that jewelry she throws around. Touchy and unpredictable, and we will not even talk about that first meeting, nonoNO. [Slams hand down on counter, then shrugs.] Well what do you expect? From a movie star? Hey, they’re all like that. Try this dressing for my six-fruit compote. Is that a wondrous flavor? Tastetastetaste!

[Yum. Yumyumyum. Wipes lips.] I know you were very fond of your grandmother. Can you tell us a bit about her?

My Nona? My NONA! [Wipes eyes.] She was a SAINT. A saint, but could anyone win an argument with her? ANYONE? NO, I tell you, no. My Nona was the cleverest woman in the world and the bravest and the kindest, the sweetest, the best. She used to read poetry to me—about love, suffering, solitude, death. The thorns that plague all rose bushes. Beautiful, simply beautiful! Do you have a grandmother? DO you? Grandmothers. They are all saints!

[See intro re ganache, which recipe interviewer politely and slyly slides across the table...] Maybe you could give me some culinary advice. I have this recipe for chocolate-cucumber-mint….

Cucumber? Chocolate-cucumber-mint? [Shakes head violently.] In a word…NO! And now thank you very much but I have work to do, WORK! Unlike some people who spend their time writing in blogs. Ha! [Takes notes as interviewer leaves and can be heard murmuring]. Chocolate. Cucumber. Huh. Mint? Hmmm.

Want more from the Chef? I do!! Here you go:

Uma Krishnaswami is the author of several books for children, including the first story featuring Dini, Maddie, and Dolly, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything. She is also on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Ms. Krishnaswami was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives in Aztec, New Mexico. To learn more, visit her website: http://www.umakrishnaswami.com/.

Follow all of the unforgettable characters from The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic on Uma Krishnaswami’s blog tour!

Mon, Aug 19
Tues, Aug 20
There's a Book
Wed, Aug 21
Once Upon a Story
Soli Dustup
Thurs, Aug 22
The Compulsive Reader
Dini's father
Fri, Aug 23
Chickoo Uncle
Sat, Aug 24
Booking Mama
Mon, Aug 26
Read Now, Sleep later
Tues, Aug 27
I Read Banned Books
Wed, Aug 28
Through the Wardrobe
Chef Armend Latifi
Thurs, Aug 29
The Book Monsters
Fri, Aug 30
The Brain Lair


LinWash said...

Oh hee hee! How lovely that you had Chef Armend on your blog. Lucky you! Another Uma book is great news indeed! I love her books!!!

Carol said...

Uma is a terrific writer and a terrific teacher. I can't wait to read her book.

Bluh said...

I loved the narrative voice in GRAND PLAN, and here Uma proves she's just as wonderful at crafting character voices. Bravo!

ABWestrick said...

I loved reading THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING and can't wait to read the sequel. How awesome that you got Uma--er, I mean, Chef Armend--to talk about pastry crusts and rose petals and cucumbers on your blog today!

Luciferadi said...

Great interview! Chef Armend is delightful and intense! Can't wait for Uma's new book. :)

Kathi Appelt said...

I see your rose petal milkshake and raise you one sugar pie!

Janet Fox said...

Thanks for coming by, everyone! (Kathi - your contents, the Chef's crust........I'm thinking winner......)

Lyn Miller-Lachmann said...

I love this series that focuses on individual characters in THE PROBLEM WITH BEING SLIGHTLY HEROIC. And as a fan of THE GRAND PLAN, I'm looking forward to reading this one.