Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody (forthcoming) and Cut Through the Bone. She is also the author of the chapbook Hard to Say. She tells us here of the castles overdue from her ancestry, performs a magic trick with 50 words, and then muses over the possibility of fog on demand.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them … ?
After cringing, I tell them I mostly write.
What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
Do it then.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
No. Because that’s a writer’s curse. We never arrive at where we think we want to get to; that’s what keeps us writing.
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
Niall of the Nine Hostages, a kidnapper and purportedly one of the greatest High Kings of Ireland. I want a castle dammit.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
I have no idea who I admired when I was 10 years old. I have a terrible memory. I think that’s why I write. So I can make stuff up, fill in the blanks with lies. As a child, I wanted to be everything from a journalist, ballerina, and air-hostess. I think I also write so I can pretend to be anything I bloody well please.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
You’re presuming I haven’t already?
What’s wrong with society today?
Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?
Not enough, darling.
What is your fondest memory?
The first time my husband and I sang together to our firstborn.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
Again, not nearly enough.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
And the Pulitzer goes to …
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
Showing soul. Duh. Duh.
What are you working on right now?
Essays, articles, stories, a novel, me.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
The fog: make it On Demand please and remote controlled.
A night on the town: what does that mean to you?
Company. Wine. Dinner. High Heels. Laughter.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
a. 50 words written in 50 seconds cause I’m a showoff:
City loose cause of tremors and shakes and the pound of homeless feet. The lucky at home with family and enough string to hold things together. Plates deep down that at any time could shift and serve us up for dinner, but haven’t yet. The One. Quake with the gratitude.
b. Super Duper Burger
If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
A writing retreat to Ivrea, Italy, with Cheryl Strayed.