June 23, 2024


Exclusive Interview: Monique Asher, Author of 'Don't Eat the Pie'

Hosted by

Uday Kataria Lizzie Hill Brian Kitson Ayla Ruby
Exclusive Interview: Monique Asher, Author of 'Don't Eat the Pie'
Cosmic Cafe
Exclusive Interview: Monique Asher, Author of 'Don't Eat the Pie'

Jun 23 2024 | 00:28:53


Show Notes

I've had the immense privilege of knowing Monique Asher for over a decade, having met her through some friends, one of whom was her younger sister. Throughout the years, she has worn many hats, such as mother, wife, and therapist. However, one hobby and passion that she kept coming back to was writing, which began at such a young age (as you learn in the interview!). Not one to give up on her dreams easily, she's pushed through and her debut novel, Don't Eat the Pie, comes out September 24, 2024, with more novels already on the way! I was able to sit down with Asher to discuss this novel as well as various other topics.

In the interview, listen to when Asher got her start with writing and how it developed into her budding career as a published author, what her developmental process has been for Don't Eat the Pie, and what else she has in the pipeline writing-wise over the next few years. She also discusses how her time as a therapist has helped to foster her writing, and talks about her spooky podcast Stay the Night (@Staythenightpod), which she hosts with her sister. And like the true horror fanatic that she is, Asher shares some of her current favorite scary novels. Check out the interview!

Monique Asher's novel, Don't Eat the Pie, is available for preorder most places books are avaiilable! Let us know on social media @mycomsiccircus if you plan on checking out this upcoming novel!


Find this book on Amazon or most places books are sold.

Host/Interviewer: Brian Kitson

Theme: "Coffee and You" via Pixabay.

You can find out more about the author and upcoming books at her official website, www.moniqueasher.com/

Find the companion article to this podcast on thecosmiccircus.com

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Speaker A: Welcome to the Cosmic Cafe, the companion podcast to thecosmiccircus.com. i'm Brian Kitson, and we have an exciting interview. Today. I sat down with Monique Asher, whose debut novel, don't eat the Pie, comes out this October. In this interview, Asher discusses where her passions for writing began, some of her spooky inspiration for her novel, other upcoming projects in the pipeline, and her horror podcast, stay the night, which she hosts with her sister. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy. Thank you so much for joining me today. I am so excited to talk about don't eat the pie. I had the privilege of reading it back in March, and it is a fantastic horror book, especially if your first time out. You know, I've heard of the horrors of trying to write a book and stuff like that, and this was absolutely fantastic. I ate it up on a vacation. I was sitting beachside and just enjoyed it. [00:00:57] Speaker B: That's like the perfect setting for it. [00:01:00] Speaker A: Absolutely. I was in Florida just sitting there reading it, and they're like, you want to go swimming? I was like, no, I got to finish this book. I gotta. Gotta find out what's going on. But what has this journey into writing been like for you? Like, how did you get started? [00:01:14] Speaker B: So it's a long story. It's a long story. So if we're. If we're okay with getting into it? [00:01:24] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely. [00:01:25] Speaker B: I started writing. I started writing when I was a kid. Like, thankfully, I had cool teachers along the way that were always encouraging writing and being creative and all that jazz. But basically, I mean, as young as elementary school, if I got an assignment where I could turn it into a short movie or a creative story, that's what I was choosing to do. Um, I was super into horror, real young. So watching, like, all the scream movies. I know what you did last summer. And I got it in my head that I wanted to be a screenwriter when I grew up. [00:02:03] Speaker A: Okay. [00:02:03] Speaker B: Yes. And, um, so this is a story that I have not yet told, but. And it's a bullying story. So when I was in fifth grade, which my oldest is in right now, and my God, fifth graders in this day and age, they're rough jobs just showing up, I think. Yeah, it's wild out there. So I was working together with a friend who also was interested in it, in writing a screenplay. And we would share this notebook back and forth, and eventually she got busy with stuff that normal eleven to twelve year olds get busy with, like, friends, shopping, makeup, that kind of thing. And I was not that kid. So I ended up finishing the screenplay by myself and my teachers noticed. So at the end of the year, like, they gave me the fifth grade award for being the most likely to actually write a screenplay and be a director when I get older. And this. [00:03:03] Speaker A: So awesome. [00:03:04] Speaker B: Thank you. It was a big achievement for me as a little fifth grader, but this other friend I was working with did not like that. They wanted that identity. They did not like I was acknowledged for it, and it led to, like, a big split off in a friend group. And so it took me until going to therapy in my twenties to realize that, like, this might have been the thing that was holding me back from pursuing a career in writing. And it's so wild, right, to think about how a small bullying incident as, like, a kid, a middle schooler, a high schooler, could potentially affect the rest of your life. But that was my experience. Once I got some therapy around it, it freed up my ability and confidence, I think, to pursue writing. And I wanted to share that story because I feel like it's really relevant to the actual book I wrote, which is that the small or big traumas that happen to us as little people can drastically affect the way that we behave, our choices, our relationships to the rest of our lives. So. [00:04:13] Speaker A: Absolutely, I'm so glad that you overcame that, because it is. I mean, we definitely need stories like this, and it does have a lot of, you know, reading it as a therapist as well, I was just like, oh, there is a lot of trauma in here, but it's about healing from trauma or, like, how people have healed from trauma. And sometimes it's not always the easiest way or it's not, you know, it's not always looks the same. Right. So can you give us a little synopsis of don't eat the pie, kind of from your author perspective of having written it, what is the story to you? [00:04:46] Speaker B: Okay, so don't eat the pie is really, truly. It's a mother daughter story. It's written from two perspectives. It was really important to me that we got a teenage perspective, too, of, like, a teenager who's grown up a little bit too quick, a mom who's a little bit stunted emotionally. And they are thrown into this new life with this new family because mom gets married to Ben, this very handsome and high class dude. I think of, like, Emma and Sam are the main characters. They're really from a working class family. Single mom has struggled with stuff her whole life, and this is kind of like the fairy tale, but where Prince Charming comes along. But we find out very quickly that the castle that he takes her back to AK camellia island is not. It's not fairy tale. Maybe a Grimm's fairy tale. Right. [00:05:41] Speaker A: Um, so there's definitely fairy tale aspects of it. [00:05:44] Speaker B: Oh, yeah. Thanks. Let's go in for that a little bit. So on this island, they start to notice stuff's off. Weird, creepy stuff starts happening. Um, we've got a ghost next door that's trying to communicate with our main characters, send them a message. But of course, their own trauma kind of gets in their way. Um, and they end up kind of fighting the clock as we know that, like, they've got a certain amount of time almost to get off of this island to figure it out before things can go very awry. I wrote this book because I love fun horror that doesn't take itself too seriously while also exploring, like, pretty serious subject matter. And so I think it's got those vibes of, like, if you love a rosemary's baby, Stepford wives, um, ready or not kind of film, then it's probably going to be a fun ride. [00:06:39] Speaker A: When I was reading it, I got the vibes of, like, a horror version of almost like Gilmore girls. Cause, like, you have those dynamics of just, like, a dysfunctional. You're, like, trying to raise a daughter, and you're like, you know, you had yourself have all this trauma. And that's one of my favorite shows. So I hope that's a huge compliment to you because it is so well written. But it has that horror aspect of just what happens when everything starts to go wrong, you know? [00:07:02] Speaker B: And, yeah, yeah, you're the second person who said that, that it's like, gives Gilmore girls but horror. [00:07:11] Speaker A: I mean, if you're going to be compared to anything, be compared to Gilmore girls, fair. But it's interesting because this, you know, you don't quite know what's going on. Is it supernatural? Is it. Is it the trauma? Is it a ghost? Are the people imagining it is all in your head? And so it was kind of, you know, there's also, like, that, that murder mystery aspect to it, too. There was a lot of different aspects that came together, and it worked really well. And so it was awesome to read that. [00:07:41] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:07:42] Speaker A: How did the ideal for this novel come to you? [00:07:46] Speaker B: So I was querying my first book. So this is the second book I've written, but I was querying it. I didn't widely submit it. I sent out about maybe, like, 20 queries total. And I was feeling a little discouraged, so I went out in my garden. I like to garden quite a bit. I went out my garden, and I can remember, like, exactly where I was walking. I stopped and I was like, what if there's a book called Don't Eat the Pie? And what if this is the final scene that happens? And so I got this final scene, or I guess it would be, like, the last five chapters now, like, thinking about how it actually turned out as a book just downloaded to my brain, and I was like, okay, I have to figure out a way to get there, so let's sit down and start writing this book. Yeah. [00:08:33] Speaker A: Okay. That's awesome. So the title did not change. You kind of knew right from the beginning what it was going to be called. [00:08:38] Speaker B: Yeah. Which is weird, because I'm not great with titles. [00:08:43] Speaker A: As I say, those tend to be the things that change the most, you know, as you're kind of going along. [00:08:47] Speaker B: Yeah. And I had a couple friends that were like, really? That's the title? I don't like it. I don't like anything about it. And I was like, my gut tells me this is right. It's good. [00:08:58] Speaker A: So it's very apropos for the book. And once people read it, they'll understand because it makes perfect sense. And maybe from the outside perspective, you're just like, what does this mean? Because I was thinking in my head, like, is it going to be like a poisoning book or a black widow type of book? But you don't know until you get in there. And it's so much more than that. [00:09:17] Speaker B: Thanks. [00:09:19] Speaker A: But with this, you know, kind of talked about those interesting mother daughter dynamics. How did those form in the writing process for you? Did it change over time? Have this strong idea that there was going to be this. This family trauma, this. These dynamics, or did that change? [00:09:36] Speaker B: Things about both characters did change throughout, like, the developmental editing process, but I feel like it was more, you know, there is that thing that happens, at least for me as a writer, where my intention doesn't always come out on the page the first try. And so getting reader feedback to make sure that I really drove home who they were to the reader, not knowing all the same backstory that I do. [00:10:01] Speaker A: Sure. [00:10:01] Speaker B: Right. They came out different on the page, but Emma and Sam were really. They've always been Emma and Sam. And when I sat down to write the book I wanted to write, they're both a part of me. So I've been the kid who grew up too fast and was dealing with stuff too early, and I've also been a parent who had to go back and deal with their own skeletons in their closet in order to overcome them and be the kind of parent that I wanted to be. So I felt like writing this was very cathartic for both parts of myself and would be relatable, because I know a lot of people have gone through the same things that I have or similar. So. [00:10:46] Speaker A: Absolutely. It's a very universal story, you know, and as a. As a therapist, I'm sure we both can understand that. That these traumas, when you kind of boil them down, they are. We tend to see patterns, and that's why we predict human behavior. It's true. Did. Did sam or emma, did one of them have a stronger voice when you started than the other one? Or were they both kind of as strong as each other? [00:11:06] Speaker B: You know, I feel like, um, through revisions, I added more of sam that initially it was more emma. Yeah. [00:11:16] Speaker A: Okay. [00:11:17] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:11:17] Speaker A: Do you think that's because, like, you said, that you, you, part of being a parent is learning to go back and heal. So it sounds like you had to learn a little, maybe a little bit more about yourself as you did that. [00:11:28] Speaker B: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I feel like each of my books, I learned something for real. My characters are. They're always teaching me. Yeah. [00:11:38] Speaker A: It's a good life lesson to be able to have them teach you back. [00:11:41] Speaker B: Yeah. I mean, sam, people have still commented that they can't totally get on board with her. Sam, the mom that, like, they identify more with emma. But I really like how kind of broken sam is. She was. I guess she was significantly more unlikable the first time around. Yeah. [00:12:03] Speaker A: Okay. [00:12:03] Speaker B: Like, traditionally unlikable. She's always been my jam, but not everyone else is. [00:12:10] Speaker A: I think that what she's going through in this book without. I'm not going to spoil it or anything, but you as a person, I was reading, and I was like, ooh, that's really a tough pill to swallow. But as the therapist, I was just like, I can understand where you're coming from. So that's why, like, I think that kind of background helped to, okay. Humanize her a little bit more, you know? [00:12:29] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:12:30] Speaker A: And also, there's supernatural stuff going on, so, like, it's not all in her control. [00:12:35] Speaker B: Right. People act weird. [00:12:37] Speaker A: So, 100%. Was there anything about the process of writing this novel that surprised you? [00:12:45] Speaker B: Something I heard a long time ago and I found to be really true with this novel was that most of the time, when you get feedback from other people, they're going to able to identify what the problem is, but their solution for it is almost always going to be wrong. And I found that to be almost 100% true with this book. So there were so many people involved, you know, from beta readers, to my critique partners, to my editors and proofreaders and a couple of agents that I worked with, too. So everybody had different opinions about things, and when I noticed that, like, they started identifying the same issues, but everyone had, like, a different way of fixing it, and I fixed it in a completely different way than what they thought. [00:13:36] Speaker A: Sure. [00:13:37] Speaker B: I guess, really the thing that I learned from it is that feedback is extremely important. You cannot write a book in a closed room. It won't work, and it won't be. I don't want to be, like, blanket statement, but most of the time, it's not going to be good because you can't see all of your own weaknesses, and you can't ever go back and truly read it like a reader. Like, you just can't. So I learned that, that lesson, that I really need to listen to my own voice about how to solve issues, but listen to others that there is an issue. It also really like, people who've read the art copy now that originally cp'd for me or originally baited for me have commented. I don't know how you added even more to it. I don't know how you came up with this new scene or replaced this because somehow it works better, but I thought it was good how it was. So it really forced me to stretch creatively and come up with things that I just assumed once you wrote the book and it was edited, that was. [00:14:42] Speaker A: How's that? Yeah. [00:14:44] Speaker B: Really? You can keep adding stuff forever. [00:14:47] Speaker A: I mean, so you're saying we're gonna get a ten year anniversary copy with all new stuff to it. [00:14:53] Speaker B: It's a completely different book. [00:14:56] Speaker A: That's interesting. I never thought of writing a book like that, but it makes sense that it takes, you know, it takes a village to raise a child, in a way, and. Oh, yeah, everybody's opinion and not opinion, but you need their thoughts so that you can change it up to how you want it to be, right? [00:15:13] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:15:15] Speaker A: Do you think that your, you know, your time as a therapist, do you think that this has influenced how you've developed that? Because, you know, how you developed the book or, like, the storylines, you know, not necessarily with the work that you've done with your clients, but, like, your knowledge and how to heal trauma or how to look at people differently? [00:15:37] Speaker B: Um, I think, yes. And how to look at people differently and see, you know, I don't know if it's like being a therapist or just the way that my brain works and has kind of always worked is like I. When I see something happen or I see a person behaving a certain way, I make up a story in my own mind about why it's happening. So definitely, like, being a therapist and having the actual clinical knowledge, I think backs up a lot, you know, like, and then just experience. Right. Seeing behavioral patterns over and over and over again in people is so interesting. And that, like, man, if we could all just cognitively acknowledge that, like, something happened to us and we need to change this thing, or we want to change this thing and have our behavior go, it would be so great. But that's not how it is. We almost always act in the opposite way. That would be helpful, even though we consciously know what we should do. Should do. So I think that that definitely plays into this. The second book that will be published, which comes out next, the end of next summer, there is a lot more knowledge, my therapy knowledge base and working with, with dissociative disorders that comes into play. So I want to be very clear that I will never, would never use anything from a client store in my work. It's super unethical. And I get that question and I'm like, who do you think I am? But the year before I started writing the red Knot, which is the book that comes out next year, I did a bunch of intensives, which I have access to because I'm a therapist. [00:17:29] Speaker A: Sure. [00:17:29] Speaker B: I don't intend to work with the disorders on dissociative identity disorder and dissociative disorders in general because I felt like I wanted to write a story about a woman with did that was going to be the most clinically accurate and humanly empathetic ever. Because I see a lot of. I'm like, totally going off on a tangent about the second book, but no, I love it. It means a lot to me, and I think it does incorporate a lot of that stuff. But one of the tropes that I see happening in all kinds of media surrounding did, in particular multiple personalities, is that they're dangerous. Like, you think of split of that. God, I can't remember what it was. Vacancy where. Yeah. And I just find them to be kind of inaccurate to reality. So sure, I intentionally took those trainings not to really work with clients on it, but just because, like, I get the inside scoop and I can use it in my books. Yeah. [00:18:41] Speaker A: And that I do love that, that we, you know, there's things that we can learn as therapists that maybe people don't have access to and that we can use those in our work. I got to speak a little bit on did with Moon Knight and how it was one of the best versions that we've had so far of did. So, yeah. And getting to have that knowledge was. It was kind of cool, you know? [00:19:02] Speaker B: It's cool. [00:19:05] Speaker A: So, this novel takes place on the mysterious Camila island. Where did you kind of draw inspiration for this island from? Is there somewhere specific that you visited or, you know, or, like, where? You know, we have a lot of beautiful islands and stuff around Michigan. Do you feel like you pulled from there a little bit what was inspiring for this island? [00:19:24] Speaker B: I love the Outer Banks. It's one of my favorite places to vacation to. And when I wrote this book, I knew I wasn't gonna be able to visit that year. And so I was like, what if I just, like, visit it in my brain? I love that I was doing this, but I love visiting that part of the country, like North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia. It's the smells, the humidity, the heat, the vegetation, the critters all over the place. I love it. So I definitely drew inspiration from my own visits there and some of the moments that I had there, for sure. [00:20:06] Speaker A: That's awesome. I've not been in doubter banks, but I just recently went to New Orleans, and so I was kind of pulling some of that feel further. I was like, oh. Like, you know, there's, you know, the. The stifling heat of some of the days and stuff like that. But, um, you also have a spooky podcast I was hoping that maybe we could talk about real quick. [00:20:25] Speaker B: Oh, absolutely. [00:20:26] Speaker A: You do that with your sister, correct? [00:20:29] Speaker B: Yeah. You know her. She's the coolest person that ever lived. [00:20:32] Speaker A: Yeah. I mean, you both are. I've known you guys for over a decade of my life. [00:20:36] Speaker B: Thanks. [00:20:37] Speaker A: Um, can you tell us a little bit about, like, what's the name of your podcast? What do you do on it and how much fun you're having? [00:20:43] Speaker B: Yeah. So our podcast is called stay the night, and it is where we talk about places where you can actually go and visit and stay overnight in a haunted or paranormal or suspected paranormal venue. So whether that's, like, we've talked about campgrounds before, national parks. More recently, I think we did the mammoth caves, but also, like, hotels and then some sites that are just open for paranormal investigation, too. So we explore those. Originally, when we came up with the idea, we were hoping it would come off as, like, spookier and then very quickly realize that we are too funny. [00:21:33] Speaker A: We gotta have humor with the horror, right? [00:21:35] Speaker B: Yeah. So I would say it's, like, more of, like, a banter, back and forth comedy podcast. And we're definitely not, like, making fun of the places that we go to, and there's spooky elements to it. We've only added, we have one episode where we actually used our evidence, like evps and stuff like that, to, like, share with everyone publicly. But, yeah, so we do that. We've been on a lot of spooky trips since we stopped recording for a while, we've been on a little hiatus. It was a rough year for us just personally, like, we lost my dad last year. My sister started a teaching program that was, like, really requiring a lot of her time. And I've been dealing with some chronic illness issues. But more recently this spring, we've kind of gotten our stuff back together. And maybe. Maybe we're recording this Friday. And by maybe, I mean, yes, we're back to recording, and we should be uploading episodes soon. Yeah. [00:22:38] Speaker A: Good. I've missed it, you guys. It's one of. Seriously, it's one of the funniest podcasts I listen to. [00:22:43] Speaker B: Thank you so much. Yeah, everyone. Like, we've gotten a lot of support and messages, like, where the hell are you? When are you coming back? How am I supposed to continue my life without you? [00:22:54] Speaker A: And people become dependent on it. [00:22:57] Speaker B: You know, I appreciate it because, boy, it's an ego boost, but also, it's like, I appreciate the outward pressure to get back to it because we love doing it. [00:23:08] Speaker A: Yeah, but you wear a lot of hats and, you know, author and, you know, podcaster on top of being a mom and wife and all, and, you know, therapist. So it's understandable sometimes some of those fall to the wayside just a little bit. [00:23:20] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:23:21] Speaker A: So you mentioned that you have another book coming out next year, but I know that you are all. You never stop writing. [00:23:28] Speaker B: No. [00:23:29] Speaker A: Can we expect regular books from you coming out in the next couple of years? Is there anything you can tell us about them? I know you talked about the next one. [00:23:37] Speaker B: I've got some stuff in the works. So the first book that I ever wrote, I don't know if it will come out with this name or not, but it was called blood and bourbon. And it's, I guess, the only book I've written just from one point of view. So it's a little different, but it takes place in Michigan, which is nice. Right? Like, have a home state book. And then the book that I just recently finished this fall is mildly inspired by like Mackinac island and Fayette goes ghost town in the up. So it is another Michigan book and it's got shining vibes. It also has some like night circus vibes. So it's kind of. It's horror. Also leaning into some like dark fantasy too. Yeah. [00:24:37] Speaker A: I love that. I'm so excited. And I guess just one more question for fun. What are some of your favorite horror novels? Or what are some current horror reads that you're obsessed with? [00:24:47] Speaker B: Okay, so I won't shut up. Talking about Laurel Hightower's newest book, the Day of the Door. It is so good. [00:24:56] Speaker A: Okay. [00:24:56] Speaker B: This is my first book I've read by her, but she's quite prolific. She's got a lot of work out there. It scratched all my itches for like a found footage type of feel to it, paranormal stuff and like really intense family dynamic issues like you would see in the haunting of Hill House show by Mike Flanagan. [00:25:21] Speaker A: Okay. [00:25:23] Speaker B: Her writing style works really well for me. I don't know what, there's certain authors like her. Josh Mallerman is one of my favorite authors. Autoby for forever. His style of writing just downloads so easily to my brain. And laurels is like that too. So that's my most recent read that I would definitely recommend. It was awesome. Gemma Amour had the folly come out last year that I really, really liked. It was a new and very unique take on a possession book and the setting is just so beautiful. It's isolated castle, but she's great. She's a UK writer. She blurbed the pie for me, which was so sweet. If you are into extreme horror, Emma E. Murray's book that's coming out in July. I think July over the summer is insane. It's like, I had no idea that she was so talented to make some of the most disgusting and horrible things just unput, downable and enjoyable. Yeah. So her book crushing snails comes out this year and I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy. That was just phenomenal. I have a lot of really talented friends with books coming out soon and I can't talk about all of them yet, but it's going to be like this year I feel like was amazing for horror. Next year is going to be amazing for horror. It's so cool. Yeah. [00:26:59] Speaker A: We got a good few years to look forward to. Thank you so much for talking about your book. Don't eat the pie. Um, what? Just let people know where they can, when it's coming out, when they could pick it. Where they can pick it up at. Um, and just how excited you are to finally have your book in other people's hands. [00:27:18] Speaker B: Yes. I am so excited. Everything about, like, having a book go from, like, idea to this takes so long, and it's full of so many secrets. So it's great that they're, like, all pretty much out there now. Um, so don't eat the pie. Is going to be hopefully in lots of stores, definitely around Michigan. So if you want to go into your local indian, order it, they will order it for you. But if you prefer to find it and just pre order it online, it's at Barnes and Noble, it's at Target, it's at Amazon, it's at, um. [00:27:54] Speaker A: It's everywhere. [00:27:55] Speaker B: Yeah, it really is everywhere, which is amazing. Thank you to my publisher for doing that. So it will be all over the place. If you want to follow me or the podcast that we were talking about on Instagram, I'm o. Asher writes that Moasher writes pretty much everywhere, and you'll be able to find all of my stuff there. I've got a nice link tree, so. [00:28:18] Speaker A: Yeah, perfect. Thank you so much, mo. We appreciate. We're gonna have you on for every book, so I'm excited. [00:28:28] Speaker B: Yes. [00:28:30] Speaker A: Thank you so much, listeners. We are so excited to share this book with you, and we'll talk to you later. [00:28:36] Speaker B: All right, thanks, guys. [00:28:38] Speaker A: Thank you for listening to this episode of the Cosmic Cafe. You can find the companion article for this podcast along with all the other news for those who like superheroes, science fiction and fantasy films, tv shows, and other [email protected]. have a great day.

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