Born a native Californian, GG attended Stanford University for her BA, spent a couple of years working in Finance at Harvard and Fidelity Investments and then went to George Washington for her MA in International Relations. As an undergraduate she studied six months in Austria. This was the impetus for her nearly life-long project, The Last Waltz. She plotted it on the bus to work in LA after she was married and while she was putting her husband through law school. When he graduated, she began research and character sketches, and by the time her children were all in school, she had a rough draft and an agent. However, she didn't want it to be the romance her agent envisioned so she spent 20 more years trying to figure out how to write an epic. In the meantime, she began a series of "potato chip books"--mysteries about a team of genealogists. She also published two non-fiction books.
Her family lived in Monett, Missouri (a tiny farm community), Oakwood Ohio (suburb of Dayton), and finally has settled in Provo. She and her husband David are the parents of three wonderful children. Their daughter has two boys--Jack and Micah, and they are the light of GG's life.
When she finally became frustrated enough with The Last Waltz to ask what Tolstoy would do, she found the answer: multiple viewpoints! A revelation! After that, the book was finished soon, and published to very positive reviews, winning the Whitney Award for Best Historical Fiction in 2009. Her next biggest project, the semi-autobiographical novel, Pieces of Paris, will be released in two weeks. Taking place in the Ozarks, it is the story of unexpected developments in a supposedly ideal marriage and setting. Only a true understanding of the mission of Christ can bring answers and healing.
GG and her husband hope to serve a mission together in Italy and continue to publish books until they get Alzheimer's.
When did you first start writing and what inspired you to write? I started writing when I was old enough to hold crayons. My home was not a typical place, and being basically a happy child in a weird environment, I longed for a more predictable life. So I created a character called Sandy O'Hara and lived my life through her. Later, I invented suspense and adventure in the old abandoned ammunition dump buried in the mountains east of our home. I won my first writing award in 9th grade, and then there was no stopping me! I am most relaxed when I am writing and it fills me with wonderment as I create characters that become my friends. All of them are part of me.
What roadblocks have you come across in the process of writing? When I was a freshman, my writing future was almost destroyed by a Stanford TA who told me I had great talent but that my religion was holding me back and I would never be successful until I let it go. A modern day roadblock is that getting women's fiction published in the national market seems to require sex scenes, which I deplore for moral reasons, but also find quite anticlimactic and boring. The best romance leaves most to the imagination. Why else would Jane Austen be such a classic?
What was yout first experience getting published? I fell quite luckily into my first publishing experience A national editor was offering a class on publishing in Kansas City (3 hours from home). I went, and did my assignment, which was to write a book proposal for a non-fiction book. I wrote one in a week for Voices in Your Blood: Discovering Identity Through Family History. She fell in love with it and asked me to submit it to her publishing house. I did, and a few months later it was accepted, along with a handsome royalty!
Where do you get the ideas/material for your books? My book, The Last Waltz: A Story of Love and War grew naturally from my studies in Austria. My genealogical mysteries from my passion for genealogy as a detective pursuit, Arthurian Omen, from my love of Wales and the King Arthur saga, my depression book exploded from a desire to help sufferers find the relief I had through the Atonement. The Crazy Ladies saga I am writing now developed from a love of travel, experiences in my own therapy, and (of all things) from a passion for Charles Krauthammer (who is now not even in the book). My newest book, Pieces of Paris, grew over a long time out of my experience with PTSD and the crazy place I lived for 16 years in the Ozarks. The book I just submitted: Foggy With a Chance of Murder just simply evolved from my first sentence where Chloe is sitting on a beach in San Clemente. I just kept asking myself, "what next." So as you can see, just about everything is grist for my mill.
What inspired The Last Waltz? I really wanted to tell the unknown tale of Austria between the wars, as well as exploring different types of patriotism and romantic love. It was an epic, and I had never written seriously before at all, so it was many years in development. My various drafts, character sketches, etc. are all available at the BYU Special Collections in the Harold B. Lee library.
How do you balance being a wife and mother and author at the same time? Wife: My husband and I hold devotionals early in the morning first thing. We discuss our work after studying the gospel. We set daily goals. We help each other with our work. He does a tremendous amount of techie stuff for me. Mother: When my children were home, I only wrote during naps or while they were at school. Rarely, when I was at a climax, my husband would buy a pizza, lock my office door, and put the kids to bed for me. During summers, we had very scheduled days, which always included at least an hour of creative time, where they worked on projects, and I kept my hand in on the present book I was working on. It's a balancing act, but can definitely be done with planning.
What is one subject/story you would like to write about, but haven't yet? I really want to do an in depth historical novel about the Medici family in Florence. Possibly a time travel. I may also write a sequel to The Last Waltz once I have finished my four volume series: The Crazy Ladies.
What is your favorite book you have written? It's a toss up between Waltz and Pieces of Paris (coming out in two weeks!). PofP was by far the most difficult, and is definitely the better book, but Waltz was more fun.
How do you do your research of Historical Fiction? What is the routine and plan? Do you travel to the location? I get all my research on site. I definitely have to visit the place. Then I do extensive research through eye witness accounts and psychological profiles. I have a basic knowledge of the facts before I even begin to think of writing the book. That is what usually starts my interest in the first place.
Who is your favorite author and book? My favorite author, hand down, is Leo Tolstoy. My favorite work is Anna Karenina. The part of it that never makes it into the movies, is the story of Levin's discovery of Christianity. The book is actually an account of Levin's ascent and Anna's descent. The contrast is what is makes the book a great one. I also love Jane Eyre, Love Walked In (a conteporatry novel by Marisa de los Santos), The French Lieutenant's Woman, an Possession by A.S. Byatt.
|GG's newest novel to be released in a couple of weeks|
To enter to win is easy! You can do any of the below mentioned items. You will be entered one time for each thing you do! Make sure you leave a comment to this post stating which ways you entered so I will know the number of times to place you in the drawing! This give-away will be closed to entries midnight Sep. 23, and I'll be announcing the winner Sep. 24. Good luck!
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