Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guest Post and Book Feature

The Art of Change
by Kelly Andria

Synopsis


When gallery owner Nellie, a giving yet neurotic New Yorker, brings together the mismatched cast of characters in the opening of Ryan Whittaker’s debut, a phallic show, little does she know that she is setting the scene for odd and unpredictable relationships, much like Shakespeare in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The frenzied, magical mix-up is an outrageous farce with a deep moral message: there is a RIGHT place for everyone in this world and love and friendship cement us in it.

The Art of Change is a funny, smooth reading romance, which deals with bridging differences in gender, education, social milieu, in an insane but pragmatic, modern fairytale, set in New York City.

The twists of the plot are written without an ounce of cynicism but simply acknowledging that life is neither here nor there, neither black or white and all can be dealt with in real friendship and love.

A Tale of Two Authors

Also published in Athens Insider, September / October 2012 issue

When two friends Kelly Intzides and Vivian Andria, decided to co-write a book replete with colourful personalities and gender-bending, life-altering twists set in their beloved New York, not only did they end up with a very readable book but also with a whole new career

So how did the idea of writing a book together come about.? Says Andria, “Writing with another person is a matter of chemistry – you either have it or you don’t. And it certainly cannot be forced. We started this project in gest. We described characters to each other one night over wine and cheese, stretching the limits of our imagination like children. “What if a gallery owner wanted to cater an event? What is she didn’t choose the conventional hors d’oeuvres? What if a renowned art critic fell in love with a cook from Queens, who didn’t even know he was gay? What if his Ukrainian wife became the artist’s muse?”

Kelly pipes in, “We decided on a plot together and on where we wanted to the characters to go. One of us would write one chapter … then the other would rip it apart and to rewrite! We had a great time doing it.”

Says Vivian, “We assigned traits to our characters, from people who we know and love and we almost always agreed with each other. We didn’t want villains in the story. This was our world, our evening nights of fun and story exchange. We could create the utopia we wanted and support it throughout our plot. We crossed out each other’s lines, with no hurt feelings and added our own. We waited anxiously for each other to send back the corrected chapter. “Did Kelly take my last paragraph out? Did she find it boring and esoteric?” “Did Vivian like the dialogue or did she think it was easy comedy?” We laughed with the unexpected scenes: the Japanese couple that bought a work of art that didn’t fit in the house, Ceasar’s Palace in Vegas made from olives, cheese and toothpicks, Pino’s first awkward date with Monroe, Nellie keeping her cool in the chaos through meditation. Who doesn’t know people like that in New York City or who wouldn’t want to read about them?

While they furiously penned their lines while the rest of the family was firmly in bed, Kelly and Vivian called, chatted, skyped and emailed their thoughts to each other. What started as a fun project before Christmas in 2010, was a complete book by June 2011.

“ We only wanted to make people laugh and when one of us strayed to the darker side, usually Vivian who experiences guilt when situations become too light-hearted, Kelly would clap her hands and say “What did we agree on? This is supposed to make people laugh. Nobody cares about our sad life experiences, there are people in MUCH worse place than we are!”

So while the book was ready, a publisher was not. Quite like the actual creative process, their chance encounter with an Australian publisher who was holidaying on Poros led to more dinners and discussions and today the book is rated among the top 75 reads in gay literature.

And how do the authors perceive the book?“If this book can be compared to food, which we love to do, it’s your Sunday brunch with magazines and newspapers, loaded with soul food (carbs) and coffee. If the authors can be compared to cooks, it’s two friends in a small kitchen preparing a quick meal with fresh ingredients without a cookbook. We really threw out the rulebook on this one – no conventions. And we had fun doing it.”

For Greek Kelly who had lived in Manhattan for 28 years, the idea of the book spawned over dinner with friend and fellow-school mom American Vivian Andria, who had moved to Greece from the US when she was just four, and then back again after University, in 1995.

So how did the idea of writing a book together come about.? Says Andria, “Writing with another person is a matter of chemistry – you either have it or you don’t. And it certainly cannot be forced. We started this project in gest. We described characters to each other one night over wine and cheese, stretching the limits of our imagination like children. “What if a gallery owner wanted to cater an event? What is she didn’t choose the conventional hors d’oeuvres? What if a renowned art critic fell in love with a cook from Queens, who didn’t even know he was gay? What if his Ukrainian wife became the artist’s muse?”

Kelly pipes in, “We decided on a plot together and on where we wanted to the characters to go. One of us would write one chapter … then the other would rip it apart and to rewrite! We had a great time doing it.”

Says Vivian, “We assigned traits to our characters, from people who we know and love and we almost always agreed with each other. We didn’t want villains in the story. This was our world, our evening nights of fun and story exchange. We could create the utopia we wanted and support it throughout our plot. We crossed out each other’s lines, with no hurt feelings and added our own. We waited anxiously for each other to send back the corrected chapter. “Did Kelly take my last paragraph out? Did she find it boring and esoteric?” “Did Vivian like the dialogue or did she think it was easy comedy?” We laughed with the unexpected scenes: the Japanese couple that bought a work of art that didn’t fit in the house, Ceasar’s Palace in Vegas made from olives, cheese and toothpicks, Pino’s first awkward date with Monroe, Nellie keeping her cool in the chaos through meditation. Who doesn’t know people like that in New York City or who wouldn’t want to read about them?

While they furiously penned their lines while the rest of the family was firmly in bed, Kelly and Vivian called, chatted, skyped and emailed their thoughts to each other. What started as a fun project before Christmas in 2010, was a complete book by June 2011.

“ We only wanted to make people laugh and when one of us strayed to the darker side, usually Vivian who experiences guilt when situations become too light-hearted, Kelly would clap her hands and say “What did we agree on? This is supposed to make people laugh. Nobody cares about our sad life experiences, there are people in MUCH worse place than we are!”

So while the book was ready, a publisher was not. Quite like the actual creative process, their chance encounter with an Australian publisher who was holidaying on Poros led to more dinners and discussions and today the book is rated among the top 75 reads in gay literature.

And how do the authors perceive the book?“If this book can be compared to food, which we love to do, it’s your Sunday brunch with magazines and newspapers, loaded with soul food (carbs) and coffee. If the authors can be compared to cooks, it’s two friends in a small kitchen preparing a quick meal with fresh ingredients without a cookbook. We really threw out the rulebook on this one – no conventions. And we had fun doing it.”


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Romance / Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the authors & the book

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