It's December 6. Gina Ochsner, author of Hidden Letters and People I Wanted To Be, can tell if an object will float just by looking at it.
How would you describe your story?
GINA OCHSNER: I would describe my story as brooding, haunted and a tinge creepy. I think the Pacific Northwest and, in particular, Oregon’s north coast, being so wet and socked in fog so much of the year, makes a great setting for an odd, creepy story.
When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?
GO: I wrote this story almost ten years ago. As a girl I had visited the north coast many times to see my grandparents. They often regaled us with tales of ghostly encounters, creatures rising up from the mists of the lakes and sloughs. Their stories shaped this one and the writing process moved much more quickly than it usually does when I’m writing a story. Once I knew who the characters were (primarily the two brothers and the grief-stricken father) and that they would have some otherworldly encounter, the narrative shaped itself.
What kind of research went into this story?
GO: I did a little research on life jackets in the 1930s, local lore and legendry of coastal Oregon, demographics, and little on plants and vegetation.
What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing (novels, poems) can't?
GO: I love the short form. It’s so malleable and at the same time capacious. In it no time might pass or centuries. Scenes allow a stop motion feel to the narrative while exposition can whisk the reader though and over large amounts of time and space. In short stories the curtain can rise anywhere on the action or setting and a great amount of freedom and mobility is afforded in character development (or lack thereof). The only “rule” that I’ve ever encountered or imposed upon myself is that in a short story something significant must happen. That’s it. And what fun!
Where can people go to learn more about you and your writing?
GO: Please stop by and visit me at www.ginaochsner.com.
What's on your Christmas list this year?
GO: On my Christmas list this year is a pair of puppy-resistant slippers.