Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Because of A Book with Nancy Deville

This week I am excited to welcome writer, Nancy Deville to the blog.  Thanks to her publicist, Michelle Tennant Nicholson, for answering my request on Blogger Link Up.

Nancy Deville is a best selling writer of health books, and author of Death by Supermarket, an exposé of the food, diet and drug industries. Not one to shy away from controversy she has released her first novel, a psychological thriller. Written in the style of a memoir, Karma depicts the world of sex trafficking through the eyes of Meredith Fitzgerald, an abducted American doctor. View the trailer: nancydeville.com.


By Nancy Deville

As a child, I spent a lot of time escaping into books because as Tolstoy so aptly put it, “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” and my family hid from their misery by reading. I guess you could say that it was an unhappy accident, ha!

The book that stands out for me the most was one I read in the third grade about a little boy who becomes an ant and is adopted by ants—which back then was as thrilling as watching the Avatar infiltrate the Na’vis and learn their ways. I don’t remember the name of the book but I see from Googling that a rendition of that theme was used as the children’s film “Ant Bully” with Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, and Meryl Streep, though it was not the same story. When I finished a book as a child, I always cried at the end. Not because the ending was sad necessarily but because I was so sorry that the book was over. This is rarely case anymore. J.D. Salinger said, “There are no writers anymore. Only book selling louts and big mouths.” That kind of stung, because he was probably talking about me. Plus I don’t really agree with Salinger, even though I think that the publishing “business” has forced writers to commercialize. I probably don’t get misty as much at the end of novels because I’ve spent too many years reading nonfiction and I simply need to broaden my knowledge of contemporary fiction writers. Another thing on my list.

But back to my childhood.

Long before reaching high school I was a terrible student and along the way developed a really bad habit of reading. I went to high school in Japan on a military base. The fact that I was flunking wasn’t really on my mind. I’d mentally shut out all the kids who were on their way to college with stellar futures ahead of them, and instead was systematically reading my way through the school library as a way to tamp down the angst. There was John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, The Grapes of Wrath. He took one title from Shakespeare, The Winter of Our Discontent, which I appropriated to define my seventeenth year. (Youth is definitely wasted on the young.) I loved Pearl Buck’s beautiful sentences. I found Rabbit Run disturbing with all of John Updike’s graphic bodily-functional-sexual aberrancies. Then there was the Shinjuku English bookstore for James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and of course Herman Hesse’s Siddartha and Naricissus and Goldman. I fell into the worlds of Lawrence Durrell, D.H. Lawrence, Herman Wouk, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Irving Stone, Leon Uris, J.D. Salinger, James Michener, Henry Miller, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Harold Robbins, Gore Vidal. When I read Gone with the Wind my mother let me stay home from school to finish it. Soon afterwards, my sister and I went to see David O. Selznick’s interpretation of the story of the parallels of Scarlett O’Hara’s life to the crumbling of the Southern culture in a Tokyo theater with the adjunct Japanese soundtrack of farting, burping, slurping, and coughing. I read so much that my history teacher finally told me he wouldn’t give me a grade until I stopped reading in his class. Then he gave me the D I’d earned.

I didn’t go to college but went to India instead. When I got back to Europe ten months later, I complained to my grandma in a letter that my hair thinned (due to the subsistent diet of Indian curries prepared by untouchables). My grandma, Stella, had suffered from malnutrition because her family was poor, and had consequently lost all of her teeth, leaving her with clacking dentures that prematurely aged her. In 1942, at age thirty nine, while walking down the street in Detroit Stella had come upon a “health” lecture. From then on she lived the life of the converted, and was such a proponent of health food that she earned the kook label in the family. She had a very strong point of view about health matters, in particular the perils of processed food, going so far as to accuse a friend of murdering her husband by feeding him nothing but hot dogs. She was given to hysterical worrying and had had a peptic ulcer, but cured it by fasting on grape juice for two straight weeks. It was her habit to end a long night shift of cleaning executive offices at General Motors with home projects like juicing and canning homegrown vegetables or lying in the pitch black on her slant board, blood rushing to her brain to improve circulation as she meditated. She regularly guzzled olive oil from the bottle to “fix herself up” and knew how to deal with a myriad of conditions with various supplements and foods.

To address my “falling” hair, as she put it, Grandma immediately sent me several books by Adele Davis, Let’s Get Well, Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit, Let’s Cook it Right. I read them cover-to-cover, and afterwards was extremely paranoid about Vitamin C escaping my lettuce before I could get it home from the market.

My Grandma’s cooking was a compilation of her Polish roots and her research into healthy eating (Adele Davis and others). She made homemade noodles and braided bread, dumplings, cucumber and dill salads, beets, chicken soup, pork chops, cabbage rolls, pot roasts with carrots, crepe suzettes with cottage cheese and homemade strawberry jam. I’d been living abroad in Japan, India, Spain, and then Switzerland for almost seven years by the time I returned to the States. The combined influences of Grandma, Adele Davis, and the exposure to other cultures’ real food diets defined my views on food, which ultimately led me to write health books to share what I’d learned. Over twelve years I established a voice in the real food movement, something I’m extremely proud of. At the same time, I never really wanted to just be a health book writer. My dream was always to do what the novelists did for me, which was to provide an escape, and to inspire thought. Novels like The Jungle and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, even The Little Prince instilled in me the desire to write a novel of social significance, which I think novelists need to do at least once in their career. In Karma, I took a subject that is not acceptable dinner table conversation and put a human face on it. A lot of publishers passed on Karma with the comment, “We don’t read manuscripts about sex trafficking.” Now that I’ve self published Karma, I’m beginning to think that editors misread what readers want to read about. And that definitely makes me tear up.

About Tortilla Flat - Like the knights of the Round Table, the dreamers who gather at Danny's house share joy and fellowship, triumphs and sorrows.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at IndieBound

About Karma - While having a seemingly harmless glass of tea at a bazaar in Istanbul, Meredith Fitzgerald, a beautiful soon-to-be married American doctor finds her privileged world turned upside down. It takes only seconds. As she s waiting for the police to come collect an abandoned gypsy girl left in her keeping, Meredith s vision starts blurring, the bazaar music turns into a high-pitched whine, and she recognizes the chloral hydrate in the tea taking hold of her body. In this gripping novel a confusing scenario grows yet more frightening as Meredith realizes that, like two and a half million women and children worldwide, she too has been abducted and swept into the dark world of the human sex trade. We watch in horror as the once confident, self-reliant doctor finds herself trafficked to Mumbai and trapped in brothel compound where she s expected to work as the doctor. But maybe, just maybe she s not as helpless as she appears. An accomplished first novel, heartfelt and compulsively readable. Written in the style of a memoir, Karma is a brilliantly crafted story of courage, friendship, and spiritual awakening.

Buy it

1 comment:

Gary Baumgarten said...

Nancy's going to be my guest on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network at 5 PM NY time Monday March 1st.

To talk to her please go to www.joinchatnow.com

Looking forward to hearing from all her fans!



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