Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged ted talk
The Secret Life of Books


What I learned while researching my book

(this post is based on the Marketing for Romance Writers 52 Week Challenge)

As of this writing, Top Shelf does not have a home, but let me introduce you to Seb. He is an artist who has made his name in reclaimed books. He started with found poetry (spoiler: all of Shakespeare is a dick joke if you look hard enough), but now carves beautiful sculptures and pictorial narratives out of the old books he finds in the used bookstore downstairs from his apartment.

I am not an artist. Out of all the artistic mediums, visual art is my weakest. So building an art for Seb took some effort. I listened to podcasts, I did so much googling. And then I found carved books. And they were glorious. And they evoke such a complicated question about our relationships with books, and what it means to preserve the words in them.

Seb's love interest, Martin, is a professor who has spent his career researching a poet whose works were destroyed and nearly lost. And then Martin meets Seb, whose entire career is based on repurposing so many of those precious words into something new and beautiful, but also different than the author's original intention.

I really hope you get to read their love story soon.

In the meantime, can I offer you this beautiful TED Talk video about carved books?

I was an introvert before it was cool


A book that influenced my life

(this post is based on the Marketing for Romance Writers 52 Week Challenge)

Have you read Susan Cain's Quiet?

You haven't?

Stop reading this and go read it right now.

Go on. I'll wait.

Not an introvert? But you probably know some, right? You should still read it.

Okay, if you're still here and you haven't read it, here's my spiel.

Quiet is powerful. It's deeply researched. It's sympathetic without promoting introverts or extroverts as better than the other. It untangles introversion from so many other things like shyness, sensitivity and social anxiety.

I am an introvert. People who know me professionally never believe me when I tell them that. My husband likes to call me a ninjavert. I can be sociable and engaging in the right context, but give me a quiet house and a comfy couch and I will Make Things Happen.

Quiet is amazing in that it breaks down how introvert brains work, and why social situations don't feel the same to us as they do to extroverts.

In third grade, my teacher called a conference with my mother and told her she was worried I was too serious. My mom came home and said "Mrs. Walker says you don't smile enough." I thought that was the weirdest thing I'd ever heard.

Guess whose third grade teacher was an extrovert, back when there wasn't a word for that?

Guess which book has all kinds of examples of teachers, parents, and heart care providers trying to diagnose kids when all they were is introverted?

Guess who cried when the book was over because for the first time she didn't feel like her preference for staying in, and her habit of lying on the couch for hours after a big presentation were weird?

Yeah, that last one was me.

Quiet was published in 2013, and in the ensuing 5 years, introversion has become a buzzword, and our introverted brethren are celebrated for their preference for staying home on a Friday night and their proclivity for regretting plans made weeks ago. So maybe you think you know everything you need to know about introverts.

Quiet is still worth a read.

If you don't believe me, check out Susan's TED Talk. It is one of the most popular talks on the site.


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!

Catholic Girls and Ballroom Dancing

My French Canadian mom always said you could tell when there were Catholic girls in the room, because they would dance with each other when there were no boys to dance with. It's a saying from a  bygone era, but then, maybe dancing with an opposite gendered partner is too.

The TED talk below made its rounds on my FB feed this week. The timing is fortuitous, because I just started reading Heidi Cullinan's Dance with Me, which also features a same sex dancing couple. In my head, they don't quite look like the two fellows in this video, but they are, as Trevor and Jeff say, learning the fine art of taking care of each other.

I think this is the thing that attracted me to M/M romance, back when I discovered it about five years ago. Heidi's books were one of the first I read. I'll post a review of this one when I finish reading it, but my thoughts in gay romance have remained the same. Books where we get to watch two men love and take care of each other are (pardon the pun) novel. Reading them, and writing them, is intoxicating sometimes, a glimpse into a secret world that I don't see in mainstream media.

I'll talk more about this a lot, I expect, as I continue to tweak and query The Pick Up, and move on to other stories, but what this video has to say about seeing what's not there is so important.

Happy weekend and happy reading everyone!!


[ted id=2602]