When did you start writing?
In fourth grade, I decided I wanted to be a writer; I wrote a fantastical novel about “Zohara and her wolf companion, Blubluck,” who encountered witches and dwarves and giants in their quest to save the world.
Who are your literary influences?
In sixth grade, I became obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe and wrote a lot of stories about people dying of insanity and hanging in dungeons by their toes. Then, a Ray Bradbury period, followed by Nabokov and James Joyce and Hemingway. One thing these writers have in common: they’re men. And I was writing about men. Writing about women seemed dangerous somehow. Reading women was revelatory. The writers who inspire me now are risk-taking women who cross boundaries and plunge into dark places; women like Kelly Link and Maggie Nelson. When I began writing about women from that place of danger, my stories became richer and deeper. The stories in ANIMAL WIFE are the first I’ve written that finally feel like me, rather than me masquerading as an Irish expat or a British noble.
What’s your next project?
My novel-in-progress is about the dark underbelly of fantasy, the need for escape and transformation, which in the end is disappointing—and often destructive. As part of my research, I attended the Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp at Weeki Wachee State Park in Weeki Wachee, Florida, where women have performed as mermaids since 1947. During the two-day camp, my fellow campers and I were trained by mermaids—called Legendary Sirens—who had performed at Weeki Wachee in its golden age. My essay about Siren Camp is forthcoming in Lit Hub.
Do you have questions? Email me at Lara.Ehrlich@gmail.com