Talking to Eleanor Stanford (Cape Verde 1998-2000) Author of História, História
As Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) sums up in her review on our site last, “Eleanor Stanford is a marvelous writer; she’s earned her place among the very best in the canon of Peace Corps writers, indeed a high honor.”
Where did you serve, Ellie?
I was in Fogo, Cape Verde as a TESL teacher.
Did you travel much in the rest of Africa?
No, not really. I was in Senegal briefly, but mostly I was Cape Verde.
Where are you from in the States?
The Philadelphia area, though I went to school at New College of Florida in Sarasota.
What got you into the Peace Corps?
I wanted to travel. I wanted an adventure. But mostly I hoped that there was something I could to benefit other people in some way.
When did you decide to write a book about your tour?
I wrote a lot while I was in the Peace Corps, and pulled it together into a manuscript a year or so after I got back to the States. But it didn’t end up getting published until more than 10 years after that, and in the end I was glad for the opportunity to add the perspective that the additional decade gave me as a person and a writer.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have! I’ve written poems and stories since I was a kid, and I do feel that an added bonus of joining the Peace Corps was that it would give me some interesting material to write about–which turned out to be true.
What else have you published?
I have published poetry. The Book of Sleep in 2008 and Bartram’s Gardens which will come out in 2015. Both books of poems are from Carnegie Mellon University Press. I have also published a lots of poems and essays in literary journals and magazines.
How did you find a publisher for your memoir, as most RPCV memoirs are self-published?
I read about Chicago Center for Literature and Photography in Poets and Writers. I was impressed with their mission, and thought it would be a good fit, so I sent it to the editor.
Did your book received much support from the editor and publisher?
Oh, yes! CCLaP is a small indie press that prides itself on giving its authors lots of autonomy and input. My editor/publisher has been very supportive, both in terms of the work itself, and promotion.
Have you read other RPCVs books have impressed you?
I’d mention three Kosher Chinese, by Michael Levy (China 2005-07) and River Town by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) and Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway (Mali 1989-91).
What are you working on now?
I’m working on poems. Also some formally playful essays about motherhood, travel, and other subjects, and I’m writing a novel set in Brazil in 1968.
Thanks for your time, Ellie.
Thank you, John.