About the book
Like many new bird owners, Jenny and Scott Gardiner hoped for a smart, talkative, friendly companion. Instead, as they took on the unexpected task of raising a curmudgeonly wild African grey parrot and a newborn, they learned an important lesson: parrothood is way harder than parenthood.Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me, is a hilarious and poignant cautionary tale about two very different types of creatures, thrown together by fate, who learn to make the best of a challenging situation.
About the author
Jenny Gardiner is also the author of the award – winning novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, and the Washington Post. She writes a column of humorous essays for Charlottesville, Virginia’s newspaper, the Daily Progress. She lives in central Virginia with her family.
I asked, Jenny answered
A. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? Bonus question: have you ever used it in a book?
J: Well, this might not have been THE scariest thing, but it did momentarily scare the bejesus out of me. My then eight-year old daughter had to go for some MRI as part of a study she was participating in at Georgetown University Hospital, which is a sprawling campus. We were running late and I had her hand clutched in mine as we raced across the sweltering July blacktop in the parking lot, trekking from building to building in search of the "right" MRI (lots of different buildings apparently had them. There was a lot of construction so pathways came to dead halts and we were redirected all over the place. Finally some old guard was kind enough to tell us a shortcut--we had to climb here, scale there, leap tall buildings in a single bound. It would take us in through the back entrance of this building, we were to proceed to the basement. So we get to the basement, me and my little impressionable girl, and it's just corridor after corridor of unmarked doorways. There was not a human being to be found, no one from whom I could ask directions. We finally get to a hallway that had MRI images on the walls, so i figured we were warm, right? I get to an open door and we rush into the room, only to find out we'd happened into the cadaver room. Me and my baby, with a room full of sheet-cloaked stiffs with toe tags. I screamed, covered her eyes, and pulled her out of there, lickety split!
I must use that in a book some time!
A. Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
I am HUGELY afraid of heights. I do try to force it on myself though. Years ago we went to a Club Med that was a circus Club Med and I spent the whole week doing the trapeze. It appealed to the former gymnast/ice skater/diver in me, but climbing that skimpy ladder and being suspended so high above the ground did freak me out. Also last winter we were in Costa Rica and did ziplines. A year earlier we'd done ziplines in Hawaii but those were like baby ziplines compared to the ones in Costa Rica. I have to say I did not enjoy even one second of it in CR--the entire time I was gripped with fear. Being like a mile up on a 1-1/2 mile stretch of wire was not my idea of a good time!
A. I always hoped if I did one of those zipline things I would lose MY fear of heights.
A. Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie?
I hate to say I am such a weenie at this point in my life. I try to avoid scaring myself. How lame is that? But certainly you are one of them ;-)
A. Why, thank you!
A. At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask?
J. It might well remain a mystery to some, after reading my book, about why we would have ever accepted a parrot as a gift, especially when we had a newborn at the time. And then when she ended up being a parrot that wanted to kill me, well, that sort of reinforces that question. And the answer? I'm either a glutton for punishment, or a real softie when it comes to living creatures!
A, Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure
J. Plenty of them. I have to say, for as old as I am, men still perplex me. I will look at the likes of John Edwards and Tiger Woods and Elliott Spitzer and Mark Sanford--I mean seriously, you can fill in the blank, can't you?--and just could make myself nuts about why men would do such incredibly stupid, selfish, inane things. I guess I'll never get that.
Jenny talks about the book.