Interview with Elizabeth T. Pardo

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the mean streets of Huntington Beach, California. When I say mean streets, I mean this was an idyllic suburb. When I was growing up in the mid- to late-'90's and beyond, we didn't have to worry about locking the doors or seeing strangers on our street. My parents knew the neighbors by name and they knew all of our names, too. There weren't any kids on our street for most of my childhood, but I got along with most of my adult neighbors.

Growing up where I did influenced my writing in a warped way. Tim Burton often expresses the sameness, the banality, of suburbia in several of his films, but when you come from a family that doesn't look like everyone else or even have the same amount of income, that banality becomes skewed. My dad was the only brown-skinned person on our street. In a sea of white faces, there was my dad, looking like a short little Hispanic guy (my dad's Filipino but most people can't tell because, well, they're ignorant). Getting constantly questioned and sometimes ridiculed/stereotyped, I learned to simply hide what I was and not take any pride in being diverse or having a different cultural background than others.

These kinds of attitudes made me realize just how fickle and facade-like people really were. Even at a young age, I saw these suburbanites, my classmates, teachers, neighbors and the like, put on their "society-friendly" masks and pretend around each other. Once they were faced with something they didn't, couldn't or wouldn't understand, like a brown-skinned child in their perfect white school, the mask cracked and their ugliness and ignorance was revealed.

That's what Huntington Beach showed me. Cower in fear, put on your mask and reveal nothing of your true self. That's probably one of the biggest influences on my first ebook published with Smashwords, Violent Impulses.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was in second or third grade. It was a rip-off of Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey, because my brothers and I had just finished playing it all the way through. The concepts were truly inspiring to me, being dark and sinister, even as a little kid: cannibalism, murder, mayhem, totalitarian authority, and a savior that discovered inside himself not just wisdom, but strength. Those images were powerful to a kid who constantly felt powerless. When we were asked to write a long story, I think it was supposed to be three of those little-kid-pages with the huge lines and half of the page blank for drawings, I wrote/drew a good deal more than three pages.

My protagonist discovered that his boss was using the other employees as food for his product, so the protagonist murders his boss, puts him in the product too, and frees the other employees and they all run away to be happy. That was basically the main premise of the story. Complete with illustrations by my seven- or eight-year-old hand.

Needless to say, my teacher wasn't pleased. Little girls didn't draw violent things. They didn't think violent thoughts. It was unacceptable. I was smart, cute, seemingly well-adjusted. Where did this violence come from?

It came from inside my heart, which I can only now articulate as an adult. That's why I connected with Oddworld and its beautiful brutality so much and so quickly. The violence of that world showed me that other people, despite being miles away, being adults and game developers, thought about violence, too. It showed me I wasn't alone, in some weird way.

I'm sure I wrote stuff before that but that rip-off of Oddworld is the one that springs to mind the most readily. It was a sensation, at least in my mind!
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind Hello Stupid Heart is, well, my stupid heart. I wrote 13 total poems just under a year. Twelve of them were about romantic affairs I had over that year and one was about my brother, Jake.

All of my poems now and during that time were written in one single session and weren't edited. It wasn't until I was ready to publish those 13 poems did I edit them in any way. I rarely alter poetry but sometimes, in my haste, I use the wrong word or put a period somewhere it doesn't belong.

My stupid heart used to enjoy expressing sorrow, anguish and love via poetry. That's the real beauty behind poetry and behind Hello Stupid Heart as a collection—it reveals a side of me I try not to show, that vulnerable, sad side that lurks inside me in a melancholy, poetic sort of way.
Published 2015-09-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tiny: A Very Small Short Story Collection
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,620. Language: English. Published: June 13, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Tiny: A Very Small Short Story Collection is exactly what it sounds like—a small collection of five short stories, two of those short stories dialogue only. Tiny was Elizabeth's childhood nickname (one of many), provided by one of her older brothers.
Things My Mother Used to Say
Price: Free! Words: 10,520. Language: English. Published: January 11, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Biography » Woman biographies
A multi-chapter journey through our shared past, Things My Mother Used to Say tries to recapture my mother's most important sayings and figure out not only why she said them, but how they relate to my life today.
Hello Stupid Heart: A poetry collection
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 1,490. Language: English. Published: September 24, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs, Fiction » Poetry » American poetry
Written mainly about her romantic entanglements, Hello Stupid Heart is a collection of 13 poems found hidden in an old journal, encompassing just under a year in the life of Elizabeth T. Pardo.
Violent Impulses: A short story collection
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,220. Language: American English. Published: August 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
A small and brutal look into human interaction, Violent Impulses is a collection of five short stories and is the first short story collection published by Elizabeth T. Pardo.