Pia Z. Ehrhardt
Pia Z. Ehrhardt’s stories have been widely
published in magazines including McSweeney's
Quarterly, the Mississippi Review, Oxford American, and Narrative Magazine,
and anthologized in the 2006
Norton Anthology Sudden Fiction: Short-Shorts from America and Beyond.
She is the recipient of the 2005
Narrative Prize and a Bread Loaf
with Pia Z. Ehrhardt
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Pia Z. Ehrhardt: I
started writing Running
the Room in graduate school in 2001 and I was still
working on the last story in the middle of 2005.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
PZE: Not when I started
out, but after a file-full of stories, some of which had found homes in
lit mags, I thought, why not?
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
PZE: I worked
through the order with my editor, Karan Mahajan, who was then at
MacAdam/Cage. There's a kind of emotional arc that runs from the first
story through the last, and he helped me realize this. He also knocked
out a few stories that he didn't think were strong or ready enough.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
me, a good story is a kind of uneasy, fetching trip that has a
beginning middle and end, which doesn't mean anything gets resolved,
but an event or a worry gets worked through in an illuminating and,
hopefully, generous way and you walk away knowing more than maybe you
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
my mother, although, wait, that's a lie. Some of the stories are
worried love letters to her. I figure readers are really smart and
really busy, so I try to stay a few steps ahead of them and not tell
them anything they already know or explain too much. I try to get down
to the gist and then not leave them - or my characters - stranded.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
PZE: Did I leave you
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
PZE: Great. Just
great. Having a book on a shelf that's written by me is something I've
wanted since I was seven and down in my grandmother's basement, making
a Dewey Decimal System library out of forgotten books in boxes.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
re-keystroking my novel because I had my laptop stolen and I hadn't
recently backed it up. (I'm trying not to cry.)
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
PZE: The Gateway - T.
M. McNally; Some Fun:
Stories and a Novella - Antonya Nelson; Like You'd Understand Anyway:
Stories - Jim Shepard. All brilliant.