Animal Wife is dedicated to my mother, Pamela, who always answered my bedtime request for “one more book” with three more books. She’s fascinated by everything, without hyperbole. Hers are not passing interests, but deep dives into obscure subjects, from kaleidoscopes and secret societies to colonial beer-making techniques. For a selection of my mother’s books, listen to my 3-minute episode of the micro-podcast Without Books.
Lara Ehrlich had a busy spring as director of marketing for June’s International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Conn. The 250-event schedule had to be completely reimagined as a scaled-down, virtual festival due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now Ehrlich (UNI’03), previously a senior editor-writer for BU Marketing & Communications and an associate editor for Bostonia, has something else to think about: the September launch of her short story collection, Animal Wife (Red Hen Press). Ehrlich writes about teenagers finding their way in an alluring yet frightening world and women whose discontent manifests in mind-boggling ways. One goes feral after donning an elaborate deer suit (inspired by a medical exosuit developed at Sargent College). Another shares her house with a bear.
Publication came with winning the Red Hen Press Fiction Award, chosen by New York Times best-selling author Ann Hood, who says of the collection, “It made me dizzy with its exploration and illumination of the inner and outer lives of girls and women.”
Ehrlich, who lives in Connecticut with her husband and four-year-old daughter, spoke to Bostonia about transformations, her obsession with language, and learning to swim like a mermaid.
In May, I went to the Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp at Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. There, women have been performing underwater as mermaids since 1947 (they performed for Elvis!). Throughout the decades, the show has expanded from a roadside attraction to a popular state park. Every summer, legendary sirens who performed decades ago host a camp for women who have always dreamed of swimming in a tail, in this spring.
I attended for research, for a novel I’m working on, but quickly fell in love with Weeki Wachee and the legendary mermaids, and realized that this was a pretty magical experience. The park’s kitsch is part of its magic–and boy, are these photos kitschy!
This weekend, I’ll be doing some novel research at the Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp in Weeki Wachee Springs. In preparation for learning underwater ballet, I have purchased a bathing suit. I have not, however, practiced swimming or opening my eyes underwater. If I do not return, I will have perished in service to my craft.
Author Michael Kardos chose “Burn Rubber” as a winner of the 2019 Parent-Writer Fellowship to attend the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing (MVICW)! The prize comes with full tuition and lodging at MVICW in June.
I am a writer, a mother, and a wife. I have a day job, and a fiction career. Balancing these endeavors is an ongoing struggle, but I find the energy to keep writing through my network of writers and the support of literary communities like MVICW. Attending conferences and workshops keeps me motivated, and helps me refine my work. MVICW empowers writers, validates our dreams, and helps us bring them to fruition. Awards like this one reinforce the message that committing to our craft is worthy of our time and energy. Thank you to Michael Kardos and MVICW!
I am beyond excited to publish my short story collection, Animal Wife, with Red Hen Press! I’ve been writing these stories for the last eight years, and it will be surreal to hold them in my hands, collected between two covers. Thank you to Ann Hood for selecting Animal Wife, and to Red Hen for championing it.