Erika Franz is one of our featured writers at our February 11th reading. Check out our interview with hers below.
What is your first memory of writing for fun?
I definitely did some David Eddings inspired fantasy stuff in junior high that I remember—not the sort of text I am proud to be inspired by, but that’s as an adult looking back. I found some much older Sci-Fi stuff when my mom sent me a bunch of my old files a few years ago. It included a rather sweet story about humans returning to Earth with new alien friends they picked up along the way. I’m afraid I didn’t stick with it long enough to get to a rising incident, though, so not sure where the conflict was going to come from. In AP English Comp, I first learned to enjoy challenge particular of writing non-fiction.
How many drafts = done?
Oh boy. If I figure that out, I will let you know. It doesn’t equal a specific number for me, though. Fewer drafts go into a flash piece, in general, because I generally have already figured out what I am writing. Longer pieces necessitate more drafts, though really long pieces get a lot of work along the way.
What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?
I am still pretty high of Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg. Probably my favorite read of the last decade or two. I don’t read in one genre exclusively, but I like books that can use historical materials well, and accurately allow that Queer people of every stripe existed before we had all of the modern terminology for our respective identities. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks does that really well, too.
What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?
I’m fascinated by narrative power. Especially in a country where we have collectively built an identify that is largely based false narratives we have mythologized, I think the diversity in our narratives is so important in legitimately healing this country and pulling us back from the precipice we’re living on right now. At least, I hope that we can still achieve that. Maybe that isn’t what excites me, but what compels me or gives me purpose.
What excites me is probably seeing a through-line emerge in historical research where a what-if can be inserted that makes us think about what we know about history and how we know it can be at odds with each other. Trained historians know this, obviously, but a lot of mainstream historical knowledge is either mythologized or antiquated or written for political control of a population and without any reference to what the diversity of primary sources reveal about the past. I like getting to suggest those conflicts, playing with how history gets disseminated or how things actually were in contrast to the myths and assumptions. And it isn’t always historical material, but a through line from one piece of an idea that connects to another piece of an idea that, ultimately, becomes a story.
What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?
Ooh. This is hard. I like words for different reasons. Some I like specifically because of how they sound when I say them: gazebo. Some I like because they have an onomatopoeic sound aligns with their meaning: defenestrate. Some I like because they have so many meanings attached to them—this isn’t the best example, but it is the best one I can come up with for the moment: sure. (Have you ever received sure in a text, divorced from facial expressions, and tried to deduce how it is being used?) Some I like because of the word’s history: augur.
Bonus question: who inspires you the most, living or dead, real or fictional?
I love Alexander Chee. I do my best to model myself as a literary citizen on him and his graciousness with others and with both the literary community and the LGBTQ+ community (to say nothing of the Korean-American and extended immigrant community).
Erika Franz (s/he, hi/hers) is a queer author living in Baltimore with an amazing wife and fluffy pets. Erika’s fiction has been published in the The First Line, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine. Find Erika on the internet at www.erikafranz.com or on Twitter and Instagram at @ETFranz.