Ethel Rohan Raised in Ireland, Ethel Rohan now
lives in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Guernica, Potomac
Review, and Los Angeles Review among many others. Another short short
story collection, Hard
to Say, is forthcoming from PANK in 2011.
with Ethel Rohan
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Ethel Rohan: That’s difficult to answer. I wrote most of these stories over a two-year span, but some, like Lifelike, The Trip and Under the Scalpel I revised and revised over many years.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
none of these stories were written with the idea that they would
someday go together in a collection. I put this collection together
from a large body of work. In assessing my work for a possible
collection, I realized my stories center on the horrors of the body and
the resulting ramifications. The idea of the "horrors of the body"
crystallized this collection for me, and my work as a whole.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
found it difficult to assemble and order this collection. I reordered
and reordered, until something in the order and shape of the work
finally clicked. I didn’t feel done until the momentum and emotional
thrust of the work felt right.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
On the most basic level, to me story means a beginning, middle and end.
Story uncovers and reveals. It brings forth some knowledge about a
character or characters and ultimately all of us. If I read a story and
learn or feel nothing, it is not a story.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
Honestly, no. The story comes first and I can’t think or worry about
others. When I do, the story becomes dishonest and ultimately fails. I
don’t let fear stop me writing stories, but I have let fear stop me
from publishing stories.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
ER: I would like to know which stories gave readers most pause and resonated deepest. That, for me, is success.
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
ER: Fecking brilliant.
What are you working on now?
ER: Hard to Say,
a collection of fifteen tiny and linked stories, is forthcoming from
PANK, May, 2011. I also have a third story collection and a novel in
(hopefully!) the final stages of revision.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
ER: Suzanne Rivecca’s Death is Not an Option, Yiyun Li’s Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, Gary Lutz, Stories in the Worst Way.