There are a lot of memoirists out there with a great voice. Problem is you reach a point where they all start to sound somewhat alike.
Eric Poole's memoir is different, something you notice right from the odd title. He has a great writing style but unlike someone he's often been compared to, David Sedaris, Poole isn't mean. Instead, his stories about growing up in the '70s are funny and touching. I think this interview I did with him will demonstrate what I am talking about.
As the book begins he is describing having to rake the shag carpeting with plastic rakes. When his parents fight and one leaves that doesn't just mean he and his sister are freaked, but also that he has to rake the carpet one more time before going to bed that night.
What is your goal with this book?
I’m sharing my stories, and my belief in magic, to hopefully help others find the magic in their own lives. Of course, that sounds terribly lofty, so let’s just say that I want to take them on a trip through the 1970s, which were just downright hilarious.
Explain the importance of the wand and what it represents?
The Wand in the title is a metaphor for the magic I was attempting to create. In casting my childhood spells, I actually used a bedspread as my magical device – because, in my twisted eight-year-old mind, it approximated the caftans that Endora from Bewitched (my hero) wore, and thus possessed enormous power as a magical cape. Magic was the means through which I attempted to maintain control over my life and change my circumstances.
Is it fair to say the wand helped you try to deal with coming out, especially in a Southern Baptist home?
Well, I don’t actually come out in this book – that came later and in a slow-motion, gruesome car crash sort of way. But it was certainly obvious, even in my monumental teen denial - that something was “up,” and magic was a big part of my coping mechanism. As I got older, magic morphed from childhood wonder to religious dogma, to finally, the realization that the real magic comes from believing in yourself.
How has your family, especially your mother, responded to the publication? Did you show the memoir to them prior to publication?
I love my family and even though they generally don’t use firearms, would never have published the book if they had objected. My mother was the one I was, shall we say, a little concerned about showing it to – and she has been nothing but 1000% supportive. She understands that I’m painting her as she was then, not as she is now. She’s a fabulous woman, and although she was a holy terror back then, she could not be a better mother now. She recently said to me, “If Leona Helmsley can be the Queen of Mean, I guess I can be the Queen of Clean.” She signs her emails Queenie now. You gotta love that.