Eckleburg: What drives, inspires, and feeds your artistic work?
Ellen Urbani: When I was a single mother to two wee ones, I felt my brain cells dying every time I reread GOODNIGHT MOON (which I did about 87 times per day for years on end). As such, I wrote LANDFALL to rebuild my brain, to stretch my synapses and keep my mind alive and engaged with the world beyond diapering and breastfeeding and Elmo. My desire to exercise and feed my own mind is what inspires all my artistic work.
Eckleburg: If you had to arm wrestle a famous writer, poet or artist, either living or dead, who would it be? Why? What would you say to distract your opponent and go for the win?
Ellen Urbani: At a whopping 5’2″ and 110 pounds, sans foul play there’s no way I could arm wrestle anyone and win. Which means this tussle will require deviant methods. So let’s say I lick my opponent’s arm to knock him off his game: what I’m talking about now is not only which author I’d like to arm wrestle, but which author I’d like to sleep with, for one cannot go around licking people without following through. So it that case pit me against Jack Kerouac, for I love to be on the road, and he’d make a mighty attractive traveling companion.
Eckleburg: What would you like the world to remember about you and your work?
Ellen Urbani: Presuming anyone will remember me or my work, which is terribly presumptuous indeed, let them remember me for this:
I am kind to children, the elderly, and animals. Always.
I accept constructive criticism with an open mind and hearty soul.
I am endlessly grateful to those readers, lovers, and friends who have made it possible for me to live the life I imagined.
Ellen Urbani is the author of Landfall, a work of historical fiction set in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the memoir When I Was Elena, a Book Sense Notable selection documenting her life in Guatemala during the final years of that country’s civil war. She has a bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama and a master’s degree from Marylhurst University. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times and numerous anthologies, and has been widely excerpted. She’s reviewed books for The Oregonian, served as a federal disaster/trauma specialist, and has lectured nationally on this topic. Her work has been profiled in the Oscar-qualified short documentary film Paint Me a Future. A Southern expat now residing in Oregon, her pets will always be dawgs and her truest allegiance will always reside with the Crimson Tide.