Brenna Ehrlich spoke with Danya Kukafka about the false equivalency of crushes and love, why the world is absorbed in murder stories, the most sentimental book in her possession and her most common recurring dream.
I think people are fascinated by evil, because they recognize bits of it in themselves, but can’t comprehend how it swells to that level.
You write from so many perspectives in Girl in Snow — from a police officer’s to a goth teen’s. Can you please tell us which part of your brain or your experience you drew upon for each character?
Jade, the goth teen, came from a fourteen-year-old version of me who wore fishnet sleeves and begged my parents for a skateboard and listened to Green Day while staring wistfully out the car window. Cameron came from my high school self, who had a crush on a boy and decided adamantly that meant true love, regardless of any reciprocation. And Russ comes from an older version of me who I don’t know yet, who I’m maybe a little bit afraid of.
Murder obviously plays a large role in your book, as it is, in essence, a murder mystery. It seems the world is currently enamored of murder mysteries and stories of serial killers — perhaps in contrast to the fact that most instances of violence these days take place very publically, in the form of mass shootings. What is it about this kind of quiet murder that you think fascinates people so much? Does your own interest in this realm worry you at all?
It certainly worries my mother! My next novel deals with the psyche of a serial killer, so I’ve been immersed lately in media surrounding the subject. The most interesting question, to me, is how a human being arrives at the act of killing someone. What does that moment look like? Everyone, even the most cold and calculating killer, has to justify that moment to himself somehow, and I’m fascinated by it. Where is the line between impulse and decision? Why are these killers almost always white men? I think people are fascinated by evil, because they recognize bits of it in themselves, but can’t comprehend how it swells to that level. True crime junkies exist because we’re just trying to understand.
Please describe yourself as a landscape, town or room.
I’m a quiet room full of books, with a big window and some plants of the low-maintenance variety.
I’ve been dreaming that I live in a basement apartment where the windows and doors refuse to lock. I’m not sure what this says about my psyche, but it can’t be great.
Please describe the editing process using only vehicles of transportation. Please describe writing using only plants.
You’re on a train but you don’t know where you’re going. You get most of the way there, realize you’re in the wrong country, throw yourself on the tracks, start over in a new life, get on a different train, recognize some of the same views, take note of the things that strike you. Backtrack. Get on that same train again, pay attention to different things. When you finally reach your destination, you’re tired and a little disappointed because the trip didn’t look at all like you thought it would, but mostly you’re proud and grateful.
Plants: they’re always growing.
Take a photo of the oldest book you have and tell us its origins.
Look out the nearest window and give us a two-line story about what’s happening outside the edges of the frame.
Oh, there are no windows. I’m sitting at a cubicle with foam partitions all around me. Fluorescent lights. Above the edge of my cubicle, a stack of boxes holding packing/shipping supplies and a gigantic shelf of backlist books. Welcome to publishing!
Every author has one-star reviews on Goodreads. If you had to sit down with one of the reviewers, what would you want them to know about you? What book would you recommend they read next?
What is your most common recurring dream?
Since I’ve been consuming so much serial killer media lately, I’ve been dreaming that I live in a basement apartment where the windows and doors refuse to lock. I’m not sure what this says about my psyche, but it can’t be great.
Curated by: Brenna Ehrlich
Conducted by: Email
Edited by: Morgan Enos
Published: December 5, 2017
Total questions: 8
Word count: 674
Reading time: Two minutes
attention, boxes, comprehension, crime, cubicle, Danya Kukafka, dream, evil, fascination, fishnet, fluorescent, Girl in Snow, Goodreads, grandfather, Henry David Thoreau, immersion, John Grisham, justification, light, media, murder, novel, packing, partition, psyche, publishing, shipping, skateboard, sleeve, star, true crime, Walden, window, young adult
About the guest curator
Brenna Ehrlich aspires to write a novel that’s a classic album. She enjoys taking solitary trips to distant locations and scoring the whole experience with the perfect book, record and restaurant. She often dreams (literally, while sleeping) of getting lost in unforgiving locales sans shoes or socks.
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