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.

Short Story Collections

Cut Through the Bone
(Dark Sky Books, 2010)

reviewed by Annie Clarkson

Interview with Ethel Rohan

The Short Review: 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 LifelikeThe Trip and Under the Scalpel I revised and revised over many years.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

ER: No, 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.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

ER: I 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.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

ER:  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.

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

ER:  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.

TSR: Is there 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.

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

ER: Fecking brilliant.

TSR: 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.

TSR: What are 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.
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