Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol holds an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. Her stories have appeared in The Drum, Bridges, Portland Magazine, Pedestal, Patchwork Journal, and The Women’s Times. House Arrest, her first novel, is due out in February 2011.

From her Q & A at Publishers Weekly:

There's a lot going on in House Arrest: a cult called the Family of Isis; a child with spina bifida; the Klan and neo-Nazis; and the protagonist's father was an anti–Vietnam War activist jailed for the bombing of a recruitment center. How did you get all this into just over 200 pages?

Ten years ago I read a short article about a girl under house arrest who was pregnant, and a nurse had been assigned to her for prenatal visits. At the time I was a nurse practitioner in a children's hospital and I wondered what it would be like to be this nurse, to be mandated by the court to visit the young woman under house arrest. It became a sort of what-if in my brain. A couple of years later, I thought: this is the novel I want to explore. Also, Emily [the protagonist] was a character in a short story I had written, and it was like she kept raising her hand and saying, "Hey, I am the nurse and this is my story!" The Klan scene I observed when I was in college in Ohio. I was an antiwar activist—the Vietnam War, that is; I am 64—and passionate about civil rights, and I sneaked into a Klan rally. For the novel I had to do research to make sure that kind of thing is still happening, but sometimes things that happened to you or you heard about just find their way into your fiction.

There are several characters who hold conflicting sets of beliefs. Are we supposed to sympathize with them, or does it matter?

I really like novels that...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue