New Orleans native and current Columbus resident Adele Elliot is a self-proclaimed “painter, psychic and designer of fantasy tiaras.” Elliot can now add published author to her resume. Her first book, “Friendship Cemetery,” is a “complex tale of family curses, secrets and lies.”
Friendship Cemetery was released September 20 by UK publisher Crooked Cat Publishing.
Elliot will be signing copies Thursday. Oct. 3 at Hollyhocks in Columbus.
For more information or to purchase a copy, go to adeleelliot.com.
1. What’s the basis of “Friendship Cemetery?”
The story centers around Emma Grace, an unsophisticated, but astute 18-year-old. It begins with her desire to be a ghost hunter. To this end, she goes into Friendship Cemetery. There, she meets a dwarf who creates quirky folk-art sculptures from detritus she finds in the cemetery, and a young African-American boy.
The novel weaves a complex tale of family curses, secrets and lies.
One theme is that truth is limited by our perceptions. It is almost impossible to accurately understand what is real, because we are limited by experience and the information at-hand. Another theme is that real beauty cannot be distorted by arrogance, hubris, or cosmetics.
2. How did you create your characters?
The two main characters, Emma Grace and Princess Kamara, have been floating around in my head for several years. The others sort of evolved along the way.
The most important thing that I want readers to understand is that all of the characters are fictional. I hope that locals will not try to figure out who the characters are, because that would be futile.
3. Why do you think young adult novels are so popular?
“Friendship Cemetery” is not a young adult book. However, it can be read by people of any age because there is no graphic sex or violence.
Although the protagonist is quite young, the themes are universal. It is as much a YA book as “To Kill A Mockingbird,” or “The Member Of The Wedding”.
However, to answer your question, I think YA books are popular because they make the joy of reading accessible to readers who are moving up, in stages, with their reading. They are gaining confidence for the next step in learning. Most YA books are very different from the sort of stories presented in contemporary movies. These books usually make the reader think about bigger issues, rather than gunfights and explosions.
Some YA books, like the Harry Potter series, have been criticized for being poorly written, and having unimaginative themes. I disagree. The magic is that in a era of video games and hundreds of TV choices, Harry Potter and his friends got millions of young people immersed in reading.
4. What’s your favorite book?
That’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child. I love women writers, especially southern women. Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers and Eudora Welty are some of my favorites. I also love anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald. For mysteries, there is no one better than Raymond Chandler. He is a wonderful writer, the action notwithstanding.
As a rule, I like classics, and am often disappointed with bestsellers.
5. Do you think reading is becoming a lost art form?
Sadly, yes. The way we process information through reading is very different from viewing movies or TV. It makes us smarter to read, rather than to just watch.
Also, many words are misunderstood because of hearing them, rather than reading them. “Doggie Dog” is a term that morphed from “Dog Eat Dog” (as in “It’s a dog eat dog world”). Once, a young friend wrote a note to me with the word “sike” in it. He meant “psych.” If he had been aware of the basis – the root – of the word, its meaning would have been easier to grasp.
I volunteer with the local chapter of “First Book,” a national organization that gives books to young readers in schools and daycare centers. Our goal is to get them excited about reading, and about collecting a personal library. But, I doubt that we will ever see a substantial return to reading.