Interview with Author Erin Pringle
I am thrilled to have interviewed author Erin Pringle, who shared with us details of her writing life, her book ‘Unexpected Weather Events‘, which was released on 1st October 2023, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
Originally from a small town in Illinois, Erin Pringle now lives in Spokane, WA with her partner, Heather, and son, Henry. She’s the author of the novel Hezada! I Miss You (AWST 2020), and three story collections, Unexpected Weather Events (AWST 2023), The Whole World at Once (Vandalia Press/WVU Press 2017), and The Floating Order (Two Ravens Press 2009).
She works by day as a Montessori preschool teacher, writes when possible, has two ridiculous dogs, and two serious cats. For fun, she participates in triathlons and running races.
1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
I’m always writing stories and because much of my life has been experiencing the death of loved ones, most of my work deals in some way with grieving. There are various inspirations for all the stories. For example, I began writing the story “Valentine’s Day” after going to the grocery late one evening near the holiday and encountering a cart of teen boys goofing off. My impulse was to feel grouchy with them, but I thought I should give a more generous interpretation to their behavior, and that’s how that story came about–three brothers, ranging in age from six-fourteenish walk to the grocery one night while their mother is out on her first date in six years since their father’s suicide.
2) How did you plan out the plot?
I rarely plot out a story. I start with an image, usually, and then start imagining what other vivid or startling images could appear in the story–and then I start figuring out the best order for the images, and begin writing the narrative that will serve to seam the images together. It’s very much like creating a pattern then figuring out the best way to piece it together before deciding on whether the finished garment will make sense to anyone who sees or wears it.
3) When did you choose the title for your book?
Originally, I talked with my friend Neal because he’s a music buff and the titles to story collections tend to function in the same way that album titles do for songs. He didn’t end up supporting my title choice, but from our discussion, I came up with These Snow Globes on Clearance, 75% off. Later, the editor asked for a title that made the book seem less like a winter book so as to encourage summer purchases, and so I looked back through the stories and came up with the current title, Unexpected Weather Events.
4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
I typically avoid naming characters at all. I prefer the story functioning as the way to identify a person, in the same way that many characters in folktales do not have a name. But when I do name a character, I try to choose something that is unusual enough that a reader won’t know anyone with that name and will then not have any prior associations that collide with the story.
5) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
Lately, I’ve found myself relying more on podcasts and searching for ones that contain interviews or information related to what I need to know. I like having primary source information (or as near it as I can get), and podcasts tend to provide that. If I need to go through museum archives online, I might do that, or read academic articles off JSTOR if the knowledge I need is of a more scholarly nature.
6) What made you choose this genre?
I write in a style that would be called something like lyrical fiction since my stories function as much on the image and language level as they do on the plot level. Lyrical fiction is sort of like an alley between imagist poetry and literary realism, and I’d imagine that the alley is shadowed with folktales. I imagine that I’m writing the new realism, but that’s for a different conversation. I imagine that the story genre chose me.
I come from a rural town of diners and people prone to share stories of the past, and I’ve always been attracted to fairy and folk tales–which I became increasingly interested in as a form of study during college and graduate school. Above all writing, it’s poetry that I prefer to read, which is likely why my writing cares more about how to tell a story than what the story is.
7) How long did it take you to complete your book?
The oldest story in the book is fifteen years old, but I didn’t move that into the book until a few months before the book’s publication. My last collection was published in 2017, so I’d guess about five years with an additional one year wait from acceptance to publication.
8) Can you describe your book in three words?
Strange, sad, beautiful
9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?
Allowing it to be secondary to my primary profession, since I couldn’t support myself with writing as a profession.
10) Why should our readers pick your book up?
Because so few books–so little fiction–deals with grief and grieving, which is the most common human experience. Death and sadness are treated as taboo in our culture, which creates a silencing around the experiences that, in turn, harms our ability to cope when grief comes or to know what to expect–or to know how to treat others who are in the midst of grief and dying (aside from the traditional rituals that don’t do much for the grieving).
It’s an isolating experience even though everyone becomes experienced with it. I think the stories in this book affirm such experiences–the complexity and nuances of them in a way that readers will find important. As though the stories are listening as much as they are there to be read.
Publisher – Awst Press
Pages – 352
Release Date – 1st October 2023
ISBN 13 – 978-1736765968
Format – Paperback
A new collection from award winning author, Erin Pringle.
With Midwestern practicality and deft lyricism, award-winning author Erin Pringle has constructed UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS, a collection of stories following irrepressible characters facing tough situations–cancer, mental illness, death. Set against winter landscapes and fading small towns, this collection illuminates how joy can flicker within unpredictable tragedy.
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1) Do you have a writing buddy?
I do not.
2) Do you have any writing quirks?
I used to write only in coffee shops, but that’s when I had a life that functioned that way. Now I write wherever and whenever I can, whether that’s taking notes on my phone or writing in a journal or sitting down at my desktop computer at home.
3) Where do you write?
4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?
I’ll be somewhere in the background–maybe the mother in the story “Water Under a Different Sky” who appears only a few times–hanging out the laundry, leaving her shoe-polished heels to dry on a newspaper before church, making biscuits at the fast-food restaurant in the early morning and then driving home and sitting in the truck and driveway in order to listen to the end of the song on the radio. Background to the daughter and girl who is the story’s main character.
5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?
‘I think we should make a fire and sit together for a while in this dark, quiet.’
A big thank you to Erin Pringle for sharing her writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.