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Wednesday 16 October 2013

Friendship Cemetery - a guest post by Adele Elliott

Today I have an honoured guest on my blog.  Adele Elliott is the author of FRIENDSHIP CEMETERY, which was published last month by Crooked Cat Publishing.  I had the privilege of working with Adele as editor of this truly fascinating novel.  Here is what she has to say about it:

Friendship Cemetery is a real place. It is a lovely burial ground that dates from before the Civil War. There is something about it that is not at all creepy. It is beautiful and, in many ways, a very comforting place to visit.

That is not to say that it is not haunted. Many ghosts walk along the shadowy paths, both at night and sometimes during the day. This is a place that is so inspiring that even the most unimaginative person would be moved to create a story or a poem or a painting. It is magical.

For several years I had a snippet of conversation between two girls floating around in my head. However, I had no idea how to turn that small bit into a novel. I had some success with short stories when I was in college, winning several awards. Something kept telling me that this should not be another short story, but I was not sure how it would become a full-length novel. So, it sat dormant for a very long time.

When I finally began to write, I thought it had promise. I sent the first three chapters to a friend who teaches teachers how to teach writing. Complicated, but I needed some feedback. His response was that he did not understand if this novel was about Emma Grace, or about the city of Columbus, Mississippi. He also said that I had big problems with syntax. I ran to look up “syntax”.

I was quite devastated and did not show it to anyone again. By the time Friendship Cemetery was finished (about seven months later), no one, not even my husband, had read it. At that time, I told my writer/teacher friend that I was finished. He said, “Now it’s time to re-write.”

Well, if I knew what was wrong with it, I would have fixed it the first time. I had no concept of how to begin a re-write. So, I just started sending it out.

I was astounded when I received an acceptance from Crooked Cat Publishing. I called my husband to read the email, still not sure if this was a real offer.

Laurence, at Crooked Cat, connected me with you, as an editor. I expected huge re-writes, and major changes. As it turned out, the process was quite painless. You caught many small problems that had slipped by me, but would probably have been discovered if I had let my editor-husband read it. I will not make that mistake again.

Friendship Cemetery is a work of fiction, set in the real city of Columbus, Mississippi. It is the story of Emma Grace Leigh, an 18-year-old, who wants to become a ghost hunter. When the novel begins, her father has been dead for eight months. She goes into Friendship looking for ghosts in general, and specifically for her father’s ghost.

The cast of quirky characters include a young Afro-American boy, a healer-woman, and Princess Kamara (nicknamed Pea), a dwarf-girl who makes folk-art sculptures from the detritus found in the cemetery.

It is a story about secrets, family curses, and hubris, all of which can be destructive.

The places in and around Columbus are real; the characters are fiction. I don’t want local readers to try to figure out who they are. They are not existent people.
Although the cover looks spooky, the book is quite funny. This is no Stephen King novel.  It is appropriate for adults & mature teens. There is no sex, or graphic violence, or explosions. 

The main theme of Friendship Cemetery is that truth is limited by perception and experience. In the beginning of the novel, Emma believes Pea to be a leprechaun, which, of course, she is not.

It is also about acceptance. Pea’s defects are obvious: physical deformities. Others’ defects are more subtle.  Flaws such as superficiality, blind judgment and hubris are less apparent, but still corrosive. The sins of our parents, although sometimes just as hereditary as the shapes of our features or the color of our hair, can be erased.

Friendship Cemetery is an easy read. There are no confusing words like “syntax”.

Thank you Adele! 

FRIENDSHIP CEMETERY is available as a paperback or as an e-book.


  1. Lovely post. I am a CC writer and Sue was my editor also. Great working with her! maybe we should ask to co-edit her book in return? hahaha

  2. I'm learning a little bit more about you and your book, Adele. I was a primary teacher for decades adn thought I knew how to write a novel. I sent my historical off to a US publisher who rejected it, but gave me 2 pages of suggestion on how to re-work it. While doing that, I quickly wrote a contemporary take-off of a Dickensian plot. I sent it to the same US publisher who immediately accepted it. I then spent huge amounts of time and effort in edits getting the work up to the US standards. My Brit spelling needed changes and some grammar wasn't US acceptable. I wanted published so I slogged and did the edits. It was a hugely salutory lesson and I try never to make those same mistakes again. (I have to admit that the process was confusing, and for some odd reason I stilI ended up with way too may exclamation marks in my debut novel)