I first heard of E. B. Moore and her debut novel AN UNSEEMLY WIFE when I was applying to the Novel Incubator program at Grub Street in Boston. Moore was one of the first authors from the program to sell her book, and she served as an inspiration for all of us as we dug into our revisions. Her new title STONES IN THE ROAD is the 2nd book in the series.
“STONES IN THE ROAD, a harrowing tale about an Amish family torn apart by alcohol and loss, grabs the reader from the first sentence. In crisp prose, E.B. Moore crafts a haunting, intense novel with powerful characters, including a young Amish boy who comes of age as he enters the world of the English. This beautifully done book will linger with you long after you read the last page.” –Linda K. Wertheimer, author of FAITH ED, and recent Deb Guest.
We are so delighted to have E.B. Moore take the Deb interview!
When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
I knew what I wanted to be well before I became a teenager, and it wasn’t a writer. At the age of seven, I wanted to be an American Indian, a Cheyenne brave in the forests of Wyoming, wearing a loincloth and hunting with a bow and arrow. The fact that I was a pale-faced girl (white-blond hair looking like the boy on the Dutch-Boy paint cans) didn’t deter me a bit. For years I had a great time in the woods west of our Pennsylvania farm; that’s as far west as I got. I tracked four-legged varmints including skunks until one skunk shot me before I could shoot it. No school for a week, the time it took for the scent to wash off in repeated baths of tomato juice. After that I altered my sites and became a metal sculptor. It took another fifty years to settle into writing.
What time of day do you love best?
Four AM is far and away the best time. There’s a silence, even in the city, that throbs with possibility. As a kid, I felt it in the country, but then discovered it in a new way when working the overnight shift as an EMT in Roxbury MA. The city clamored until about three AM, then eased slowly toward dawn, the abandoned streets glowing with the promise of a new day.
Now it’s my favorite time to write, no phone ringing, no one shouting in the parking lot outside my loft; no roofers, plumbers, or electricians looking for access to the building’s mechanical room (I’m the carrier of the keys). Sleep is not mine, but the hours from four to eight are. They’re mine, all mine.
Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out? / What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
These questions take one answer. For my first books I wrote historical fiction loosely based on the lives of my Amish relatives in the mid-1800s. They are dark survival stories, not Amish romances the way some readers thought they ought to be. Before I write the third in the series, I’m working on a current day story. It features an elderly woman whose children are selling her apartment and plan to settle her elsewhere after she’s released from the hospital. Determined to escape their clutches, she runs away wearing only a hospital johnny, her dead mother’s mink coat, and goggly-eyed slippers given by her grandson. It’s about her life on the lam in Boston’s Public Garden and beyond. So far, it’s fun watching what she and her grandson get up to.
Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.
Joshua, the main character in Stones in the Road, ran away from his Amish home when he was eleven (that’s not the secret). At one point in his westward escape from his father’s drunken beatings (the beatings are a secret, but they’re in the book), he worked in a saloon and learned the joys of liquor and sex. One night after he turned in, an argument broke out below his bedroom. Drunken brawlers, settling their fight with six-shooters, shot through the ceiling, through Joshua’s mattress, and one bullet took a notch out of his ear. On returning home he never told his mother how the notch came to be. Years later, he admitted it to his wife who told their daughter who told me.
What is the best perk of your job?
As a writer, I love the commute from my bedroom to the wing chair in my living room. That’s where I tap at the computer; no more trains, planes or losing my breakfast on the lap of the person sitting next me. No more South East Expressway, no Big Dig, as I cross under Boston, the way I did on a two hour trek to my job as a personal chef. Yet now I travel further than ever before, writing my way back in time. I go from farm-life in Pennsylvania to crossing the country in a Conestoga wagon where plain motion sickness would be a blessing compared to what my characters face: starvation, typhoid, lynching.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, November 6th, to win a copy of STONES IN THE ROAD (US only). Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
E. B. Moore is a metal sculptor turned poet, turned novelist. Her books, AN UNSEEMLY WIFE and STONES IN THE ROAD, are based on family stories from her Amish roots in Pennsylvania. Ms. Moore graduated from Grub Street’s Novel Incubator and has received full fellowships to The Vermont Studio Center and Yaddo. She lives in Cambridge, MA. For more information, please visit her website or her Facebook author page.