Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Consul General's Wive by Aliefka Bijlsma Blog Tour Interview

Melchior Steenbergen is leading an idyllic life. An elite member of Holland’s diplomatic corps, he is the Consul General in Rio, with a sweeping view of the Ipanema bay from his official residence, and a beautiful wife 20 years his junior. His trustworthy maid, Mercy, who is from Ghana and has followed him everywhere, attends to his every need. At 59, his time as a diplomat is winding down, but he expects to put one more feather in his cap: an ambassadorship. Paris, perhaps. Doesn’t he deserve it?

But Melchior’s glorious world is a façade, a house of cards, and sharp winds are starting to blow.

The Consul General’s Wife is the story of a man, elegant and dignified, unable to recognize his own flaws. Set against the mystical and unforgiving city of Rio, the novel is a comedy about a dying generation. And a tragedy about a man who has only a few days left to wake up.


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? 

Until about five years ago I’d have said “future”. I think looking back and longing for the past intensifies as we get older. I suppose so little of life makes sense and the more we live it, the less we understand. So we hope to find answers hidden in the past, at a time when the present seemed disposable as our lives were relatively clear. And as a writer, closely looking at the past, even if it’s very recent, goes with the job. Simply writing down something someone said means you’re looking back.

If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose? 

John Coetzee, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Susan Sontag, Obama, Janis Joplin

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?

My son (albeit I’d not want him there if I thought it was dangerous J), my two sisters. The three of those people combined would mean: adventure, medical care, practical insight.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 

Because you don’t want to make the same mistakes in life my characters did.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 

I have an idea for a new novel which is set in Ghana (Kumasi). It could well be my first historical novel, although I’d like to write it as if we’re on (or under) the skin of the protagonist: the wife of a British governor. Steamy and from the senses.

Future projects: I’m hoping the two screenplays I’ve been working on will enter a next stage, and I’ve currently been commissioned to write a Kid’s TV Series.

What inspired you to want to become a writer? 

I always wrote as a child and teenager, but never considered it as a profession. I became a lawyerm but woke up one day not being able to speak. The struggle to speak lasted almost two years until I found a proper balance in treatments (I have a neuroligical disorder which I won’t bore you with). Writing was my outlet. Slowly but surely, I allowed myself to see writing as not just a hobby, but a craft.What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? 

Keep going, persistence is key.
How did you know you should become an author? 

A piece I had written was turned into a play, and my words had an affect on the audience, to such an extent that one woman cried and thank me. She came from the Caribbean. The theme of my piece had been that we all have our struggles, despite our skin colour or ancestry. A white women can have an equally hard time finding a place in this western society.
What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had? 

 If we were to undo the wrongdoings in history, starting with a president who ships all ancestors of slaves back to Africa…. What would happen to the world?

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you? 

Know your strengths and don’t waste time trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths. My ex-husband told me this. It sounds so simple but it’s incredibly hard for me.If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? 

John Coetzee’s Disgrace. He writes with such elegance and precision. It’s mindblowing to study his sentences, his technique. Not a single superfluous word. Sometimes it seems almost mathematical and I wouldn’t like that, were it not for the fact that he brings across such intense emotions in his portrayal of human failure and nature. On top of it, the themes of Disgrace and the story itself is such an accurate depiction of the post-colonial drama, in my opinion. There’s such femininity to it too, it’s almost like I’ve met the people he describes. It’s the novel I would have wanted to be able to write myself.What’s your favorite season/weather? 

Summer. Heat. I was born in the tropics and lived most of my childhood right close to the euqator. It’s not a like, it’s a need.

Who or what inspired you to become an author? 

First, my voice problems ruined my career as a lawyer and triggered my writing. But then it was my mother, who had come to see my first play. It was hard for her as the play was all about mother-daughter relationships. She was quite moved by the themes. It was like I was speaking to her, but through the actors, and she understood. We didn’t need to discuss it because I could see she felt exactly what I was communicating. I was a little scared of her reaction to it. But she took me to lunch the next day and said “you have an obligation to pursue this talent.” This was a pivotal moment in my life as my mother had always advised against pursuing a creative profession of any kind. In retrospect I understand why: she is an artist herself and knows how hard it can be, for both yourself and your immediate surroundings.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? 

After the book-launch, which was a moment in time I felt so proud, so like “Me”. It felt like a coming-out. I had incredibly talented friends who played music from the island I was born, in the Caribbean. And after the launch we all went and had drinks, there were many special people there, the people I love most and who understood how much of a struggle it had been for me to get there, in my life.

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Catching a movie midday alone, and eating my own box of sweet popcorn.

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit? 

Xtreme make-over type programmes.Favorite places to travel? 

I go to Curacao a lot because I was born there and many friends that are dear to me live there. But it’s a love/hate relationship with the island. I’d like to travel in Africa some more.

Favorite music?

 It varies, depending on what I’m working on or interested in. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Marvin Gaye. But half a year ago it was Carmen.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?

 Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

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Genre – Contemporary Fiction

Rating – R

More details about the author

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This tour hosted by Orangeberry Tours :)

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