An avid supporter of queer literature, KG currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She divides her time between Palm Springs and her native North Carolina mountains.
Her Etched in Shadows is a Goldie finalist in the Ann Bannon Popular Choice and Traditional Contemporary Romance categories. I asked her to respond to the 6 questions you posed on Facebook – and here are her replies.
1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
Considering how many times I’ve fielded this question over the last dozen years, you’d think I’d have a go-to answer by now. This authoring business has profoundly changed the way I read popular fiction, which in turn, influences the way I try to write, and then the way I read, and then the way I write, etc. I can’t seem to read purely for pleasure anymore, because I catch myself analyzing all the various elements and looking for insight into the author’s objectives. I’m impressed by creative characterization (like the five distinct voices in Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible or five-year-old Jack in Emma Donaghue’s Room), a clever premise (Death as a narrator in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief) and brilliant turns of phrase (ibid.). The stories that stay with me the longest are the ones that end boldly, like A.M. Homes’ Music for Torching, or ambiguously, like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
In the lesbian fiction realm, the books I’ve enjoyed most are epic adventures, such as Belle Reilly’s High Intensity and D. Jordan Redhawk’s Tiopa Ki Lakota. I appreciate authors who do a lot of research and reveal what they’ve learned in the context of a good story.
2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
The word “surprising” doesn’t really do justice to the pivotal impact of Xena: Warrior Princess fan fiction—not only on my writing, but my whole life. Starting about 15 years ago, my obsessive reading led me to try my hand at writing. In the first two years alone, I produced seven novel-length stories, all of which were eventually polished and published by Bella Books. Until then, I never even knew I had a creative side. I found writing so exciting and fulfilling that I left my career as a media research consultant to write full-time.
As for a specific inspiration that I’d call “interesting,” I’d have to say my personal trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2001, which led me to write Worth Every Step. At that time, I hadn’t started writing yet, but I kept a journal during my trip, and writing that book gave me a chance to relive the adventure.
3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t find writing to be emotionally draining. The people around me might not agree, because I find it difficult to concentrate on anything else when I’m in the midst of a first draft, which means I can be very poor company for months at a time. My partner Jenny is my sounding board. She mostly listens as I think aloud, but I can count on her to help me out of a corner when I get stuck.
Another confession: For this author (and I suspect lots of others), isolation is a treasured commodity. I’m never lonely because I have so many characters and mysteries and adventures and emotions in my head. I do my best work when I have long blocks of solitude, and Jenny often obliges me by packing up and leaving town for a couple of weeks at a time.
4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
It. Never. Gets. Old. I see that box of author’s copies on the doorstep and tear into it like a kid at Christmas. Being shortlisted or winning an award is a genuine honor—a Sally Field moment—and I’m especially grateful to the organizations that sponsor these awards and bring attention to our books.
5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish (literary or otherwise)?
I’ve just sent off the manuscript for my 20th Bella Book, so my head is empty right now. I’ve been writing two books a year for the last few years, but haven’t given much thought to 2015 yet. I’ve been very busy in my role on the board of trusteesthe Lambda Literary Foundation, where I’m about halfway through a six-year term. The rest of life, I’m just playing by ear.
6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
Anyone But You comes out in June. Equal parts romance and intrigue, and it’s hands down my favorite book in a long time. I wanted to tell a story about two women who fall for one another and discover too late they’re natural enemies, but it took me a while to settle on a backdrop. I chose the oil industry, and was horrified to discover through my research how far they go to shut down their opposition, especially environmental activists. It’s purely a work of fiction, but the egregious actions of the oil industry (in conjunction with their powerful friends in government and law enforcement) are based on documented events.
Fresh off my desk is Life After Love, the story of two women who have to bounce back after losing the relationships they thought would last forever. That one comes out in October.
KG also asked to say:
“Thanks very much for this opportunity to share my thoughts with your blog readers. Authors must promote to be successful, and those who provide these opportunities do us all an invaluable service. Thanks also to those who take the time to read our words, comment on them and share them with others. I’m always proud to say I’m part of the lesbian fiction community.”