Sunday, February 27, 2011

Elissa Elliot Author Interview and Giveaway

1.      Hi Everyone, I would like to introduce you to Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, Elissa Eliott.  Her book Eve is an excellent retelling of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve.  Don't forget to enter the contest for the book which ends 2/28.
     Hi Elissa,
     1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a former high school math and biology teacher.  I’ve always wanted to write a novel, so when the chance arose, I grabbed it.  Currently, my job description is mother to a four-year-old daughter, although I am working on my second novel as we speak.

      2.      Why did you decide to tell the story of EVE?
It’s funny.  It wasn’t my idea at all.  My agent wrote me an email one day, saying, “What about Eve?”  And of course my response was, “You mean THE Eve?”  After doing much research, I figured out I had a way “into” Eve that no one else had explored—that of her voice and her daughters’ voices during that fateful summer when Cain killed Abel.

3.      What are some of the issues in the book that you hope your readers will interpret as integral to the story?
Certainly, the issues of being a woman and mother, when you’re treated as second best.  Where did that come from?  Also, I wanted to interject questions of suffering (this is Aya’s hurdle) and faith (this is Eve’s struggle).  My guess is that we’ve all dealt with one or more of these issues in our lifetimes.

4.      Most people know the story of Adam and Eve.  What makes your story unique?
Well, frankly, I grew up with Bible stories, and they always seemed a little cleaned up for me.  Believe me, I had lots of questions the Sunday School teachers weren’t willing to answer! 
I view the stories as equivalent to HBO’s Deadwood or Rome or Showtime’s Tudors, not as Disney substitutes.  How can you not?
So I wanted some humanity—in all its darkness and light—in my story.  I wanted reality, in other words.  I think David Maine does this in his books, but he didn’t give much voice to Eve, which is where I thought I could add to the dialogue.

5.      Your book is meticulously researched.  How long did it take you to do the research and write the book?
I started my research in February of 2006 and had an outline ready by September.  I began writing then, and we sold it, based on 80 pages, in October of that year.  Then, of course, I was terrified that my editors could trust me that much, so I wrote like the wind.  I finished the novel in February of 2007.

6.       Usually an author puts some of her own life experiences in the book.  Did you do that?  Do you have anything in common with your characters?
I think what I put into my stories are raw feelings and emotions, not the actual experiences themselves.  I was precocious (as a child) like Aya, but I didn’t have her smarts about what was really going on.  I’ve had doubts like Eve, but I don’t think I’ve let it affect my entire life and wellbeing.  It’s an integral part of my life, but not one that I’ll abandon children over.

7.      This is your first book.  Can you tell us why you decided to become a writer?
Let’s see.  I’ve always been a voracious reader, and the thing I do all the time is figure out how I could have made a story or novel better, or what I would have changed about it.  I do the same thing with movies.  So, it was natural I would try to tell my own story.

8.      Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you?
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read.  I love Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, C.E. Morgan’s All the Living, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, as a few examples.  I love reading the lilt and cadence of different authors.  It’s astounding what one can do with words.

9.      Are you working on a second book?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Well, the goal was to have a second book on the women of Noah’s flood, but I’ve written two completely different novels on that subject (that will probably never see the light of day, since they’re not working).  I’ve decided to put that subject on the back burner and work on something completely different.  Right now I’m keeping it under wraps.  I find that if I talk about it, the energy gets sapped out of it. 

10.  Have you had any religious people who have condemned your version of the story of EVE and refused to read it?  Has it been banned?  Any outrageous reactions?
Amazingly, I’ve only received two hateful emails.  I’ve heard through other readers that their friends or family refuse to read it because they think I’ve messed with a sacred story.  Just the simple question of whether or not Adam and Eve were REALLY the first people bothers some people.
I don’t know about any banning, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were going on.

11.  What was the most difficult part of telling EVE’S story and what was the easiest part of the story to convey?
The easiest part was conveying Eve’s emotions and doubts as a mother, wife, and woman.  The hardest part was knowing how much of that second layer to put in there without destroying the “fast read” aspect of it.  I wanted to tell a good story first, then add in a second layer that the reader could absorb and consider if he or she wanted to.

12.  In one sentence, tell us why we should read your book, EVE?
Oh heavens, hmmm.  If you’re a woman, you’ll understand this book.  If you’re a man, well, it will give you deeper insight in what it’s like to be a woman.
After that, I think it’s just a fast and suspenseful read, one that will keep you reading until the end, even though you already know what’s going to happen!
And most importantly, it will create questions about what you were always taught as a child.

Thanks Elissa,

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