Saturday, January 31, 2015

Interview With Ross Eliot (Author of Babette)

Why did you pursue writing?

Writing is something I’ve pursued since before I even knew how. As a child, I dictated stories to my mother, who would write them down, and leave spaces for me to draw in illustrations. Later I hand-wrote tales about adventures I imagined our household pets got up to. So, writing and storytelling has pretty much always been a major part of my life.

What inspired your book?

Babette: The Many Lives, Two Deaths and Double Kidnapping of Dr. Ellsworth was inspired by three years I spent living in the basement pantry of my elderly college professor, who invited me to become her caretaker, chauffeur, medic and confidant. She was the most amazing person I ever encountered, having been stolen away as an infant from rural Washington state and then raised by a wealthy European family in WWII France. Her complicated life included liaisons with the Russian aristocrat who assassinated Rasputin, East German communists, the Catholic Church and notorious Rajneesh Puram cult. She also underwent a late-life sex reassignment. There was definitely no shortage of inspiration for my book.

How long have you been publishing your work?

Interestingly enough, I think my writing was first published by the monthly newsletter of my parent’s Presbyterian church in Seattle. This was early high school, probably 9th grade. I did interviews with church officials, wrote short humor pieces and looking back at it, probably didn’t do a very good job at concealing my unease with religion. Then in 2005 I began publishing and editing a counterculture gun politics ‘zine called American Gun Culture Report. That just lasted until 2010 and was super hard, but also a lot of fun.

What’s your writing environment like? 

Formerly I had a desktop computer down in my basement library, but several years ago started using a laptop. Now writing environments are wherever I want them to be. Perhaps the most unorthodox is when I bring the laptop up to Alaska where I work as a commercial fisherman. I’ll often find myself curled up below deck at the end of an 18 hour day with just enough energy to type out a few paragraphs before collapsing. Otherwise, I’ll get time to write while we're running toward better fishing grounds or in port between seasons.

What projects are you currently working on?

Promoting Babette is my main project now, but I still keep up on gun politics with a weblog called Occupy the 2nd Amendment. There are also other adventures that I’m writing about. I formerly worked in a mortuary warehouse, almost got sucked into a weird cult and used to live in east Berlin. There's plenty of material from those times and it may come out in some form eventually.

Author Info

Ross Eliot is a writer, roofer, auto mechanic, DJ and commercial fisherman based in Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska.  He is best known as publisher and editor of the critically acclaimed counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report from 2006-2011 and the current internet journal Occupy the 2nd Amendment.

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