This week I am pleased to feature Gemma Brook as part of the ongoing Author Profile series for the Running Wild Press Anthology of Stories Volume 2. If you haven’t had a chance to check out this amazing collections of stories – please visit Amazon.com to order your copy today.
Let’s get the logistics out of the way – what is your name, where are you from and what are the titles of your short stories in the Running Wild Press Anthology?
Hi, I’m Gemma Brook! I live in the rolling green land of southeastern Pennsylvania. My stories are The Guest and Last Memory.
What started you on the path to writing?
I’d have to say my fourth grade teacher, who had us all write stories and make illustrated covers for them. I loved it from the start. In fifth grade, our teacher had us design construction-paper covers for any book we liked; full of the ambition and boundless optimism of youth, I chose my own novel (heavily influenced by My Side of the Mountain, and never actually written!). I was determined to become a published writer by then. And I’ve been writing more or less ever since, in one form or another.
How did you come up with the title of your short stories? Where did the ideas come from?
Some years ago, I took an online writing course from Lisa Kastner, Running Wild Press’ fearless founder and editor. She gave us writing prompts, deadlines, and very helpful feedback, all of which inspired me and proved (against all my expectation) that I could actually write flash fiction. I think the prompts for these stories were, “Our special guest,” and “The last thing I remember.” They sparked ideas which quickly took some twists and turns.
If you could give a quick log line for your stories in Running Wild Press Anthology – what would they be?
The Guest: “An open door on a cold spring night leads to an unexpected visitor.”
Last Memory: “What grows when memory and will are stripped away?”
What has been one of the most rewarding experiences of your writing career? One of the biggest challenges?
One of the biggest challenges is conquering – or rather, facing – the fear of the unknown. For instance, taking my writing to my first critique group years ago, or submitting pieces to contests and to editors. But some of the greatest rewards have been the feedback I’ve received, even – or especially – when it makes me ask hard questions about my stories and what I want them to be (not to say that it’s easy, especially at first!). And honestly, one of the best experiences is to find my writing in the company of the twenty excellent stories in this collection. It’s not exaggeration or flattery to say it’s truly an honor.
What have you learned writing these stories for Running Wild Press?
I learned that I could indeed write flash fiction!
Do you have a preferred medium or genre that you like to write in?
My favorite form to write in is novel-length fiction (brevity is not my strength). My favorite genres to write are fantasy and historical fiction, with threads of myth and legend woven in.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished a very old book, and a very new one. The very old one is Proud Knight, Fair Lady. It’s twelve ballads composed by Marie de France, a mysterious poet of the 12th century, and translated by Naomi Lewis. I’ve always loved fairy tales and tales of chivalry – and these are the genuine article! Marie was at the very beginning of chivalric romances. It’s thrilling to read these ancestral roots, even in translation.
The very new book is Sea and Sand by Alex Lidell (released 2018). It’s the latest installment in a grand nautical adventure with a great heroine who’s tough, smart, and vulnerable; it’s filled with naval battles, political intrigue – and magic!
What is your writing process – are you a pantser or a plotter?
Some of both. I like what I think is called ‘distant shore’ plotting (I believe author Laura Lippman coined the term, and I’m paraphrasing here). I know my departure point, and I can see my destination in the distance across the water; I know the approximate course to get there, but I don’t know exactly where the currents will take me in between. And what looks like a tower from here may turn out to be a tree, or a castle may turn out to be a cliff.
What have you learned about marketing yourself as an author by being part of this collection of stories?
I’m still very much in the learning process. I suppose what I’ve learned so far is that the daunting steps are doable. And I’ve learned a lot from the generous help and advice of the editor and other authors.
What are you working on next? What is the best way for people to connect with you?
I’m working on a fantasy novel about a princess foretold from birth to become so dangerously beautiful that men will wage war to possess her; when she learns of the prophecy, she swears on her life to face her fate and do everything in her power to protect her people and her kingdom. Then she must grow strong enough to keep her blood-oaths.
A website is still forthcoming. The best way for people to connect with me is via my email:
Gemma.l.brook12 at gmail dot com
I’d love to chat with readers and writers about writing!
Gemma L. Brook was raised with the love of stories. Her mother was an ardent bibliophile and her father a delightful raconteur. Her three wonderfully different and creative sisters nurtured her imagination and curiosity. Mythology, folklore, and legends fascinated her. By fifth grade she was writing her own stories and determined to become a published author. She studied myth and classical literature in school.
Decades of writing later, a career change encouraged by her supportive husband enabled her to pursue her passion more seriously, and she joined two critique groups and Pennwriters, Inc.. The talented writers of all those groups have inspired and supported her quest to become an ever-evolving and improving author, still delving into the realms of myth and legend