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I always wanted to be a writer, and when I was seven I got my shot. My second grade teacher held a writing contest. I wrote this ten page story about a girl who was kidnapped, taken to an island, and tied to a coconut tree. She found a way to use the coconuts as weapons and escaped, against all odds! I didn’t win. The girl who won wrote about a talking strawberry, and her story was only 3 pages long. Talk about being robbed!

I recovered, continued to write, edited my high school and college literary magazines, wrote an adult multi-generational novel about a Russian-Jewish family, scrapped the novel but realized the part about the teens really came alive. So I started writing a YA book about a Russian-Jewish girl with an alcoholic mom that is now called INCONVENIENT. I then found an agent, and in a little less than two years landed a two-book deal with Flux. During all this, I got married and had an amazing son who I consider my good luck charm.

These days, I’m home with my son and between our music, library, Mommy and Me classes, and truck and lawn mower spottings, I’m working on my second novel. Like with the first book, there’s some Russian stuff and some Jersey stuff (Jersey makes for great settings—take that all of you who think Jersey is a smelly state and nothing more) but it’s really dark, edgy, and the culture is more background/setting than center stage.

Interview with Margie Gelbwasser

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?

What a great question! Hmm...I would love to be Hermoine in Harry Potter. To explore Hogwarts, learn magic, and go on adventures with Harry and Ron would be amazing.

What book were you forced to read at school that no child should have to study?

None. There were books I had to read that were favorites (e.g. Lord of the Flies, A Separate Peace, Catcher in the Rye, Once and Future King), but there were also books I did not like. However, for every book I loved, there was someone who hated it (and vice versa). It is not up to me to decide what she be included in a school canon and what shouldn't. Children should have the opportunity to decide whether a book is for them and determine what it brings to their lives.

Did you ever read a book and then wish you had all that time back?

Sure. There were a few, but I plead the fifth on titles. :-)

Is writing your main profession, and have you always wanted to be a writer?

I teach college and am also a mom to my 4.5 year old son. Writing has always been my passion, and I had wanted to be a writer since I was 7. My school had a writing contest, and while I did not win, the thrill I got creating the story was incredible.

What is a typical writing day like for you? Do you have a work set schedule? What are your surroundings?

Being a mom, you write when you can. I don't have a specific time or place I write. Often, my couch is a good spot, as is the local Panera. The last few months, I worked out a schedule with two friends where I try to meet up with each of them to write Wednesdays and Fridays. This has kept me motivated and accountable.

What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your writing career?

I think it's just letting go and accepting that there is little I can control in this career. I can control the story I create and the words I put on a page, but little else. I can't control if/when someone will buy my books to publish. I can't control how readers interpret my words or if they like them. For someone who is very type A, it is very hard to have so much out of my hands.

How much of your writing is based on things you see in real life?

I write contemporary fiction so the stories are always based on reality. It may not be my reality, but I write about real issues. My first novel, INCONVENIENT (Flux, 2010), was about a Russian-Jewish girl whose mother was an alcoholic and it explored the role the Russian culture plays in the disease. My own background is Russian-Jewish, so I utilized what I knew. However, because my parents are not alcoholics, I did research to ensure that part was portrayed accurately. My second novel, PIECES OF US (Flux, March 2012), is told in four points of view and addresses bullying, abuse, and how one teen's actions impact the other three. The issues in POU are ones that are often in the headlines, and I felt it important to write about them. I hope readers experiencing the topics I write about find the courage to break their silence and use their voices. Too many teens keep silent about the pain they endure, and this needs to stop.

Do you find it difficult to sit down and write for weeks, months, or years on the same book?

If I have a deadline, it's not a problem. Deadlines keep me moving. Without deadlines (like with the book I'm working on now), it's much harder because no one is pushing me to finish.

Tell us one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want us to know.

Ah, well if I tell you, then it's not something I mind you knowing. :-)



eBooks found: 1
Pieces of Us ePub (Adobe DRM) download by Margie Gelbwasser
Pieces of Us
Margie Gelbwasser
Flux, March 2012
ISBN: 9780738721644
Format: ePub
List Price: $9.95 Our price: $7.99
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