LAURA ELLEN SCOTT is author of the novel Death Wishing (Ig Publishing, 2011), a comic fantasy set in post-Katrina New Orleans and Curio (Uncanny Valley Press, online), a collection of 21 very short, creepy stories with illustrations by Mike Meginnis. She teaches fiction writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She has completed a new novel called The Juliet.
Can you share a moment that has shaped you as a writer (or continues to)?
Dorothy Allison sent me a beautiful message about the stories I was publishing in online venues back when doing that sort of thing was still considered a little dodgy. I’d never met her (still haven’t), but the gesture lit a fire under me that has yet to go out. She blurbed my novel Death Wishing a gazillion years later. That’s the way my writing career has gone—little to no success except for the occasional out of the blue endorsements from unexpected voices. The love or hate of strangers is incredibly stimulating.
Same thing with the success of my friends. I never thought of myself as competitive, but when I hear that someone I know has a book contract, my reaction is sort of hormonal. I get overly excited and re-energized about whatever project I’m working on.
What are you reading?
Galveston, by Nic Pizzolatto, and The Wicked Girls, by Alex Marwood. On the TBR list, Tampa, by Alissa Nutting, and Ministers of Fire, by Mark Marril Saunders.
The book I bought and thought I would never read but now cannot put down:
Conjoined Twins in Black and White: The Lives of Millie-Christine McKoy and Daisy and Violet Hilton. It was edited by a middle school friend, Linda Frost, who has pulled together fiction, medical writing, and memoir to show how the identities of the Hiltons and McKoys were constructed during their own lifetimes. Just now when I searched to get the whole title, the Barnes & Noble page featured a sidebar ad for Twix. Gross.
Can you tell us what prompted “A Texas”?
I don’t remember why I wanted to write about undead adult alcoholic siblings, but much of the imagery for “A Texas” comes from a weekend we spent with a guy whose truck slipped into Aransas Bay. He had to dive under the truck to tie on a towrope, and when he came up he was covered in moon jellies.
“A Texas” is my first conscious attempt at writing a flash novella. I wanted to write a critique of vacation identity, which is weird because I adore vacations. When you’re on vacation, you’re immortal.
What’s next? What are you working on?
I just completed what I believe to be a readable draft of a novel tracing one hundred twelve years in the history of a cursed emerald. Think sex, murder, and wildflowers in Death Valley. So right now I’m reading, playing games, and catching up on grading while I wait for feedback from my first readers.
I also finished a novella I might spin into a mystery series set in at a university that has partnered with the local penitentiary to offer degrees in crime writing. The idea being that bringing all those corrupt/corruptible interests together (criminals, artists, and higher ed administration) in a small town stokes the wickedness in the population.
The more immediate next is running a panel on flash novellas for Conversations and Connections, a one-day writer’s conference run by the Barrelhouse crew. Erin Fitzgerald and Tara Laskowski will be joining me for that.
Take the floor. Be political. Be fanatical. Be anything. What do you want to share?
Political: Don’t italicize non-English words in your prose. Just because you’re supposed to doesn’t mean you have to. So stop, or at least dial it down, and we’ll all evolve a lot faster. Exceptions: Ubbi dubbi and Klingon (poss. French?)
Fanatical: Tom Yum > Pho.
Anything: HFR, thanks for having me here and in the Review. Feels good.