Adele Elliott is the author of an enchanting tale, Friendship Cemetery. She and her husband have weathered a monumental upheaval in her life, thanks to hurricane Katrina, and they are learning to accept life in Mississippi. She also says she hates writing; why don’t I believe her – but I know what she means. And no, Adele, I have no desire to make you sound smarter – I like you just the way you are! And I just love your new home.
Adele – you assure prospective readers that although your book Friendship Cemetery is comforting and beautiful, more funny than scary, yet the dramatic cover is enough to excite the most ghoulish of imaginations! Would you care to comment?
I love the cover. However, I did not design it.
That is one of the advantages of having a real publisher, as opposed to self-publishing. The decisions were made by people who were much more knowledgeable than I am.
I hope readers are not disappointed that it is not scarier.
I was quite surprised to see my name above the title. I thought that arrangement was only for well-known writers.
What made you start writing short stories, and are they also about the paranormal?
I started college in my 40s, and was an art major. At that time I had a very close friendship with a young man who started school at about age 17. He wanted to take a fiction writing class, but was frightened to do it alone. So, we signed up together.
After that first class, I took some more advanced class. While in school, I won several awards for my stories, and was invited to be a fiction editor of the school’s literary journal.
My stories are not all about the paranormal. They are more about quirky characters.
Since “Friendship Cemetery” I have written two stories that were fantasy\paranormal. Both were published in 2013.
I may be pushing myself into a niche. That is not exactly where I want to be.
How long did you take to write Friendship Cemetery, and have you learned anything in the process which you would avoid in future.
I wrote “F C” in about seven months. The story had been floating around in my mind for several years, but was never on paper.
It started with a conversation between the two girls, Emma and Pea. I had no idea how it would become a novel. As I began writing it evolved. Many events in the story just popped up during the writing process. Even I did not know they were coming.
I think one thing that I learned is to keep going. There are times when I thought this would never turn into a real novel.
I am very good at starting a writing project, but stopping before it is finished. Perseverance may be the most important trait for a writer (or anyone) to develop.
How much of your book is autobiographical?
Almost none of it is autobiographical. Emma Grace’s mother is a composite of two people, one is my mother.
I have gone ghost hunting in Friendship Cemetery, which is a real place. All the other scenes in the book are real, as well. The hair salon, restaurants, the Palmer Home are real. However, the characters (with only one exception) and situations are completely fiction. I know no dwarfs or healer-women.
Many people around here are confused by this. Emma is a young girl questioning religion. Some locals have been offended by the comments about Baptists, and Christianity. They cannot separate me from the characters.
Tell us about your journey to publication, and how did you find Crooked Cat?
I finished “F C” in December of 2012. Then, I did nothing for a couple of months before re-reading it.
When I began sending it out, in February of 2013 I gave myself a goal. That was, if I did not get a real publisher by my birthday in September, then I would investigate self-publishing.
I sent the manuscript to some publishers listed in “The Writers Market”, and received a few rejections. A couple asked to read more. I think, all together, there were ten or so rejections. I wasn’t too disappointed, because I thought the odds of getting a real publisher were about as good as winning the lottery.
I stumbled onto Crooked Cat by accident on Facebook.
I was so stunned to receive an acceptance and a contract from Laurence at CC that I called my husband into the room to make sure I was reading it right.
That was in May, only a month or so after submitting it. CC released it in September of 2013.
Would you like to tell us about your internet radio show, and have there been any interesting / amusing occurrences with the authors you have interviewed?
I have two shows. One, “Ask The Psychic” is interactive. People send questions via email, and I answer them on air. Since I am talking directly to them, they may send in a clarification. One time, I was reading for a man who was about to enter into a very sexy romance. I said, “I wonder if he is old enough to hear this?” He wrote back to say that he was in his 30s. So, I did not edit my reading.
I have regular listeners. They sometimes give me an update on the questions that I answered.
The writers on “Dialogue” are mostly Southern. There are several universities near us. Many of my guests are professors. This part of the country, and particularly the state of Mississippi has produced some great writers. (Tennessee Williams, Faulkner, Eudora Welty, a very long list)
I think I am a kind interviewer. I read the work beforehand. Sometimes, I HATE the book. Although, there may be too much violence, or sex for my tastes, I can usually find something nice to say.
I also co-host with my husband on his morning show, “The Morning Rush”. We talk about current events and kooky news.
You suffered the evil wind, Katrina. That must have been a shattering experience. Have you anything positive to share as a result of your dislocation?
My husband and I lost our home, our business, and most of my sanity in that storm. We landed in Columbus, Mississippi quite by accident.
Chris, my husband, is legally blind. Therefore, I am the only driver in the family. I had a major operation three days before the hurricane hit, and was not supposed to be out of bed. We finally decided, at the last minute, that we had to evacuate.
We were traveling with three “children” (one dog and two cats). Although we had a room reserved several states away, we were just too exhausted to make it. We heard on the radio that there was a shelter here that was accepting people with their pets. After about 18 hours of driving, we decided to sleep in Columbus for only one night, a place we had never before heard of. We are still here.
80% of the homes in New Orleans were destroyed. Those that were left were terribly expensive. We had few choices, so we remained in Mississippi.
In New Orleans, I considered myself sort of a-political. Here, I am the poster-girl for liberals. Although, this is not the “positive” answer that you asked for, I have learned that people are not the same everywhere. Once, I thought that everyone was somewhat similar. Now, I realize that is not true.
New Orleans has a live-and-let-live attitude. Columbus is very judgmental. It is bible-belt Christian. Any other religion is looked down upon. We have to be so careful about what we say. My husband says he knows what it is like to be gay. We are “in the closet” (so to speak) about our political and philosophical beliefs.
A few months after we arrived, the editor of the local paper offered me a weekly column. Because of this, many people know my name and have seen my photograph. I receive some nice letters. However, the mean ones are chilling. I expect to have a cross burned on my lawn any day now.
Do you have a wish list – what would you love to do / be / have if there were no barriers?
I would love to travel. I want to see Europe, especially Italy, where the Renaissance began. My roots on my father’s side stem from England and Scotland. My mother’s family came from France. It would be so much fun to visit those places.
At this point, I am extremely crippled with arthritis. I can only walk a few steps. So, travel is out of the question.
I am quite envious of countries that provide health care, and embarrassed that my country is run by leaders who have no interest in the well-being of their citizens.
Like most women, I would like to be fashion-model thin.
Care to tell us something about your background, and your life apart from writing and broadcasting?
I have a degree in fine art, and consider myself a painter first. My mother always said that I am a better writer than painter. I have no idea as to whether or not she is correct.
I love painting, and hate writing. I wish I knew why I write. It is so very painful.
My husband and I are active in animal rights, anti dog fighting, that sort of thing. We are collectors of art, mostly outsider art.
We belong to a ghost hunting group.
I also volunteer for “First Book”, an organization that provides new books for underprivileged children.
You have a purple house, so that must be your favourite colour. What is your favourite pastime? – And your favourite food?
Our house is primarily purple. It is actually several values of purple, green and gold, ten all together. These are the colors of Mardi Gras. It is an homage to our first home.
We have a wrap-around porch, and love to drink wine with our friends, watching the world go by.
We miss New Orleans everyday. We try to cook the food from home; red beans and rice, gumbo, etc. We spend a lot of time talking about restaurants in New Orleans, and the wonderful meals we had there. One of the things we miss most is REAL French bread.
Adele’s website is adeleelliott.com, where you can find a link to her TV interview.
And you can see my review of Adele’s book HERE.