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Fiction Points: Elizabeth Ellen

Updated: Aug 29, 2023


Elizabeth Ellen reads from Fast Machine

Elizabeth Ellen is a writer and editor who resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the author of the story collections Before You She was a Pit Bull (2006) and Fast Machine (2012), an assemblage of her best work from the last decade. A chapbook of her flash fiction, entitled Sixteen Miles Outside of Phoenix, appears in Rose Metal Press’ A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women (2008), and Ellen released a poetry collection, Bridget Fonda, in 2015. Her short story “Teen Culture” won a Pushcart Prize in 2012, and her work has been published online or in print by American Short Fiction, BOMB, HTMLGiant, The GuardianLazy Fascist ReviewMcSweeney’s, MuuMuu House, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn among other venues. Ellen also co-edits the journal Hobart and oversees its book division, Short Flight/Long Drive Books.

Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you’re a writer. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?

I tell them the same thing I tell everyone who asks that question: myself. Because I’m a narcissist and solipsistic. And the two nuns and the penguin don’t interest me half as much as I interest myself. LOL. Though I can’t imagine telling anyone in a bar I’m a writer.

Points is a blog primarily for drug and alcohol historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about your work?

Um, I don’t know that they would find anything interesting, honestly. Never tried to sell my work to drug historians before. Sounds tough.

What led you to write about drugs and alcohol in the first place?

Have I written about drugs and alcohol? Thought I was solely writing about myself. I don’t do drugs (is pot a drug?). Sometimes I drink.

How would you describe the way that drugs function in your work, whether in terms of thematic concerns or the choices you make about how to craft a narrative? Do you think there are things that you wouldn’t be able to explore as successfully if drugs weren’t in your writing arsenal?

I’ve never thought of my writing in terms of drugs or drugs in terms of my writing and I don’t know what a writing arsenal is, so I’m going to answer ‘no’ to your last question.

What do you personally find most interesting about how drugs work in your writing, and where do you see that interest leading you in future projects?

I think you may have confused me for Mira or Tao.

BONUS QUESTION: Let’s hope that one of your stories gets made into a major motion picture. If you have your choice, which is it, and what song do you fantasize about hearing as the credits roll?

Someone on Twitter said yesterday that ‘Fistful’ should be made into a movie and I’m sure he was joking but I immediately thought of the woman who directed the film version of J. T. Leroy’s The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, Asia Argento, to direct ‘Fistful,’ which is about one woman fistfucking another woman or pulling out her tampon or something, I forget exactly…I think in ‘Fistful’ it says something about how The Rolling Stones should be playing in the most violent part of the story, like in a Scorsese movie.


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