Monday, January 18, 2016

CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Aberahama VanRaemdonck from Looking Over Your Shoulder

1.      Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like, what you hope to achieve, etc.)

My name is Aberahama VanRaemdonck. For obvious reasons, most people just call me Abe or Mr. VanRam. I am married, with three children. My wife Ursula says I look sort of like Nicholas Cage. Maybe he could play my part in the movie adaptation of Looking Over Your Shoulder.
2.       
What do you like to do in your spare time?

My passion is cooking. I provide consulting services with regard to special diets, setting up meal plans, converting and compiling recipes, making sure that the plans are nutritionally sound, etc. I am consulting right now with one of the airlines on a new line of customizable on-board plane meals that are suited to all kinds of special diets… Anyway, in my free time, I like to cook. That’s how I unwind. And the last thing that Ursula needs to be worrying about after a long day of work and looking after the kids is coming up with something for dinner. Food is my area of expertise and in our house, the kitchen is my territory.

3     What is your favorite color and why?

I love the interplay of colors between the foods in a meal, and I don’t know if I could ever pick one as my favorite. I love to use the bright yellow of corn, orange of carrots, various shades of greens together in a salad, a brilliant red soup or sauce… the pure white backdrop of a porcelain plate. Sometimes I can actually hear the colors sing together. It’s beautiful.
4.       
What is your favorite food? Why is it your favorite?

How could a guy like me pick just one favorite food? Some of the foods that I make (or mention) in Looking Over Your Shoulder are tagine, sugar cookies, pancakes, chocolate soufflĂ©, green chicken curry—that’s one of the dishes that I am developing for the airline—taquitos, burgers, mung dal soup, beetroot raita, and carrot halva. I couldn’t possibly pick one favorite! Though that green chicken curry is heavenly…
5.       
What would you say is your biggest quirk?

Huh. Quirk. Well, it’s no secret to those who know me that I have paranoid schizophrenia, along with a host of comorbid conditions that blend together in my unique brain. OCD, bipolar, etc. I’m not sure if you could call something like that a quirk, but yeah, it does make me… pretty quirky at times.
6.       
What is it about your antagonist that irks you the most, and why? Share a line in the book where this irk is manifested.

The thing that irks me the most is when no one will believe me. Just because I have paranoia, that doesn’t mean I’m not right! Just because I’m the only one that sees the thieves, or the clues they left behind… well, to quote from the book:

“That doesn’t mean I can’t be right! That doesn’t mean that this isn’t really happening! I’m not imagining it. This is really happening.” Abe gestured at the newspaper. “I didn’t imagine that! Somebody really poisoned them!”

7      What or who means the most to you in your life? What, if anything, would you do to keep him/her/it in your life?

My family means everything to me. Ursula, and the children, Juneau, Crispin, and Meggie. They are the ones who give me purpose and keep me going. I would do anything to protect them, including getting shot.

8      What one thing would you like readers to know about you that may not be spelled out in the book in which you inhabit?

This isn’t a story that mocks mental illness or that perpetuates prejudices about mental illness, like that someone with schizophrenia can’t have a family, or a job, or manage their mental illness and be stable most of the time. Being schizophrenic doesn’t make me the victim or the villain in this story, just another guy battling his inner demons and trying to live a happy, fulfilling life.
9.     
  If you could tell your writer (creator) anything about yourself that might turn the direction of the plot, what would it be?

Just because I’m paranoid, that doesn’t mean I’m not right. Whatever you do to me, please protect my family. I couldn’t handle it if something happened to them.
   
Ask me any question. I've always wanted to know what a character thinks about writers like myself. I'll answer the question at the end of this interview.

How often do you fall in love with your main character? Or with the villain or a minor character? Do you ever forget for an instant that they’re not real people, and think something like ‘I bet Abe would love this curry’?

Great question! I do get attached to my characters, though I can honestly say I've never fallen in love with any of them yet. But I do think of many of them as my next door neighbors, and, at the very least, acquaintances of mine. In my eyes, they will always be 'real' because I created them. Remember the Velveteen Rabbit?

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