Elle Hill has teamed up with Goddess Fish Promotions to celebrate the release of her new book, The Tithe. As part of her book tour Elle will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter. See the bottom of this post for more information.
Now enjoy this brief interview with Elle.
Thanks, Dena, for this opportunity. Happy autumn to you, your goddess cat, and your dog child. Oh and yes, I have cats and a dog and totally relate. 🙂
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a sociology instructor by day, stuffing students’ brains with depressing info on social inequalities. By night, I don my writer superhero cape and pen paranormal romances that seek to address social inequalities. In my spare time, I read a bunch, watch documentaries, and snuggle with furbabies, my fiancé, or all of the above.
What do you like about writing paranormal?
I like the different. I like the weird. I like things that don’t quite fit, that look a bit too large or taste a smidge too bitter. I celebrate ugly and find inspiration in dissonance. If I wanted to be like everyone else, I would have become an accountant. Instead, I write paranormal romance.
Paranormal fiction, romance and not, seems the perfect place for wrestling with reality: its multiple pasts, its infinite present, and our hopes and fears for its futures. The genre delivers juicy opportunities to explore the borders between beautiful and plain, ideal and corrupt, real and fantastic. As for me, I want more discordance, more ambivalence, more category-defying prose and more characters whose commonness and plainness charm us with reminders of our own complexity.
When you start writing a new story, what comes first – character, plot or something else?
I hate to take the cop-out option and say “it depends,” but, well, it does. For The Tithe, the plot definitely came first. I was intrigued by several things – the Mayan calendar predicting the world would end in 2012, the politics of utopias, disability rights – and wanted to unite them in a post-apocalyptic, and yet still oddly utopian, novel.
My current work-in-progress started with a character sketch. After reading Dean Koontz’s Innocence, I wondered how I would represent a perfectly innocent character. She must embody perfect compassion and forgiveness, of course, and be fair in all things and… You get the idea. And that’s how my current novel was born.
What do you like most about Joshua your main character in The Tithe?
Joshua Barstow is a fully-fleshed, complicated character. She’s curmudgeonly, vulnerable, compassionate, and introverted. She’s also the Tithes’ ultimate spiritual leader. Josh is someone who snaps at someone to stop treating her like an invalid and then throws herself in front of danger to save them. As rich as she is as a person, she also serves a political purpose — mine. Josh has Charcot Marie Tooth Syndrome and, in spite of being the best library caretaker her town’s holy women have ever known, she is sacrificed for the good of the town. She is a breathing, complex character and a vehicle through whom I explore the politics of disabilities and the effects of theocratic utopias.
What’s next for you?
I’m actually penning my first lesbian paranormal romance. Here’s the premise: A security guard, Jacqueline, is paid big buckeroos to escort and protect a leader, Marin, from Florida to South Dakota to attend a summit. They’re hunted by creatures who look human but clearly aren’t. The more she gets to know her charge, the more Jack thinks Marin might not be entirely human, either.
Every seven years, the towns sacrifice their sick and disabled. No one has ever survived the angels’ harvest. Until now.
“Every seven years, seven persons from each of the ten towns must go into the desert, where they will enter into the realm of Elovah, their God.”
No one knows exactly what happens to these seventy Tithes, but everyone knows who: the “unworkables,” those with differing physical and mental capacities. Joshua Barstow, raised for twenty years among her town’s holy women, is one of these seventy Tithes. She is joined by the effervescent Lynna, the scholarly Avery, and the amoral Blue, a man who has spent most of his life in total solitude.
Each night, an angel swoops down to take one of their numbers. Each night, that is, except the first, when the angel touches Josh… and leaves her. What is so special about Josh? She doesn’t feel special; she feels like a woman trying to survive while finally learning the meanings of friendship, community, and love.
How funny that she had to be sacrificed to find reasons to live.
“I don’t want to die.” The words surprised her, spinning so artlessly from her lips.
“I don’t want you to die,” Blue agreed.
“What about you?” Josh whispered.
He didn’t respond for a long moment. “It doesn’t much matter, I guess.”
“Of course it matters!”
“If you say so,” he said.
“Blue,” she began, and then stopped. “Blue, why? Aren’t you scared?”
His blue eyes remained completely empty. Had his mouth not moved, she might think him a statue. “No.”
“Because I don’t matter. I’ve spent my life existing. Sometimes I think the best thing humanity does is provide sustenance for bacteria and other symbiotes. And then there was here. And you, Joshua Barstow.”
“I’m not special,” she insisted.
“You exist so grandly, so loudly, I can feel you. The air trembles around you. You walk through a room and atoms collide. Everyone here can feel the greatness of your being. They may love you or despise you or want you to lead them, but everyone notices you.”
She exhaled a startled breath. Blue, her friend, her bodyguard, her socially-backward philosopher. Her hand moved to his hair, smoothing through its knots. When her voice returned, she told him, “You matter, Blue.”
“I don’t,” he said gently, as if imparting an uncomfortable truth to a child.
“You matter a lot to me,” she carefully enunciated, unsnarling a particularly knotted tangle.
Author bio and links:
Born in Idaho during the height of disco, Elle Hill now chicken-pecks at the keyboard while rocking out to Donna Summer and KC and the Sunshine Band. She worked in Idaho for several years as a secretary and journalist before moving to California and selling her soul to academia. After receiving her PhD in Sociology, Elle Hill became a not-so-mild-mannered college instructor by night and a community activist during the remainder of her waking hours. Always a journalist and writer at heart, one of her favorite pastimes includes publishing commentary on the political and social state of the world; some of her thoughts are posted on her blog at ellehillauthor.blogspot.com.
Elle welcomes visitors to her website at www.ellehill.com. She also urges everyone to become a superhero and adopt their next non-human companion from a local animal shelter.
Purchasing the book: http://www.amazon.com/Tithe-Elle-Hill-ebook/dp/B00MVCPJFG
Elle will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner. To enter the drawing follow this link to Elle’s Rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure you follow Elle’s book tour and leave comments at each stop. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found on the Goddess Fish website at: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2014/09/vbt-tithe-by-elle-hill.html