“I don’t care if my next protagonist is a serial killer” I thought to myself after I finished writing my first novel. “As long as he or she is easy to get along with.” The seven year I spent with the main character of that story have frayed my nerves into swooping tassels. I experienced such intense emotion, as if every bit of the story was life and death. As if each sentence in the novel was getting chiseled into my heart. I thought it would be fun to invent a hysterical persona and narrate everything through her perspective. But then I had to put up with her aggravating voice throbbing inside my head. It was an endurance test.
And so Thaniya Rasid appeared in my life two years ago. I was earnestly working on a different novel when a bitter sweet short story about making hummus popped out between my fingers. I was amused by it, saved it to my hard drive and went back to my initial intention. Then there was an outrageously imaginative short story involving falafel. Half way through writing a short tense story about a marriage falling apart because of a shakshuka recipe, I realized I could write a whole novel in that scheme. Tell a woman’s story through a set of eating experiences. The one third unfinished novel got archived and Spoonful Chronicles began to emerge. As if with Thaniya I had willed ease into my life. Each chapter materialized before my eyes. There was that one day I got stuck. I opened my fridge, fished a plump cauliflower out, sat with it in my lap. As I caressed the lumpy white vegetable my imagination went floating above the city exploring forbidden territories. Half way through the novel, I would dream vivid detailed visions of precisely what was happening next in the story. I would wake up itching to write it all down while the images were still alive in my memory. “I feel like I am cheating” I told my husband during that phase. It was too easy. One night I went to sleep with a bag of spinach beneath my pillow. The next day my fingers were dancing away at the keyboard describing a textured green leafy nightmare that progressed the narrative is just right shade. The intense emotion was set aside for comfortable ease.
Everything about it was easy. Ease upon ease. Don’t get me wrong. Thaniya is a deeply flawed individual. Hysterical in unique and worrying ways. Yet she brought with her such abundant gifts. Luckily she is not a serial killer. When I found myself obsessing about a name for a novel. A pursuit of agony that lasted for months the last time around. I decided to give the novel a working name, let go of the obsession and wait for the right name to appear on its own. Amazingly, the working title grew on me over time. Now I can’t imagine calling it anything else.
And just when I was finishing up and beginning to think about finding an editor for this work. The editor found me. At a dinner I met Mary Parlange we started talking, became friends. She read Graffiti Hack, liked it and volunteered to edit my next novel. Just like that. Then she proceeded to poke and prod, jiggle and cleave, add spice in all the right ways. We met over cups of coffee and tea. We discussed and laughed. You wouldn’t believe how hard we laughed. Editing a book is supposed to be a form of torture. Right?
I am writing this with intense emotion ravaging my body. With every new novel a world of possibility. This is why dreams are scary. The possibility of shattering failure lurks near. High waves crashing against the rocks. It takes strength of character to fail, gather myself together and have the audacity to try again. Next week I start to send out queries to literary agents. If that fails, I will self publish again. Like everything involving Thaniya, I imagine it will happen with miraculous ease.