“Dance until 2am”: An Interview With Guest Reader Erin Fitzgerald

by Shasta Grant See all Guest Readers
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What themes do you find yourself returning to in your writing?

I write as an attempt to make sense of something I don’t understand, and it almost never works. So there’s usually a shortage of empathy hiding somewhere. The last several years have been an, um, interesting time to deal with that.

You’re teaching in an upcoming online short fiction boot camp through Barrelhouse (where you’re also an editor). The topic you’ll be leading is Setting. I’m curious what your thoughts are regarding setting in short fiction, particularly in regards to flash fiction.

I’m really excited about boot camp! But I don’t think it will be like boot camp. I’m not much of a yeller, and watching people do obstacle courses just makes me worry they’re going to trip and break an ankle. Maybe I’ll wear boots during my week? I can probably manage that, at least.

So many conversations about craft in fiction are focused on making the final choices in one’s work. Exploring setting, in all of its forms, is one of the easiest and best ways to firmly put those choices aside and do some excavating. As for flash fiction in particular: I’ve never felt uncomfortable in or apprehensive about the form, and I’m certain part of the reason is because I’ve always been captivated by music videos. They occupy a similar space in time, and they have a similar goal: permanently changing the audience. If I ever write a piece of flash fiction that Russell Mulcahy could direct, I will be happy. 

What does an ideal writing day look like for you?

Get up relatively early. Coffee. Spend several hours working, surrounded by other writers who are also working, because looking up and seeing them working keeps me focused. Lunch. A conversation or two with other writers that gives me fresh perspective on my own work. Dinner. Someone starts a campfire with a flamethrower. We all watch a beloved movie on a giant screen, and then dance until 2am to music in almost every genre. TL;DR: Writer Camp, with fewer mosquitoes. 

What kind of story would you love to see in your queue this week?

I’m the kind of messy person who likes to think “Sure, it looks like a disaster, but I know where everything is.” I’d love to see stories that feel the same way.

About the Reader:

Erin Fitzgerald is the author of the novella Valletta78 (Outpost19), and her stories have appeared in fine literary magazines such as Salt Hill, Wigleaf, and matchbook. She is Online Editor at Barrelhouse, @gnomeloaf on Twitter, and everything else at http://erinfitzgerald.work.

About the Interviewer:

Shasta Grant is the author of the chapbook Gather Us Up and Bring Us Home (Split Lip Press, 2017). She was the 2016 SmokeLong Quarterly Kathy Fish Fellow and she won the 2015 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest. Her stories have appeared in Hobart, matchbook, MonkeyBicyclewigleaf, and elsewhere.