"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum." Graycie Harmon
Friday, July 10, 2009
Interview with Gale Sears author of THE ROUTE
It is such a privilege to have an interview with Gale Sears on my blog today. I've gotten to know Gale the past few years and cannot begin to adequately describe what a wonderful, talented, classy, friendly, amazing, and beautiful woman she is. Her books are filled with incredible and rich settings and characters and her plots are gripping and satisfying. After you read one of her stories you will want to read them again and again.
Gale Sears grew up in Lake Tahoe, California, and spent her high-school years in Hawaii. After graduating from McKinely High School, she went on to receive a BA in playwriting from Brigham Young University, and an MA in theater arts from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Utah, where she celebrates life with her husband George, and her children Shawn & Chandler.
I spent some time on her awesome web-site and found out a little more about the extensive research she puts into her writing and thought you might find it interesting.
Here's what Gale says about research: I wanted to give you a little insight into the process I go through when writing historical fiction. I am very particular about the accuracy of the research, and although the story may be fictionalized, the historical setting, events, and ambience must be true to the time period. These exacting standards (I put upon myself!) require me to invest hundreds of hours researching online, in library stacks, at archives and historical museums, and sometimes in the locations themselves. It is an amazing opportunity and joy to be able to go to the country where the novel is set. Such is the case with my current novel. It takes place in 1917 Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, and I should be finished with the writing prior to the holidays. Wish me luck!
Gale also provides beautiful pictures of her trip to Russia. I highly recommend you visit her web-site, you won't be disappointed.
Here is my interview with Gale:
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Gale: I liked writing stories and reading them to my mom (a captive audience) when I was eight or nine. Later in life, I became intrigued with the theater, and began writing plays. This inclination lasted into my adult life. As I neared middle age several stories began bumping around in my head, and the content of these stories seemed to fit more neatly into a novel rather than a play.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Gale: My first novel was sent out to 8 to 10 national publishing companies, and turned down by all. I became quite discouraged and set it on the shelf. The second book I wrote was titled, Autumn Sky. It was historical fiction, and the first book in a series for the LDS market. I sent it to one publisher who looked at it for several months, then declined. I sent it to a second publisher who accepted it fairly quickly.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Gale: Prior to writing books, I wrote plays. I’ve written fifteen or so. Eight out of the fifteen have been produced (which is like being published in the book world). The others have been rejected, critiqued, and pulled apart, NUMEROUS times. This painful process is part of the work of being a writer: rethinking, revising, and not taking rejection personally. It is discouraging when you’ve put so much of your time, effort, and heart into a project. I take a breath and move on. Think of rejection as the refiner’s fire. Your work will eventually be gold…or charcoal. Humor is defiantly a good way to cope.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Gale: I begin writing in the morning, work about an hour, then stop to get something to eat: cold pizza, Wheat Chex cereal, tuna sandwich. I go back to work for another hour or two, break to stretch my back, grab some almonds, papaya juice, Junior Mints, and watch a few minutes of Fox news. I go back to work for another couple of hours. Then I break for a late lunch. I take a walk, and then get back to another two or three hours of work. Of course, each writing day is unique, but you get the idea.
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Gale: I mainly write historical fiction, so if some incident in history grabs my attention, or an historical character steps forward to fascinate me, then I begin to think of a story to weave within that framework. I also latch on to ideas that touch my heart. I will tell you quite honestly that this approach to writing in the current marketplace is a tough sell. I have to be true to my writing sensibilities. I cannot write a vampire book just because vampire books are the momentary craze.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Gale: Write something you feel passionate about. Don’t just write what’s popular at the moment. Start small: blogs, short stories, essays. Send articles into magazines. Keep writing and READING. Join a critique group. Hone your skills. Take a creative writing class. Attend writing workshops. Be persistent and patient. ALL writers have had setbacks and rejections.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Gale: I take the core of the idea that’s stuck in my head and put it down on paper. Then I think of the main character and formulate their personality. How are they going to react to these set of circumstances? Often in historical fiction many of the challenges are already outlined and I weave my characters through that labyrinth. When the main story is out of my head and down on paper, then I rough out a map of each chapter. The content in the chapters may change, or the chapters themselves may be rearranged, but the basic form of the story is there: beginning, middle, and end.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Gale: Writer’s block is part of the game. I walk away for a day or two. I’ve learned to do this from putting together puzzles. Many times I can’t find one piece to fit. I walk away for an hour or two. When I return; inevitably I’ll reach down, pick up a piece, and plunk it right into place. I also remind myself that this is the first draft. The book will be revised many times. I have to keep telling myself this, because I want to write it clean and beautiful in the first pass, and that’s a sure way to get writer’s block.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Gale: Absolute quiet. I don’t mind the sound of wind or rain, but no music and no talking.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Gale: I find my creativity is stirred by Nature. I take a lot of walks. I bicycle. I hike in the mountains.
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Gale: Other writers have made a great difference not only on my writing, but on the way I see the world. Because of the words and thoughts of another person, I can reevaluate life. A.A Milne, E.B White, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, Dickens, Chekhov, Shakespeare. The list goes on and on.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Gale: I don’t have a critique group, but I wish I did. It would be so great to have a group of creative people I trusted, to not only help with the content of the story, but to encourage me along the way. Writing is a very lonely business.
M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Gale: Hmmm. This is a tough question. It’s like asking which child is your favorite. I like them all for different reasons. I like the final book in my series, Upon the Mountains, because it brings together all the elements of the story. I like my Christmas book, Christmas for a Dollar, because it’s based on an actual Christmas my father and his siblings spent during the depression. I like my latest book, The Route, because it brings back memories of all the amazing and spunky older folks to whom I delivered meals-on-wheels.
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
Gale: Thanks to you, Michele for this interview. I’d love for people to visit my web site. www.galesears.com and my new blog site www.galesears.blogspot.com
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Gale: You can find my Autumn Sky series: Autumn Sky, Until the Dawn, and Upon the Mountains, at Seagull and Deseret Bookstores and through their online stores. They can also be found at Amazon. The same is true for Christmas for a Dollar. The Route can currently be found at Deseret Book, Amazon, and by contacting Walnut Springs Press at www.walnutspringspress.blogspot.com
My greatest claim to fame is my family. I am married to my prince charming and have four awesome children. This year I experienced the joy of becoming a grandmother to my sweet baby girl Halle. I love to travel and I love to write books.