Today I would like to welcome author Anne Marie Ruff to the blog. I have a copy of her book, Through These Veins, sitting in my TBR pile but she also generously offered to stop by for an interview and to give one of my lucky readers a copy of her book.
About the Book:
In the coffee-growing highlands of Ethiopia, an Italian scientist on a plant collecting expedition discovers a local medicine man dispensing an apparent cure for AIDS. As the medicine man’s teenage daughter reveals the plants behind the cure, their lives become irrevocably intertwined. Through These Veins weaves together the dramatically different worlds of traditional healing, U.S. government funded AIDS research, and the pharmaceutical industry in an intensely personal, fast-paced tale of scientific intrigue and love, with both devastating and hopeful effect.
All profits from the sale of this book will be distributed to the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders and the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation in Ethiopia.
1. How did you transition from reporting on AIDS research to writing a novel about it?
I worked for many years as a journalist, both in the U.S. and internationally. But I find that I have grown jaded, fatigued, disillusioned with the incessant stream of news. I am interested in the longer story arc, the slower movements of society and culture that drive the daily churn of news like a massive gear in the machine of history.
I didn’t set out to write fiction, which seems so contrary to the “just the facts ma’am” axiom we associate with journalism. My intention was to shine a light on unreported or under-reported environmental stories. The medical reporting I did was not really my passion, as much as a byproduct of living in Bangkok; a hub for HIV/AIDS research and activism.
After a year of telling gloom and doom stories about the destruction of forests, or coral reefs, or traditional agricultural varieties, I felt like even I was becoming desensitized to my deeply held belief that our collective health is inextricably linked to the health of our environment.
Then I meet Stefano Padulosi -- more about that below, and I felt that I had a fictional story that I needed to tell.
Here is how the novel’s story opens: In the coffee-growing highlands of Ethiopia, an Italian scientist on a plant collecting expedition discovers a local medicine man dispensing an apparent cure for AIDS.
The specifics of this particular situation are fiction. But the story that unfurls from this fiction is studded with facts, real scientists, and events mirroring real life situations. I gathered my sources and research for this novel at first unknowingly, while I worked as a journalist based in Bangkok, Thailand and then in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Later, once I had the idea for a novel, I sought out more research for the novel, under the guise of journalism.
2. Tell us about someone you met in your travels.
When, in the course of my reporting, I met a charismatic Italian scientist who approached plant collecting and conservation as if it were an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones. I had a shazaam moment. He ignited an idea for a new approach, a fictional story centered on a character like him. He could carry readers around the world, and inspire in others the passion he felt for the richness of life on the planet. He could articulate the imperative to conserve it for the health and well being of this and future generations.
I am grateful for that conference in Malaysia and the chance meeting with Stefano, for it allowed me to marry my different reporting interests and use everything I learned and more in a novel way. So facts support my fiction, and hopefully, my fiction will serve the facts.
3. What are you currently reading? What has been your favorite book so far this year?
I am reading The Mirage by Matt Ruff. I have to admit I picked it up because I was intrigued that we share the same last name, and he certainly looks from his author photo as though we could be kin. The book is centered on the idea that a mirage has transposed the world into a sort of mirror image with fundamentalist Christians having orchestrated an incredible terrorist attack in Baghdad, flying planes into two towers on November 9th, 2011. The ensuing aftermath as the global superpower, The United Arab States, invades the backward states on the North American continent is a fascinating prism through which to view current events.
The best book I have read this year is Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra. Almost defies explanation in its scope.
4. Outside of reading, writing, and traveling what hobbies do you enjoy?
I have husband, two children, four chickens, dozens of fruit trees and a vegetable garden. I guess you could say living things are my hobby these days.
5. Do you have more novels planned? Can you share anything about what you are currently writing?
At the moment I am almost finished with the first draft of a new novel. The one line synopsis: an American woman marries a Pakistani man, a man who subsequently commits a terrorist act. The story delves into some searing questions about identity and loyalty, justice and revenge. While the book is by no means autobiographical, I am drawing on my own experience of a cross-cultural marriage (I married a Sikh man from India) and a familiarity with Islamic culture which I developed during three years I spent living in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates which hosts a large Pakistani population. I write every morning on the bus on the way to my office and expect to have a first draft completed in the fall.
About the Author:
Anne Marie Ruff has reported on AIDS research, drug development, biodiversity conservation, and agriculture from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa. Her work has been broadcast by National Public Radio, Public Radio International, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and PBS TV. Her articles have appeared in Time, Christian Science Monitor, and Saveur among other publications. Through These Veins is Anne Marie's first novel.
Please visit www.annemarieruff.com to learn more about the book and Anne Marie.
This giveaway is sponsored by Anne Marie Ruff. One winner will receive either a paperback copy (US/CAN only) or an eBook copy (International) of Through These Veins. Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Library Girl Reads & Reviews is not responsible for the delivery of prizes.
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