Paranormal Perceptions ~ The Story Behind the Story
The Paranormal Perceptions series was created to gather some of the most interesting authors that are using paranormal elements in their stories. Every author has their own perceptions and provides their own insight on all things paranormal, ranging from urban legends and paranormal research, to myths and inspirations. This week on the guest series is author of How (Not) to Kiss A Toad, author Elizabeth A Reeves(@SelkieHorse).
When I was pregnant with my fourth son I spent the majority of the pregnancy sick in bed, utterly drained and utterly miserable. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t write because my brain was stuffed with cotton balls instead of brain cells, I couldn’t read because I was getting motion sickness from the print, I couldn’t eat because nothing sat well, and I was just too uncomfortable to sleep.
I was slowly and quietly driving myself crazy.
I’ve never been one to watch much TV—I get bored really easily-- but I discovered I could watch cooking shows and competitions on TV pretty much endlessly without getting too restless. Hour upon hour I floated through Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Cupcake Wars, Chopped, Unique Sweets, and Iron Chef America. As my sister-in-law frequently says, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives is like porn for pregnant women.
As I watched little ideas started to spark through my head. What would I bake if I was on Cupcake Wars and faced with those flavors? Why weren’t there any truly southwestern flavors? What would happen if tamarindo, lucas, or saladitos showed up on Chopped as a basket ingredient? Why did Bobby Flay have to say chipotle like someone from New York City?
All of this resulted in the birth of Cindy Eller, a baker from the real southwest, my hometown of Tucson, Arizona. As I started sketching out her story I came to know her, her recipes, her special brand of magic, and discovered she had a serious problem—every man she ever kissed turned immediately into a toad.
Having grown up in Arizona, the worst thing I could imagine was dating a Colorado river toad. During the monsoon season they are everywhere—causing all kinds of mischief as they are seriously toxic and can cause serious damage to any cat or dog that unwittingly scoops them up. Kissing one would be a huge mistake.
But why were all these men turning into toads? Was it because there was something wrong with them? What kind of magic did Cindy have? Why couldn’t she just change them back? The questions slowly resolved in my head as I lived through each scene inside of my head.
From that point on Cindy Eller and her story were on a roll.
The love affair with ice cream that Cindy and her roommates have is based on my own life. I have definitely had days over the years where ice cream was better than any man I could imagine.
I had to wait until my son was born and I had access to my brain again before I could write down Cindy’s story—which I finally did when he was seven months old-- but I had months to daydream and plan and drool over things that I could create with my pen and paper on days when I couldn’t make it into the kitchen with my newborn.
It’s almost as if I was pregnant with the story at the same time I was carrying my son.
Legend has it that Elizabeth A Reeves was born with a book in her hands and immediately requested a pony. Though this story is questionable, it is true that books and horses have been consistent themes in her life. Born in Massachusetts, she was quickly transplanted to Arizona by a professor father and creativity-driven mother, who is the one responsible for saying "If you can't find a book that you want to read, write a book you want to read."
In her spare time, she likes to knit, weave, hatch chickens, and chase after her husband and four sons.