Thursday, July 7, 2011

Interview with Gwendolen Gross and book giveaway


**Giveaway is now closed**

Gwendolen Gross grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and then studied science writing and voice performance at Oberlin College. Since then, she has lived in Australia, San Francisco, San Diego and now resides in Northern New Jersey with her family. She has worked as a snake and kinkajou demonstrator, naturalist, opera singer, editor, and mom. Gwendolen is also an award-winning poetry writer (1999 Adrienne Lee Award) and writing instructor. She has written three novels already. Her fourth novel, "The Orphan Sister" was released this week by Simon and Schuster.


She's here to talk to us today about writing, traveling and other interesting facts about herself. She also has two copies of "The Orphan Sister" to give away to some lucky readers in the US and Canada. To find out more about her, check out her blog and visit her on Facebook and Twitter.

(Author photo credit: Chia Messina Photography)

MP: What is your usual writing routine?
GG: Well, I have to admit I’m erratic. Sometimes I write madly during school hours (avoiding all laundry and teaching work and only stopping to walk the dog), and sometimes I do laundry and teaching work and walk the dog and barely squeeze in twenty minutes to write. A lot of it is dictated by kids’ needs, but I think this is a good thing. In some ways, having to squeeze it in makes it more imperative.

Ideally, I write a certain number of words per day—when I’m in the middle of a book, or even just exploring what comes next, what is true and funny and fascinating enough to write. I mark it out in a planner—starting slowly, often, taking notes and writing 500 words a day. When I’m in the thick of it, sometimes it’s 2,000, or more. I must be honest: I love it.

MP: Do you always know how a story will end when you start it? Or does the ending change as you go?
GG: I believe both in the alchemy of words and time and in planning things out. I take a lot of notes, make a lot of mad nighttime scribbles. I usually have some idea of the end, sometimes a very specific idea, and most of the time, it changes as I approach. Sometimes I rewrite endings several ways just to see which is best, just to remember that writers have the power to make hope in whatever they do. Not always happy endings; just ending with potential to live on in a reader’s mind, which is the best honor a reader can give an author. I know I have that feeling about my favorite books.

MP: Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, how do you remedy it?
GG: I don’t get writer’s block (touch wood, feh feh, as my grandmother would have said). This past winter I had a glass of wine at a restaurant. The wine was called Writer’s Block. I was suddenly very superstitious, so I tried writing that night. Luckily, even though whatever I wrote was stained by dessert (raspberry coulis, I believe), I wrote something. Sometimes I have to write a lot of words that won’t be used for anything. Each book gets a purgatory file as I work—that way the words are kept for another project, though usually, sorry words, I just combine things anew the next time.

Perhaps the most effective writer’s block prophylactic is just writing. And writing. And giving yourself topics, and giving yourself permission to cut wide margins and work on fitting later.

MA: How does location play a role in your novels?
GG: Location is as important as character, or plot, or point of view. Part of the joy of reading is going places you’ve never been—or revising places you’ve visited, or smelling and feeling places you once lived, a la Proust. I remember how much Out Of Africa made me long to go; how excited I was, as an adult, to finally go to Chincoteague to look for Misty’s great-great grandbabies.

Lately, I’ve heard from other readers that they really enjoy fiction that takes place where they live, that the mix of fiction and reality gives them a sense of all possibility, a thrill. I suppose the fictional dream is just like any other dream, except that you can revisit it whenever you want.

MA: What is the best compliment you have ever received on any of your novels?
GG: Oh my. I suppose with "The Other Mother" when people said they were trying to decide which mother was them, and they felt for each (a working mom and a stay at home mom), I was thrilled, since that was my goal. With The Orphan Sister, hearing that it’s a page-turner makes me want to kiss the reader, because I’d really hoped to make it both suspenseful and rich with sisterhood truths. Plus, I love it when I can make someone laugh.

MA: If "The Orphan Sister" were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
GG: Maybe Natalie Portman. She’s stunning and seems so thoughtful in addition to her talent. Or Rachel McAdams, maybe. I need some acting twins for O & O — Connie and Cassie Powney? Cynthia and Brittany Daniel? Do you have any ideas? And Eli—Sendhil Ramamurthy? Since I love Eli (another best compliment—my sister Samantha, who is twenty years younger than I, asked if I could please, please, please provide a real Eli for her), he should be someone gorgeous, enigmatic, steady, and dazzling in debut. Now I want to see it!

MA: What is your favorite summertime activity?
GG: Swimming! I love swimming. Lake swimming, ocean swimming. I was on swim team in high school, though I much prefer outside. We have a spring-fed lake/pool in town that’s open in the summer, and we all go as a family. My husband and I (he’s a triathlete and much more regimented about workouts than I) take turns swimming a mile in the lake. Then we read. And read. (And eat ice cream and take turns watching the kids.) My sister Claudia Rose is an ocean swimmer—admirably crazy. I’m very proud of her accomplishments (like swimming Buzzards Bay, and the Sitka, Alaska Sound). Second, I have to say, is horseback riding. My daughter is passionate about riding, and I started riding along with her a few years ago—it’s harder than it looks, and pure delight.

MA: Do you have any quirks or hang-ups?
GG: Quirks. Well, I hate the meshy mass of cantaloupe seeds. I can’t explain it exactly; it evokes a visceral response, a horror, almost. I feel wretched just writing it. I don’t mind cantaloupe, though, and I’m not generally squeamish. (But just re-reading this is going to give me the heebee jeebies.)

MP: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
GG: Only one place? But I have a huge list! I’d like go to Iceland, because I’ve read about exquisite ice hotels and the Icelandic ponies have a unique gait, the tolt, which is supposed to be smooth and wonderful both to observe and ride.

MP: If you could have any celebrity, dead or alive, come to dinner, who would you choose?
GG: Mark Twain. I love frogs, and I think he’d be hilarious, and he could meet our dog, Huck Finn.

Special thanks to Gwendolen for chatting with us and for offering the books for our giveaway.

How to win "The Orphan Sister":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: If you could have any celebrity, dead or alive, come to dinner, who would you choose?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.


US/Canada only. Giveaway ends July 12th at midnight EST.


More by Gwendolen Gross:

67 comments:

Cate said...

If I could meet any celebrity, it would have to be Sara Bareilles. I adore her music (and feel that I could have written every one of her songs, lol) so I would love to discuss music and her writing process!

I'm a new follower here, but I'm lovin' the blog so far, and I've tweeted this post.
emond(dot)c(at)gmail dot)com

Cate said...

Also, just joined the facebook group and invited my friend Amanda!

Kritter said...

For dinner, I would have Ann Curry from the Today show over for dinner because she has a ton of stories to share from her travels and the news that she has covered.

I follow this blog.
a member of the facebook group.

kdurham2@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

Hmmm...that's a hard question! If I am being funny I would have to say Henry Cavill...he is just GORGEOUS and I would love to stare at those big blue eyes throughout dinner (although my husband would not enjoy that :)). Seriously, I would have to say Audrey Niffenegger..she is a brilliant writer and I would love to talk with her and ask questions for hours!
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I am a GFC follower (Colleen Turner).
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I am a Facebook follower (Colleen Turner).
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I shared on Facebook!
candc320@gmail.com

Margaret said...

I would invite Gerrad Butler. I just love him and his accent! I'm a GCF follower. Thanks for the giveaway!

Margaret
singitm@hotmail.com

PoCoKat said...

Thanks for the opportunity to win!

1. A fascinating celebrity to come to dinner would be Elizabeth Taylor..she would have been a hoot.

2. GFC blog follower

3. Posted on FB

4. Belong to Chick Lit Central on FB

littleone AT shaw DoT ca

Tiffany Drew said...

Oh, tough choices. But, I think I would go with Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC. He must have amazing stories,, not to mention he is awesome :)

jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

Tiffany Drew said...

GFC follower Tiffany Drew

jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

Tiffany Drew said...

Tweeted:

http://twitter.com/#!/enterthedrew/status/89022269107605504

jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

Tiffany Drew said...

I am a Facebook member :)

jaidahsmommy(at)comcast(dot)net

Laura Kay said...

Please tell us: If you could have any celebrity, dead or alive, come to dinner, who would you choose?

I would have to say, David Tennant. He is a British actor who played Doctor Who and every time I see him doing an interview I just think he'd be so fun to hang out with. :D

Laura Kay
http://anovelreview.blogspot.com/
anovelreview(at)yahoo(dot)com

Laura Kay said...

I really want to win this book, so I'm going for all the points today :D

I am a follower of this blog...and love it.

Laura Kay
http://anovelreview.blogspot.com/
anovelreview(at)yahoo(dot)com

Laura Kay said...

Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

I am a member of the facebook group, love that too by the way ;)

Laura Kay
http://anovelreview.blogspot.com/
anovelreview(at)yahoo(dot)com

Laura Kay said...

I posted a link on twitter

Laura Kay
http://anovelreview.blogspot.com/
anovelreview(at)yahoo(dot)com

Laura Kay said...

Just added Rebecca Brace Peterson to the facebook group.

Laura Kay
http://anovelreview.blogspot.com/
anovelreview(at)yahoo(dot)com

Kim W. said...

1. I think I'd have Ellen to dinner -- she's a funny, funny lady so dinner would be full of laughs, and I think she's just a great lady who has done a lot of good for a lot of people, both famous and not famous!

2. I follow the CLC blog already

3. I have posted this contest on Facebook

4. I'm already a member of CLC on Facebook

kewalker1972@gmail.com

Sounds like a great book--would love a chance to read it!!

Linda Kish said...

I'd like to sit down with Sandra Bullock. She seems like such a real down-to-earth person.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am a GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

BRN2SHOP9 said...

If I could have dinner with any clebrity it would be cher

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I follow via GFC

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I follow via facebook

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I follow via twitter

karenk said...

sounds like a wonderful novel...thanks for the chance to read it....

a celebrity for dinner...how about neil diamond...love his music :)

i'm a follower, too

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Amy said...

If I could invite any celebrity over for dinner it would DEFINITELY be Ellen DeGeneres.
I believe someone else said her too, so pls note I am not copying at all. I'm a huge huge fan. Would do anything in the world be on her show! Seeing her get shot down and then building herself back up to where she is now! A true inspiration and I it's so admiring she is so involved with various charities, especially animal related.

amyrbromberg@gmail.com

I follow via GFC and subscribe to your email newsletter and of course "like" on facebook.

I am sharing this contest on my facebook wall, "Amy Lazarus Bromberg"

StereoQueenBee said...

1. Please tell us: If you could have any celebrity, dead or alive, come to dinner, who would you choose?

I think I would like to hang out with Jill Barber (Canadian jazz singer)

2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).

Already follow this blog.

3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

Posted on Facebook.
Posted on Twitter. (stereoqueenbee)

4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

Already a member of the group.

5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

Added Anne-Marie Bailey

rubynreba said...

I would invite Elvis Presley! What a legend.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I am a new follower.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Amy said...

Two of my facebook friends are now part of Chick Lit Central FB group.

Here is my tweet:

http://twitter.com/#!/abbeautycall/status/89130106953531393

Anonymous said...

I'd love to have dinner with Rebecca Watson.


urchiken at gmail dot com

cindy r said...

First of all, I love the cover design for Gwendolen's novels.
1. I'd like to have the Dalai Lama over for dinner.
2. I'm a CLC follower.
3. I'm a Facebook group member.
4. I've invited friend Lori to join.
5. writoncindy(at)yahoo(dot)com

Have a wonderful weekend!

meandmom said...

I would love to win.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Jeryl M. said...

I would have liked to have dinner with Patrick Swayze because he always seemed like a nice down to earth kind of person. I actually met Kelly Bishop, who played Mrs. Hausman in Dirty Dancing, and she said in real life he was just as nice as he seemed to be.

I am a follower of this blog.

I am a Facebook fan.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Nina said...

Love her comment about the "purgatory" file while writing each book!
And I would *LOVE* to go to dinner with The Duchess of Cambridge!!! :D
nina565(at)aol(dot)com

KATHLEEN.B said...

I would pick Bill O'Reilly as my celebrity. I am following the blog and am pposting a comment saying so. Liked on facebook, and putting comment on facebook. And inviting a friend to facebook.

Gayle Gardner Lin said...

I would like to have dinner with Jaycee Dugard; what a brave young woman.

I'm a CLC subscriber.

I'm posting on Facebook.

Member of the Facebook group.

gaylelin@hotmail.com

leonel said...

Truman Capote!

FB group twitter follower, google follower

leonelescota at gmail dot com

Jencey said...

I suppose I would have the Afflecks. I would love to spend time talking with Jennifer Garner.

I am a CLC member.
I will post this contest on both FB and blog.

jenceyg msn com

Anonymous said...

I would love to meet Audrey Hepburn!

billiondollarprincesss@hotmail.com

janetfaye said...

I would like dinner with Oprah.

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

janetfaye said...

I follow this blog - janetfaye

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

janetfaye said...

Tweet:
http://twitter.com/Janetfaye/status/90371705469542400

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

Susan said...

1. I would love to have a one-on-one with Stephen King. I have been a fan of his since Carrie.

2. I follow the CLC blog already

3. I'm already a member of CLC on Facebook

Thanks for the giveaway - this is a must read!

suzebomb(at)gmail.com

Sherry said...

I would love to read this book
mythisis@aol.com

Sherry said...

If I could meet any celebrity it would be Bruce Cameron. I loved his book A Dog's Purpose and he is also very funny. I think he would be fun to talk too.
mythisis@aol.com

Sherry said...

Follow this blog via email and GFC
mythisis@aol.com

Sherry said...

Joined Chic Lit cental group
mythisis@aol.com

Sherry said...

Shared giveway on FB
mythisis@aol.com

Alison said...

I love these interviews! I always look forward to reading

alison.fees@gmail.com

Alison said...

I would like to meet Elvis. He is fascinating.

I follow on Facebook and through email.

alison.fees@gmail.com

Nancye said...

I would love to meet Ralph Macchio (from Dancing With the Stars, Karate Kid, etc.) I have always had the biggest crush on him! He is SOOOOO good looking!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Follower

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Tweet! Tweet!
@NancyeDavis

http://twitter.com/#!/NancyeDavis/status/90573573932072960

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I posted this giveaway on my Facebook wall.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/nancyecdavis/posts/121023074656377

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

I joined/ follow you on Facebook

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Amy (ArtsyBookishGal) said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

+1 I would love to hang out with one of my favorite musicians/writers Andrew Peterson.

+1 Follow via GFC (ArtsyBookishGal)

+1 Tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/ArtsyBookishGal/status/90626257947082752

+1 I am already part of the Facebook foray (Amy Sondova)

+1 I invited Sarah Merkel to the group

Carol N Wong said...

George Clooney of course! I love his eyes and voice. Also think that we are the same polically, would love to hear more about his program to help people in Africa have easy access to water and the other projects that he is working on.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I follow Chic Lit Central with Google Friends Connect.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

I posted this giveaway on Twitter with my Twitter name: Carolee888.


http://t.co/hKBnXlgGiveaway of 'The Orphan Sister'


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I just have to say I LOVE Gwendolen and her books!!!! SHe's an amazing author and her writing is just beautiful! I don't need to win this as I've already read it, but I had to comment because she's a fabulous writer and I anxiously await her next novel!

Stephanie -- aka MaNiC

Amy said...

I read about this book a month or so ago and was immediately hooked so I'm thrilled that you're hosting a giveaway of The Orphan Sister. Please include me!

Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

Amy said...

I would love to have Jane Austen or Edith Wharton to dinner. I love their books and think they are brilliant, wonderful women.


Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

Amy said...

I'm a GFC follower of this blog!

Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

Amy said...

I am a member of your facebook page (Amy Meyer)


Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

Jessica Gatto said...

I agree. It is very fun to be a Tourist in your own hometown. Even though you have lived there for a lot of years, you will still discover amazing things every now and then. You have a pretty cute outfit there!