Reviewer Spotlight: Viveca Mellegard

Anatomy of an Uncustomary Writer

Uncustomary Reviewer - Viveca Mellegard

What’s the oddest thing you own?

I bought some necklaces in Cuba that make me want to vomit when I think about them but I can’t throw them away. They’re made up of strings of beans and seeds from a plant and their colour drew me to them like a magnet but as soon as I got back to the hotel room with them, I had to lie down and cover my eyes. I tried to wrap them in several bags and I put them on the balcony so that I couldn’t see them or be reminded of them but I couldn’t stop thinking about them and even now, fifteen years later when they are buried in a box at the bottom of a pile of boxes, in a dusty garage of a house I don’t live in, the thought of them turns my stomach.

Any writing rituals?

I write quickly and sometimes with my eyes closed so that my pernickety inner critic doesn’t have time to say anything to make me stop writing.

What substance (prescribed, illegal or from the freezer section) most inspires your writing?

Is it naughty to admit to a glass or two of wine?

What’s the biggest advantage of your greatest disadvantage?

I know what I like but am willing to give most things a go and this means that when I’m faced with the option of having coffee and cake at the cafe across the street, reading my book alone in the sun, or going on a boat trip with a potential new friend, I am flummoxed. I’ll spend a long time figuring out what I want to do and then allow circumstances like the weather or a chance occurrence make the decision for me. Nine times out of ten, something unexpectedly marvelous happens that convinces me that things worked out in the best possible way and that perhaps being indecisive is a blessing after all.

Which language do you wish you could speak to ask what question to whom?

I’d love to be able to ask the Persian poet, Hafez, what he thinks is the way for a human being to be truly free and happy.

Describe your relationship with inspiration.

Standing on a high plateau, feeling exhilarated and touching clarity all the way to the horizon.

The formula for the perfect day is:

Wake up with the sun, swim in cold water, sing and stretch and pick blueberries and wild strawberries and eat them with yogurt. Read something that fills me with hope. Write from the best part of myself. Go for a walk with a friend I will know for the rest of my life. Bake something. Rest in a hammock. Curl up in someone’s arms and fall asleep to the sound of their voice. Put on a dress that makes me feel like glitter sparkling on a cheek. Laugh and laugh and, at the day’s end, walk through my garden and press some stalks of lavender between my fingers and then, feel the gaze of someone who loves brush my shoulders as I turn to go back inside, to bed.

Anatomy of the Book

Do you prefer…

…chapter titles or chapter numbers? Chapter numbers, now that I think about it.
…short stories, a series, or a collection of poems? Short stories, although I never read them all after I’ve found my favourites.
…footnotes, maps or indices? Maps.
…hardcover, softcover or digital cover? Paper all the way. Softcover because they’re more practical to read but hardcover looks good on a shelf.

Anatomy of the Reading List

What does your reading list look like? Is it a pile of books, a list of titles or a mental medley of thoughts?

A list of titles written in my diary, emailed by friends or brought to life when I see the title in a bookstore and remember that I wanted to read it.

Which book do you feel obligated to read next?

Something by Hilary Mantel; JK Rowland’s books for adults; Gone Girl.

Which do you actually wish you were reading right now?

Gone Girl and The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson.

Uncustomary Book Reviews Written by Viveca Mellegard: Here’s the list.

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