This week’s interview is with Ellen Birkett Morris whose debut, LOST GIRLS, explores the experiences of women and girls as they grieve, find love, face uncertainty, take a stand, find their future and say goodbye to the past. Below, Ellen talks about her favorite time of day, books that inspired her as a child, and a few of the amazing prizes she’s won over the years. Enjoy!
Ellen Birkett Morris is the author of Lost Girls. Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, The Antioch Review, The Notre Dame Review, and The South Carolina Review, among other journals. She is a winner of the Bevel Summers Prize for Short Fiction and the recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. Morris holds an MFA from Queens University-Charlotte.
What time of day do you love best?
Anyone who knows me knows that I won’t be saying mornings. I am a night owl and stay up late reading. It takes me a while to get going. I just heard The Beatles song “I’m Only Sleeping” and have decided it is my theme song. I love the time when dusk falls, known as the gloaming. The light of day gives way to the mystery of night and anything is possible. It is a time ripe for coming up with new stories.
Share something about you that most people don’t know.
That I enter lots of contests and have won trips and cash prizes. I’ve won five trips from a morning talk show that I won’t name here and have gone to Hawaii and Antigua. It has been amazing. Before you think I am the luckiest person ever, I have to admit that I enter around 10 contests every day of the year including holidays. It is kind of like submitting stories. You have to get them out there in order for them to get picked.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What kinds of things did you read?
The Ramona books were a favorite. I loved how she saw the world so differently from the grownups around her. Harriet the Spy was an inspiration. All writers are spies and Harriet was no exception. The book was about accepting yourself and others and that was an important message for me. James and The Giant Peach I loved because it shows you how books can really transport you to other places.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Student loan collector by phone. I worked my way through college in that job. I would try to reach people in rural Kentucky who didn’t have a phone by calling their neighbor to leave a message. You’d be amazed how many of the people who didn’t pay were doctors and lawyers.
What does literary success look like to you?
It isn’t about sales, which is such a challenge with Covid restrictions. It is about having a book that is well received critically and seen as being well written. Even more important is having a book that touches people. I hope I reach that reader like me who is looking for diversion and wants to feel something. It is also about being part of a literary community and championing other writers. I have a regular column with Authorlink and review books when I have the time.
WHAT THE REVIEWERS ARE SAYING
“A dazzling collection of stories that showcases Morris’ impressive ability to hide devastating truths within seemingly small moments.” —Jenny Offill
Head over to our blog to check out our interview with Ellen Birkett Morris, author of LOST GIRLS: Short Stories. This collection is AMAZING! So amazing, we're giving away a FREE copy.
RT to enter!https://t.co/1tCE8o3ZQl
— The Debutante Ball (@DebutanteBall) February 24, 2021
“The stories in Ellen Birkett Morris’s collection, Lost Girls, are memorable for the way they see the lasting truths that reside within the familiar. These stories are full of imaginative leaps that capture the wildness that lies beneath our seemingly ordinary lives. Morris is a writer of extraordinary talent. With elegance and precision, she can turn a story into something luminous and unforgettable.”—Lee Martin, author of Pulitzer Prize Finalist The Bright Forever
–Kelly Fordon, Authorlink