Rappahannock Review Nonfiction Editors: We love “Aunt Mary” as a character study, since we really get to see her. What inspired you to write about Aunt Mary in particular?

Margaret Erhart: Aunt Mary is only one of the feisty females in my family. She was an odd combination of dead serious and funny, and of course this particular encounter with her was unforgettable.

RR: Your view of Aunt Mary is clearly affected by the revelation of her prosthetic leg at the end; was there a change in your relationship with her that followed?

ME: I only met her half a dozen times, so our relationship was very brief. If there was a change in relationship it was this: I could never walk into that room again without seeing a phantom leg.

RR: Your novel Old Love centers around the meaning of family. Do you plan to continue writing pieces about your own family?

ME: Yes. I think family is a fair target, willing or unwilling. Family is where I first began my study of human beings.

RR: Since you write in long form as well as short form fiction and nonfiction, what are some of the challenges and rewards of writing flash?

ME: In flash, so much has to be said so quickly. This is great training for getting to the heart of things, getting in and getting out, and slimming down language to its essential meaning. Flash is the lean cuisine of fiction.

RR: Apart from writing, what other activities keep you occupied?

ME: I hike in the canyons of northern Arizona whenever I can. And I love to swim. Right now my occupation is washing my windows.

Margaret Erhart’s work in Issue 7.2: 

“Aunt Mary”