I dabbled in poetry a little still, just because I liked it. After having my kids, and I have three now, my writing went by the wayside (my fiction) because after writing all day for work, then taking care of my kids, for a portion of the time as a single mom, I was exhausted. I’ve been very happy for the past 9 years to be back to writing again, but still get myself into similar binds with workload where I have no time to write. Though the kids are older now, they still keep me busy, but are big supporters of my writing, so they encourage me, which is grand. It’s my choice to make them a priority. I know soon enough they will be adults.
Canonic – This list could be big! Let’s go with Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer (strictly for Canterbury Tales), Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Emily Dickinson, Anne Frank, Harper Lee, Sylvia Plath, Arthur Conan Doyle – is Madeline L’ Engle considered now? – Agatha Christie (LOVE) – oh so many more!!
Contemporary – Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Ronald Malfi, Brian Moreland, Josh Malerman, Ania Ahlborn, Jennifer McMahon – horror. Sue Harrison, Susan Spann, Stephanie Thornton, Christopher Gortner, Michelle Moran, Kate Quinn, Kathleen and W. Michael Gear, Jesse Burton – historical fiction. Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, Gillian Flynn, Heather Graham, and Linwood Barclay for suspense thriller. Neil Gaiman and Deborah Harkness – fantasy. I love David Morrell, he can fit in many categories and Elizabeth Kostova, who can fit into horror/supernatural and historical.
Beyond that, I tried to choose an array of poems, and stories, that really showed off all my writing and touched elements of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, literary, crime, and also, highlighted various types of poetry forms and dabbling. I possibly covered way too much ground with this one collection, but I also feel that in explaining all of that, it also did bring itself together in a magical way I can’t explain.
My story “Life Giver of the Nile” in Breathe. Breathe. stems from a childhood re-occurring nightmare of being drowned this way. It haunted me for so long and as a child I couldn’t even read Aladdin. I think it was a genie (say prayers). But it came knocking as a story to me then when I was working on the collection – I thought for a while because I didn’t want it to be about that sort of magic. I felt I needed to be centered in Egyptian history and it needed a water element. So of course, I thought of the Nile, which I’ve always thought was amazing. I chose Anuket as my antagonist, not because I think she’s evil, she’s not at all of course, and I really don’t think that, but because she watches over the Nile. I needed a twist on it to match my dream and also capture the breathing element. I hope that I at least captured the atmosphere of Egypt!
In larger works, I’m working on a novel still that I’ve been picking away at for years. It’s a revenge novel, as far as I’m concerned at this point, featuring an abused woman and the ghost of Emily Dickinson. It takes place in Emily’s hometown. I’m excited for this one.
And since writing my Vahalla Lane series in Breathe. Breathe., I’ve had some response to it and so I’m writing on a novella when I have the chance featuring the story of one of the women, both in prequel and in sequel to what happens.
About Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.
"Breathe. Breathe. is at times haunting, visceral, bittersweet, and tender. Erin Al Mehairi bares her soul and invites readers to devour it whole." —Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching
“Erin Al-Mehairi weaves a web of narrative and poetry both beautiful and nightmare-inducing in Breathe. Breathe., invoking heartache and the need to see through the shining masks life presents us to confront the darkness it truly holds.”
—Michelle Garza, co-author of Bram Stoker nominated Mayan Blue