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Authorial Intrusion - Gretchen M. Laskas

Welcome to the ninth Authorial Intrusion! To read any of the previous eight interviews, just click on the tag “authorial intrusion” on the left side of the page.

For those just tuning in, here’s the history behind these posts:

I love reading about the Publishing Journeys of my favorite writers.

I love the long, soul-searching interviews that reveal every obstacle and triumph: the author whose agent made her do three revisions before signing her … the author who gets up at 4:30 a.m. to write, because it’s the only time she has to herself … the critically acclaimed author who spent nine years trying to get published … I never tire of this stuff!

Long, luxurious interviews aside, don’t you sometimes find yourself wondering: “But do you like Thai or Chinese food better?”

Reader, I asked them.

I assembled a grab-bag full of random questions and emailed them to some of my favorite writers.

They answered!

This will be a weekly post, as long as I have a supply of bored willing writers.

And by the way, if you’re an author and I haven’t emailed you yet … do not imagine that you’ve escaped my clutches. My curiosity rambles far and wide! I will get to you. Also, if you have a book coming out (or already published), and you want to play along, feel free to contact me at my LJ email address. (For now, I'm limiting the interviews to writers of MG and YA, since that's what I read and write.)

And now, without further ado, please welcome Gretchen Moran Laskas!

Gretchen Moran Laskas is the author of The Miner’s Daughter, a YA novel set in 1932, in a West Virginia coal mining town. When I was in school, history was one of my least favorite subjects – it seemed so dry and full of dates to memorize. If I could have read books like The Miner’s Daughter, I would have developed a deeper curiosity about the past. I worried about these characters as they suffered through hunger, cold, and deepening poverty, and I guarded a flame of hope for Willa, the resourceful main character, who never forgets her beginnings … even as she reaches toward a brighter future. Here’s the back story of this book, from Gretchen’s website: http://www.lyonsmorris.com/GLM/backStory.cfm.

Gretchen is also the author of The Midwife’s Tale, an adult novel. I hope there are many more historical novels on the way from this author … to bring the past to life for me.

Chocolate chip cookies or snickerdoodles?
Chocolate Chip, although I'm really addicted to Rice Krispie Treats. Surely I did not eat the whole pan....oh well.

Bach, Beethoven, Bon Jovi, or Bono?
Yes. Is it a good or bad thing that I can play all four of the work on the piano? I'm not saying that I play them well, just that I can.

What's your favorite childhood Halloween costume?
My mother had a book about children's Halloween costumes, so we always had good ones. The best one was a dog costume I had in fourth grade; it was made out of paper bags that she had painstakingly cut so they were fringed. I won the school competition, which meant I received two books from the Scholastic Book Fair -- a big deal because with a librarian for a father, he saw no reason to pay good money for books he could bring us home for free! I spent HOURS deciding what I wanted. I bought a typical "problem novel" book called GIVE ME AN H.E.L.P. about a boy whose step sister was trying to commit suicide (such wholesome reading material for a fourth grader!) but I also bought my first William Sleator novel, BLACKBRIAR, and I've been a Sleator fan ever since.

Beach or mountains?
Coming from West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, I'm definitely a mountain girl. So much so that I find a flat skyline rather unsettling. Even now, I can't live more than a day's drive from the mountains.

Advice for writers in 5 words or less.
Don't give up.

Rollercoasters: love em or hate em?
Love them. I worked in a carnivals during my childhood summers to earn extra money, so I'll ride anything and everything. I especially love the old wooden roller coasters that creak and groan and make you think they're going to fall apart just before you shoot down the first hill.

What's the last song you listened to?
"Lithium" by Nirvana. Every year I have theme song -- and the song picks me, I don't pick the song. This year it's "Lithium." Feel free to read into that whatever you wish!

First car?
1985 Plymouth Turismo. I wrecked it on our honeymoon and some wonderful Canadians in Brockville Ontario put it back together in two days so we wouldn't lose our reservations on Prince Edward Island, where we were going to see the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES houses. My whole honeymoon was pretty much "Gretchen's favorite book sites." We were in Toronto for Margaret Atwood, Malone NY for Almanzo Wilder, PEI for L. M. Montgomery and Maine for Elisabeth Ogilivie. I'll always remember the Turismo as the car with windows wide enough that I could climb out of them "Dukes of Hazzard" style, or sit on the door, half in, half out. I did that when we crossed the Tappen Zee bridge for the first time (on said honeymoon) and my husband is shrieking for me to get inside, but I was trying to take a picture of the eastern bluffs, because that's where the Trixie Belden novels were set!

What books are on your night-stand right now?
I always have a ton. Books on the Puritans, because that's the novel I'm working on right now. Surely I'm the only person in the world who reads the Journals of John Winthrop for fun! The "Pickle Kids" books by Jerry Spinelli, which my son and I are reading together. HER HUSBAND, the biography of Ted Hughes' marriage to Sylvia Plath, which is very good. I'm also a huge re-reader of books, and this summer I've re-read most of the Madeleine L'Engle novels and memoirs.

Thanks for indulging our curiosity, Gretchen!

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Oct. 15th, 2007 01:07 am (UTC)
Great post, Lisa -- thanks!
Oct. 15th, 2007 12:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading them, Robin!
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 15th, 2007 12:52 pm (UTC)
I'm enjoying putting them together! Thanks.
Oct. 15th, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
Yay, Gretchen!:D
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