My dear friend, GG Vandagriff, is a woman who knows what it is like to face the depths of depression...and win. What is better yet, she has taken the resonance of living with this kind of a serious challenge and has turned it into a blessing and help for others.
GG Vandagriff's newest book, Pieces of Paris has just released in time for Christmas gift-giving. It's a book that once you read it, you remember it forever. Having known her for some time, and having read the manuscript before it went to print, I was thrilled when her publisher sent me the finished copy for free for me to review and renew myself with the story. Here is the information from the back cover:
"IS IT POSSIBLE TO FORGET WHO YOU ONCE WERE? Annalisse and Dennis seem to be living the American dream until Annalisse's secret past threatens to destroy their family.As you read the book, you can feel the rain on your face, the clothing on their backs, and the dilemmas these fully-fleshed characters face. I thoroughly enjoy this quality of writing.
"This skillfully crafted novel from Whitney Award winner G.G. Vandagriff explores the long-term effects of personal tragedy in haunting flashbacks of Annalisse's former life--flashbacks that are interwoven with a passionate romance to reveal a person entirely different from the woman Dennis thought he had married.
"But as Annalisse struggles with long-buried memories, Dennis's investigation of a toxic waste incident ignites the wrath of a former political ally and an industrial firm that will go to any lengths to cover up a shocking crime.
"Can Annalisse reconcile her past and present before it's too late? And can Dennis find a way to save his family and the town they've called home?"
G.G. was kind enough to answer questions about her writing process and other aspects of her life. I think you'll love this author once you get to know her: both her books and her personality!
C.S.: What is the reason you write?
GG: That is a very difficult question! I can't imagine what it would feel like not to write. I have written since before I could read�with crayon drawings that told stories. Stories have always been in my head. I told myself stories to put myself to sleep, even into adulthood. My childhood was very dysfunctional, so I was always somewhere in a world of my own. I love my characters, and enjoy more than anything the process of creation. It almost seems like something separate from me, that is channeled through me, to the page. Every morning I wake up excited to find out what is going to happen to them or what new things I will find buried in their psyche that day.
C.S.: What did you not understand about the process of writing as a young writer, compared to now being a much more experienced (and published) writer?
GG: Now that I write for other readers and not just myself, I understand the whole principle of bringing others into the story, into the heads of the characters, feeling what they feel, loving who they love, hating who they hate. It is an art that takes either a genius (which I'm not) or a lot of years learning what is metaphorical or archetypal about human experience. In order to communicate with a varied readership, you must use figures of speech that are original, and yet universally understood. You must not say too much. You bond with the reader by giving him/her a stake in the story�completing the picture or the experience from his or her own mind.
C.S.: Does one need to be published to feel they have arrived as a writer?
GG: Not really, although you could write below your skill level, doing formulaic writing � romances, mysteries, etc. My two finest books were the product of many many years and many many revisions. But while I worked on them, I was dashing off mysteries in a matter of months. Those were what I published for years, before I finally felt I had "arrived" to the point of publishing my best works. There is nothing wrong with mysteries or romance. That is what I read to relax, because they feel familiar and comforting. But a really fine piece of writing is rewarding in a different sense. It can change your life; change the way you think. It can inspire, in other words.
C.S.: What do you wish all people could know who desire to get their works out onto the page?
GG: That writing is an apprenticeship. You wouldn't expect anyone to become a concert violinist overnight. Why do people think they can become writers overnight? There is the occasional phenomenon who can do it. But most of us need to do our "scales" or writing exercises for years before we find our writer's voice and then hone it into something readable or enjoyable. A very successful and well known Sci Fi author said that you should not worry about being published. You should worry about refining your craft. Publishing comes later.
Again, GG is an author who changes your world as your read HER worlds she creates. You can find more about her books at Deseretbook.com and specifically her newest release, Pieces of Paris here. Next week she is going to share more about the post-traumatic stress disorder her character faces, and how she was able to write with such depth about it!