Interview with Erin Pringle

Jen: Today we are pleased to have Erin Pringle join us. Erin, will you please share a short bio with us?
Erin: I grew up in a small town in Illinois and graduated from Indiana State University in 2003. I then migrated to Texas where I got my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Texas State University where I still teach.

Jen: Tell us about The Floating Order and where it’s available.
Erin: The Floating Order is a collection of 19 short stories published by Scotland-based Two Ravens Press. Many of the stories center on children, whether the story is told by a child narrator or about a child who has grown up into an adult, for example one story is a child’s experience of being kidnapped and a later story is told by the daughter of that child who has since grown up. Images that begin in the title story echo throughout the other stories and vice versa. The book is available in many online bookstores and can be ordered through your local bookstore.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Erin: I won a short-story competition in first grade with a story I wrote about a church mouse who lived in a teacup. Previous to that I would tell my mother stories and she would “translate” them and we’d make little books of them (this was before I knew how to write). My first publication was when I was 18 in an online journal named Drunk Duck; it was an excerpt from a novel I was writing. One of my stories had been previously accepted for publication but that magazine went under before the story came out, which is, unfortunately, common.

Jen: Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to your experience? If so, how?
Erin: The main change I’ve noticed is that every story is becoming far more difficult to write. I’m much more selective in what stories I’ll stick with. I used to be able to take almost any image that interested me, or any sentence that had a compelling rhythm, and fly with that. I can still do that, but because it’s so easy to do, I’ve become far stricter with what I’ll take my time with and what I’ll discard halfway through. I spend an enormous time with every story and so, in a way, I’m not going to waste paint just because I know I can paint a picture.

Jen: Do you have a writing routine? Do you have a specific time or place that you write?
Erin: Because I teach, I don’t write during the semesters because I can’t be both a good teacher and a good writer, as I’ll either shortchange my students or my stories by trying to do both. And, again, one story requires so much time that I need to have long stretches of time for focus. I tend to write at a local coffee shop, and wrote most of The Floating Order at the coffee shop. I just bought a typewriter and a used child’s school desk, so I plan on writing more at home, but we’ll see how well that goes.

Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Erin: I tend not to name my characters because, for one reason, names are incredibly hard to control in terms of how a reader will be affected by the name–what memories the reader might have of a person who happened to have my character’s name. Names also affect the way I tell a story. As soon as you name a character, you have basically made a promise to a reader that you’ll investigate this character more so than the story the character is in. The only characters I name are in stories that I needed to distance my readers from.

Jen: What is it about writing about children that appeals to you?
Erin: I was one. 🙂 In many ways, I do not feel any different than I did when I was six and seven and so on. I enjoy children’s literature and still read and study it, especially the classic children’s literature that did not treat its audience as a bunch of daisies about to wilt. I worry about the way outside forces shape our lives, much less when we’re children and have little-to-no control whatsoever over our lives and the lives around us, and as a child, I often felt condescended to and talked to as if I didn’t have any thought in my head except what I wanted to be when I grew up, which was, obviously, not the case.

Jen: What did you do to celebrate the sale of The Floating Order?
Erin: I think I had a cigarette to calm down.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
Erin: My parents and my teachers/professors. Anyone who has embraced learning and encouraged me to learn.

Jen: If one story in The Floating Order was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Erin: If there had to be actors, then I’d want ones no one was familiar with.

I’d want the cinematographer who worked with Ingmar Bergman originally, Sven Nykvist (but he died three years ago).

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? And if you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?
Erin: I’d go back to Evansville, Indiana in 1945 when my mother was six years old, and I’d bring one pair of roller skates for me, and one roller skate for her because she and her sister shared one pair, so she used to skate with one skate on and one skate off.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Erin: I talk to my husband and play with our dogs.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Erin: I just finished the first leg of my book tour and will have a few weeks to write before I leave for the second leg of my book tour out East.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Erin: You can find me on MySpace and Facebook and at my blog: erinpringle.blogspot.com

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Erin: I’d like to know if you go to the library still and what either your library is like or what the library from your childhood was like. And if you want to add to that, tell me what your favorite space in the library is and your fondest memory of a library.

Jen: Thank you Erin. Readers, Erin is giving away a signed copy of The Floating Order to a lucky commenter. She is also giving away 3 buttons that feature the book cover. To enter for the book, you must leave a comment or question for Erin. Then you need to either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to admin.bookblog@gmail.com to complete your entry. If you’d like to receive one of the buttons, just email us with Erin Pringle button in the subject. Winners will be chosen this evening around 8 pm PST.