Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Interview - Gwendolen Gross, author of The Other Mother: A Novel

Today's "5Q&A" interview is with Gwendolen Gross, author of The Other Mother: A Novel. Gwendolen has previously published two other books, Field Guide and Getting Out.

1.) Who are you?

I'm a mom and wife and novelist who lives in New Jersey. Oh, sure, I had adventurous titles in the past--live animal and physical science demonstrator at a science museum (think porcupines and very, very large snakes), spelunker, opera singer, editor, naturalist--but I think being a mom uses every one of those skills!

I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, went to Oberlin College (with a brief stint studying the spectacled fruit bats of Queensland, Australia), and then moved to California. I've found my way back east, went to graduate school at Sarah Lawrence (in writing! impractical, but wonderful!)
and now live in a leafy suburb and love it.

2.) Do you find it difficult to balance family and your writing career?

Sometimes. Writers are people who WRITE, so basically, finding the time and mental space to write is the challenge. But I make it one of my priorities, because if I can't write, I'm miserable. I had help from my husband when my first child was born, and hired a babysitter for a few hours daily when the second came around.

Writing is my work and my joy, as is momming, so I just have to make time for both. Sometimes the balance gets tipped one way or the other, but eventually I even things out.

3.) Have you found yourself feeling torn between your perceptions of parenting and other people's opinions?

I guess I wrote this particular book (THE OTHER MOTHER) because I noticed how much judgement flies about--spoken and unspoken, behind backs or face to face, and I really have no interest in participating in that. But I LOVED writing about what it's like to be two moms--one working, one stay at home--making them the recipients of all my internal conflicts, changing things around. Writing is all about what-ifs. And you get to imbed fiction with your own truths--and your own mishegas.

4.) When did you know you were going to write a book?

I wrote my first novel (still sitting in a drawer) when I was on disability because of an eye problem. I was living in San Diego, knowing I was going to move soon, and applying to graduate schools in writing. I sat in a little box of a house with no air conditioning and a flat black roof with the fan facing me, typing without looking at the keyboard or screen because of the eye problem. Many, many pages were one key off, so they were gibberish. But I needed to do it.

5.) What's next?

This is my third published novel. I hope to keep writing them and writing them and writing them. I'm in no rush, though. I have two I'm revising right now, and hopefully one of those will be the next book on the shelves. Meanwhile, I'm living and momming and being a wife and friend--all that stuff makes up the material of both fiction and life.

Thank you so much, Gwendolen!

The Other Mother: A Novel is available at bookstores online. For more news about Gwendolen and book signings, check out her website at

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