Interview with Author, Molly Gloss (part 2)

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

MG. Yes, absolutely. The best part of writing is “getting lost” in the story you’re telling. My own words can (pathetically) make me cry, or make my heart race from the stress I’ve put my character under. But then I do have to pull away and look at it objectively, cooly, so I can revise, revise, revise.

Q. Do you have a new book coming out soon? If so tell us about it.

MG. I have three previous novels returning to print, soon—Outside the Gates (Jan), Wild Life (Feb), and The Dazzle of Day (Mar) from Saga Press/Simon & Schuster. And in July from the same press, my first collection of short stories, titled UNFORESEEN. Sixteen stories, including three written just for this collection.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

MG. I had written bits and pieces of things while my son was little, but had never finished anything. Then, when he started kindergarten and I had big unclaimed blocks of time, I buckled down and wrote a whole novel. It wasn’t very good, but I learned a lot by writing it…and I also learned that I wanted to keep on writing. That was 1980. My husband and I had earlier agreed that I’d return to the workforce after our son was in first grade, but now we agreed that I should give “this writing thing” a serious try. And I never looked back.

Q. How long after that were you published?

MG. My first short story was published in 1981, and several more in the following years. My first novel—Outside the Gates, a fantasy marketed as young-adult—in 1986.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

A. Never! People will always want to hold a book in their hands, turn the pages, feel the paper, leaf back to reread favorite passages, leap ahead to read the last paragraph! The e-book craze has already peaked, and paper book sales are holding steady. Don’t worry, books will always be with us. But any way you choose to read—e-book, paper book, or audio book—is fine by me. I listen to a lot of audio books, myself, because I have a daily 30-40 minute commute each way to my horses. Is an audio-book “reading”? Yes, of course it is!

Q. What makes a writer great?

MG.  Huh. I may not have an answer for that question. What does “great” mean? Best-selling? Admitted to the “canon” by literary gate-keepers? In print more than 100 years? (Think how few writers are still being read, who were popular in 1918?) There are books and writers I have not loved, though everyone is calling them great, and I have loved books that disappeared quickly without anyone else seeming to notice, and loved writers who fell out of print and were forgotten. (This has happened especially to women writers.) So I think “greatness” would be defined differently by every reader and every generation. As perhaps it should be.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

MG. Slow, difficult, daily grind. Revision, worry, uncertainty, more revision, groping and mucking through the middle, then skating to the end in a joyous rush, or inching up to it in an agony of doubt, feeling fragile as you hand it off to a couple of trusted readers, and later, holding a hardbound copy in your hand, a mix of elation and disbelief. Oh, and then all the new worries, will anyone read it? will anyone like it? will it sell, will it be reviewed, will it stay in print? and will I ever write again? Ah, the bittersweet writing life.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

MG. Long road trips back to Texas when I was a young teen, reading cowboy novels in the back seat of the car, absolutely imprinted on me and is the reason I’ve so often written about the history, mythology and culture of the ranching west.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

MG. I write poetry, does that count? And I’ve written one fanfiction for the television series Person of Interest. (I have ideas for more.) My novels and stories range from historical/western fiction to science fiction/fantasy, though to my mind these are all on the same spectrum. (That’s for another essay.) I love a good, well-written detective novel, so maybe someday I’ll try one?

Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

MG. Life is so short. Tell your friends and family you love them, every time you see them. And get over your reluctance to hug, even if you grew up in a family of non-huggers.


MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss.  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Interview with author, Molly Gloss

TS. Molly likes to brag (just a little) that on her mother’s side, she’s fourth generation Oregonian, from German immigrants. On her father’s side she’s fourth-generation Texan, as her great grandmother  was the first white child born in Irion County, Texas. She is widowed with one son and was recently blessed with a new grandson!  She says, “Why didn’t anyone tell me how magical this would be?! Oh, right, they did tell me, I just wasn’t listening!” She’s been writing full-time since  1980. “I’m a slow writer, but I’ve managed to eke out six novels and about 20 short stories.” She currently lives in Portland, Ore. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.


MG. I like to be comfortable. I wrote The Jump-Off Creek in longhand while sitting in my favorite overstuffed chair. When desktop computers became the thing, I wrote while sitting at a desk, but I never loved it, and now I write on a laptop, sitting on the living room sofa with my feet propped up on an ottoman and the laptop literally in my lap.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

MG. Nope. I open the file I’m working on, reread the last few pages, and go to work wrestling with the next sentence. But I do have to have my favorite Roget’s Thesaurus close to hand. And also The American Thesaurus of Slang. Good for finding just the right period-perfect term for historical fiction.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

MG. I have never lived on the “dry side” of the West where many of my novels and stories are set. I grew up on the “wet side” and live here still, in a suburban townhouse at the edge of Portland.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

MG. I try to write from post-breakfast to pre-dinner, with a short break for lunch, but that schedule can vary greatly now that I live alone and have no children or husband or dog to contend with. Now sometimes I surprise myself by writing late at night. But it’s a sad irony that I do have more trouble sticking to a set schedule now that I have more time to write. When I had a family at home and had to keep up the housework, the grocery shopping, the gardening, making meals, etc, I was more disciplined about squeezing my writing into the available time. Now I’ve become a procrastinator!

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

MG. Speaking of which! I’m not the best person to give this advice, as I’ve become a terrible procrastinator myself, horribly addicted to the lure of the internet. I had to go away to a place without wifi in order to finish my last novel. Perhaps that’s my advice? Disconnect from wifi!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

MG. More often than not, a new character arises out of research for a previous novel. In researching for The Jump-Off Creek, which is a novel about a single woman homesteader, I came upon Teresa Jordan’s book of oral histories, COWGIRLS: WOMEN OF THE AMERICAN WEST, and there for the first time heard about young girls traveling the countryside breaking horses during the nineteen-tens, and my character Martha Lessen in THE HEARTS OF HORSES arose out of that research. And then while I was researching the history of horse training for that novel, I fell into a cache of material about how horses were trained (and misused) in the Western movies of the 1930s, and that was the beginning of my character Bud Frazer, a Hollywood stunt rider in FALLING FROM HORSES.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

MG. I’ve always wanted to write. I was a voracious reader and I think I’ve often been driven by a desire to write the story I couldn’t find on the library shelves.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

MG.They are intertwined. The character doesn’t exist for me until I know what sort of situation they are in. And the situation doesn’t mean anything to me unless I can see how it impacts a particular person.

Don’t miss Part two of this Interview on January 25th

MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss. February:  Patrick Canning and March: Poet, Joe Albanese
To receive my posts sign up for my   On the home page, enter your email address.  Thanks! 


To Purchase