I like to read books by first time authors and especially when that author is a sorority sister! It just seems like there is something special reading a book by someone that has a connection to you in one way or another.
Ellen Cardona wrote Brownie Fix to help deal with the postpartum depression she experienced after one of her pregnancies. Through her writing, she found that postpartum depression was real but conquerable, especially when one has the help of some dark chocolate and even darker humor. When Ellen is not writing, she teaches literature to college freshmen and attempts to help them understand the writing process, though they think she’s crazy because of her love for literature and writing. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a PhD in Humanities with a specialization in Literature. Even though she has published several academic works on Ezra Pound, she could not ignore her true passion as a fiction writer. Ellen lives in Richardson, Texas and continues to learn daily from her husband and two children. In good times and bad, she still enjoys her brownies.
I was also able to interview Ellen to see how she felt about being a published author!
SBR: Since this is your first book, how does it feel to be published?
EC: It feels like I’m finally doing what I am supposed be doing, writing. It’s scary to release a book out to the public because some people will like it and some will not, but I can’t imagine not taking that step and releasing it. I don’t want to the play the “What if” game. Writing and now publishing feels right.
SBR: How long did it take to write your book and then get it published?
EC: It took me three years to write this book, and it took me a year to find a publisher, and then another year to “let her go”. Never in my life did I think I would self-publish because two years ago, it was looked down upon. All of sudden, when I signed the contract with my publisher, ebooks took off and writers started to self-publish. Even agents started their own publishing houses with ebooks and paperbacks. Never say never, but I don’t think I’ll ever sign with a publisher again. Iplan to self0publish all my books now, and I am very excited about this opportunity.
SBR: Do you have another book in the works?
EC: Yes, I have to plish it and then have my “test” readers go over it for any weird plot and grammar issues. I plan to release it next year. It’s called The Return of Raven and it is the first book in the Triology of Raven. The Return of Raven is about the birth of a goddess, who has long been forgotten, and how she comes to terms with who she is and her fate. Set in today’s time, it’s a coming of age story, except she becomes a goddess. Add a love triangel with ahunky guy and battle of good vs. evil, and I have a fun, fun story and trilogy. I can’t wait for The Return of Raven to be released to the public.
SBR: Tell us why we should read your book in 1 -2 sentences.
EC: Brownie Fix is a story about postpartum depression mixed with chocolate and some dark humor. It’s a bit offensive and funny, but there is a common thread that many women can relate to: how hard it is to find yourself again, your true self, when you’ve lost it or really never even known who you were in the first place.
SBR: Who is your favorite author and why? And from that author, what is your favorite book?
EC: Hard Question. My favorite modern author is Stephen King and his book, The Shining. It’s the scariest book I have ever read. I have to add a book that is the basis for my writing: Virgil’s Aeneid. The Aeneid, which I had to translate with much grumbling from Latin to English in high school, showed me how literature is put together with rhythm. I think that’s where I learned how to write with rhythm and develop my voice. The mythology in the book is the cornerstone for the books I write. The characters in the Trilogy of Raven are based on Greek gods, and the characters in Brownie Fix are based on Greek and Roman gods. Can you find them? (SBR – I found at least 1!)
SBR: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
EC: Chocolate chip cookie dough. I’m a digger for the cookie dough. Don’t give me a gallon of that ice cream because I will stand over it and spend all my time digging, and there will be nothing left except vanilla ice cream and big holes.
SBR: What do you do in your free time?
EC: I’m a runner an da cyclist. Right now, I’m training for a marthon, and I’m coaching a running class, which is so much fun. I also ride a tandem, a bicycle built for two, with my husband. Believe me, it takes communication skills to ride that tandem, and we go very fast. Also, I spend my time in the evening as a chauffeur for my children.
Chocolate. Love. Sex. Really, what else could a woman want in life? For Persey, the heroine of Brownie Fix, her days are fun-filled until what is normally one of life’s most fulfilling experiences, the birth of her son, leads her straight into a dark state of postpartum depression.
Wandering in her own postpartum hell, Persey meets people that are absurd, like the swinging neighbors who want a little more than a cup of sugar and a group of mothers who become whipped up in worship to a climactic furor. On top of the madness, she keeps seeing a yellow-toothed old man who acts like he wants to breastfeed from her. Or is it her imagination? Add the voices in her head that become louder and louder, and it’s little wonder that Persey reaches for brownie mix to soothe her insanity.
Buckling under the pressure and lack of sleep from motherhood, Persey experiences the five stages of grief that lead her to uncover a buried secret, and gradually she begins to heal with the help of her family, friends, and, of course, brownies.
I don’t think I realized when I first started this book that the main character was suffering from postpartum depression. I noticed it was very dark pretty quickly, but that didn’t stop me from becoming engrossed in the storyline right off the bat! I started the book with the intentions of just getting a quick peek since I needed to finish another book first…well about 4 chapters later I put it down! There are many times during the book that I just wanted to shake Persey and tell her to go get help! That she was depressed and what she was feeling was normal but not normal. But I like a book that engages the reader with the characters and can put themselves in the character’s shoes or related to them somehow.
Overall I’d give the book 3 1/2 stars and definitely recommend it to everyone!