Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Interview with Deeanne Gist

Q: Of which book are you the most proud? And why?

A: The hardest part of the process (for me) is writing the first draft. I can edit things I’ve already written without too much difficulty, but those 500 blank pages staring me in the face is a killer. So typing “The End” on any of my manuscripts never fails to bring feelings of great joy, pure relief and an overwhelming sense to go par-tay!

Q: Patty Campbell talks about the germ for a piece of writing being like the sand in the oyster.  What is your grain of sand?  Do you begin with character or setting or something else?

A: I begin with a premise. I search high and low for some interesting fact my history teachers never seemed to mention. Like the time I discovered that in the 1860s a man in the Washington Territory could get 650 acres of land for free if he had a wife. All the lumberjacks up there immediately wanted to get married (so they could capture a bunch of land for free), but there were no women. So this savvy entrepreneur (this is all true) told those lumberjacks that if they’d each give him $300, he go to the east coast and find them brides.

But when the entrepreneur got to the east coat, he told the women he’d guarantee them *jobs* as housekeepers, nannies or school teachers. He NEVER mentioned that they’d be brides. (And he made them pay their own way.) So these gals arrived in the Washington Territory and knocked on their “employers” doors. The lumberjacks quickly opened their doors expecting brides.

I fictionalized what happened to one of those girls. (A Bride in the Bargain)

Q: Why do you write for Adults?

A: I want to write in a way that is relevant, but doesn’t offend.  I don’t think it is necessary to be graphic, but to dismiss out of hand or to avoid our God-given sensual natures that attract us to our mates is not very realistic or honest, even. As a result, I don’t censure my characters. If they feel desire, I let them feel desire.  If they have uncharitable thoughts, I let them have uncharitable thoughts. If they want to be willful, I let them be willful.

Q: In high school, where did you fall? (Prom Queen/King, Gamer Geek, Brainy/Book Nerd, Jock, Shy/Quiet Scholar, Skate Rat, Stoner, Class Clown, etc.)

A: My nickname was Texas Twiggy because I was so short and little. (I weighed 89 lbs when I graduated high school.) There was this one guy in Speech class that teased me mercilessly. So when we gave our demonstration speeches, I asked him to be my “volunteer” for my “How To Tie A Person Up” demonstration.

Once I had him tied good and hard to that chair, I draped a shower curtain around his neck, put a shower cap over his hair, and announced this wasn’t really a speech on how to tie a person up. It was a speech on how to throw a pie in someone’s face.

I proceeded to take a pie crust out of the tin (pie tins hurt), filled that crust with a ton of whip cream, held it right by his face while I continued my speech, then ended with:

“The most important thing to remember when you’re throwing a pie is you must always … splat … catch them by surprise.”

My teacher let me leave early while someone else untied him. :)

Q: Do you have a pet (pets)?  Tell us about it (them) and how they help/hinder your writing.

A: My border collie, Cowboy, is scared of thunderstorms. We have to give him anxiety medicine, but he still tries to climb in my lap. It’s hard to type, let alone concentrate, when you have a 50+ pound, shivering dog in your lap.

Q: What is the hardest part of waiting for a book from the end of your writing to when it is released?

A: That's actually the best time.  I can finally take a breath, relax and start thinking about my next book.  But you're right, the book doesn't seem "real" until it finally gets here.  I remember typing “The End” on my very first manuscript. It had taken me a good three years to write it.  That night I could barely contain my excitement as I told my husband I’d finished the book.

He nodded and in an offhand manner said, “That’s nice.”

I smiled, thinking he was teasing me, then realized he was serious.  He had no idea what a monumental moment this was. (He’s a jock.)

So I tried again.  “Honey, I said I finished the book, not a chapter.”

He immediately froze.  “Oh! I’m supposed to say something, aren’t I?”

Yep.  It was a big moment for me.  ;-)

Q: How often do you dream about the writing you are working on?

Never, thank goodness. But right before a book is released I feel really vulnerable and I have a succession of dreams about needing to use the ladies room very badly, but I can never find a commode that has doors around it. The toilets are always plopped down in the middle of these really public places (like the main walkway inside a mall). It’s awful. I go place after place after place, but none of them have doors. It’s happened with every book. :)

Thank you so much for your time Deeanne! We look forward to meeting you at the festival!

To learn more about Deeanne Gist and her books, check out her website.

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