Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Plant Teacher by Caroline Alethia

Welcome to Author Caroline Alethia

Caroline Alethia is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, on radio and in web outlets. Her words have reached audiences on six continents. She lived in Bolivia and was a witness to many of the events described in Plant Teacher. 


If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I would definitely go into the past. I’d love to see the Roman Forum or the invention of the printing press. I’m afraid to see the future; I think Plant Teacher shows that I have grave concerns about the environment.

What is one book everyone should read?

Everyone should read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel. This book is the single best scientific retort to racism that I know of. Diamond looks at the relative rates of development of different civilizations and he convincingly reduces these differences to geography.

If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
I’d really like to fly. I used to have a recurring dream as a kid that I could fly. In my dream it would not be at soaring heights, but only a few feet off the ground. The dream was so real that I would make it through half the day before it occurred to me that I couldn’t actually fly.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
I would like to meet Austrian depth psychiatrist Alfred Adler. He was supposed to have an uncanny ability to read people. By watching someone walk into the room, for example, he could correctly ascertain that person’s birth order.

One food you would never eat?
I would eat anything if I was hungry enough, but I have never seen a meal on Bizarre Food that I would be willing to try unless I was under duress.

Pet Peeves?
This has become a topical issue, but I have always disliked bullies.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Plant Teacher is entertaining and thought provoking and it leaves you thinking.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I have so many writing projects on the back burner. I’ve written a self-help book about how to analyze one’s earliest childhood memories, and I’d like to publish and market that. I’d also like to try my hand at writing a play.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
When I was in kindergarten, I ran into the living room with a page of scribbles and announced to my mother that I would be a writer when I grew up. I loved reading then, and that made me learn to love writing. The process of writing a book is as thought provoking and engrossing as the process of reading one.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I have just begun my marketing campaign. I’ve only approached one journalist thus far for a review, and he described Plant Teacher as a “must-read” in Huffington Post Books. That was deeply satisfying.

What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
In high school, I loved All the King’s Men. I barely remember the plot now, but I recall that one character is abruptly introduced as the narrator’s wife near the end of the novel—and this revelation is beautiful.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Join a writers’ group. It’s important to practice, to receive criticism, and to learn how to edit your writing.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?
I would choose the here and now. I like the fact that medicine, for example, is as advanced as it has ever been. I would not want to have a root canal in the 19th Century.

What is your favorite Quote?
“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

Quite the opposite. I was very careful not to make Plant Teacher autobiographical in any way; I do believe in a private life. That said, none of my characters can exist without the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that I breathe into them, and these are limited by what I can conceive of with my own thoughts, attitudes and beliefs.

Favorite Food?
Thai coconut soup. 


Hailed by Huffington Post contributor Joel Hirst as a compelling and powerful story, Plant Teacher begins in 1972 when a hippie in Oakland, Californiaflushes a syringe of LSD down a toilet. Thirty-five years later, the wayward drug paraphernalia has found its final resting place in Los Yungas, Bolivia, the umbilical cord between the Andes and Amazonia.
Enter into this picture two young Americans, Cheryl Lewis, trying to forge her future in La Pazand Martin Banzer, trying to come to terms with his past in the same city. The two form an unlikely friendship against the backdrop of a country teetering at the brink of dictatorship and revolution.
Boliviasparks the taste for adventure in both young people and Martin finds himself experimenting with indigenous hallucinogenic plants while Cheryl flits from one personal relationship to another. Meanwhile, the syringe buried in the silt in a marsh in Los Yungas will shape their destinies more than either could anticipate or desire.
Plant Teacher takes its readers on a fast-paced tour from the hippie excesses of Oakland, to the great streams of the Pacific Ocean and to the countryside, cities, natural wonders and ancient ruins of Bolivia. It reveals­ the mundane and the magical, and, along the way, readers glimpse the lives of everyday Bolivians struggling to establish equanimity or merely eke out a living during drastic political crisis.

Giveaway Details
1 copy of Plant Teacher
Open to US only
Ends 4/27/12

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