Cold Comfort, Ill Wind: An Interview with Jessica Creighton
Interviewer: Ms. Creighton, it’s good to be able to sit down and talk with you.
Jessica: I’m glad to do it. I’m happy to share some insight about how the war affects us homebodies, as long as we don’t touch on matters of too personal a nature, you understand.
Interviewer: Yes, yes, of course. Now, Ms. Creighton, first of all, I suppose you’ve considered that some readers, seeing that Cold Comfort, Ill Wind is the story of two brothers involved in the Confederate cause, might believe—if you’ll pardon me—that you have an entirely secondary role in the novel?
Jessica: Well, pooh and piffle, Mr. Interviewer, if you’ll pardon me! I’m sure you know that every war has a home front and that somebody’s stuck on that front for good or ill. And being that somebody, I can tell you that the home fires don’t always burn bright and that the war itself often visits them that stay at home tending those meager fires. Let me guess: being a man, you wanted to skip ahead to all the bloody bits. You thought those early chapters were just stuck in there to entertain the few lady readers who might happen along. But, sir, I invite you to go back to those early pages. You’ll see that General Hunter—we call him “Black Dave” for obvious reasons—was hardly a welcome guest in our fair town of Staunton, and that—
Interviewer: Please, Ms. Creighton, you mistake me. I didn’t mean to suggest that the war wasn’t difficult on the home front. And by the way, I have read those early chapters, and I think they capture exactly what civilians were up against during the war.
Jessica: Up against and over head and ears, Mr. Interviewer! General Hunter’s gentle troops did more lasting damage to the psyche than to the town, perhaps. Even so, the good general left our depot, our warehouses, our factories in a shambles and was like to do the same to our own poor dwelling—at least by proxy.
Interviewer: Yes, Ms. Creighton, that’s a really frightening scene where you and your mother are terrorized by the two Union soldiers. There was a lot of that during the war, I expect?
Jessica: I expect. I also expect you’ll acknowledge it was a close shave, and that even if the war isn’t quite as terrible on the home front as on the battlefield—well, at least, home can be a perilous place during war.
Interviewer: Certainly, Ms. Creighton, and I have to commend you on your quick thinking in that case. Given General Hunter’s indifference to the suffering of civilians, things could have turned out very badly if you hadn’t run across that Union officer who intervened on your behalf.
Jessica: Feminine whiles often come in handy, Mr. Interviewer. Especially in a tight spot.
Interviewer: I would tend to agree, Ms. Creighton. But changing the subject, I’d like to ask you about Mr. Hill. You and he seem to be, well, I guess today we’d say you’re “an item.” Can you tell us, are church bells in the future?
Jessica: “An item. . . .” That’s a nice turn of phrase, Mr. Interviewer. I guess in my day we would call it “courting.” And in any day and time, I reply to you—none of your damned business, if I must say such a thing! Any more questions?
- END OF INTERVIEW -
ABOUT LEE PASSARELLA:
Lee Passarella acts as senior literary editor for Atlanta Review magazine and served as editor-in-chief of Coreopsis Books, a poetry-book publisher.
He also writes classical music reviews for Audiophile Audition and acts as associate editor for Kentucky Review. Passarella’s poetry has appeared in Chelsea, Cream City Review, Louisville Review, The Formalist, Antietam Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, The Literary Review, Edge City Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Snake Nation Review, Umbrella, Slant, Cortland Review, and many other periodicals and online journals. Swallowed up in Victory,
Passarella’s long narrative poem based on the American Civil War, was published by White Mane Books in 2002. It has been praised by poet Andrew Hudgins as a work that is “compelling and engrossing as a novel.”
While researching the history behind Swallowed up in Victory, Passarella decided that Civil War reenacting would give him a special insight into the conflict. As a reenactor, he’s worn both the blue and the gray, as a private in the 125th Ohio Infantry and 42nd Georgia Infantry Regiments.