Next in our series of "Author Insides" interviews with our wonderful contributors, Laura Eppinger.
Laura's touching "Forgotten Language" appears in the Autumn 2010 issue of The Battered Suitcase
Laura Eppinger graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI in 2008 with a degree in Journalism, and has been seriously writing fiction ever since. She recently finished serving her second AmeriCorps*VISTA term in Madison, WI, remains in that city to take full advantage of the book stores, libraries, universities, and writers' circles. Her poem, "Brain Drain," appears in the 2010 edition of Bacopa Literary Review. "Forgotten Language" is her first published work of fiction.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Both of my mom’s parents are journalists, and in 5th grade I interviewed my grandfather about his career at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. I liked what he had to say, so I decided to become a writer from that day forward.
Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?
Well, the poverty aspect of the fantasy certainly came true. It’s just not as romantic.
What do you think makes a good story?
Believable dialogue, interesting characters, compelling tension, and a lack of clichés.
What's your favorite genre to read?
Who is your favorite author or poet?
Barbara Kingsolver. I am still moved by my memories of reading “The Poisonwood Bible” for the first time.
What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
I don’t write anything like David Foster Wallace, and I don’t try to. But “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men” inspired me to use unusual formats for a story, and not get stuck in third-person narration by the omniscient narrator. I couldn’t believe how just a scrap of dialogue, or a monologue about something seemingly mundane, could be so powerful when DFW wrote it.
What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?
Children’s books, my first love. “The Missing Piece” and “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein are my all-time favorites.
Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
By getting out of the house! People-watching at the public library and attending free lectures on college campuses are my favorite ways to do this, and I also need to live in a city with art museums, movie theatres, parks and cafes.
What does your family think of your writing?
I am the oldest of four children, and my younger siblings are my best friends. They’re incredibly supportive. My parents encourage me to write, but when what I write makes them uncomfortable, they just don’t bring it up. Have I mentioned we’re Catholic?
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I will be paying off my journalism degree for the rest of my life—though that doesn’t inspire me to use it. I need to work at least 40 hours every week to stay alive. That could mean cleaning houses or changing diapers, it could mean sitting behind a desk filling in Excel spreadsheets. I write before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. to remind myself why it’s worth it to stay alive.
Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
Not really. But when my first, last and only laptop crashed in spring 2010 after a seven-year life, I began composing and editing longhand, then typing up and submitting work on public library computers. I get the impression that what I’m doing is pretty unusual for other writers—and other library patrons.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I often get little snippets of scenes or dialogue, but I don’t know what it is or where it’s supposed to go. So I sit on it and don’t put it down until I have more context. …Unless I forget a snippet, and then it’s lost forever.
What are your current projects?
I’ve been sitting on a young adult novel of historical fiction for the last six months. I’m proud of it, it’s called “Settler’s Myths,” but agents and indie presses aren’t biting. So I’m working on short fiction and poetry, because there seems to be a market I can understand for short pieces.
What are you planning for future projects?
I have an idea I love for another YA novel. But I’m not ready to make an attempt just yet.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t let anything stop you from writing! Keep pads of paper and pens on you at all times. Know where the public computers are. No idea is stupid, so write it down and work on it. NOW.
Where else can we find your work?
In October 2010 I was published online at Danse Macabre!