Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Elana: The flash of inspiration for the story that would become Red Hood came to me three and a half years ago. I was ice skating—at night, under a full moon, in an outdoor rink near Yosemite—and I’d just begun my period. For me, a story begins with noticing something real and then asking, “What if?” In this case, the “What if?” was, “What if a menstruating girl found that with her menses and the full moon came an ability to fight the wolves in the forest near her home?”
What character do you most relate to and why?
I think in Red Hood, I’m most strongly drawn to Sybil Martel—the main character’s grandmother, whom she calls Mémé. She’s a writer, a bit of a homebody, and a person with a deep capacity for loving her family.
Why do you feel romantic books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
Though Red Hood isn’t a romance—it’s more of an exploration of misogyny and power dynamics, through the lens of a fairy tale—it does feature a romantic subplot. I think stories that explore different ways women find power in their lives are exciting to read, and a romantic storyline in which the girl is empowered to say what she desires can be deeply satisfying.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Red Hood is the story of a girl who finds that with her menstrual cycle comes an unusual ability, and finds herself pulled to the woods. It’s also a story of female friendship and allyship from boys and men. It’s a bloody book, an exciting book, I think. There are fight scenes and sex scenes; there is a mysterious backstory, and secrets everywhere. And the book’s structure is exciting, too; it’s told mostly in the second person, so you, the reader, become the girl in the woods, hyper-aware, bleeding, and powerful.
What’s next for you in the book world?
I write books for and about children and teens, across all age categories. Next up is my picture book AN ORDINARY DAY, out March 10th. It’s about the extraordinary things that are happening all the time, right alongside the commonplace.
My next novel is called THE HOUSE THAT WASN’T THERE; it’s a middle grade book, a gently magical exploration of the spaces between people and the mysterious interconnections that bind them—with feline teleportation, school research projects, and a taxidermied opossum named Mort. It will be out about a year from now.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
I’m currently reading the works of Aharon Appelfeld. He was born in the same city as my grandmother—Czernowitz, Romania—and he emigrated to Israel after enduring the Holocaust. His voice is poetic, his characters are finely rendered, and he writes about desperate people with such love and grace.