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Seven Questions with Erzebet YellowBoy

Erzebet YellowBoy is a fellow Masque Books author, but I had the pleasure of encountering her for the first time when she edited the fantastic Jabberwocky. Jabberwocky was a publication that brought many diverse, weird, and unique voices together, to craft a unusual narrative that one doesn’t see enough of in the publishing world.

Fortunately, Erzebet does the same in her stories (where one has the ability to slip out of this reality we find ourselves in and discover new, better territories). We are immensely lucky to have before us two new novellas from her: Land of Dreams (available now) and Every In Between (coming in September). I snagged Erzebet for a few questions!

Of course, chickens factor in. Bok bok!

land of dreamsTell us something about your two releases from Masque, Land of Dreams, and Every In Between.

Both of them were begun at least six years ago, dropped for a while and then dusted off when I learned of Masque Books. Every in Between was finished, Land of Dreams wasn’t. Since I’m not the writer I was six years ago, or even one year ago, I tore them both to shreds. What I didn’t do was try to heavily rewrite them — for better or worse, I wanted to stay true to their original style. Both novellas deal with young women who set out to forge new lives for themselves despite internal and external opposition. I hope I’ve managed to convey their indomitable spirits – I don’t always like my protagonists, but these two stole my heart.

You write both poetry and prose; what do the forms have in common and how do they differ for you?

I haven’t written a poem in quite some time — there is a certain mood I have to be in for the lines to flow, whereas for me prose is more a disciplined craft. I write fiction for a set period every day regardless of my mood.

You have four chickens and I love reading about them and their new adventures! How are chickens and writing alike?

That is a hilarious question. I subscribe to Jane Yolen’s approach to writing: “take joy.” Watching a plot come together or a character reveal herself is just as joyous as watching four chickens scratching in the soil or chasing bugs across the grass. They do this crazy little dance, and they make the best sounds, especially when they want my attention. Really both chickens and writing require a lot of patience. Sometimes it’s very frustrating when your story goes in directions you most certainly do not want to write, just like it’s frustrating when your chickens dig up your California Poppies – you know, the ones you just planted two days ago. Or eat your sweet peppers.

You also have a garden. What is the most challenging thing you’ve grown this past season? (I think for me, it was the attempt at Brussels sprouts, because the squirrels demolished them as if attending a buffet!)

Ha! I’m nowhere near attempting sprouts yet. This year getting anything to grow has been a challenge. Our “garden” was an untended wasteland full of brambles, nettles, a lovely array of wildflowers, the remains of an old cow shed, and thousands of large stones when we moved here last year. Until very recently, we had eked out an onion bed and a small plot for tomatoes, neither of which are doing very well simply because the soil here is red clay and I was so excited to plant *something* that I didn’t spend enough time preparing the ground. We’ll still have a crop, it’s just going to be a very small one. With that said, the absolute most challenging thing about the garden this year was keeping the chickens away from the sweet peppers! I swear they ate ever flower as soon as it appeared.

What is it that captivates you when it comes to myth and fairy tale?

The universal truths, the insights into human behavior, the magic. Mostly the magic.

Do you have a favorite myth that you find yourself returning to in your writing?

My favorite myth is that of Innanna, and while I don’t consciously return to it, I am sure the idea of the descent and return influences me more than I realize.

Leave us with an impression of France; what do you love best about where you live?

This is a place out of time. We live in a small commune in the Deux-Sèvres department, a lush, green agricultural region dotted with crumbling stone houses, thousand year-old Norman churches, and small, family owned and operated farms, where homes are heated by wood burning stoves and high-speed internet only happened a few years ago. In the summer, houses are shuttered against the heat and villages seem abandoned, but everywhere you look there are gardens in full bloom. Hollyhocks grow by the roadside, wildflowers fill the hedgerows, hawks fly beside you as you’re driving along and trees form tunnels over the lanes. Sometimes it feels like nothing has changed here in the last two hundred years. It is the most peaceful place I have ever lived, and of all the good things about it, I think that is what I love the most.