Meet Bronwen Wallace Award winner Erin Frances Fisher
Erin Frances Fisher is a writer to watch. The recent winner of the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers for her story “Girl”, Erin has also won prizes from literary journals The Malahat Review and PRISM international.
The jury citation for “Girl” reads ‘A visceral tale guaranteed to make you shiver, “Girl” reminds us of the truth that humans are more than blood and bone. With a surprising and perfect ending, flawless sentences throughout, and a consistently realistic tone, this short story is as vast and satisfying as a great novel.’
Erin’s work has also been published in Riddle Fence, Little Fiction, and Granta. She holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Victoria. Fisher is also a pianist and faculty member at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.
First off, congrats on your recent win for the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for your story “Girl.” How does it feel to have won the award?
The story is half Western, and although I have a fondness for cross-genre lit, I wasn’t sure how it would go over with a jury. So it feels pretty great to have the piece do well.
What was the highlight of the awards ceremony?
Toronto! I’d never been there before. It was hot and humid and busier than the West Coast, but the people were fantastic (I met a lot of writers and readers) and I found a rare book museum. I only had one full day and will have to visit again.
How does winning such a prestigious award change about your relationship to your writing?
Winning the award was tremendously encouraging. As writers we spend most of our work time alone with projects, and to have a story do well—it’s a relief, and opens time and mind-space for new work. I wouldn’t say the award has changed my relationship with my writing, at least not the actual ‘sit down and write’ part of writing, but it has made me think more about the business part of it—the part where the manuscript becomes a book.
Who were some of your earliest literary heroes?
I was a library kid, and I read a lot of themed science fiction collections with stories by different authors. Sadly, because I had to return the books to the library and didn’t make lists, I can’t remember authors or titles—only bits of stories that I’m not sure weren’t dreams. I was into the classic kid stuff: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”, R. L. Stevenson’s “New Arabian Nights”, and anything that scared me a bit. I remember starting “Dracula” three or four times before I could actually finish it.
What do you find most challenging about the short story form?
What’s hard about stories? Oh, writing them. Finishing them. Finding out what they’re actually about. They don’t have the fleshiness novels have, so one line can change the resonance of the entire story. But that’s the best part about the form, too.
What’s the best piece of advice on writing you’ve ever been given?
What’s on your bookshelf right now?
My summer reading pile includes:
Eyrie by Tim Winton
Juliet was a Surprise by Bill Gaston
Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy
The Bees by Laline Paull
Helpless by Barbara Gowdy
I Still Don’t Even Know You by Michelle Berry (who was on the Wallace Jury, and who I got to have a great Toronto lunch with!)
Finally, what are you working on currently, Erin? What can readers expect from you in the coming years?
I work on multiple projects at once, and usually have something in draft, something in edit, and something in polish. Right now I’m working on stories of all lengths and playing with a collection or two, and a novel. So, hopefully, books!