Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
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Nana Through the Looking Glass
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"Whether I knew it then or not, I've been a writer since the second grade, when I wrote a short story about a girl and her horse. My grandmother typed it out for me and said she’d never seen so many quotation marks from a seven-year-old before."

You'll recognize this if you've read my bio (on this blog, in my books, or elsewhere). I guess you could say my Nana was my first editor.

A year ago, nearly 30 years after that first horsey short story, I wrote a novel about an artist who lived above a used bookstore. Seb makes a living taking the books people don't want anymore and turning them into something new. One afternoon, Martin (the bookstore's newest employee and Seb's love interest) finds an illustrated copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in the store and gives it to Seb who, in turn, makes it into something special—a birthday gift for his grandmother.

Two weeks ago, my Nana couldn't get out of bed. She's 86 and still living on her own. They called the ambulance, took her to the hospital, ran tests.

A week ago, I passed a used bookstore. It wasn't in my neighbourhood. I'd never been inside it. But there, in the window, was an illustrated copy of Alice's Adventure in Wonderland. I was on my way to an appointment, and by the time I walked back the other way, the store was closed. But I knew I needed that book. For Seb. For his Nana. For mine too, because she loved to read and loved the old stories best. I went back and bought it yesterday.

Today, we said goodbye to my Nana.

Her favourite books were Seven Years in Tibet and the complete collection of Churchill's Letters to Roosevelt. She raised five daughters, had eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She made the best pea soup in the world and she gave even better hugs. She never finished high school, but left her home on Vancouver Island to move with my grandfather to Montreal in 1953. She lived in Morocco and the Cameroons. In 1988, she helped me publish my first book*

Seb's story is unpublished, but it's going to be, someday. When it is, there will be two words in the dedication.

For Nana.

Miss you bunches already.

*the first story had what you might call a limited distribution deal. It might still be available to be borrowed from my elementary school library though.

No New Ideas

jan-mellstrom-242087.jpg Nearly done editing (for now), which means I'm going back to drafting Martin and Seb. I'll introduce you to them properly soon, but the basic premise is this:

Martin is an out of work university professor who's come to Red Creek to live with his brother. The only job he can get is working part time at Dog Ears Used Book Store. It's humiliating that it's come to this, but he'll manage. What he doesn't plan on is the prickly artist who lives upstairs from the store, Seb.

Seb has his own view of things. His work involves cutting up the unsellable books at Dog Ears and turning them into something new. Martin prizes the written word above everything, and Seb's work doesn't sit well with him. Seb sees Martin as just another academic snob.

You can guess what happens.

I'd seen carved books online before I started writing Seb and Martin, and was fascinated with the way they made me feel. Books and the stories they tell have been a part of my life for as long as I remember. As a writer with a growing career, I'm learning to appreciate, in a whole new way, the effort it takes to create a story. But is the book the story? Martin would say every book is sacred. Seb says a book is just a consumer product and we shouldn't get so hung up on the medium.

I don't claim to be covering new ground with this argument. It's a debate that happens all over the place. Artists and academics, people who don't go anywhere without their Kindle and people who never throw a book away. The whole used bookstore industry exists because of the guilt that we feel at the thought of throwing out a book, but go find your local used bookstore and ask them what happened to the zillions of copies of 50 Shades of Grey people dropped off in 2012.

Seb carves books into something new. New words, new images, new ways for Alice to go through the looking glass. I hope what he's doing is a little bit unique, but there are artists all over the world who work in this medium. The reason I'm writing this blog post is because it turns out one of them has a TED Talk. What he has to say about his work and about the future of books is so thought-provoking. It might also be a little bit like looking at the inside of Seb's head, but you'll have to wait for his story to find out!

https://embed.ted.com/talks/brian_dettmer_old_books_reborn_as_intricate_art

Meet Adam

ae8cb60ac63b397f5f834a171b431f44 Alli here. Getting Adam to introduce himself has been like pulling teeth. He's a pretty private guy and couldn't imagine why anyone would want to know more about him. I couldn't convince him to write an introduction like Kyle did, but he agreed to be interviewed.

Allison T: Hi Adam. I'm glad you finally agreed to do this.

Adam H: I don't remember agreeing. Did Rebecca put you up to this?

AT: Actually I haven't talked to your sister in a while.

AH: ...

AT: ...

AH: ...

AT: Ok. Maureen thought this would be good for you. People want to know about you.

AH: ...

AT: Ok! So, moving on. You're a teacher, right?

AH: (sighing) Yeah. I teach first grade at Red Creek Elementary.

AT: That must be interesting.

AH: It's a good job. I used to teach middle school, but I find teaching the primary grades to be more gratifying.

AT: Why's that?

AH: Teens and preteens these days are really worldly. They've all got a smart phone and think they know everything.  It's hard to reach them, as a teacher. But I tell a six-year-old that a tomato is a fruit instead of a vegetable, and she thinks I'm a genius.

AT: So you got into teaching for the fame and glory, is that what you're saying?

AH: (laughing) Isn't that why we do anything? No, I got into it for the same reasons most people do. I liked kids, liked helping people. I got a job right out of college teaching at a private school. It seemed really glamorous but...

AT: But?

AH: I like it at Red Creek better.

AT: Do you want to talk about the private school? That sounds pretty cool.

AH: No.

AT:...

AH:...

AT: Got any student hall of shame stories you want to share?

AH: You know, kids are just doing their best. Sometimes they do stuff that I have to wonder about though. There was this one student in my class last year, she asked to go to the bathroom. When she hadn't come back ten minutes later, I had to go look for her. I found her in the cloakroom, eating snacks out of other student's lunch bags.

AT: (laughing) Oh my goodness!! Really? What did she say when you caught her?

AH: (laughing too) She said she thought it was recess. I'm still not sure how that's a reasonable answer.

AT: Got a favorite student this year?

AH: We're not supposed to have favorites.

AT: The 'supposed to' seems important here.

AH: Well there's one. I wouldn't say she's my favorite but...Actually it's weird. She's my newest student. She just started a few weeks ago. Who starts their kid at a new school in May?

AT: Witness protection?

AH: Probably. (laughs) Her name's Caroline. My uncle's second wife's name is Caroline. Who names their kid Caroline these days?

AT: And I say again, witness protection?

AH: Right. Well she's new. And she's the only Caroline I've taught after years of Sophias and Emmas and Isabellas. And I don't know who buys her clothes, but she's way too young to be rocking a White Stripes t-shirt.

AT: How very 1999 of her.

AH: Yeah.

AT: So that's your job. Got anything else you want to share with the readers?

AH: Like what?

AT: I don't know. Family anecdotes? Hobbies?

AH: Stamp collecting?

AT: Really?

AH: No.

AT: Are you married? Seeing someone?

AH:...

AT:...

AH:...

AT: How do you feel about moo-shu pork?

AH: What's that?

AT: Never mind.

Well there you have it folks. Adam Hathaway is one tough nut to crack. I know he's popular with the soccer mom set at Red Creek Elementary, but they haven't worn him down yet. He's a catch for someone though. Just have to find that someone! Any takers?

Meet Kyle

875a2e86c050968bddc8537ce503446a Hi guys! Kyle here. Allison's away this week with her day job, so I'm holding down the fort. Fortunately, I'm good at this kind of thing, I do it a lot for my day job, so you're in good hands!

Wow. This is a bit like a blind date isn't it? Everyone afraid to ask the first question. I'll go first, ok? It won't be awkward at all, I promise.

I'm Kyle, 27, Sagittarius, I like chocolate cupcakes, pina coladas and long walks on the beach.

Ok, three of those things are actually true. I'll let you figure out which ones. It's definitely not pina coladas. Coconut is not an approved food group in our house. That white flaky stuff that you eat and then find in your gums two days later? I mean, how does it even do that?

Sorry, I'm getting distracted. What else do you want to know? If this were a date, you'd ask me what I do for a living. I'm a virtual personal assistant, which means I do pretty well anything and everything for my clients, but mostly I manage the internet for them. I've got writer clients that have me organize their blog tours (maybe Allison will get me to do that for her someday. You should let her know I'd be great at it!), and other clients who just want me to organize their day to day stuff, like paying bills and organizing vacations.

I used to be an event planner for a charity in Seattle. We raised money for visual arts programs in public schools. I did that for a couple years after college, it was a lot of fun, but then my daughter was born and my schedule was kind of hectic so I took my business online.

My daughter, yeah, if this were a blind date, this would be the part where I tell you that I've got a daughter. Caroline. She's six. Hilarious. Definitely gets her looks from her mom, and her sweet tooth from me. She obsessed with princesses. I mean Obsessed. I know the parenting blogs say that I should be trying to get her interested in other gender neutral things, reading books about Amelia Earhart and non-girly stuff like that, but it's been a tough year and we're still getting settled at my dad's in Red Creek, so I don't feel like pushing too hard on that. Pick your battles with your kids, right?

Anyway, here's the part of the date where I show you my favorite picture of us.

Depositphotos_122774546_l-2015.jpgSuper cute right? She's my princess for sure. Actually, I call her Jelly Bean, but that's another story for another day.

So that's me in a nutshell! Single dad, living with his dad, cute as a button daughter who has me wrapped around every one of her fingers. I'm a catch, right? Oh, and I have a weakness for moo-shu pork. It's seriously the best!

Now it's your turn. We've got some time before Allison gets back. So say hi. Tell me what your ideal first date is! Walks on the beach? Charity art auctions? No wait, that was my last first date...