Motivations, hopes and fears: Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga author Todd Alexander on writing as self-reflection

Motivations, hopes and fears: Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga author Todd Alexander on writing as self-reflection

About the author

Todd Alexander has been writing for over twenty years. His work has been published in magazines and period­icals and his first novel, Pictures of Us, was published in 2006, and Tom Houghton was published in 2015. How to Buy and Sell on eBay.com.au has sold in excess of 30,000 copies. In 2010, his advanced guide to eBay, How to Make Money on eBay was pub­lished, followed by Why Pay Retail (2011), Get Your Business Online. . . Now! and Every Day Internet at Any Age (both in 2012), The New eBay (2013) and Check 100: Tips for a Successful eBay Business (2014). He lives in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales with his partner where they run a boutique vineyard and accommodation business, Block Eight.

Purchase a copy of Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga here

Read our review of Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga here

Words // Todd Alexander

All writing is a form of self-reflection but I think there’s a stark difference between writing fiction and writing memoir. In fiction, you never have to admit to how much is real, or inspired by your own thoughts or experiences. You can observe people and situations but mask them creatively or you can invent something out of thin air – the process can be freeing and for me, often serves as a kind of therapy. My fictional characters often get the chance to live experiences that I never have, or make choices I wish I had (or hadn’t) made and sometimes be with people I’ve only ever dreamed about!

Memoir is an entirely different beast. The narrative voice necessarily needs to be your own. With fiction, the narrative can be an independent storyteller’s but with memoir you really need to take a long hard look at yourself, your world views, your experiences and your interactions with others (both human and animal, in my case). In many ways, it’s weird committing your life to paper, knowing it will be viewed publicly and will be out there for eternity. At the outset, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to sugarcoat my own personality / character within the book. I know I’m flawed in a multitude of ways, but if you’re going to write your memoir then I believe you have a responsibility to do it warts and all.

When you write about your own life, covering the experiences is the easiest part. You’re just relaying facts. It gets trickier when you need to convey your motivations, fears, hopes and desires, because this is the essence of who you are as a human being. I find it much easier to embrace my more challenging character traits by being bold and upfront about them, then taking the piss out of myself before any else gets the chance! I don’t think I could ever write a memoir without comedy for that very reason.

Other aspects of the book were much more difficult to write – my body image issues, financial stresses, my role as partner and my feelings about my mother’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, for example. I’ll be honest and say these are topics I‘ve never really discussed before, with anyone other than my partner Jeff, so writing about them not only took guts but also made me appreciate that forty odd years of experience have made me the person I am today and there is no shame in admitting to being scared, crying, having feelings of self-disgust or realising the absurdity of everyday life like the time I fried chicken balls in our newly renovated apartment (you’ll just have to read the book to know more about that).

Most of all, however, writing Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine And A Pig Called Helga is a celebration of the people who have helped make me who I am, who have been there for me regardless of my sometimes questionable behaviour and without whose friendship and support I doubt I’d have survived my awkward years. Oh, and it’s also a celebration of my four legged and feathered friends and the fact that I don’t really care if you think me kissing my pig is strange.

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                      Publisher details

                      Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga
                      Author
                      Todd Alexander
                      Publisher
                      Simon and Schuster
                      Genre
                      Biography and Memoir
                      Released
                      01 March, 2019
                      ISBN
                      9781925791334

                      Synopsis

                      Once I was the poster boy for corporate success, but now I’m crashing through the bush in a storm in search of a missing pig. How the hell did we end up here?Todd and Jeff have had enough of the city. Sick of the daily grind and workaday corporate shenanigans, they throw caution to the wind and buy 100 acres in the renowned Hunter Valley wine region, intent on living a golden bucolic life and building a fabulous B&B, where they can offer the joys of country life to heart-weary souls.Todd will cook, Jeff will renovate. They have a vineyard, they can make wine. They have space, they can grow their own food. They have everything they need to make their dreams come true.How hard can it be?
                      Todd Alexander
                      About the author

                      Todd Alexander

                      Todd is the author of eleven books including his latest novel, Tom Houghton, released by Simon & Schuster in October 2015.  A graduate of Law and Arts, Todd started his career as a bookseller and spent 12 years working at eBay.  Today, Todd runs a boutique accommodation business and vineyard in the Hunter Valley with his partner, cat, pigs, ducks and chooks.  He is also an advisor to the online marketplace, Bountye.

                      Books by Todd Alexander

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                      1. Helen Allsop says:

                        I’ve just finished reading ‘30,000 bottles of wine and a pig called Helga’, I read it in 2 sittings because I couldn’t put it down…I loved it! Thanks Todd Alexander!