Interview with Ellen Meeropol

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol holds an MFA in creative writing from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. Her stories have appeared in The Drum, Bridges, Portland Magazine, Pedestal, Patchwork Journal, and The Women’s Times. House Arrest, her first novel, is out this month.

From her Q & A with writer Caroline Leavitt:

I read that you didn't begin writing fiction until your fifties. Why not? And what jump-started your desire? What was that like?

Some days I wish like anything that I had started writing much earlier. That way, maybe I wouldn’t be publishing my first novel and applying for Medicare at the same time! I’ve always read a lot, and I often thought about writing fiction. For many years I scribbled ideas on napkins and corners of the newspaper and collected them in that “ideas” folder. But it wasn’t until 2000, when I was planning a two-month “sabbatical” so that my husband could write his book, that I realized that it was a perfect time for me to jump in too.

We rented a cottage on that island off the coast of Maine that I mentioned before; there I met my muse and she literally changed my life. I wrote all the time. Three years later, I entered an MFA program and then I took early retirement from my nurse practitioner job. Re-inventing myself in my fifties was both humbling and exhilarating. Regardless of my age and my past life as a competent profession, I was a beginner again, free to experiment and make lots of mistakes. It continues to be a terrifying and liberating experience.

The novel talks a lot about forgiveness, and how whether we actually should forgive. Do you think there ever is anything that is unforgivable? Should compassion rule us more than our laws?

I don’t really have an answer for that question, Caroline. Whether or not to forgive something that feels unforgivable is such a personal decision. If I wanted to tell people how to live, I’d…[read on]

Read about Ellen Meeropol's interview at Publishers Weekly.

–Marshal Zeringue