Gorilla Girl Ink’s
Q & A with June Gillam
Q: Can you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author? I started out as a poet, got an M. A. in Creative Writing and became a community college English teacher, then spent years practicing writing stories, getting some published in small journals. In 2012, I created Gorilla Girl Ink and published So Sweet Against Your Teeth, a poetry chapbook, and in 2013 published the first Hillary Broome novel, House of Cuts followed by House of Dads, and House of Eire.
Q: Where did the inspiration for House of Eire come from? My mother used to sing “Galway Bay” that asks “Have you ever been across the sea to Ireland…” and carries on in lilting and yearning lyrics hoping to go “to that dear land across the Irish Sea.” Mom told us our ancestors were the Lord and Lady of the O’Lennon Castle and emigrated to America for freedom. Well, I’ve looked but never found those ancestors, and so instead I flew Hillary Broome to Ireland to look for her ancestors and get tripped up by some ghostly figures hiding their own Irish secrets.
Q: How do your organize your time when working on a book?
First thing in the morning—coffee, French Roast with milk. Then I get straight to my writing before the day presents its demands and try to write for at least two hours most days. I do a lot of research—some by going places such as Ireland three times for House of Eire and other times using good old Google.
Q: Talk about the oh-so-imperfect Hillary Broome. She doesn’t have a model’s body, always on a diet, and makes a serious mistake as a reporter. Readers can relate to her. Where did the inspiration for this character come from?
Hillary was a reporter in my first novel, set aside now, but she became such a strong character that my critique group friends advised me I had two stories, not one. I went through an arduous process of separating the two novels and the Hillary one called the most insistently, in the superstore setting with the berserk butcher, and became House of Cuts.
Q: As an author – what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore? What I love most is the writing itself—being in that sort of trance state absorbed in what my characters are experiencing, and getting feedback from critique partners. I love hearing professionals read my books aloud on Audible.com, too—listening to them helps me get better at events where I read my books aloud to groups of people.
The chore I can’t handle is filing! Both the paper filing and the filing on the computer. I am so right brain, I like everything out in plain sight. I struggle with file folders and drawers and what to name folders and how to remember what I named them. My perfect life would include a secretary to help me with all this filing!
Q: What would you most like readers to know about you. I love being in writing groups and helping others make their writing visions become reality as when I helped start San Joaquin Valley Writers, now the 22nd branch of the California Writers Club, which meets at University of the Pacific in Stockton. I also love talking with readers at events like the California State Fair Authors Booth.
Q: Any advice for young authors wanting to write books in this genre? Join writer’s groups for support—be sure the people you deal with are positive. Try to understand what kind of feedback you need and want on your work—when folks are just starting out, generally accentuating the positive is most helpful, but as time goes by most writers learn to grow a thicker skin and treasure not just the gift of compliments but also of questions and suggestions for what might make the work come across to a particular reader more effectively. Don’t give up. Stay with it. Pay attention to that voice inside and give it free reign—edit later.