Hi Elle, thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Animals Eat Each Other and what inspired the story?
Hi Laura, thanks so much for having me. Animals Eat Each Other is a book about a girl who falls into a relationship with a couple, right after graduating high school. The couple, Matt and Frances, find themselves enamored with her, so much so that Frances even renames her: Lilith. Things become complicated when the three of them become dishonest with each other about their true feelings, and Lilith must explore these new boundaries in the wake of her own nihilism about herself and how she gives and receive love, raising questions about her own self-worth.
The biggest inspiration for the story was just how I felt at the age of nineteen. I felt lost, had been burned in love by a couple different people through high school up until that point, and became very jaded. I wanted to write the sort of book about not just love but also about bisexuality that I would have wanted to read as a young woman, without tokenizing the ‘sexual awakening’ aspect of the coming of age story we’re all so used to.
What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?
My typical writing day is haphazard and on the fly. I am the mother of a young and vivacious toddler so I tend to write whenever I can get it in. In the morning before she wakes up, it’s 15 minutes here or there, during naps if I can, at night when everyone is asleep. I’ll even bring my laptop with me in my car if we’re running errands. If she naps before we get to our destination, I’ll sit in parking lots and type up notes and write then, too. I also write into my notes app on my phone a lot, and even dictate thoughts to myself to transcribe later. I feel a bit like I’m collaging most of the time.
What’s your favourite word and why?
Very tough question. Probably the word “spell.” There’s a lot to it. I view the practice of writing as a form of magic— like manifesting, conjuring something from the ether. The very idea of “spelling” a word, like carving something down onto a piece of paper or an object (or the internet) is a form of making a spell, of manifesting. You can out people under a spell with your words, by transmitting the feeling of a thing through atmosphere and character and mood. It’s a pretty powerful thing to think about.
Which authors have inspired you?
So many! Elizabeth Ellen, author of Person/a; Juliet Escoria, whose book Juliet the Maniac was just released; Mary Gaitskill, who has a great number of short story collections. Tom Spanbauer and Chuck Palahniuk’s early work were very inspiring to me as a young aspiring writer, along with Octavia Butler, whose book “The Parable of the Sower” really changed my life.
What are you currently working on?
I just shoved aside a second novel manuscript for a bit so I could focus on some short stories. It’s been fun.
What songs would be in the playlist for this novel?
Oh, so many, but here is a shortened list:
“10 or a 2 Way” by Korn
“F*** the Pain Away” by Peaches
“Tourniquet” by Marilyn Manson
“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” My Chemical Romance
“Screaming Infidelities” by Dashboard Confessional
“With Teeth” by NIN
“King of the Closet” by Blindside
“Blood Pig” by OTEP
“WOW” by Marilyn Manson
What is your writing process like from idea to final draft? How long does it take you to write a book?
My first book took three years to finish a first draft, and then another year to get it to a publishable, final draft. I had never written a novel before and I had zero planning put in it whatsoever. It just kind of started as a short story and I kept expanding and expanding until it was more of a novel. The current book I’ve been writing, I actually planned out a lot beforehand, and challenged myself to finish a first draft in twelve weeks, which I finished in eleven, then spent a couple of weeks revising. I’m currently letting it sit for a bit before I go back to do more revisions and see if there are other structural issues I need to take care of.