In an interview with The Daily Iowan, “Nightbitch” author Rachel Yoder discussed the inspiration behind her work, her growing popularity as an author, and her upcoming reading and conversation at Prairie Lights.
The mundane mingling with the bizarre – that’s the idea author Rachel Yoder aimed for in her debut novel ‘Nightbitch’.
A graduate of Iowa’s nonfiction writing program, Yoder celebrates the release of the paperback copy of “Nightbitch” at Prairie Lights in Iowa City. Book reading and conversation is July 13 and starts at 7 p.m.
“Nightbitch” is a story that follows a stay-at-home mom who was once an ambitious entertainer. Yet the monotonous life this mother lived turns into something a little more mysterious as she begins to believe she is turning into a dog.
The title itself comes from a joke between Yoder and her husband. In an interview with The Iowan DailyYoder said that when her child was around 3 years old, Yoder slept very little and would go wild if someone disturbed her while she was trying to rest.
The idea of a “Nightbitch” was simply something she and her husband would laugh at, and Yoder even commented that she thought a book where a mother turns into a dog was a terrible idea.
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Then, as she continued to think, the idea became more interesting to her. Yoder finally took on the challenge of turning what started out as a joke into a full-fledged novel.
Yoder said Carmen Maria Machado’s “Her Body and Other Parties” played a role in inspiring this idea. She said the imaginative concepts with complex and compelling storylines in “Her Body and Other Parties” paved the way for a similar theme in his own work.
“This book really gave me permission to look into something as imaginative and bizarre as a mother turning into a dog,” Yoder said. “It also grew out of my own frustrations and contemplations as a stay-at-home mom.”
Yoder said she drew on her own personal experiences when writing. While this may not fully align when writing fiction, she has said that all of her writing has an element of personal connection.
“I think all of my writing is deeply personal and true to my life, and the faithfulness of my writing varies widely. So there was definitely a very personal impulse and emotion that drove this book,” Yoder said. “But then, of course, I never thought I was becoming a dog.”
The foundation of the book is built on very traditional experience, as Yoder discussed the commonalities of being a stay-at-home mom, and even touched on her own experience as a parent.
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As the story progressed, Yoder said it aimed to build on the more dramatic and artful elements to reinforce the novel’s relatable concepts. She said that in part, the dog’s transformation was about heightening that expression and having the emotion transcend beyond reality.
“It’s really prosaic day-to-day details that are then set against this supernatural event that hopefully makes the book balanced and feels like it’s actually meaningful to real people,” Yoder said.
After gaining great public recognition for her work, Yoder said she looks forward to the future. While she can’t yet divulge information about what’s in the works, she said she’s been sitting at a table on her porch to figure out what’s next.
“I’m totally thrilled that it caught the eye, but I’m also very interested in what’s next,” she said. “How can I continue to create books and artwork that I find interesting and that others find interesting too?”