November 17, 2010

Author Interview: LB Gschwandtner

Today I am happy to welcome LB Gschwandtner, author of the newly released (and vividly titled) The Naked Gardener, to Psychotic State. She has graciously answered some questions about her writing, Project Runway and, of course, naked gardening.  

Hi LB, welcome to Psychotic State and thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers.

LBG:  I’m so happy to be here with you.

I think the one big question on my mind, and the minds of all the readers out there, is where did you get the idea for a book about a naked gardener?

LBG:  At a certain point in my life, I knew three women who gardened naked. They all had different takes on why they did it but they all felt it was really important to them. So I began to think about a woman named Katelyn Cross who goes to her garden naked and what that might mean and in what ways it would be liberating for her and important in her life.

I really liked the character of Katelyn in The Naked Gardener. I thought she was relatable and I thought it was a nice touch to make the female have a wariness of sorts about marriage. Did you base Katelyn on anyone in particular or on a group of women you know?

LBG:  I love that question because I did not base Katelyn on one person but on many of the things I know women feel after they become wives. The feeling of losing who you are because of the demands of what I would call wifedom can be overwhelming. House, husband, children, work, laundry, and all the rest of what a woman is responsible for within marriage, can really be daunting. Katelyn, as a character, symbolizes the ambivalence many women feel post marriage – like ten years into it. We still carry around this Cinderella finding the prince fantasy and sometimes we don’t think past the wedding day to what the reality will be. Some women make the transition well and some don’t. Katelyn, having been in a relationship that made demands she couldn’t accept is wary about doing it again and losing herself through that commitment.

Speaking of fantastic characters, the supporting female characters - - the group of five women that take the trip with Katelyn - - are absolutely amazing! Is there any chance we will revisit them in a future book? (Please, please!) And if so, can you give us any hints?

LBG:  Oh, thank you. I love it when my characters resonate with readers. They seem so real to me. I do plan a follow up book called Trout River Falls or perhaps Saving Trout River Falls. It will expand on these characters but the protagonist will be Erica, the head of the town council in The Naked Gardener. I want to know what happens with her son and with her determination to save the town. I want to know how she follows through with that.

Based on the writing and descriptions in the book, I would venture to guess that you are not only a gardener yourself but also enjoy canoeing. What other hobbies do you have when you’re not penning a book?

LBG:  My husband and I kayak. We live on a tidal creek and sometimes, when he’s at work, I’ll go down to the boathouse and plop my kayak in the water and just take off for a few hours. The minute I feel the water under me, it’s as if I’ve entered another world.

I also raise orchids. I have a greenhouse but in the summer I move them outside. I always have some orchids in bloom. I love them.

How long did it take you to write The Naked Gardener?

LBG:  Actually this book went rather quickly. A little less than a year. Which is less time than I’ve taken with other writing projects. I think I know better what I’m doing now than I did when I began writing. So when I sit down to write, there’s less staring into space trying to figure out what I want to say.

Which character from The Naked Gardener did you most enjoy writing?

LBG:  Oh, that one is easy. Mrs. Ward, the elderly woman near the end of the story. She has great clarity about life.

Did you always want to be a writer?

LBG:  Not at all. If you want to know the truth, I thought I wasn’t smart enough to be a writer. I had this idea that all writers are erudite, highly schooled individuals who can quote great passages from Beowulf and make literary references to any literature in the world. Well, of course that’s a bit overblown but there certainly are writers more well read than I am and more able to speak in critical terms. I studied art for years and years starting as a small child. My mother was a painter. At one time I worked as a potter – I made wheel thrown pottery. Then I changed to painting. I began writing tentatively much later.

Did you receive any advice as a struggling or new writer that you’d like to share with budding writers out there?

LBG:  Writing is like playing a musical instrument. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it and the more confidence you’ll create. You have to build up your writing muscle. There are no child prodigy writers. So the advice is – write. Anyone who thinks writing is a glamorous or easy task is na├»ve. Writing is a tough grind. If you love it, you don’t mind. But if you’re looking for instant gratification, writing is not the way to get it.

Are there any particular authors that inspire you or that you enjoy reading?

LBG:  There are so many. For years I read Russian literature. I loved it all, even the impossible names. My favorite book is Dr. Zhivago. It’s the only book that made me cry. Currently I’m a big fan of Margaret Atwood. Her work is chilling in its worldview and impeccable in its craft. But I also like certain works of Stephen King – Hearts In Atlantis for one. This year I read a translation of LeClezio’s The Prospector. He won the Nobel Prize in 2008. That book has stayed with me. It is haunting in its use of language and its imagery.

Can you take us through a normal day in the life of LB Gschwandtner?

LBG:  I seem to do a lot of laundry. And outdoor type work depending on the season. Clipping, weeding, watering, planting, raking, digging, leaf blowing, snow shoveling (last year was just unbelievable). And every day I write.

I also still work as a magazine editor so that takes some part of my day. And then chores. I’m a wife. So my day has quite a lot of wife type duties like grocery shopping. But children are grown so I’m no longer soccer (or in my case, dance & gymnastics) Mom. I don’t have any specific time of day reserved for writing but I always find or make the time. I also still paint some. Not a lot but some.

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

LBG:  I’m writing a vampire spoof with another writer. She writes really funny. And I’m good at construction. We’re both good at character development. We’re having great fun with it. It’s going to be a fast, funny, satiric read.

If you could change places with one person (famous or not, living or not) for one day, who would you choose?

LBG:  What a great question. Heidi Klum. I would LOVE to spend one day on Project Runway.

Lastly, if you could use one word to describe The Naked Gardener, what would it be?

LBG;  Transportive

Thank you so much, LB, for taking the time to answer my questions and best of luck with The Naked Gardener!

LBG:  Thank you, Lori.

The Naked Gardener is available for purchase at major booksellers now.  To read my review of The Naked Gardeneri, go HERE

For more information on author LB Gschwandtner please visit her website here, or go to Facebook or Twitter.

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