Elana Gomel’s The Cryptids is a blend of horror, scifi, adventure and romance in a way that raises the hair on the back of your neck in the best possible way!
Reader’s Entertainment caught up with Elana for chat about her writing, her books and her life.
RE: Welcome, tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Do you have one of those day-jobs?
I am an academic and a writer. This answers the question about my day-job. The question about my origin is a bit more complicated. I am one of those people who belong nowhere and everywhere. I was born in Ukraine, lived in Israel, Italy, and Hong Kong, and am now living with my husband in the redwoods of California.
RE: How long have you been writing?
Since I remember myself. I apparently wrote my first (and last) poem when I was 5 years old, prompting my mother, also a writer, to believe she had a future Poet Laureate on her hands. She was disappointed. Afterwards I wrote fairy tales, sci-fi stories, even plays and whatever else I could think of. However, as an academic, I had to obey the “publish or perish” imperative, so most of my books you can find on Goodreads and Amazon are about science fiction, fantasy, and horror. But seven years ago, I published my first novel, and since then I have not been able to stop writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror. More than seventy published stories, two additional published novels, and two more in the works.
RE: Briefly describe your writing day.
I write every day for at least three or four hours, starting as early in the morning as I can. The problem for me is that I am always juggling several different projects, including academic ones. It is hard to balance all of it together. As a result, I am in the permanent state of anxiety because I am late for some deadline or other.
RE: Tell us about your latest release?
My novel The Cryptids was published last year. It is a creature feature of sorts, a blend of sci-fi, horror, and adventure with a dash of romance. The premise of the novel is that a Cryptid Earth where evolution had taken an unexpected and horrific turn is invading our own reality, helped along by (what else?) cellphone technology. It takes place in the Silicon Valley which is my home now. It combines everything I love: monsters, apocalyptic disasters, an odyssey into the unknown, and some evolutionary speculations.
RE: Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
My characters in The Cryptids are based on people I knew. In my other stories and novels, I try to be more creative. But it is impossible to run away from yourself. Every writer will tell you that there is a part of themselves in every character they create. The question is: what part?
RE: Would you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book?
The Madagascar chameleon that mutates into a flesh-eating monster is real.
RE: Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? (Any of your books)
The main character Kora in my novel The Hungry Ones (Guardbridge Books, 2018). She is an amnesiac who gradually discovers a truly horrifying secret in her past. It is difficult to create a convincing portrait of somebody who is literally a blank slate. But even more difficult it is to manage moral ambiguity. How do you create a sympathetic portrayal of somebody who is a monster? Some great writers managed it: think of Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I am nowhere near this level of skill, of course.
RE: If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
Sharon in The Cryptids because she travels to Cryptid Earth while we can’t even manage a trip up the Sonoma Coast because of the pandemic!
RE: What’s next?
I have tow completed novels which, hopefully, will be coming out next year. One is a dark fairy tale based on the folkloric motif of the Swan-Maiden; the other one is a dark fantasy set in an alternative USSR – with monsters. Now I am embarking on a new project: a space opera! I have never written a space opera before, so this should be exciting.
RE: All writers are readers. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
I’ll name two writers: one dead, one living. My favorite classic is Charles Dickens. I always thought of him as a science fiction writer because he creates those amazing sprawling worlds full of grotesque characters and improbable events. A contemporary writer whose work I admire is China Miéville. His Perdido Street Station is like Dickens crossed with a video game. It strongly influenced The Hungry Ones.
RE: If you could have dinner with any writer living or dead, who would it be and why?
Oscar Wilde. He is the wittiest writer ever. Some of his aphorisms are priceless. I have one of them as my motto: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple”. He was such a brilliant speaker that people claimed his after dinner conversation was better than his writing!
RE: If you could ask your favorite author a question what would it be?
I would ask Wilde why he never wrote another great horror novel like The Picture of Dorian Gray. I suspect, though, the answer is obvious: he never had enough time!
RE: Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?
I am a really good cook (blushing). Well, it’s true. I also make clay dolls.
RE: Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
The simple answer is red wine. But I would add Turkish kazan dibi which is a sort of milk pudding. Pair them together, and I am prepared for any zombie invasion.
RE: What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did? Ask and answer it.
The question: If you could live again, what historical period would you live in?
The answer: The future.
We’ve had a fun time chatting and hope to have Elana come back again when her next book comes out!
You can find Elana online here –
at https://www.citiesoflightanddarkness.com/ and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram