Once in a while a book by an author I don’t know lands on my desk and blows me away. Letitia Trent’s Echo Lake did just that. I went in thinking it was going to be a run-of-the-mill mystery with maybe a touch of cliché lake horror, but it turned out to be an original narrative about a woman struggling with the present while the ghosts of her and her mother’s past haunt her every move. In any case, the book was also very well written and beautifully echoed (no pun intended) Trent’s knack for poetry (her he full-length poetry collection, One Perfect Bird, was published by Sundress Publications in 2012). Well, you know the story: I enjoy a book and then want to send an author weird questions. Here’s what Letitia had to say.
GI: Is it true that you’re a cat? Someone told me you’re a cat. Or part cat. I can’t remember, so help me out here.
LT: This is almost true. I was raised mostly by cats and spent my childhood throwing cats off my bed so I could sleep and suffering crippling cat allergies. I once had a job interview that asked “If you could be any animal, what animal would you be, and why?” and I said “A Cheeta” and I stand by that.
GI: I read Echo Lake and thought it was a superb horror story. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it as such because the reviewer in me was obsessed with it being a thriller/mystery kinda deal. Which me should I stab to death?
LT: Stab them both, but the thriller you survives the stabbing only to realize the horror you is an unstoppable killing machine who is going to get right back up again and continue the terror until the Final You is the only one left.
GI: You recently suffered a sinus infection and then publicly celebrated being able to smell again. What’s your favorite smell and why?
LT: I’m cliché. My favorite smells are all baked goods, like apple pie, cookies, cake, caramel.
GI: Okay, back to Echo Lake. That thing has a dark, ominous, truck-heavy atmosphere. Did you have to get in a mood before you worked on it or are you one of those authors who can write about mutilation while sitting in a park full of laughing children?
LT: Man, I’m always in the mood to write about stuff like that. I watched an entire season of “The Killer Speaks” while nursing a tiny baby. I recently dictated aloud a part of a new novel that involved a honeymooning couple stumbling upon the dead body of a teenager while the baby cooed in the background of the recording. I should probably try to get out of that mood sometimes.
GI: Speaking of children, how does having a baby affect your writing?
LT: It affects my writing by making me not able to write very much, but I do have my nights again! So when the day is over I sort of stare at the computer blankly, trying to remember who I am and where I am, and sometimes I work on things. The biggest difference I can see is that now I include people with children in my stories and that I have lots of scary ideas involving hospitals and nursing and the weird isolation and delirium of having a newborn.
GI: Are you aware of the fact that Joe Clifford stole Echo Lake from you? I know he says otherwise and claims he wrote it before reading your book, but we all know the truth…
LT: I have heard about this and plan to contact the authorities. The book authorities. I kid, I’m excited to read his book!
GI: Let’s say you had to get a back piece of a book’s cover. Which book would it be?
LT: I’d totally get the Finnish cover of The Bell Jar:
But I already have a large back tattoo & have no room!
GI: Every writer approaches promotion in a different way. You seem to have opted for the not-being-a-pain strategy. Any tips for fellow authors on how to keep their cool when plugging their work?
LT: I just have a lot of feelings of inadequacy, so whenever I promote my work, I feel lots of self-loathing and assume everybody hates me and that I suck and that nobody wants to hear about it, so I try to self-promote as little as possible. So my advice to have crippling self-doubt, which really cuts down on the pain-in-the-ass self promotion, though it add other equally pain-in-the-ass things.
But really, I like reading other people’s self-promotion to a point. My rule is to self-promote in a way that wouldn’t be annoying to me if I were reading it. So I self promote when new work comes out & once a month for a year after it comes out for larger projects, like books. That’s a good rough guide.
GI: Hollywood’s called and Echo Lake is becoming a movie. Who’s playing Emily and why?
LT: Anna Faris! Just because I want to see her in more movies, though she’s a terrible casting choice. Lena Dunham would also be a terrible choice, but perversely I’m curious how that would turn out. Or maybe I should pick Jennifer Lawrence so people will actually go out and see it. I’m really bad at this. I don’t know any actresses under 35 anymore. My default answer for anything about actresses is Gillian Anderson.
GI: I’ve been to Oklahoma a few times. You seem to know the place well. What’s with the fried pies?
LT: I had to Google “fried pies” because I sort of avoided most Oklahoma-y food, which is kinda a cross between Midwestern & Southern food—lots of casseroles and fried things. I moved there when I was a teenager from Vermont, where I had never eaten a fried egg, white gravy, or a fried vegetable besides potatoes. After a Google image search, I really want a fried pie because they look amazing.