FEATURED AUTHOR: EMMANUELLA HRISTOVA
ABOUT THE BOOK
The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder is a collection of poems that explores a tumultuous year of love, heartbreak, and all kinds of unimaginable loss. Emmanuella's debut poetry book documents the birth and death of a relationship, and the death of her sister. Each poem is an emotional time-stamp that plunges the reader into the depths of the author’s feelings as they burgeon and wane. The book reads like a diary and chronicles the boundaries of the things that we all feel: passion, heartache, and pain that gives way to hope.
Title: The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder
Author’s name: Emmanuella Hristova
Publisher: Self-published through Lulu (April, 2018)
Print length: 50 pages
INTERVIEW WITH EMMANUELLA HRISTOVA
Q: Emmanuella, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
A: I started writing when I was young, but I didn’t know it. When I traveled with my mom, I took copious amounts of descriptive notes about each trip we would take. Then, as a teenager I wrote short emo love quotes for my Xanga page (which I later deleted, much to my regret). But as for poetry, I didn’t start writing what I would now categorize as poetry until I was in graduate school, three years ago.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, a young woman I used to mentor gave me a green Moleskin notebook. She told me to document all of my adventures. My undergraduate graduation characterized many changes in my life, and at the time I was working out my own definition of feminism. But what began as short musings about sexism jotted down on the BART train, eventually became woeful poems about oppression, harassment, and assault.
And then, two months later, I fell in love for the first time. I never decided to write my poetry collection; it came out of me, rather. I documented the relationship from beginning to end, birth to death. I wrote to express my feelings and sentiments. It wasn’t intentional. Pent-up emotions swelled up inside of me, and they didn’t have any place to spill other than onto blank pages. Eventually, that green Moleskin became a chronological account of one of the darkest periods of my life.
Q: How long did it take you to write this book?
A: I wrote all the poems in The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder over a period of one year, from June 2015 – June 2016. Then I let the completed word document sit in my computer for about two years, because I wasn’t ready to face it. And, I was still in love with my ex-boyfriend for quite some time after we split. So, I couldn’t face what I had written about him and what I had written about my sister’s passing. It wasn’t until two years after my sister passed away that I opened up the document again and read some poems to a friend. She told me to publish. I worked with a dear coworker of mine, Maria Ciccone, who helped me edit the content and order of the poems. That took about two months because we both did it while we were teaching full time. The editing and putting myself out there were the hardest parts, even harder than writing the collection.
Q: What do you hope readers will get from this book?
A: When I first began this book, it was my diary. It helped me heal through the most difficult part of my life. I took the time and effort to craft and edit what I had written during that time period, in order to give it to others so they too can heal. I published the most intimate parts of myself in order to help others going through a heartbreak or losing someone to cancer. I especially wrote it for women, as a lot of the poetry is written through a lamenting, feminist lens. As one reviewer put it, I am “simply a woman in a man’s world, and this period in [my] life has acted as a catalyst for [my] revolution”. The final chapter is dedicated to grieving and healing women:
For crying girls everywhere,
hiding in the bathroom stall.
May you find your healing.
Q: How did you come up with the title of your book?
A: The title of my book came from a poem in the collection called “October 7th.” The line is:
The inexpression of my
spilled out to my lips and
my kisses tasted like disorder.
It’s about wanting to proceed in a relationship, but being unable to due to lack of trust. It’s about wanting, but not acting, and your world coming undone as a result. The title The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder refers to the fact that most poems are named after the day they were written; it reads like a diary because it was my diary. The title is different and unique, and I love it for that.
Q: Do you have a day job?
A: I was a high school ESL teacher for two years, but I’ve taken a break from full-time work to finish writing my first novel. I moved to Vietnam, so I could live off of my savings and write for enjoyment.
Q: How would you describe your book in a tweet?
A: Reads like a diary and chronicles the boundaries of the things that we all feel: love, heartache, and pain that gives way to hope.
Q: How did you come up with your cover art?
A: The cover art is very special to me. It began as a painting that I completed while I was writing my book, when I was depressed over a spurned lover. It perfectly characterized the raw emotions I felt at the time through a bleak, black background and dark red paint splatters. When it came time to self-publish my book, I designed everything myself using Photoshop. My painting became the background, then I overlayed simple text on top that that included the title, my name, and a short description. I wanted something minimalistic, that could look good while small for the eBook market, and something that represented me and the themes of the book.
Q: Tell us about your favorite chapter in the book.
A: Even though it’s really hard to pick a favorite, I love the fourth chapter called “The end.”
I cannot stop writing
about you without
seeing the end of everything.
It’s up to debate, but the fourth chapter is arguably the darkest chapter of the whole book, since it deals with my breakup and finding out that my sister was dying. I love this chapter because it holds some of my favorite poems. When I was at my lowest point, my poetry got the most raw and angry. There’s something about embracing anger and scorn that evokes the most powerful and real emotion.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: My biggest influence would be Georgi Gospodinov--his novel The Physics of Sorrow in particular. He's a contemporary Bulgarian author, and the novel is about a sense of apathy and identity-finding following the communist fall in Bulgaria. It also dabbles slightly in magical realism, which is surprising to see outside of Latin American literature, but it's fantastic.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is also another novel that has kept inspiring me long after I finished it.
Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poets; her boldness in exploring her own darkness encourages me to explore mine.
Similarly, the musical artist BANKS and her album Goddess is the soundtrack to which I wrote The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder.
rupi kaur inspired me to self-publish and promote myself on Instagram! And, I also think we have similar writing styles and themes.
I also really enjoy supporting female authors. Yaa Gyasi wrote one of my favorite books that I read in 2018: Homegoing.
And then lastly, George Orwell and Charles Dickens stand as two of my favorite classic authors; their novels 1984 and Tale of Two Cities still resonate with me to this day.
Q: What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
A: Currently, I’m reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children on my Kindle. It’s such a breathtaking and imaginative story! I also love how the author writes, it’s both figurative and curt at times.
Q: Where do you prefer to do your writing?
A: Back at home in the Bay Area, I frequent the same writing cafés: Caffè Strada in Berkeley, Farley's in Oakland, Barrelista in Martinez, Coffee Shop in Walnut Creek. The ambiance needs to be peaceful and romantic; twinkling lights, kitschy furniture, and a patio are preferable. I like to write with a delicious latte in hand and a luxurious string of words on my mind. Now that I’m in Vietnam, I still go to cafés but I drink a Vietnamese iced coffee instead—they’re equally delicious.
Q: Where do you call home?
A: Home is the San Francisco Bay Area in California. The west coast is the best coast!
Q: Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
A: I’m a very social introvert, but an introvert nonetheless. That’s why I write, to express the feelings I struggle to say out loud.
Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
A: The hardest thing I ever had to write was one of the final chapters in the novel I’m currently working on. One of the closing scenes is a literal description of my sister passing away in front of me. There’s also another incredible aspect about that scene that happened that I can’t share, lest I give away the end of the book. In order to write the chapter, I had to listen to a sound recording of the day she passed away. I’ve had that sound recording in my computer for almost three years, but haven’t touched it. And I put off writing that chapter for a long time. I’m actually still working on it; it’s holding up the completion of my novel.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Currently, I'm writing my first novel. It's about my life, but it's written in novel form. It tells the story of a young Emmy, a gifted daughter born to Bulgarian immigrants in the United States. Upon moving, they never imagined that they’d lose everything. And not even Emmy’s gift of prophesy and her religious faith could have prevented the deaths of most of her family members. Meanwhile in another realm, a golden statue of a young girl wakes up. Once Zoe realizes who she is and why she's there, she embarks on the perilous mission to get Emmy out of the labyrinth-like castle. Meanwhile, Emmy's left to deal with the psychological trauma of losing loved ones too soon, and with her inability to make the American Dream materialize. She turns inward--to the fantastical world she's built for herself to hide from her grief. However, this home she's created is holding her captive, and she can't seem to get out of her own mind. Guided by some fantastical sidekicks, she loses herself inside the dream-world that she hasn't shared with anyone. The world in her dreams, and in between dreams, and she doesn’t know if she’ll make it out alive.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emmanuella Hristova was born in Oakland, California and grew up in the Bay Area. She is the third daughter to Bulgarian parents who immigrated to California shortly before she was born. She began drawing at the ripe age of four, and studied the fine arts for five years in high school. There, she received many art accolades including a Congressional award for her piece "Boy in Red" in 2009. In 2015, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. She began writing poetry at age twenty-four when she was in graduate school. She earned her Master's in Education from the same alma mater in 2017. Emmanuella spent two years as an English teacher in Richmond, California. During that time, she self-published her first poetry collection: The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder. Currently, she is writing her first novel. She speaks English, Bulgarian, Spanish and is now learning French.
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