and writes in New York City. Erika is a contributing editor for The
magazine and Fiction
and an advisory board member for J
Journal: New Writing on Justice.
Erika’s writing practice encompasses fiction, poetry, and
with Erika Dreifus
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Erika Dreifus: I began drafting the story titled Lebensraum in the fall
of 2001, during my first semester in an MFA program, and I finished tweaking Mishpocha in early 2010. Between eight and nine years.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
ED: I wouldn’t say that I envisaged this collection exactly as it
stands, but when I began writing stories, I certainly hoped that one day, I’d
have a collection.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
ED: I received some excellent advice over the years
from two literary agents: Julie
Barer and Eric Simonoff. Although both of them ultimately passed on
representing the work, they provided remarkably generous, detailed, and
encouraging feedback that helped me shape the book. The sequence also
relies on a roughly chronological thread. The first three stories take
place before or during World War II; the last three stories take place
in the early 21st century; and the middle story is set, well, in the
does the word "story"
mean to you?
the simplest terms, for me, a story is a narrative with a beginning, a
middle, and an end. This might sound ridiculously reductive (not to
mention woefully anti-experimental), but it's amazing to me how hard it
can be to write something that meets this very basic definition.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
ED: At the start, I try not to. I try to simply let the story emerge.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
ED: I'd love to know what might have drawn him/her to it.
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
ED: It is humbling, exciting, and terrifying at the same time.
What are you working on now?
at the very beginning of a new fiction project--too soon to say much
more about it. I'm also continuing to write poems--maybe someday, if I
continue to work very hard and have some luck, I'll publish a collection
of poems, too. Plus the usual mix of book review assignments,
essays-in-progress, and items for my two blogs and Practicing Writer newsletter.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
ED: Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self; Siobhan Fallon, You Know When the Men Are Gone; and Ferdinand von Schirach (trans. Carol Janeway), Crime.