Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Thank you, Fiona. It’s good to meet you.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Elizabeth Gauffreau, but I’ve always been called Liz. I’m a Baby Boomer.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’ve lived in Nottingham, New Hampshire since 2001. I lived in Virginia (mostly) for twenty years before that, when my husband was in the Navy. I graduated from high school in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, which is the hometown I identify with from childhood.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I am married to my high school sweetheart. We have a married daughter living in sunny San Diego.
I grew up as a P.K. (Preacher’s Kid) in New England in the 1960s. My family moved around some until we settled in Enosburg when I was in the fifth grade. I am very grateful to my parents for giving me the gift of an innocent childhood. I don’t know that children get to have that anymore.
I attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia as a nontraditional student, graduating with a BA in English/Writing. I also have an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. My professional career has been in nontraditional higher education: advising, teaching, and administration. I have recently returned to teaching the writing process after many years teaching critical inquiry–and I’m loving it!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest news is a short story, “Beware the Ides of September,” that was just published in The RavensPerch.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in the ninth grade when something I’d written got a rise out of my English teacher. Writing was power, and I wanted that power! I wrote bad poetry through high school, then switched to fiction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been a writer for so long, it’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t, but if I had to pick a defining moment, I would say that it happened in college during a lecture on “Titus Andronicus” in Shakespeare class. The professor was going into great detail about some really bad imagery in the play involving gushing blood, which Shakespeare refined to much better effect in a later play. That one lecture completely demystified, if not debunked, the notion of being a writer. Being a writer meant first serving an apprenticeship to learn your craft. I was in my apprenticeship; I was a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was inspired to write Telling Sonny by a snippet of family history my mother scribbled on a piece of notebook paper: “Elliott I. committed suicide and had a sister Dorothy.”
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title is based on Sonny’s mother trying to figure out how she is going to tell him about his father’s death and the fact that he wasn’t even asked to the funeral.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre you find particularly challenging?
When I first started out, my style was very much Raymond Carver minimalist. I’ve since moved away from it to develop a style that a recent reader described as classical. Plotting tends to be challenging for me.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Like much of my fiction, Telling Sonny started with a small bit of family history I wanted to know more about, in this case, my paternal grandfather. There was no “more,” so I just made it up. The Enosburg setting is real, as are some of the incidental characters, such as the town band of old duffers.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No, I don’t. I’m shackled to a demanding day job. I do research for my fiction, including Telling Sonny. The process I follow is that I will do enough initial research to get started, write until I need more information, do that research, write until I get stuck again, and so on.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The photograph on the Telling Sonny cover is a family picture. My publisher, Adelaide Books, designed the cover.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, I would like readers to see the potential of our children to redeem us.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’ve been reading mostly short fiction in literary magazines, so I will read stories that are incredibly compelling and moving, but I don’t make note of who wrote them! I need to get better about that. My favorite writer is William Faulkner because he achieves the balance of creating a fictional world that is like no other but at the same time is very much grounded in the real world we’re a part of.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Tony Ardizzone, my first creative writing teacher at Old Dominion University. He believed in my work, and he taught me more about the craft of fiction than I could ever thank him for.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I do. In addition to publishing fiction and poetry, I spend the majority of my day job writing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It went through several extensive revisions, so, no, I don’t think so.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I had to teach myself the W storyboard structure in order for the book to hold together and maintain dramatic tension. That structure will stand me in good stead for future projects.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I would choose the young Geneviève Bujold to play Faby for her French-Canadian heritage and diminutive stature.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I would give beginning writers the same advice I received: When you’re just starting out, focus on learning your craft, and don’t worry about publishing. Publishing will come when your work is ready. For experienced writers, I would say, trust your own ability to make good decisions about your writing, including what advice to heed and what advice to ignore.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes, thank you for reading! The time and attention you give to my characters means the world to me.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished Debbie Richard’s poetry collection, Pivot. I am now reading Raymond Fenech’s The Incident of the Mysterious Priest and Other Stories.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes, I do. It was my mother’s copy of the original Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, published in 1935. I still have it.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The memory of my younger brother George. He was by far the best oral-storyteller I have ever known. No one could make me laugh the way he could. I miss him terribly.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I think I should like to meet William Faulkner because his short story “Barn Burning” introduced me to literature and set me on the path of becoming a writer. In addition, I read in his biography that for a time in his younger days he was known as Count No ‘ccount. Someone called Count No ‘ccount has to be interesting, right? You just don’t want to lend him any money.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
The hobby I share with my husband is going to museums, historical sites, and parks.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’ve always enjoyed watching mysteries, particularly if they’re in the atmospheric, character-driven film noir vein. I also like comedies that involve old men ranting and destroying property as they rage against the machine. (My husband and I just finished binge-watching “The Rebel,” starring Simon Callow.)
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
To my way of thinking, cookies are the perfect food, with ice cream running a close second. And chocolate, of course. My favorite color is the blue of the sea off the coast of Maine on a sunny day. The music I like pretty much represents different periods of my life: folk songs and musicals from childhood, classic rock from high school, punk and new wave from college, then alternative rock with some classic country, reggae, ska, and zydeco picked up along the way. For the past couple of years, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to vintage blues.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would write inside my head, where no one could catch me at it.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live. How would you spend that time?
I would first deny that I was facing death, but then, sadly, I would probably spend the rest of the time agonizing over my decision of how to spend my last remaining hours.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Aside from my dates, I’d like my full name because I think it best defines me: Elizabeth Anne Gauffreau.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, here’s where to find me:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/elizabethgauffreau
Author’s Website & Blog: http://lizgauffreau.com
Family History Blog: http://genealogylizgauffreau.com
Facebook Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth-Gauffreau-435161253684767/
Telling Sonny: https://amzn.to/2Q7mc9u