Fiction sometimes comes from a single moment in time that sticks with us, is this the case when you sit down to write? Or do you plan each step? Is it formulaic for you?
When it comes to writing, everything is a bit of a mess with me. I start off with an idea — “What if the zombie apocalypse happened during a massive, historic accident like the Chicago commuter train crash of ‘72?” — then I sit down and vomit out some words.
I then tread a bit further until I realize that the characters don’t know where they’re going, and then I take a few days to take the train, walk, wander and shower and see what they tell me. For some reason, all solutions come to me in the shower. I guess the characters must be kind of creepy — or obsessive compulsive about cleanliness.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
Sure! “The Mole People” is part of an ongoing short story collection about three generations of women. Frances, in this story, in the grandmother. In “Where Are You, Su Fissure?” we meet Frances’ daughter, Min (https://www.moonchildmag.net/brennaehrlich.html). And, in “The Snake and the Bookworm,” we meet Frances’ granddaughter, Rose (http://metalalia.tumblr.com/post/166293498445/writer-qa-brenna-ehrlich). I’m currently writing a story about Rose’s mother, Lin, and her obsession with a very particular true crime case.
During the editing process, do you find it difficult to adhere to a word limit? And if you do, how do you manage to keep it within the parameters?
I don’t really give myself a word limit. Usually, as I edit, my piece balloons. I start off with just the bare idea, then embellish as I go along. I generally write long short stories and short novels.
What inspired you to write this one?
Several things. A story my mom told me after my last (very last, as I am engaged) breakup. Several recurring dreams I have had about zombies. And, finally, my own grandmother Frances, whose purse was a source of endless curiosity when I was a child.
If you could answer this, but what is your writing process when coming up with this story? Is it the same for every single one? Or was this one different?
My writing process is never the same, except for one thing: as soon as I start writing something, my mind generally freaks and wonders if anyone will care about this story — if I can even manage to finish it. Then I have to say “fuck you” to my mind and carry on. So, yeah, know when to say “fuck you” to your mind, folks.
You can read Brenna Ehrlich’s fiction piece, “The Mole People” in Issue Six of The Ginger Collect.