Writer Nino Gugunshvili joins me today to chat about her new collection of short essays, You Will Have a Black Labrador.
During her virtual book tour, Nino will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a luck randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!
Nino Gugunishvili’s is the author of a women’s fiction novel, Friday Evening, Eight O’Clock, published in English and Russian. She resides in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Please tell us a little about you new book of short essays.
Love, memories, family, enduring friendships, cooking, movies, dogs, travels, hairstyles, and saying Yes to many No’s in a witty, yet often sentimental, journey of self-discovery…
You Will Have a Black Labrador is a collection of semiautobiographical essays forming a narrative about a modern Georgian woman. Her stories range from the search for a perfect romantic partner to exploring food as an integral part of the Georgian culture. Many of the vignettes center on childhood memories or weird family traditions, such as the way family members stay connected no matter if they’re deceased or alive. One essay reveals how making a simple omelette can change your life; and that No can be the most powerful word in any language. She shows us, too, that a haircut can be a tribute to the movies you love as well as a path to your freedom; and how owning a dog always brings unexpected experiences. In this poignantly humourous collection, reality mixes and interferes with an imaginative world in so many surprising ways.
Excerpt from You Will Have a Black Labrador:
Whenever my mother tells me she had a dream seeing my grandmother, or my grandfather, my grandmother’s sister, my father, or my nanny, then recounts in detail what they talked about, I don’t think that she’s out of her mind.
I only become slightly more cautious. Sometimes I’m even angry, at them, for appearing in our dreams, and only just checking on us, not saying anything expectedly wise, not telling us the stories from their otherworldly experiences. Isn’t their mission to guide us through, spreading titbits of wisdom or any life-affirming messages around?
We’ve always lived together: Mom, Dad, my brother, me, my grandmother, and my nanny. There were two grandfathers I never met, because, sadly, they passed away long before I was born, but who nevertheless were always most actively present in our lives. ‘Never met in person’ would actually be more appropriate here. Their presence was strong through many photographs we had and lots of personal belongings. I remember my grandfather’s compass and a stopwatch and a cigar case my father kept in his study, and brought out from time to time.
The ‘till death do us part’ concept never worked in our case, since it seemed we were not parted by death from our relatives. Those who passed away stayed with us, talked to us, came in our dreams, and occasionally gave advice. There were no ghostly stories, ghost whisperers, or psychic readings involved…
What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
I love that writing a short story is challenging. You have to stick to certain limits. You can’t develop the characters or settings endlessly; short stories have a different arc and rhythm and a tempo of their own that you have to follow. You have to be more precise with words and action sequences, you have to set a dynamic so that the story is fully formed within a relatively short time frame. It’s difficult, but at the same time, it’s wonderfully satisfying.
Aren’t some of the best works in the world literature the short stories we so love? Think of Ernest Hemingway, or J.D. Salinger, or O.Henry. For me, short stories are like precious little gems.
Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
I think the essence of this book revolves around the family and that’s why some of the essays like “Till Death Do Us Part” or “Make Me an Omelette” are a glimpse into family history inhabited with passionate, loyal, influential women characters unique on their own. I wanted these stories to be a tiny tribute to them too.
What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Several years ago my answer would be fiction, but as of today, I’m more and more interested in the creative nonfiction, where you can mix reality and the fictionalized world, where you can take your personal experience, put some biographical details, or real-life events and blend them into the story, I think it’s definitely worth a try and a fantastic ride!
What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I’m making notes on some of the ideas I have. I’m not in the actual writing process, but then, the “writing process” is such an unpredictable, almost mysterious thing, that Bam! and you’re in the middle of typing those words on your computer. I hope that will happen soon, maybe tomorrow?!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my then six-year-old nephew asked me wide-eyed, whether I really wrote that book he saw on my kindle. That’s probably the first time I thought I could say that yes, I’m a writer!
How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
From the very start, I knew I wanted to self-publish this book on Amazon. I read extensively, keeping in mind my previous experience with publishing my debut novel and deciding what I’d like to repeat, and what I’d prefer to leave behind. You have to get as much information as possible, and decide what route to choose: indie, or traditional? It’s not easy, it’s nerve-wracking but it’s definitely an experience you’ll never forget!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t like changing places while I write, I’m glued to my couch in the living room. I hate when someone disturbs me and that’s when I’m becoming really nasty! I have to write in silence. I’m also too superstitious while writing.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Everything from a postwoman to an actress!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you for stopping by and reading the blog! I hope you had fun and I also hope that You Will Have a Black Labrador is on your reading list!
Thank you for being here today!