Eliana Osborn is a mother and writer living in Arizona. She is at work on her first novel and publishes widely in commercial magazines.
Eliana's piece, "Raspberry Grandma" appears in issue 17 of Under the Gum Tree, published October 2015.
Q. When and why did you start writing? What do you enjoy most about writing and how has writing shaped other aspects of your life?
A. I've always written, ever since my classic story inhabiting Kunta Kinte back in fourth grade. But since I stopped working full time when I had my first child, I've been more focused. As a nerdy kid I always wanted to see my name in print so I think that is still the secret driving goal.
Q. What inspired you to write nonfiction in a world so drawn to the sensationalism of fiction?
A. I hate secrets. I grew up in a family where I didn't feel like I could be honest. As a result, I am perhaps overly open about my own life. I love reading and writing nonfiction because of it. Real life is plenty sensational—there's a need to cut away the grocery shopping parts, but real relationships are just as dramatic as made up ones.
Q. What topics do you often find yourself drawn to write about? Are there common themes you tend toward in all your writing? Do you see the same themes reoccurring in you fiction as well as your nonfiction work?
A. I think I write a lot about underdogs—I'm working on a novel about a father and daughter separated on the US-Mexico border. All my writing, fiction and non, is about giving a voice to the quiet or hidden, the stuff that doesn't get press.
Q. The piece published in UTGT begins with an interesting quote that you never return to: “In 1968, Daphne Smart Osborn was a fifty-year-old with eight children. That’s the year she won an arm wrestling contest against the other mothers.” Why did you decide to begin your piece this way?
A. Grandma Daphne has always been a small woman, fierce but not physical. When my dad told me this story—with pride—at her funereal, it made me sob. I thought she was great before but that kick-ass side made me so happy. A lot of the strength I have is from Daphne's unconditional love, for me and others. There's something tremendous is being accepted.
Q. When considering nonfiction writing, it can sometimes be difficult to decide what event to write about even if we have a particular person or feeling we want the piece to encompass. Why did you choose to focus on this particular incident with Daphne and your son in the garden?
A. I've tried to write about Daphne for years. I've never felt happy with what I came up with. A short essay seems so reductive compared to all that a life entails. But the moment with my son and his great grandmother took my breath away. You'd think I was making it up—amazing light, a chill in the air, wisdom from a little kid. Thinking about it now, I get chills. It was everything about love and generations and who knows what else.
Q. The reader is also directed to pay particular attention to growing fruits and vegetables throughout this piece. Would this have been something that Daphne would have placed special value on? Do you feel that her views on such things have influenced you?
A. Before anyone else, Daphne was a health food nut. Eating dinner at her house was virtually impossible without wanting to puke. The only way to survive was through toast and grabbing something from the garden before she had a chance to ruin it. I love her, but she was the worst cook I've ever met. I know she'd love to hear a positive food memory and be pleasantly surprised.