Elizabeth Harris has been a member of the Writers’ League for nearly ten years. She lives in Austin.
Scribe: In what genre(s) do you write?
Elizabeth Harris: Fiction, novels now, although my first book The Ant Generator was a collection of short stories. My most recent projects are contemporary-styled novels with historical settings.
Scribe: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?
EH: How about a cup of tea or a glass of wine, with choice of beverage to be made by author? (Coffee makes me crazy and I don’t enjoy beer beyond the first sip.)
British novelist Pat Barker (for three extraordinary novels set during World War I, Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road); and American novelist Russell Banks (for his awe-inspiringnovel Cloudsplitter, based on the life of abolitionist John Brown).
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
EH: The Oxford English Dictionary, I think, not the short electronic version–which wouldn’t do me much good on a deserted island anyhow– but the long version with all the derivations of words and historical examples of when they first appeared in use and how their use evolved over time. It’s the most enduringly interesting book I know of.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
EH: (1) The foundation for everything I know about promotion and publicity of books, which was a WLT workshop with Alice Acheson, years ago. (2) The value of a Kindle, which I first saw at a WLT convention and which is now my favorite device for reading when I travel or in connection with writing. I can read books I don’t need to own and manuscripts and drafts I need to read fairly quickly without getting sucked into working on. A huge time-saver and source of perspective.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
EH: Katherine Anne Porter wrote something about practicing an art for the happiness of your life, and although I’m fortunate to have other sources of happiness right now, writing is among the most reliable. Endlessly intriguing, challenging, entertaining, and aesthetically satisfying.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
EH: Both of my books have won national contests. My second book Mayhem: Three Lives of a Woman, won the 2014 Gival Press Novel Prize and will be issued October 2015. In Mayhem, which is set in a frankly imagined rural Texas of 1936, a marriage is wrecked by a well-meaning man’s greater sense of connection to other men than to his wife; two ranchers are accused of castrating a neighbor; the daughter of prominent landowners is outcast from her family and, as a marginal laborer in other people’s homes, undergoes a prolonged, secret recovery from trauma; and a child who glimpses the labor of an unexplained class of white women grows up to invent this story of one.
My first book The Ant Generator won the John Simmons Prize from the University of Iowa Press for 1991, and is still in print and available from Amazon. You can visit my website here.