Friday , May 24 2024
"I can’t even look at a shag haircut without throwing up...if we did get shag carpeting, there would be a moratorium on avocado green plastic carpet rakes."

An Interview With Eric Poole, Author of Where’s My Wand?: One Boy’s Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpeting

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.

I have described your writing as David Sedaris but less mean and negative. Is that a fair assessment? 

I am a total Sedaris Superfan, but that is sort of my goal – to be less observational and more transformational.

What is your day job with Fox? 

I’m responsible for radio marketing at the TV network. Whenever you hear commercials or other audio content on the radio or online for Fox television shows, that comes from my group. It’s actually a great place to work. Any company that pays you to buy hybrid cars can’t be all bad.

Do you still have shag carpeting or do you avoid it now? 

I can’t even look at a shag haircut without throwing up. No, we have hardwood floors, but if we did get shag carpeting, there would be a moratorium on avocado green plastic carpet rakes.

Are you working on another memoir? What will it be about? 

I’m hoping to do two more, the next picking up pretty much where this one leaves off. It’s about sin. My parents started blasting these bible tapes through the house when I was 16 years old that did a real number on me. You haven’t suffered ‘til you’ve been yelled at in your own house by a southern preacher who thinks he’s addressing recruits.

What question do you hope interviewers will ask that I have not covered? 

Who do you want to play you in the TV series?

Some Abercrombie and Fitch type – I’m gonna rewrite history.

Lastly, you say we all have magic in ourselves – what do you mean by that?

For me, magic is twofold: it’s believing in yourself and your ability to make things happen; and believing in a God or angels or a universe (whatever you prefer to think of it as) who will work with you to make that happen

It works. I’m living proof.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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