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Interview with Ellen Birkett Morris Author of LOST GIRLS: Short Stories
July 9th, 2020 by Liza Wiemer

Buying Links:

B & N | Carmichael’s Bookstore |Amazon

About Lost Girls: Short Stories, From Goodreads:

“A dazzling collection of stories that showcases Morris’ impressive ability to hide devastating truths within seemingly small moments.” —Jenny Offill

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. A young woman creates a ritual to celebrate the life of a kidnapped girl, an unmarried woman wanders into a breast feeder’s support group and stays, a grieving mother finds solace in an unlikely place, a young girl discovers more than she bargained for when she spies on her neighbors. Though they may seem lost, each finds their center as they confront the challenges and expectations of womanhood.

PRAISE for LOST GIRLS

“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

“Ellen Birkett Morris is a skillful literary pointillist. In Lost Girls, her debut collection, each spare sentence is as considered as a poem; step back a little way, and you behold a world.” —David Payne, author of Barefoot to Avalon

“This collection of stunning and original stories kept me turning the pages, eager to meet the daughter who eats the sins of others, the 30-year-old virgin who rents a breast pump, the bereft mother drumming away her grief. Ellen Birkett Morris’s Lost Girls draws us so close that before long, we are inhaling the same air, making the same unexpected discoveries, and deeply longing for each of these girls and women to find their private rainbows.” —Masha Hamilton, author of 31 Hours and The Camel Bookmobile

Interview:

1. Explain why you wanted to write this collection. 

I was working on another collection about a male photographer traveling through the south that was getting interest from publishers, but no bites. I started wondering why I kept writing about this guy. 

I realized then that I had written and published a lot of stories about women. Quirky stories about women finding their way in the world and trying to be seen. The voices of those women wouldn’t leave me alone. The young woman creates a ritual to celebrate the life of a kidnapped girl, an unmarried woman wanders into a breast feeder’s support group and stays, a grieving mother finds solace in an unlikely place, and a young girl discovers more than she bargained for when she spies on her neighbors. 

These women were flawed and wonderful, just like the women in my life. I couldn’t wait to put the stories together and see if they worked as a collection. The stories dealt with struggles but also finding your way, surviving, thriving. Lost Girls was born. 

2. Share a story secret, something readers wouldn’t know about this book just from picking it up. It could be a name you gave to a character, research you did, setting.

There are so many story secrets. The title story “Lost Girls” was inspired by a kidnapping in my community and a desire to honor the memories of girls who have gone missing. 

Inheritance was sparked by my frustration with the politics of the day and the way people without resources are exploited. 

As far as character names go, I often use the names of friends and family for my characters, and it doesn’t mean there is any real connection between them and the way that character behaves. 

Bonus round: What do you prefer?

Brisket, matzoh ball soup, potato kugel, gefilte fish, blintzes, bagels (with or without lox, cream cheese), or other?  Nothing like lox and bagels with cream cheese and tomatoes to get my day started just right. 

Desert, rainforest, beach, marsh, urban park, forest, other?  The forest because it is lush, quiet and full of secrets.

Movies, musical, play, ballet? Movies. I love sitting in the dark watching something moving on the screen. I love the collective nature of it. How alone/together we are. 

Laundry, dishes, dusting, vacuuming? I love to cook, so I’ve grown used to dishes. I think back to when I was a kid and pretended it’s fun to play in the water. 

About Ellen Birkett Morris:

A native of Louisville, Ellen Birkett Morris is the author of LOST GIRLS (June 26, 2020), a short story collection, and SURRENDER, a poetry chapbook. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from Queens University – Charlotte. Her short stories have appeared in Antioch ReviewShenandoahSouth Carolina Review, Upstreet, and elsewhere.  

Connect with Ellen:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | LinkedIn | Goodreads


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