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

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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 below!

The interview with the author of Don’t Eat the Pie, Monique Asher

[Editor’s note: The excerpts from this interview appearing below have been lightly edited for clarity. Listen to the full audio of the interview below or find Cosmic Cafe, our interview podcast, most places podcasts are available.]

Timestamps for this podcast interview

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:00 – Monique Asher on writing as a kid and eventually deciding to become an author.
  • 04:40 – The story of Asher’s upcoming book, Don’t Eat The Pie
  • 07:45 – Where the idea for the new novel came from. 
  • 09:20 – Mother-daughter dynamics in the book
  • 12:40 – What about the process of writing novels surprised Asher?
  • 15:17 – How being a therapist influences her writing.
  • 16:52 – On her second book, The Red Knot, coming out next summer, and how DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) is featured in the book.
  • 19:10 – Inspiration for Camilla Island, a location in Don’t Eat The Pie
  • 20:20 – Stay The Night Podcast with Asher and her sister. (A podcast about haunted houses and locations.)
  • 23:25 – More books coming from Asher in the future. 
  • 24:46 – New favorite horror books from other authors
  • 27:04 – Where to pick up Don’t Eat The Pie, and find out more about Monique Asher.
  • 28:30 – Outros

Book Review: Take a Bite out of Monique Asher’s Don’t Eat The Pie

Don't Eat the Pie by Monique Asher Review Banner

Highlights from our interview with author Monique Asher

What has this journey into writing been like for you? How did you get started?

Monique Asher: 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.

I was super into horror, real young, so watching, like all the Scream movies, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and I got in my head that I wanted to be a screenwriter when I grew up. And 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-

Brian Kitson: They’re rough.

Monique Asher: It’s wild out there. Um, so I was working together with a friend who also was, like, interested in it, in writing a screen screenplay. And we would share this notebook back and forth. And eventually, she got busy with stuff that, like normal 11 to 12-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.

BK: That’s so awesome.

Monique Asher: Thank you. It’s 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 20s, 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; 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.

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?

Monique Asher: 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; they are thrown into this new life with this new family because mom gets married to Ben, this very handsome and high-class dude.

They, the main characters, are really from a working-class family. Single mom has struggled with stuff her whole life, and this is kind of like a fairy tale, where Prince Charming comes along, but we find out very quickly that the castle that he takes her back to, aka Camellia Island, is not it’s not a fairy tale, maybe a Grimms’ fairy tale, right?

BK: There’s definitely fairy tale aspects of it.

Monique Asher: Oh, yeah, thanks. I was going for that a little bit. So on this island, they start to notice stuff’s off, weird, creepy stuff starts happening. 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 gets in their way, and they end up fighting the clock, as we know that they’ve got a certain amount of time almost to get off 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, Ready or Not, kind of film, then it’s probably going to be a fun ride.

BK: When I was reading it, I got the vibes of a horror version of, almost like Gilmore Girls because, like, you have those dynamics of just like a dysfunctional… You’re like, trying to raise a daughter, and you had all this trauma, and that’s one of my favorite shows. So that, 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? 

Monique Asher: You’re the second person who said that, that it’s like Gilmore Girls, but horror.

BK: I mean, if you’re going to be compared to anything, be compared to Gilmore Girls.

Monique Asher: Fair.

BK: But it’s interesting because you don’t quite know what’s going on. Is it supernatural? Is it the trauma? Is it a ghost? Are the people imagining it is all in your head? There’s also like 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.

You 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 family trauma, these dynamics, or did that change?

Monique Asher: 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. 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.

Can you tell us a little bit about your podcast? What do you do on it and how much fun you’re having?

Monique Asher: 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 hotels and then some sites that are just open for paranormal investigation too. So we explored those originally, when we came up with the idea, we were hoping it would come off as like spookier, and then very quickly realized that we are too funny.

BK: We gotta have humor with the horror, right?

Monique Asher: Yeah, so I would say it’s like more of like a banter back and forth comedy podcasts, 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 share with everyone publicly, but yeah, so we do that.

We’ve been on a lot of spooky trips since we stopped recording, 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 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, I think. I mean, yes, we’re back to recording, and we should be uploading episodes soon.

Can we expect regular books from you coming out next couple of years? Is there anything you can tell us about them? I know you talked about the next one.

Monique Asher: 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 Mackinac Island and bay and 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 horror, also leaning into some, like, dark fantasy too. 

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

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Brian Kitson

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