An Interview with Erika T. Wurth

chgfBy: Dakota Carlson

Following the release of her first novel in September of 2014, Erika T. Wurth has experienced firsthand the fast-paced lifestyle that comes from balancing the duties of author and creative writing instructor. Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend was published through Curbside Splendor, and independent publishing house stationed in Chicago. The novel follows the story of a sixteen year old Native American girl named Margaritte. Margaritte is a sharp-tongued drug dealer living in the monotony of growing up in a Colorado town ridden with poverty and drug abuse. She dreams of getting away from the place that she despises so much and building a new life for herself, but cannot escape the reality of teenage pregnancy. It can be best summed up as a gritty and emotional story of the darker side of life itself. Erika packs a huge punch to the throat of the fiction world with this groundbreaking debut. It is a novel that I highly recommend that everyone gives a read.

It was a pleasure getting to hear firsthand from Erika about some of her experiences following the release of this debut novel. It is never an easy task balancing two jobs, especially if the combination is teacher by day and touring author by night. “It is hard, but yet I can’t complain. There are so many instructors who have a miserable adjunct salary, who are signed to an independent press. And that means no money. I, at least have some platform because I was a poet before this and that is something.” Her platform was the release of her poetry collection entitled Indian Trains. She continued by giving credit to her students and department for their understanding of the insanity of her schedule and making it possible to be able to balance both careers: “My students are particularly kind and the [English] department wants me to have that visibility as a writer.”

As with any work of art there are certain critics who question the significance of the art. I wanted to be sure to ask Erika how she responds to the negative reviews of Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend. She responded by saying, “It keeps getting some reviews that say it is too dark or vulgar. Some people don’t believe in the emotional aspects of my main character’s life. I keep wanting to say that I should take them home and show them that it is real. I think it is a part of Native American life that people do not want to see.” There is ultimately no way around the fact that art will not appeal to all. Erika’s novel proves that theory to be completely accurate.

Erika-T.-Wurth-authorphotoWhen asked if she was impressed at the success of the novel and if she takes pride in its reception, Erika said, “I am hopeful. It is very much my baby and did take me ten years overall to write. I would love to see it move forward in how people look at it. There is still such attachment to this idea that Native American culture is natural and spiritual and that’s not it at all. I really have to give so much credit to Curbside Splendor. They truly care about their writers and do so much to promote them.”

While her sights are very much set to the future and the pending release of her second novel Matthew, Erika puts much emphasis on the positivity of her experience writing and promoting Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend. “I am sure that in the end, Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend will be the novel that marks me for a variety of reasons. It is my first novel and it is semi-autobiographical. The focus now is hopefully getting Matthew published. Matthew is a story that I finished recently and worked on while I was on sabbatical. It is a story about Native American gangs. I am actually waiting to hear back from Penguin Random House right now.”