Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Q&A With Gwendolen Gross

Today I'd like to introduce to you, Gwendolen Gross. She is the author of four books; Field Guide, Getting Out, The Other Mother, and her newest release The Orphan Sister. I've had the pleasure of chatting a bit with her on twitter, facebook and through emails and she is just a very sweet person. I'm so excited to introduce to you:

THE FIVE W’S  OF Gwendolen Gross

First of all, while I’m GG, my nickname is Wendy, so I’m pretty W-happy. I used to hate how you had to make them round in cursive, like, well, buttocks, but now that I can make my Ws pointy as I please, well, I love Ws. Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog!


I’m like you. I can’t not write. I’m a mom, and I have too many pairs of shoes (though not high heels—I have a bone graft in my ankle—someone else’s bone is in there! Thank you that someone! I wrote the family. It had no marrow when it was grafted, but I still wonder, sometimes, whether bone has cellular memory) and I walk the dog a lot to think. My best ideas come at times inopportune for writing, like when I’m at a kids’ school orchestra performance, or when I’m driving to the dentist, or when I’m wearing a pair of earplugs and a set of sound-blocking headphones because we’re having a window replaced so winter won’t howl into the living room, but it’s summer, and too hot for all this ear-protection, and the phone is ringing and I’m afraid it’s the camp nurse.
Also, I gathered adventures when I was younger, and still do now, though in a gentler, more mom-friendly way. I used to belong to an Explorer’s Post, and we went backpacking and ice climbing and got lost in caves. Oh, and I worked at a science museum and delighted my stepbrother by lighting the transparent woman every which way in a darkened auditorium. And I did some research on Spectacled Fruit Bats in the Australian rainforest. I wrote about these things in my first two novels, because the details were too wonderful not to pluck specifically for fiction.


Time is never spare. Sometimes it runs, and sometimes it creeps between the slats of the fence like a thief—or an escape-bunny. I think when I’m living too quickly, and not slowing things down in the parenthesis of written words, I start to feel as though I’m losing something. Does that happen to you? I get those ordinary pangs of nostalgia, watching my kids grow, but I also relish their expanding capabilities and freedoms. I am in a very parenthetical mood today, when this interview is bracketed by those terrific journalistic questions. I hope I’m not boring you.
I’m obsessed with sewing, a new skill, and with knitting, an old one (for me; they’re both old, of course), with making three-dimensional things out of pieces—yarn, fabric, thread. I’m also horse-crazy, for which I happily blame my daughter, because I’d put a hat on that when I was a teen, but now she loves horses, so I go ride and groom and daydream about having our own someday with her. I also sing with a wonderful chorus. I used to sing with an opera chorus and still have not recovered from learning that there’s a wig dresser’s union.


I used to keep a journal both as confessional and necessity. I wrote a lot of poems, and when I was little, wrote musicals, using unorthodox and completely unintelligible musical notations of my own. I suppose I’ve always made things, and once I started to take writing more seriously (rather than almost a visceral need but not the need to bring the products of that process out into the world) I couldn’t stop. I was working in publishing in San Diego, also singing in an opera company, and I saw a little ad in the paper for a Brown Bag writing practice group at the San Diego Writer’s Center, which has a different name now. It was run by Judy Reeves, who has written some magnificent books on writing practice. I wrote about 100, 000 poems over those lunch hours and moved on to characters who demanded stories. It was wonderful, even if it meant missing out on nightly body-surfing from time to time.


Usually at cafes. I find home is very distracting. I have love notes from the children and photos of my husband in triathlons and bills and funtak and leather wipes and books to read and glasses that need to be cleaned and a battery charger and The Best of Threads Volume One and a home serging DVD and chorus music on my desk. So it’s best to go somewhere with a laptop. Sometimes I use the hammock in the back yard, and sometimes I go to our amazing public library.


Oh. Why? Because we like you. (What is that? Mr. Rogers?)
Because when I was growing up, books were friends. They didn’t replace the real friends, but augmented them—the characters in books were full of observations, truths, mistakes. I write to explore what I have to share, what I’ve learned, what I don’t know yet. I write because I can’t not write. I write because it’s a chance to blither on, uninterrupted except by myself, and then I can go back and pick out anything that matters, anything I want to hold up and show people: true! True! We actually do love each other! Now, time to hack out all the extra words, time to get closer with metaphor and senses.

I hope everyone has enjoyed getting the opportunity to learn more about Gwendolen 'Wendy,' as much as I have! Come back on Thursday to read my review of her newest release The Orphan Sister

I want to thank-you, Gwendolen so very much for joining us here at A Novel Review! I loved getting to know you better. It's been an absolute pleasure! Thank-you!


  1. What an inspiration to see a writer who also does so much in life! Sometimes I imagine the authors with many publications to have full 10 hour days to write, and this shows me how an author can be successful but also busy with other responsibilities :) I cherish my time in cafes to write, because not only do I get more writing done it is often better writing as I am not distracted as I am at home.

  2. K- I have found in most of my author interviews most tend to go to cafes. I'm beginning to think I should give this a try since I always feel guilty writing when there always seems to be something at home that could be done! lol.