days ago, I’m curious to know what you read. So… Do you find one theme more repeatedly snags your attention as a read? Is there something special you seek when selecting your next reading adventure?
Thank you for having me, Deirdre. My answers are yes and yes. Historical examples of triumph over major obstacles attract me. For example, Disney’s many rejections, Thomas Edison’s two thousand failures, or Eleanor Roosevelt’s struggle to find her niche in life intrigue me. What was it about these people, and many other historical figures, that kept them focused on their goals? I suppose that outdated word, “pluck” is at play, but I never tire at seeing how this characteristic worked in their lives.
So I seek stories about such characters—whether memoir, biography, or fiction. The heroine in True Grit is one example.
Aha, Maddie Ross. Mother always compared me to her. Don’t feel like her anymore though.… Excellent examples of what you seek, Gail! As a writer, you should know better, but as a reader, you know we all do it…so tell us, when did you last “judge a book by the cover”? How did it work out?
Hum...good question. I think it was a book I read just before my current one. I loved the characters, the plot held my interest, but the many grammatical errors drove me to distraction. I’m a natural proofreader and do some fiction editing, so when the errors begin to mount, so does my frustration.
Makes sense. Your debut book released just two days ago. Did you find time to read during the months you spend writing this book or with deadlines ahead, is it either/or for you? If so, what did you read while working on your last book? If not, what did you read when you finished this one?
Absolutely not either/or. I always find time to read. I read The Beautiful Mystery during the edits of In This Together, reread The Four Agreements, a book on Arizona history, because I was also editing another ms at the time, and Anne Lamott’s Small Victories. I also tried to read a little in Spanish every day, because I’m learning that language.
Nothing more fun than learning another language. What was the last book you absolutely couldn't put down? Why?
The Beautiful Mystery. And Five Quarters of an Orange. In both, I got so involved with the main character’s quest, I just HAD to know what would happen.
That’s so fun! Great recommends there! Did a book recently make you laugh/cry/sigh/shiver?
As I research my WWII novels, several books have caused these reactions. How can one read about the Waffen SS atrocities without shivering/crying/descending into periods of gloom? The book Village of Secrets and other texts about the occurrences along the SS’s path through southern France hold me in what I’ll call a dark fascination. How could humans carry out these horrible acts? And the survivors—yes, they were the “Greatest Generation,” yet human like you and me. Still, I always find hope in the participants’ personal stories. The depth of human depravity often reveals the strength of the human spirit.
Well said, Gail! Were you the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading?
That was me, thick glasses and morose expression included. I read anywhere and everywhere. When I didn’t “get” algebra right away, I pulled out Gone With the Wind. Seriously. Not a good idea for my grade—lol. Early on, To Kill a Mockingbird stunned me into rapt adoration for the heroine and her father.
I’m gonna have to ask if you’ve read the sequel and how you feel about her very different rendition of Atticus Finch? When did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire?
In junior high. I think it was seventh grade. I started writing poetry then, and knew I needed and wanted to write. Scads of books—basically every biography and fiction in our school library, plus everything our little town library offered—influenced me. I was starving—they were food. But it took decades to develop the confidence to follow my passion.
Has any book stuck with you recently? What created the lasting impressions?
Where Treasure Hides—Johnnie Alexander’s many plot convolutions stick with me, maybe because they match the willy-nilly nature of World War II in occupied nations. You never know what to expect, you see characters doing u-turns, finding victory over fears, lapsing back, taking enormous leaps of faith, moving to safety, then back again into danger, etc. Kind of like the Allied forces.
Sounds like a book worth adding to our reading lists! With a cozy winter well upon us, what is on your to-read list? And what is your ideal cozy reading experience?
Peggy Trotter’s Year of Jubilee, Sandi Rogg’s Out of the Ashes, and a possible read through Roseanna White’s latest (unpublished) creation. And I’m looking forward to reading The Art of Memoir, because I facilitate a little writing class and workshops, and there’s always more to learn about memoir.
My ideal autumn reading experience ... ah, for a fireplace and a mountain stream outside the window. We have a corn/wood stove, but it makes entirely too much noise.
Is there a book you are looking forward to rereading?
Now that To Kill A Mockingbird has a companion novel, I think I’ll probably read To Kill again. Not sure about its companion—I don’t want to mess with my romantic notions about this amazing author. Also, I always look forward to another read of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. ALWAYS—so many untold tales there!
If Dottie, the main character in In This Together were to pick a book from today’s shelves, what do you think it would be?
I think Julie and Julia, because Dottie’s all about cooking nutritious meals for the male boarders at her place of employment. Either that, or Dottie, a practical, down-to-earth woman of the mid-40’s, would reach for a cookbook.
How fun. Thanks so much for visiting and letting us get to know you better as a reader, Gail!
And thank you, Deirdre. This has been such a fun interview, all about my friends throughout the years, books!
Folks, you can continue to connect with Gail—and find out more about In This Together or her memoir, Catching Up with Daylight: A Journey to Wholeness
—at the links below.