Day 18: Interview with L.B. Gschwandtner

Jen: Our guest today is L.B. Gschwandtner. L.B., will you please share a short bio with us?
L.B.: I’m married, the mother of three daughters, a writer, magazine editor, artist, and co-owner with my husband of an integrated media business.

My work has appeared in various journals including Del Sol Review and WritingRaw.com. One of my prose poems has been included in an anthology called Oil and Water and Other Things That Don’t Mix, which is a collection being published to support victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

I’ve received awards for three different stories from the Writer’s Digest Annual Competition in the mainstream literary category and the Lorian Hemingway short fiction competition, and was short listed for a Tom Howard Short Story Contest.

I also founded TheNovelette.com which offers free themed writing contests.

I live in Virginia on a very wide, long, tidal creek that looks across the Potomac River to Maryland. I raise orchids. I like plants of all kinds, hummingbirds, Bald Eagles, really great writing, and art.

I’m an avid kayaker (touring) and grew up fishing in the Florida Keys.

Jen: Tell us about The Naked Gardener and where it’s available.
L.B.: The Naked Gardener is my first novel and is available at www.amazon.com in Kindle and print versions and now through Smashwords for all e-readers including Nook at BarnesandNoble.com.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
L.B.: Oh that’s a long and winding road. 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 started publishing nonfiction many years ago but this is the first fiction I’ve published. I’ve worked with agents but I prefer the way I’m doing it now, as an Indie author.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
L.B.: Asking a fiction writer to describe anything in three words is like asking a prize fighter to KO an opponent with one carefully chosen punch. I would go with: Evocative, visual, and the last word is not what it seems – suggestive. And by that I mean my writing “suggests” possibilities.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
L.B.: I do both. I don’t plot to the last minute detail. But I have a general idea with some specific plot points. And then I try to let the writing become an unconscious act. In first draft anyway.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
L.B.: I did a lot of reading about mills. In eighteen and nineteen hundreds there some towns had three mills. One for generating power. One for milling grain. And one for lumber. Everything in this book, except for the mill part of the story, is something I have either done or someone close to me has done. Even the fishing stories. I’ve done all that.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
L.B.: It’s funny. I do dream about the book while I’m writing it but not so much about the characters themselves but about what happens within the story. I think that’s normal. One of the functions of dreams is working out problems you grappled with during your waking hours.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
L.B.: There are many genres I wouldn’t tackle. Romance is one. I’d be terrible at that. Fantasy is another. Science fiction. Is there sports fiction because I would definitely avoid that like a disease. I love to write middle grade fiction. Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?

L.B.: First I would have to say my writer friends have been so important. It really helps to have people close to you who are going through the same things as writers. I had the most wonderful writing teacher. His name is Fred Leebron. He is a truly gifted teacher and writer. I admire Boris Pasternak – Doctor Zhivago is my favorite book. I also love Margaret Atwood’s work, both fiction and nonfiction. I’d love to meet her or at least speak with her. I would ask about her view of the future because her fiction paints a pretty dismal picture and, although I love her work, I don’t see the world that way at all.

Jen: Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale, new contract, or release?
L.B.: I’m about to come out with a middle grade novel actually. In about a month.

The title is Page Truly and The Journey To Nearandfar.

Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
L.B.: Oh that’s funny. In one negative Amazon review a guy (I’m sure it was a guy) said: “Girl talk. Yuk.” That made me laugh. Personally I love girl talk. What girl doesn’t?

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
L.B.: I’m reading The Year of the Flood and waiting in the wings are Tinkers, The Widower’s Tale, and The Financial Lives of the Poets. I love great writing but I also love a good story. Doesn’t everyone? I loved The Shipping News, Olive Kitteridge, and a book by a French writer who won the Nobel Prize in 2009, The Prospector. Also a Chinese author, Mo Yan –Life and Death are Wearing Me Out – a great work.

Jen: What’s next for you?
L.B.: I’m working with another writer – she writes very funny – on a book now that crosses three genres. Women’s fiction, YA, and vampire. It’s a funny, coming of age story for a mother and daughter. They BOTH have to grow up.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
L.B.: Well my books are on Amazon.com. My website is TheNovelette.com, and my Facebook is L.B. Gschwandtner (they added the periods for some reason) and my Twitter is The Novelette. I think I also have linked in but I get confused by all the social media.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
L.B.: What is the fascination with vampires?

Jen: Readers, L.B. is offering up a copy of The Naked Gardener to a lucky prize winner. The book comes with a packet of seeds printed with my book cover tied up with a ribbon. To enter the drawing, answer L.B.’s question or ask one of her. Don’t forget to leave your email address in your comment to complete your entry. The winner will be chosen on Monday, December 20.