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Saturday, May 14, 2011
Author Interview: Ginger Simpson
The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Ginger Simpson, whose newest book The Forget-Me-Nots is being released this month by MuseItUp Publishing.
Ginger has always like to write; in fact, in English class her favorite part was Creative Writing. She loves, especially, writing western historical and believes her enjoyment of them comes from growing up in, as she says, "a house full of hillbillies that loved Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, and the like."
She got tired of reading other author's books and decided to try her hand at writing her own novel, starting writing seriously in 2000.
I asked her when she first considered herself a writer.
"In 2003 when I held my first book in my little hands."
Since Ginger became an e-published author, she no longer buys mainstream.
"I believe that I need to support my peers more than Nora Roberts," she explained. "I have several authors I favor. Margaret Tanner, Anita Davison, Diane Scott Lewis, Ciara Gold....are just a few of the talented women I admire."
All of Ginger's stories are character driven.
"As silly as it may sound, I've only had one book where a character didn't pop into my head with a story for me to write," she said. "The noise inside my brain gets chaotic at times. I'm just the fingers that do the typing and add the extra touches like smells, feels, pain, sorrow, etc. Strangely, when my characters come with plot in hand, they also have a title. I cannot tell you how it happens...it just does."
In fact, she never has writer's block because she has too many characters in her head with stories to show. Her problem, instead, is how to quiet down the others while she works with just one.
"Engaging characters is one of the most important elements of good writing," she told me. "Unless you can connect your reader with your hero and heroine, you're sunk. Good writing is a combination of talents and knowledge. Showing versus telling, resisting the urge to explain, leaving out extraneous words such as 'that.' The list grows longer every day."
Ginger is currently working on Hattie's Hero, a western historical.
"I love that era and I seem to have a kinship with all the characters who love it too. Cecile, Grace, Mariah, Sarah, Ellie...all my heroines who shared their tales with me."
Her biggest influence on her writing was and continues to be Laura Ingalls Wilder.
"She swept me up and whisked me away to her life and time, and I constantly strive to achieve that with my readers. I hope I've succeeded," she told me.
The hardest part of writing for her, since she started, was finishing The Locket, released last month by Eternal Press.
"This story is one I developed at the insistence of my sister who hates westerns," Ginger said. "Since the main character is an object rather than a person, I was out of my element. I really do like how the story turned out."
Ginger doesn't have a set time for writing. She retired from the University of California, so whenever the mood strikes her, she writes. She has a corner desk she uses, with lots of room, a big monitor, and a desk calendar that holds all her blog guests and her own scheduled appearances. She had hoped to devote more time to writing, however with all the promotions, emails, and chatting that comes along with it—she has decided that one book a year might be her norm.
Once she started writing, she was surprised to learn that, despite having read historical novels since she learned to read, she never really realized the difference between telling and showing a story.
"My first editor said to me, 'You've told a wonderful story; now we have to turn it into a novel,'" she remembered.
On a personal note, I asked, "You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?"
"Just this question made me quiver. I really don't want to talk about it because the experience was truly shocking, humiliating, and mind-numbing."
She hates how she looks in pictures, telling me she's only taken a handful of pictures in her life that she can actually tolerate. She also told me that the first thing she thought when she looked in the mirror was Good morning, Mom!
"My mother has been in my mirror quite a lot lately," she told me.
She doesn't have any strange handwriting habits, but did admit to being really good about forging her husband's signature.
Her favorite animal? One that belongs to someone else.
"I don't want to be responsible for anyone or anything other than myself," she said.
"Have you ever eaten a crayon?" I wondered.
"Heaven's no. I've been hungry but never that desperate. Do people actually do that?" she wondered.
She did, however, admit to craving wet coffee grounds when she was pregnant with her first child, eating them by the spoonful.
She enjoys reading when she's not writing, and she also spends some of her free time with her husband, Kelly. She also always finds time for Spencer, the love of her life. He's her grandson, who has been diagnosed with autism, has shown her that with determination, all things are possible.
"What do you want to know about the future?" I wondered.
"I don't. I'm happy living each day at a time and I wouldn't care to know how much longer I have to enjoy my grandson. I would like to stay healthy, happy, and be around long enough to see my grandson grow up and conquer his autism. I pray for that almost every night."
I also asked, "What is one thing scientists should invent?"
"I used to wish they would invent nylons that didn't snag or run, but since I don't need them anymore, I think it would be nice if they found a cure for cancer and autism."
Finally, I asked Ginger, "What advice would you give a new writer just staring out?"
"There is a vast difference between TELLING a story and SHOWING a novel."
You can keep up with Ginger on her website, http://www.gingersimpson.co