Because I just can’t get enough of Forbidden Fruit, I’m hosting another stop on the blog tour. Rachel O. Esplanade, whom I interviewed last week, is interviewing Allison Wonderland about her story ‘Ungodly Ours’ in Forbidden Fruit.
Rachel O. Esplanade: The influence of organized religion on the characters in your story “Ungodly Ours” in Forbidden Fruit is very strong and spoke to me. Was religion a strong influence on you during your formative years? Are you a religious person yourself?
Allison Wonderland: Not at all. I identify as Jewish, but I’m essentially non-practicing. The story’s protagonist, Nadine, is raised in a family of faithful and fecund Fundamentalists. You know the caveat “Write what you know”? Well, for this story, I decided to take a flying leap out of my comfort zone and write what I know nothing about. Which is why I was up at ungodly hours writing “Ungodly Ours.”
Rachel O. Esplanade: You have had over thirty stories published in a wide range of anthologies over the last number of years. Where do you derive your story ideas from?
Allison Wonderland: Divine intervention. Just kidding. You know how you always find things when you’re not actively looking for them? That’s how my ideas come to me. I’ll be somewhere – a roller derby, a theme park, a department store – and all of a sudden I’ll think This would be a great setting for a story. I can even be somewhere as seemingly uninspiring as the living room, in front of the television. That’s how “Ungodly Ours” came into creation. One of my guilty pleasures is a reality program popular in the States about a copious Christian family that expects every member to be strait-laced, straightforward, and, of course, straight. I started to wonder What if one of this family’s nearly two-dozen offspring develops feelings for someone of the same sex? It’s inconceivable. It’s incomprehensible. It’s inevitable. So if you join ‘em, you can beat ‘em.
Rachel O. Esplanade: Of the two lovers in your story, which character did you identify most with, Rebecca or Nadine? Why?
Allison Wonderland: Nadine, for sure. She’s unobtrusive yet unmistakable, subdued but not subservient. She likes to think, rethink, and overthink, and I’m exactly the same way. In that sense, I did write what I know, and it really enabled me to embrace and embody the character.
Rachel O. Esplanade: What drives you to write, to actually sit down and bring a story to fruition?
Allison Wonderland: Deadlines. I’m a procrastinating perfectionist, so I approach writing with a mixture of fright and delight. I love generating ideas and settings and titles for stories, and there’s nothing more fearful or wonderful than the blank page. Once an idea is ignited, it has to be incited, and that’s where deadlines come in. They’re my fruition ignition, if you will.
Rachel O. Esplanade: What is your favorite fruit? If forbidden, would you care to elaborate?
Allison Wonderland: Avocado, apricot, and pineapple. Hey, there’s more than one way to be fruitful and multiply.
Excerpt from ‘Ungoldy Ours':
“Mom and I have something we’d like to discuss with you.”
You snitched, didn’t You? I glower at God. I begged You not to tell. I even promised You my firstborn.
I scramble to get my jumbled thoughts in order. I haven’t been sinning. I haven’t even been rebelling. I’ve just been… resisting. Gently, passively, secretly. Submissive in practice, dismissive in theory. When Rebecca comes over, my parents and siblings hold us accountable for our purity, even though they have no idea that that’s what they’re doing. It’s acceptable for girls to show each other physical affection, but Rebecca and I barely brush arms and we absolutely never kiss, not even on the cheek. When we say goodbye, we don’t frontal-hug, because that would make our breasts touch. Instead we side-hug, arms around each other’s shoulders, a perfect imitation of Thing 1 and Thing 2. At all times we are careful and prayerful.
So how did Mom and Dad discover that I am disobedient? Imperfect. Satanic. They will hate the sinner, not the sin. I will be excommunicated, exorcised, and excised from my family like bad words on TV or a filthy passage in a book. Unless I tell them the God’s honest truth. The truth is He’s got designs on us, and I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I mean we don’t get to decide how we’re designed. We only get to decide how to respond to God’s design, and I choose to respond by accepting the way He created me: in His image. Our Savior is not unsavory. So, by association, I am not guilty. Jesus already died for my sins. It’s no longer His cross to bear. Just because I’ve fallen for a woman doesn’t make me a fallen woman. It’s not like I’ve bared my body or shared it with some man. I haven’t even shared it with her. Mom and Dad have taught me well and I will show them how much their dutiful daughter has learned, so help me God.
Seriously, God—I need you. So help me. Please.
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Leave a comment on any post in the Forbidden Fruit blog tour to be entered into a random draw to win one of these great prizes. Prizes include a paperback copy ofGirls Who Score, lesbian sports erotica edited by Ily Goyanes, Best Lesbian Romance 2011 edited by Radclyffe, an ebook of Ladylit’s first lesbian anthology Anything She Wants, and a bundle of three mini-anthologies from Ladylit: Sweat, A Christmas to Remember and Bossy. All of these titles contain some stories written by the fabulous contributors to Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire. You must include an email address in your comment to be entered into the draw.
EXTRA: We’re currently running a Goodreads giveaway. Enter here to win a paperback copy of Forbidden Fruit >>
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