June 9 at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA 7 PM
Did you know having a baby can turn you into a writer?
Read my interview in NFAA: "How did you come to do what you’re doing today?"
Lisa: Thirty-two years ago, I started a community newspaper in Fairfax, CA. I was craving a rag that focused on what I found interesting in our region: artists, characters, hikes, gardening, history, politics.
I had a baby when I was 29 and realized I had to stay home occasionally, so what work could I do when I finally put my backpack/suitcase down? I had just sold my import company, Dreamweaver Imports, in San Francisco. It was time to write about my travel adventures—not just live them—so I’d nurse Galen in front of the keyboard and work on my stories. It was a great challenge to discipline myself to construct well-written sentences that would weave into a story worthy of the printed page. As you know from Wild Life, I didn’t stop traveling when I had a baby; I just didn’t go for one-to-two-year vagabonding journeys. And I would take him with me. Galen’s first big adventure was when he was 8 months old and I hauled him off to a Berber betrothal faire in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. That story, "Two Mohameds,” is in Wild Life.".
There is a lot more to the interview regarding inspiration and a writer's behavior but I wanted to share a photo of my "baby" now. Galen is 32-years-old, an avid vagabonder, and director/boss of a sustainable farming community on the Big Island. The plate of food is from his cafe at the local farmers' market. All the recipes are made with wild or organically grown produce from his land against Green Mountain. Tumeric/ginger fried coconut anyone?
Rene Denfeld in conversation with Lisa Alpine
Winner of the prestigious French Prix award. * #1 Book of the Year: the Oregonian. * Finalist for the 2014 Flaherty First Novel Prize
June 10 at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA 7 PM
The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Fearful and reclusive, he senses what others cannot. Though bars confine him every minute of every day, he marries magical visions of golden horses running beneath the prison, heat flowing like molten metal from their backs, with the devastating violence of prison life.
Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest, and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners' pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed. Digging into the background of a killer named York, she uncovers wrenching truths that challenge familiar notions of victim and criminal, innocence and guilt, honor and corruption-ultimately revealing shocking secrets of her own.
Beautiful and transcendent, The Enchanted reminds us of how our humanity connects us all, and how beauty and love exist even amidst the most nightmarish reality.
Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, Mitigation Specialist, and fact Investigator in death penalty cases. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and is a published author of four books including The Enchanted: A Novel, and the international bestseller The New Victorians: A Young Woman's Challenge to the Old Feminist Order.
From licking a Monet in Paris, to pushing an abusive macho honeymooner off his sailboat in the shark-infested Galápagos, to saving her toddler son from a charging bull elephant in Africa, these 14 delightful, award-winning true tales will inspire readers to follow the call of a wild life and leave home with their doors unlocked.
"Lisa’s love of travel and her fierce determination to push all boundaries, takes the reader with her on a thoughtful, fun and fearless journey."
— Maureen Wheeler, founder Lonely Planet
"When you’re hitchhiking about in foreign lands, whether in France, Morocco, or perhaps New Zealand, it helps—as California-girl Lisa Alpine discovered—to be "young, blond, persistent, and female.” And to get along, once you’ve reached an approximate destination in hardscrabble exotica, you should be friendly, fearless, and sometimes counter intuitively trusting.
There is daring, humor, and even a bit of Eros in the fourteen stories that span her life from the innocence of eighteen, when she was struck with wanderlust, into middle age. "I am a woman who wanders and wonders and writes,” she explains.
And what wandering there’s been, beginning in Paris, where she tasted art by licking a Monet. In Vienna, she asked an old woman, who turned out to be a survivor of Auschwitz, where she might find cheap lodging and ended up as the woman’s house guest.
She met the chauffeur of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in Switzerland and was offered a job babysitting Richards’s two children, but after witnessing a temper tantrum by Richards’s live-in girlfriend, declined and took a job as a bartender, offering free drinks in order to get her slave-driving boss, who held her passport as ransom, to fire her.
She had the sort of inevitable adventure that tests us all, coping with her mother’s dementia before her death on Mother’s Day, 2011. In a bittersweet way, it was probably her most admirable adventure of all."
"Lisa Alpine’s winning title tells much about her personal timeline, and the bestiary of good, bad, ugly or rare characters encountered in these sometimes breathless pages."
—David Downie, author of Paris to the Pyrenees and A Passion for Paris
"Lisa’s stories are not only packed with the humor and adventure that comes from being a solo woman traveler, but also filled with compassion that cuts to the core of what travel is all about—a deep connection toa people and place found when we shed our protective armor and remember we are all human."
— Kimberley Lovato, author of Walnut Wine and Truffle Groves
More news flashes!
Hers are the type of spontaneous and quirky tales that vagabonders dream of when they muse on the possibilities of the open road. In true vagabonding spirit, her tales portray a woman with a no-frills approach to travel and a heavy investment in experience. You’ll find impassioned stories about far-flung destinations that can only come from an extended time on the road.
Alpine’s stories might not be to everyone’s tastes. She recounts her experiences with passion, shameless candor, and a huge amount of heart. There is no subject off-limits in her book. If you prefer the safety of clean careful narrative, with strict mindfulness to all Ps and Qs, this collection might be a bit much for you.
In addition to being a collection of travel stories, Exotic Life also explores the many trials and joys of Alpine’s personal life. Readers will not just come away with a host of tales from around the world, but with a vivid sense of the type of woman Alpine is. Her personality leaps from the pages."
20th Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published Book Awards review:
"Lisa's adventures have one flaw: they quit. I would love to see a thousand more episodes in exotic countries or places within those exotic countries. I think my favorite chapter was "Amazon Mom" because of its children and its Green Mansions atmosphere. When Lisa says, "So much water, so much growth . . . I wonder where they live of they can live there no longer" I feel myself transported to a time and place where children need someone for a time, and the Amazon is king.
Lisa's travels are more than exotic. They are wonderful reading. Her dance for her grandmother, naked except for a couple of scarves and a diamond necklace, was enchanting. She can come dance for me anytime.
I have to say this book stayed with me for a long time, and I loved the last three lines about Guadeloupe."
Purchase signed print books for $12.95 from Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA, The Depot Bookstore and Cafe in Mill Valley, CA, Rebound Books in San Rafael, CA, and Kalani Resort on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
Find out why Lisa wanted to push that boyfriend out of the plane...
Lisa Alpine’s wonderful collection of stories, Exotic Life, is a delicious assortment of sensuous tales much like a box of different chocolates, each distinct and each equally rich and satisfying. There is a kind of erotic, in the grandest sense of the word, tension that fills each story. They aren’t all necessarily sexy or lusty, they are intimate visions into the soul of someone willing to live life fully and who is ready to savor each morsel of existence.
Her stories may make some yearn for a similar life of exotic people and places, but to me, she invites each one of us to explore, in great honesty, the desires and pleasures buried in our own hearts. Lisa models a view of life that is more open to our soul’s promptings than to the constraints of a timid society.
Hats off to Lisa for sharing her life and inspiring me to say, "Yes!” to whatever is presented to me. I heartily recommend these delightful stories to anyone who wants to touch the adventurer in their own soul.Stewart Blackburn (author The Skills of Pleasure)
I've read it while here in Spain! It was great! I loved it! Jocelyn Crockett
SUCH a fun read! There is so much in there I am going to read it again before I consider which was my favorite story etc., but it sure gave me the travel itch! Megan McKearney-Inciardi
Great book! Highly recommended - especially if you enjoy stories about travel around the world. Lion Goodman
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