Writers Speak. Part III

The third winner of the Ruritania prize -- Shel Merlow with the short story 'The Spot on the Corner of the Bathtub'.

Her story, along with the full text of the interview, will feature the issue 6 of Panel, which is to be released by the very end of November. Meanwhile, take a minute and get to know a little bit about a lovely young writer who lives in Prague and works on a novel.

Q: You live in Prague as an expat, can you tell us a little about what life is like for an expat writer in Prague? What’s the literary life there?

A: Prague is a place where even loneliness has a beauty to it, and maybe for an expat that is its allure. There are a few writing groups that meet in English here, and I attend one associated with an expat cafe called The Globe. The experience is different than what I would have if I were going to groups in America because, as there are only so many expat writers by comparison, you see a more randomized variety of genres and styles of storytelling within this small group of people.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being an expat and what do you dislike the most?

A: Being an outsider is the best and worst thing about being an expat. At times I cherish the ability to see things around me from a distanced perspective. Yet there is also the feeling that I will never really belong here. I could master the language and fulfill every cultural expectation that arose and still it would not be my country.

Q: You’re working on your novel at the moment. What is it about?

A: The novel is an examination on identity, questioning what degree of internal and external factors make us who we are. It takes place in Prague and focuses on two expats, following the aftermath of a suspiciously supernatural inciting incident.

Q: What do you think has influenced you the most with your writing?

A: It always turns out that the things I did in life that put me most out of my comfort zone were the experiences which helped me change the most, and writing is no exception.

Previous publications of Shel Merlow include a short story featured in Stories with Pleasure to Burn: Selected Stories from the 2019 Literary Taxidermy Competition, as well as a self-published collection, Pumped Up Kicks, under the name Lucian Merlow. An all-time dream of Shel is that someday, Charlie Kaufman will make a convoluted movie script based on one of her ideas.

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