Gail Giles on Gail Giles: “I was BOI many moons ago. That stands for ‘Born On the Island.’ Galveston Island. I think the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico slipped into my veins because I am still called by the waves, the Gulf breezes, and the smell of salt. There wasn’t much of that, so I moved from Alaska where I lived for a six years.
“I was a bright, but disruptive student at La Marque High School (La Marque, Texas) and to keep from spending far too much time in detention, started writing when I finished my classwork. Snippets of description, character studies, scraps of dialogue.
“I wanted to be an actress, and these were exercises for acting. I went to college at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. I used to say I went ‘East’ to school. East Texas. Drama major.
“But I got a teaching certificate and ending up teaching Remedial Reading at Angleton High School. For some reason, acting didn’t appeal anymore. But teaching kids who couldn’t read to finally see the wonders between the covers of a book did. I taught there for twenty years. I also taught Speed Reading and Creative Writing to juniors and seniors that were college bound.
“I still had that habit of writing little sketches. But, here’s the real deal. I couldn’t type worth a cat’s bark. Barely passed typing in high school. The idea of getting a whole book typed was mind-boggling. Then, I married Jim and he introduced me to that ‘new fangled thang,’ the home computer. So Gail Giles and several gazillion other people began submitting their previously hand-scrawled and hidden manuscripts to publishers.
“I was in my forties and my son was graduated from high school before I was published. What can I say? I’m a late bloomer and I type really slow.”
We last talked to Gail Giles after the publication of Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters (Roaring Brook, 2003)(author interview) and previously about Shattering Glass (Roaring Brook, 2002)(author interview).
What is new in your writing life since we last chatted?
I moved to Texas. I have a brand new grandson, Chase. I know that’s not writing, but you’re subjected to it anyway.
Playing in Traffic (Roaring Brook, 2004) came out. It’s out in paperback from Simon and Schuster this month. I changed houses and am now with Little, Brown and love being there.
Do you have a new/upcoming book(s) to tell us about?
What Happened to Cass McBride comes out in November from Little, Brown. It’s psychological suspense and a head game. I think it’s also a real look at what makes us a person and learning to accept that we act on our insecurities. But it should scare the socks off you while your thinking deep. At least I’m hoping so.
If so, could you give us some insights into how this book(s) came to be?
Now, there’s nothing about snow in the book, but my last winter in Anchorage, Alaska was a record year of snow. Over 18 feet. I’d look out the window and see snow over my head. I felt buried alive, claustrophobic. It all started there. That and something said offhand that had stopped my writing for months before made me think about the power of words, how we harm each other with words. How withholding words can do harm just as easily. About manipulation by using another person’s insecurities against him. All of that began roiling around and made it’s way into a character who started her story.
How about children’s or YA books that you’ve read lately? Which are your favorites and why?
Mary E. Pearson‘s A Room on Lorelei Street (Holt, 2005)(author interview). David Lubar‘s Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie (Dutton, 2005)(author interview). Wolf Brother by [Michelle] Paver (Katherine Pegen/HarperCollins, 2005) is an intriguing fantasy, and I usually don’t care much for fantasy. Freaks: Alive on the Inside by Annette Curtis Klause (author interview) was worth the wait. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is just a treat. Original, outlandish and outrageous fun that touches the heart.
What are your writing goals for the immediate future?
I have another book in the hopper (Right Behind You) that is ready for revisions, and I need to start something new. Make that settle in on something new. I have several things started.
Visit Gail’s blog, The YA Novel and Me.