Erma Odrach lives with her family in Canada. Alaska or Bust and Other Stories, published by Crimson Cloak Publishing is her first book of fiction. She is now completing a novel Bank Street about an inner city street filled with crazy happenings and oddball characters. For many years she worked (and is still working) as a literary translator, translating the works of her late father, Theodore Odrach. Wave of Terror (about Stalinist occupation during WWII) was published by Chicago Review Press, 2008.
Meet her- http://www.ermaodrach.com
- Please describe your book in a single sentence.
Quirky, funny, serious stories about people living off the beaten path in the far north.
- Can you tell us a little about your life till now?
I was born and live in Canada with my family. Though I reside in the city, it’s always important to get some down-time in the countryside, to meditate and to connect with nature. I’ve worked at a variety of jobs including writing/editing, teaching English, and working in a library.
- What prompted you to write this book?
I lived in the Alaska/Yukon region for several years, and it is a place that has remained close to my heart. I met a lot of zany and colorful people there and I wanted to bring them to life on paper. For example, there’s Giorgio, a fancy Italian tourist who gets mauled by a bear; there’s Dottie who suffers from Alzheimer’s; there’s Daphne, a vaudeville performer with an incredibly big nose; there’s Chuck, a mongrel from the city pound who gets lost in the wilds of Alaska. There are 25 stories in total.
- Out of all the stories in your book, which one is your favourite?
I would say “Luke’s Libido”. Luke (not his real name) actually existed and I became intrigued with him after hearing much gossip surrounding his libido. He worked at a men’s shop in Fairbanks and his sales were through the roof – it was said it was because of his libido. Although I met him and never picked upon anything “extraordinary”, the gossip was enough to prompt me to write a story about him. I had fun with it.
- Can you describe your experience translating your father, Theodore Odrach’s books?
My father wrote in Ukrainian and much of his work is set during World War II. My knowledge of Ukrainian is limited, so one day, armed with a Ukrainian-English dictionary, I was determined to learn about his world. The pages started to come to life. There were people living inside them, there were great panoramas, history was in the making, and I found myself completely absorbed. Then one day I picked up a pen, wondering what it might sound like in English. Before I knew it I was on my way to becoming his translator. Wave of Terror, a novel, was published by Chicago Review Press in 2008.
- Which books that you’ve read have influenced your life the most?
I love the Russian classics – Dostoevsky, Gogol, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenev. The themes often reflect suffering, misery, mental anguish, poverty the list goes on. It’s all so intense and so real. Powerful and masterful writing is an inspiration to me.
- Is there anything about you that readers will be very surprised to know?
I’m not a funny person and I never tell jokes, but a lot of my writing has humor in it. I like to make people laugh, but only through my stories.
- Do you think the writing industry is overrated?
I think the writing industry, including Amazon, is overwhelmed, not so much overrated. There have never been so many books available to readers, and the internet is overrun. My publisher, Crimson Cloak Publishing, is a small press publisher and competition is fierce.
- Which one do you prefer- a cup of coffee or a mug of hot chocolate?
Coffee with cream but no sugar.
- Lastly, can we expect more books from you soon?
I’m working on a novel, which focuses on a street called Bank Street, and it’s all about the people that live there. Everyone on Bank Street is up to something and they all exist(ed), though mostly in a vague, abstract sort of way. They do odd-ball things like drink too much, hoard cats, bootleg, even kill. The book is serious but with considerable humor. I hope to see it out in about a year.
Thank you very much for the interview, Erma! I wish you the best of luck for all your future endeavours…