Everyone feels like they're different from time to time. But Grace Carter, the 11-year-old protagonist in Avila Beach author Eldonna Edwards' first novel, knows she's different.
Edwards' coming of age story, This I Know, is set in the 1960s in a small town in the Midwest, follows the struggles of Grace as she works to conceal her gift of "the knowing" from her religious preacher father. Things like being able to communicate with her dead brother or read people's minds cause confusion and trouble with others, even though Grace knows deep down that her abilities are a good thing.
- Photo Courtesy Of Eldonna Edwards
- LOCAL AUTHOR Avila Beach author Eldonna Edwards' debut novel, This I Know, comes out April 24.
New Times sat down to talk with Edwards about her new book, which comes out April 24.
New Times: What is This I Know really about?
Eldonna Edwards: It's about a clairvoyant preacher's daughter who comes of age during the 1960s Midwest. She has some special gifts that are a challenge for her dogmatic, evangelical father.
NT: I understand that you grew up in the Midwest and were also the daughter of a preacher. What was that like and how did that influence the novel?
EE: It was a really rich background to harvest a setting and characters. Reverend Carter in the books is not at all like my dad. He was very rigid in his beliefs, but he wasn't an asshole. He was very kind and compassionate. Definitely I gave Reverend Carter some of my dad's little quirks, like he would study in the bathroom and use toilet paper for bookmarks. He was also a big coupon cutter so I also gave that attribute to Reverend Carter.
NT: What would you say inspires you?
EE: Life. I don't write about big cities or international things, I like to break it down to community, because I find that's the most interesting thing. What inspires me is people and their stories and how much we can all identify with each other.
NT: What is your writing process like?
EE: I am not a very disciplined writer. I have this adorable 1977 Siesta camper. And so the only way I can get my writing done is go in there, close the door, close the curtains, and write. That's usually where I write. I'm not somebody who can write in a coffee shop. I really need quiet. I'm what they call a pantser as opposed to a plotter. So plotters really plot out their story, they know how it's going to end. And I just start writing.
- Image Courtesy Of Eldonna Edwards
- FAMILY GIFT OR WITCHCRAFT? In This I Know, a young Grace Carter's ability to communicate with her deceased brother frightens her preacher father.
NT: It seems in the book that there's a struggle between religion and spirituality. How do you think that plays out in the book and real life?
EE: I was raised in a very closed minded, a very black and white world. This little girl Grace, she's clairvoyant and that doesn't fit. And she's trying to prove that her spirituality, her gifts come from the same place as her father's gifts. We all just want to be loved and accepted.
NT: What do you want people to take away from This I Know?
EE: Mostly not to judge, to learn that we're all the same basically. We might think we're unique or different, but we all are craving the same things. And to be open to the "what if?"
NT: What are some if your favorite books and authors?
EE: I like Barbara Kingsolver. Her book The Poisonwood Bible, I just love that story because it's kind of a reflection of how I grew up. I also like Anne Lamott. Lamb by Christopher Moore is probably the book that I've bought and given away the most.
NT: Do you have any upcoming projects?
EE: I've already finished it. It'll come out in June 2019. It's called Clover Blue and it's about a little boy raised in a spiritual commune in Northern California. There's a guru and there's yogis and weed growers. There's a Vietnam War protester who avoided the draft. Δ
Arts Editor Ryah Cooley is guilty of dog earing pages to save her place rather than using a bookmark. Contact her at email@example.com.