Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview with L.B. Gschwandtner, author of The Naked Gardener

Last month I read LB Gschwandtner's novel, The Naked Gardner (read my review here). This month, LB was gracious enough to answer my questions. Her fun answers definitely give you a sense of what the writing in the book is like.

Which book or books are on your bedside table right now?
The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood (in the middle of it)
Tinkers by Paul Harding
The Financial lives of Poets by Jess Walter
The Hospital For Bad Poets (short story collection) by J. C. Hallman (reading his great stories here and there)
The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who seems to be in the midst of a zillion books at once!

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

The Princess and The Goblin

I don't know that one. My favorite is a relative unknown too (The Fabulous Flight).

What book would you most want to read again for the first time?

Dr. Zhivago because it’s the only book that made me cry. I’ve read it 5 times and at the same place I always cry. It’s a phenomenal book.

Interesting. I've read quite a few of the Russian classics but I've never read that one.

How did you get started writing?

It started with editing a business magazine. I had to rewrite a lot of other people’s writing and found I was good at it. But fiction is something entirely different. It’s very complex to learn how to write a work of fiction. It takes many different ways of thinking. That’s what I like about it. I started by going to the Iowa Writers Workshop and just kept studying and writing.

I can re-write other people's work with the best of them but writing a novel is so different I don't know if I'd be able to do that. You weathered the big mindset switch well.

If you heard someone describing your book to a friend out in public, how would you most like to hear them describe them/it?

This book was transportive and you have to read it.

::laughing:: I don't know too many people who use the word transportive (I would but I'm a word nerd) but what a great thing to want to hear.

What's the coolest thing that's happened to you since becoming a published author?

Getting to do stuff like this. Writing is a solitary occupation. It is wonderful to interact with other people who love books and who want to know more about the process. And it’s gratifying to read reviews that say things about your book that you never considered.

What was the first thing you did when you heard that you were going to be published?
A writer friend actually talked me into becoming an Indie author. I was reluctant but now I’m having a great time and I love being an Indie. I think the first thing I did was check my sales stats. The first book that sold was a thrill.

Tell us three interesting or offbeat but true things about yourself.
#1: I like to do laundry.
#2: My father once had a dinner date with Marilyn Monroe.
#3: Charlie Merrill (the founder of Merrill Lynch) was at my parents’ wedding & I have the wedding present he gave them.

You know #1 makes you officially weird, right? But feel free to come to my house and indulge yourself any time. ;-)

If you couldn’t be an author, what profession would you choose and why?

Physicist. If I had a brain that could manage math that is. Which I don’t. Physics fascinates me. It explains the universe right up to the ultimate unanswered question. How did it all come to be? And then … still a mystery. So that’s where the arts take over.

What’s the hardest thing about writing, besides having to answer goofy interview questions like these?
It’s when you get stuck on something and don’t know what to do next. That is different from writers’ block, which I’ve never had. It’s a place where the puzzle pieces don’t seem to fit. It’s very frustrating and makes you want to throw your computer out the window (which is a scene in the movie Julia when the Jane Fonda character – supposedly Lillian Hellman – tosses her typewriter out the window in frustration with a play she’s working on)

This frustration is why my computer is not near a window. I hope yours isn't either!

Are you working on something new now? If so, give us a teaser for it.

It’s called Foxy’s Tale. About a 40-year-old former southern beauty queen who’s ex football star turned sportscaster husband has been caught naked with a “hostess” in the fountain at the Las Vegas Bellagio. She takes her teenage daughter and moves into an old house in Washington, D.C. and opens an antique store, rents out the two extra apartments, and begins life over. Except one of her tenants turns out to be – well, not exactly what he seems.

I’m writing it with another writer who specializes in humorous mystery. We’re having the best time working together. Sort of like Lucy and Ethel.

This sounds like it would be hilarious (both the book and the collaboration). I'll look forward to reading it when it's finished.

Thanks to LB Gschwandtner for humoring me and giving such great answers to my questions. Be sure to check out her book, The Naked Gardner, and her website, The Novelette.

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