Saturday, August 17, 2019

Interview with Elaine Pascale author of IF NOTHING ELSE EVE, WE'VE ENJOYED THE FRUIT

What happens when a kept woman refuses to take her ridatemp and begins thinking for herself? In If Nothing Else, Eve, We've Enjoyed the Fruit; she begins talking to bunches of grapes and cantaloupe that convince her to commit murder. Through her visitations with fruit, the woman learns that a gender war can be reversed by traveling back in time and eradicating the Tree of Knowledge and its villainous apples. The fruit persuade her by telling her four other stories:

Boys Will be Boys: A spa is turned into a concentration camp: just don't ride the elevators!

Ripped to Shreds: Pregnant Jody Burkhoff's body is changing rapidly, but not as quickly as the lupine metamorphosis of her husband. First the neighborhood animals are mutilated, then the neighbors are viciously murdered. Which proves to be more dangerous, a monstrous creature or a hormonal woman?

O: Khaki Barlow enters a pageant in which only one woman survives. She must complete tasks that are both mentally and physically daunting, all while trying to learn the meaning of the words left by the eliminated: I am here. Does she face incredible fears? Does a one-legged duck swim in a circle?

The Prison of a Man: Told as an ethnographical project, Lara Thomas researches the deaths of shoppers at a mall embedded in a small town, and encounters the legendary Goat Man.

If Nothing Else (Prologue): Readers learn the final decision in the gender war.

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An interview between Elaine Pascale and Nancy Kilpatrick

NK - When did you write your first fictional story, what was it about, and was it soft and sweet or dark as hell?

EP – I have been writing since before I could write. I can remember begging my parents to teach me to write words so I could write down the stories in my head. The first story that I can remember the plot, though, was a short story I wrote in elementary school—maybe fifth grade—and it was definitely dark and creepy. Something about demonic children. Fortunately, my parents were always very supportive and encouraged me to keep writing (even if the work produced was a little disturbing). They also took me to the library and allowed me to check out any books I wanted (which were usually horror). My mom is a big yard sale/consignment store fanatic and she would bring home any horror books she found. It wasn’t until I went to college and was in a Creative Writing program that I was first told that I should write something other than horror. One professor even said he was going to 'save' me from horror as I was a better writer than that (whatever that means).

NK - You have a full-to-bursting academic background in English lit but that doesn't always lead to good fiction writing. How did you make the transition from studying literature to a Ph.D. level, and teaching and tutoring and writing non-fiction all the way to the other side and turn into an outstanding creative writer and not just a conduit for others?

EP – I believe that writing and reading go hand and hand. I consider myself a 'word nerd'. I love good writing. I have seen student papers where I stop and think, “My God, that’s a beautiful sentence.” There is an artistry there that I really admire. Working with other people’s writing, as a literature teacher or tutor, has helped me to deeply analyze what makes writing interesting.

In terms of being a conduit for others, I am learning how profoundly satisfying that can be. Every February, I try to do some activity for Women in Horror Month. This past year was the 10th anniversary and I published short stories by women writers on my blog. I worked very hard to acquire much-deserved attention for the women involved and the joy I felt during this project is hard to describe. Granted, this is different from teaching literature where many of the writers are already lauded; but there is a great deal of pleasure in turning readers on to new (or new to them) writers.

NK - You've got a wonderful novella, The Blood Lights, and a fabulously inventive short story collection, If Nothing Else, Eve, We've Enjoyed the Fruit.  What propelled you to write these two works? And how did you come up with the title for the collection?

EP – The Blood Lights was was inspired by a true event where my cousin, my husband, and I were sitting on the beach at night and this unexplainable light hovered for the longest time. We could not figure out what it was, so I set out to explain it. I had also recently vacationed in Bimini with my family and that was a place that really stole my heart. I had a need to put it into a story, so it wound up in that novella.

If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit is a collection of stories of mine that I enjoyed compiling. It’s funny in that the stories that I feel the most disassociated from, or question the quality of the most, are the ones that sell the quickest and receive the best feedback. If I had the time, I would examine the disparity between what I want to write and what people want to read! The title came from the first story of the collection that acts as a preface (actually a bookend with the prologue) to the collection. I guess I have always felt that the snake and Eve got a bad rep for their collaboration in the garden of Eden.

NK - What's up next for you in the way of fiction writing?

EP – I shy away from talking about writing because, like sex, those who talk about it the most do it the least. I have not been prolific lately, due to many changes in my life, but I have been participating in a picture prompt/flash fiction activity sponsored by Ladies of Horrorthat appears on and this keeps me sharp. I wrote and sold two short stories in 2019 so far and I have been working on a novel for a while now. It is probably the most commercial piece of writing I have ever committed to, but I am fighting above my weight class in terms of remaining motivated with it. I think I may have to buckle down and join Nanowrimo or some other group that forces me to finally finish it. 

Elaine Pascale has been writing for most of her life. She took a break from fiction in order to give birth to two children and complete a doctoral dissertation. She lives on Cape Cod, MA, with her husband, son and daughter. She teaches a variety of courses at a private university in Boston: from English Composition and Communications to a Vampire Seminar. Her writing has been published in Allegory Magazine, Dark Fire Magazine, and several anthologies. She is the author of If Nothing Else, Eve, We've Enjoyed the Fruit, and is also the author of the nonfiction book: Metamorphosis: Identity Outcomes in International Student Adaptation--A Grounded Theory Study. She enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats.

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