Saturday, October 03, 2015

Esther Ehrlich (Awesome Women)

I'm honoured today to have Esther Ehrlich, the author of Nest, on my blog answering some tough questions about women and fictional characters and role models.

Nest is one of the books that kicked off the new publishing imprint, Rock the Boat. I think Rock the Boat have a fantastic list so far and that Nest looks like a wonderful middle grade novel about friendship and adventure and birds and more difficult situations!  It was published in July, get your hands on a copy!

To find out more about Nest or Esther Ehrlich, please do visit the following websites:

Can you tell me a little something about yourself?

I was born and raised in Boston, a place I love and miss. Now I live right on the edge of a huge regional park in the San Francisco Bay Area and wrote NEST at my desk that looks out into the trees branches. When we’re not having a drought, Wildcat Creek flows through our back yard. I live with my husband (and, yes, best friend) and our two teenagers.

Writing and publishing my first novel has been an amazing ride!

Did you have a role model growing up?

I had a teacher in 6th grade who made a huge impression on me. She spoke her mind, had very strong opinions, wore old-fashioned clothes, and introduced us to the concept of “sex role stereotyping.” And she loved, loved, loved books! She turned a corner of our classroom into a living room and used to read to us while we lounged around on pillows… She actually came to my launch party for NEST in my hometown. When we saw each other after so many years, we both burst into tears!

Who do you look up to now?

One person I’ve admired for a long time is Meryl Streep. She’s amazingly smart, capable, and creative. I think she has that rare gift of being able to imagine herself in someone else’s shoes. Empathy is a hugely important quality, I think, for actors and writers. And everyone else. Without it, we can’t make sense of each other or of the world; we can’t make change happen.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Hard to believe, but when I was really young, I said I wanted to be a “farmer’s wife.” I didn’t realize that I could just be the farmer! I liked the idea of raising animals and working outside and making jars of pickles and tomato sauce to put away for the winter.

Tell me something about the women in your life who have been an influence on you?

My mom grew up very poor and had a pretty rough childhood, but she was extremely curious, creative, and determined to find her way in the world. As a teenager, she studied on her own at a public library and won a nationwide contest that paid for her education at an elite college. She was a poet and a deeply loving, tender, flawed, strong woman.

Who is your favourite fictional character? And why?

One favourite! Oh no! I choose Charlotte. She was one inspired, kind, brave, creative woman (spider!)

Is there a fictional character that reminds you of you?  And if you could choose to be best friends with a fictional character, who would it be?

Chirp in NEST reminds me of me, in some ways. And I like her, which is a good sign.

I can’t land on just one character that I’d choose as a best friend. For me to love a book, I need to feel deeply connected to at least one character and I love a lot of books!

What were you like as a teenager and how did you cope with all the changes that occurred?

That’s a tough question. Thinking back, my teenage years are a bit of a blur. My mom was really ill and I think I felt pressure to not add to the stress in our family, so I actually was pretty tame.

Which book would you say that every teenager should read and why? 

I’d say every teenager should read whatever books grab hold of him/her and won’t let go. I wouldn’t try to force anything, including my version of a must-read book, on a teenager! Reading is such a subjective experience. Choosing a book is so personal.

If you had any advice for yourself as a teenager, what would you say? 

This is just the beginning of your big, wide, rambling life…

Of the issues and concerns that women are faced with today, what's the area you most like reading/writing  about?

Real relationships. Not the pre-packaged, prettied-up variety. Brave, strong connections that push against what we expect and what is expected of us.

Thanks very much for the chance to answer these engaging questions!

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