What the Fresh Hell is This?
An interview with Star LaBranche
I’m joined today by author and radical believer in equality, Star LaBranche. She’s here today to discuss her new book, What the Fresh Hell is This?
What is your book about?
It’s a collection of essays and short fiction with an overarching narrative. I start out writing about my experiences being raised religious, I talk about aspects of my religious upbringing that never made sense to me, then discuss how I realized I was an atheist and embraced my non-belief as a part of who I am. I also write about living in a Christian culture when you’re not Christian and how I rediscovered spirituality without the lens of Christianity. I have excerpts, audio samples, and a promotional video available on my blog.
What inspired you to write about this topic?
I’ve been writing for godSwill for a while now, and I’ve written about my atheism on my personal website, Scrapbook of Truth, for even longer. It seemed natural to turn this religious narrative into a book. Also, the godSwill editor, Jay, suggested it to me and I’m always looking for a new book project.
How long did it take you to write and compile this book?
It took me longer than I expected. I’m bad at estimating time, so I’m going to say a year. I have no idea if that’s right, though. I thought this would be an easy project and I would breeze through it, but that turned out to be false. While writing this book I mostly felt lost. I had never written a collection of essays and fiction before and I was at a loss as for what to include, how to craft a narrative with separate pieces of writing, and how to make the entire book one cohesive work.
In your book you’re critical of Christianity but also critical of the atheist movement. Why do you come down so hard on your community?
First of all, I think it would be hypocritical of me to point out problems in religions and act as if non-belief has no issues in the world. There are major problems in the atheist movement and a lot of atheists don’t identify as such or get involved because of them. I hope that pointing out these problems will help people to realize that there are issues within atheist communities and work to correct them.
What do you think have been the best, and worst, discoveries/inventions in the last decade? Why?
I think every invention is a step forward. Especially when it comes to technology. Even if something doesn’t work particularly well now, you have to start somewhere and improvement is always the goal. That said, sometimes I think we get a little too gung-ho with inventions. For example, folding hangers. Sure, you can put more clothes in your closet, but that doesn’t change the amount of weight your clothing bar can hold.
You’ve made it to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe; what do you order?
This answer is likely to change based on the time and day you ask me, but right now, I’d say paneer tikka masala with jasmine rice and garlic cheese naan. I absolutely adore Indian food and I’d imagine the Restaurant at the End of the Universe would serve an awesome tikka masala.
Imagine that you could only keep four of your five main senses; which one would you rather live without?
Probably smell. I’m not able to smell very well to begin with and sometimes smelling is an unpleasant activity. So if I had to let something go, I think it would be smell.
Where can we find What the Fresh Hell is This?
What the Fresh Hell is This? is available here on Amazon. I’ll also be holding a book launch party on December 12th in Williamsburg, Virginia which everyone is invited to. You can RSVP on this Facebook link.
What else are you working on?
Right now I have a lot of projects in the pipeline. In addition to my writing career, I’m a graduate student in English MA program at Old Dominion University and I work two jobs. But writing is, and always was, my first love, so I never stop working on my books.
Right now I’m in the process of writing a book about my favourite museum, the Chrysler Museum of Art as well as a collection of poetry entitled Chaotic Good. In the editing phase, I have two new parts to my digitally published work, Into Love and Out Again, and my book on online dating, Binders Full of Men, is in my first round of hardcopy edits.
That’s a lot. How do your readers keep up with you?
I just started a mailing list that will send out monthly emails to keep everyone up-to-date on what’s going on with my writing career and what’s coming up. You can sign up here.