We’re very excited to have had a chance to talk to Mara K Eton. We reviewed her book and loved it. In the niche that is Pot Fiction, her contribution is one of the best we’ve encountered yet.
The interview was pretty dynamic, and Mara was willing to answer some “encore” questions after the fact. Hope you enjoy!
You can find her book wherever ebooks are sold and also on her website.
Pot Fiction, RW Tucker: Why did you decide to anchor the narrative in the rehab group?
Mara K Eton: It was only after I finished writing Cracked Eggs [Ed. the short story that inspired the rest of the book] did I decide I’d like to explore the lives of other people involved with the meeting. I started the project with the intention of just writing a short story. I was thrilled to have finished a short story. It had been several years of unfinished stories and half-assed ideas that went nowhere. After a couple edits, I realized that Sean and her story would be a good starter for a collection of stories as other characters from the meeting potentially felt more dynamic to me.
RWT: Is there anything behind the name of the town the book is set in? Did Kansas have a hemp industry at one time?
ME: The name of the town, Hempstead, is definitely a kind of “wink, wink” to Kansas’ history of growing industrial hemp in the early 1900s. While there is no such town in Kansas named Hempstead, there is in New York.
RWT: One thing I loved was the individual voicing of the characters in each distinct story. Tell me about your writing process in this short story style: did you write each story individually? All at once? How did you keep everyone’s voices coherent?
ME: There was never an outline for the book. After deciding to continue writing stories in other characters’ voices, I just tore into it. I knew which characters to flesh out based on what just felt right. And also what could move the story of the collection as a whole along to its conclusion. Every story was written individually. I started with the Cracked Eggs in the spring of 2008. I would go on writing and editing benders for weeks at a time then just back off it. I think it’s important to give time to let a writing project breathe. I worked on other things and would go back to The Hypocrites. By 2012, I had six stories that I felt could stand on their own but something felt lacking. And that was a narrative from Sam. Sam’s story was actually the last to be written. Due to that, I felt I had to be meticulous in ensuring the timelines in all stories matched so that there were no unresolved loose ends. All connections were explained, right through to the last story in the book. Loose ends in a story drive me insane so I avoided them.
I spent so much time going back and forth on the story order. Reading them over and over while deciding on a story order definitely helped me make sure none of the characters sounded like the same person. What also helped was that each character speaks like someone I know. The slang, the description of tone, the sarcasm—all of that comes from people I’ve known. It’s a solid resource to have in your mental library if you want to write a multi point of view collection. Honestly, my biggest fear with the book was that every character sounded the same. A few readers have told me the voices seem pretty distinct from each other. I take their word for it.
RWT: What will it take to get this plant legal for the people of the US?
ME: I feel it will take more people, especially people who vote, to educate themselves on the benefits of this multi-use plant. If people backed off of Twitter and Facebook for a few minutes to research the vast amount of info out there about cannabis, they may begin questioning some things. Knowledge is power. Absorb some facts and get out there and vote for it. Things have recently started rolling to regulate it and tax it on a federal level. Um, yes please! Tax it let that revenue do some good. But that’s a whole other discussion.
RWT: If you feel comfortable answering this, has prohibition ever negatively affected you?
ME: In a sense, yes. Yes it has. I’ve lost too many people to illnesses over the years. Most recently, I lost my oldest friend, like back in the high school days old, to complications from Evans Syndrome. She’s been gone just over a month now and naturally it still feels like a raw wound. It infuriates me to have knowledge about the capabilities of this plant, and she imbibed when she could afford to as it made her feel much better, and not have the access to it to really have made a difference to her quality of life. I recently found some letters from her from 20 years ago and it blew me away. She was so influential to me and it was so hard to see her due to her illness. I hated knowing she was in pain and conventional pharmaceutical meds only made her feel worse. While cannabis may not be the cure all, it helps people in the medicinal sense in such a profound way. Prohibition has stolen people I love who could have improved their health circumstances if access had been available.
RWT: I saw in another interview that you mentioned a sequel. What made you want to turn this into a series?
ME: I’m up for a sequel but not a series. After spending five years on the book, I’ve become rather attached to the characters and would like to know what happens next. The character, Penn, has been in other work of mine and came into fruition originally in 1999. So maybe attached is too weak a word. I’ve worked out the central conflict, it’s just a matter of getting it written down. I’ve had a run of ideas lately and I’m rotating between three different projects. My next book may not be The Hypocrites sequel but it’s coming together.
RWT: Let’s get down to the really important stuff: if someone gave you the choice between a joint and a glass piece, which one are you taking?
ME: Glass. Hands down. I do appreciate a joint and enjoy the feeling of community when it’s shared amongst like minded people. But at the same time, I’m kind of a germaphobe and glass is easy to sterilize. When I say glass, I specifically mean glass that requires the use of water. Water makes things nice and smooth. And I really appreciate a well made, one of a kind, handmade piece. They’re almost like art and you kinda don’t wanna use it cause no matter how much you clean it, it will never be pristine again. And to drive my preference home, when I walk into a unique glass shop, I feel like how some women must feel when they enter a high end jewelry store. I just want everything cause it all looks so damn cool.
RWT: When did cannabis come into your life?
ME: Officially, when I was fifteen. I’ve always been an anxious person but when I tried it for the first time at a friend’s house, I enjoyed how relaxed I felt. I had a lot of worries that summer when I first tried it but suddenly, they didn’t seem so bad or unconquerable. After that, if it was around, I was down. And not to sound sexist but as a chick, I never paid for it. Guys had no problem sharing or giving. I’ve never had any bad experiences with it. Quite the opposite.
RWT: Polls show that most smokers are men, and that support for legalization is more common among men. What perspective do you think women bring to weed culture that isn’t there already?
ME: I really believe there are just as many women as men who support marijuana culture. Sadly, women as a whole aren’t really vocal about it. If you skim through an issue of High Times, you’ll see more ads of scantily clad chicks trying to sell you shit than articles about women in the movement.
While more and more women are learning the truth and supporting legalization, it’s going to take some time to see that in the results of polls and surveys. I think women bring a more feminine perspective to the culture. Most women are natural caregivers, myself included. And when they learn about how this plant helps others in a medicinal sense, especially when it comes to children with seizures and autism, emotion and logic take over. Why can’t I have this for my child? Why is this illegal? What can I do to help facilitate change in my state? That’s just one example of what a female supporter may be thinking. Then there’s the whole incarceration/losing custody of children scenario that most mothers who do support legalization don’t like to think about. Women are a silent majority in this movement. But I feel that’s starting to change.
RWT: What do you want to hype for the readers of potfiction.com? Where can we find you and your work?
ME: Support canna-fiction. It’s an underrepresented genre. And educate yourself on federal cannabis laws as well as local laws in your area. Change is coming but it is slow going. Right now my work is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and the e-reader version is available through my website, areyouahypocrite.net. I can be emailed directly through the website. You can find me on Facebook as well.
Thanks for reading, and please check out Mara and our other authors! They need your support in these terrible times of Prohibition.