Welcome to Behind the Words, Gabrielle!
Let’s start from the beginning……where you’re from, where you live, and is writing your full-time job?
I am a Canadian screenwriter, professional artist, and author. I’ve lived in the Toronto area for most of my life but have travelled a lot and spent the last 20 years on a gorgeous farm on the Niagara Escarpment. This year I moved from that farm three hours north to another fairy-tale farm along the Saugeen River. I have a small 1930s cabin on the shores of Lake Huron that’s only a 20-minute drive away and I spend weekends there. I am addicted to coffee, nature, and the moon, and when I’m not writing, painting, gardening, stargazing, moondancing, and daydreaming, I travel to Europe to visit my four fabulous children who live there.
How long have you been writing?
I remember the first book I wrote in second grade. I drew illustrations and wrote a couple of sentences on each page of the booklet. The teacher loved my story, and I was hooked on writing. I couldn’t not write. It comes as naturally to me as breathing. I began working full-time as a television screenwriter when I was 24. What I most love to do is create. I write, I paint, I dance, I garden, I cook, I design and build houses. All of it is equally exciting and fulfilling for me.
Give us a peek at your ‘typical’ writing day.
I’m a coffee addict and an early riser. I relish my alone time and raising four kids meant I had to get up way before sunrise to steal those moments for myself. I adore sitting in the dark and quiet, nursing a steaming cup of java, dreaming up my stories and conversing with my characters, while watching the sky wake up. I even get up early on vacation to be alone with my thoughts and a hot Columbian (coffee) to witness the sunrise over an exotic ocean or rugged mountain range. I live in the countryside and take a long walk through the forest with my dogs, stopping by the river to meditate before I start writing every day. Then as Ernest Hemingway said: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
What is your latest book release, and tell us a bit about it.
It’s Book #1 in the Ex-Whisperer Files Series being released November 9, 2021, by US publisher, Level Best Books. It’s a humorous mystery, cozy with an edge, so I call it soft-boiled and like to think of it as Modern Janet Evanovich Meets Middle-Aged Bridget Jones. The main character Gina Malone is a relationship advice columnist and best-selling self-help book author, who is divorced, an empty nester, and turning 50. In the true spirit of mid-life crises, she makes some questionable life choices including leaving Toronto to move to the small tourist town on the shores of Lake Huron where she grew up. Gina’s new residence is an old family cottage on an empty stretch of beach that she’s renovating. Just as she’s settling into her new solo life, she advises a reader to leave her husband and the woman goes missing. And Gina finds out she’s got a stalker. Her new life is off to a messy and dangerous start.
What inspired this book?
I use much of my real-life experiences and relationships for inspiration, fodder, and straight-up material in my writing. I’ve worked through a range of emotions by modelling characters after people who have hurt or harmed me in my life. It is extremely therapeutic because I am in complete control and these characters don’t get to defend themselves or clap back. I have exacted my revenge on a few of them and the sweetest part is that I know they would recognize themselves if they read my books and none of them are writers so they can’t retaliate. They get their comeuppance in my literary world, and I experience a satisfying sense of closure. As a bonus, it’s cheaper than therapy.
How about sharing a detail from your current release that might not be in the book? Some back-story, or something only you know about a character?
For my mystery novel How To Murder A Marriage, I drew upon a lot of my own tortured relationship experience. Some of the early feedback I received from agents and editors pointed to certain plot points as being unbelievable, unrealistic, and too far-fetched. Without fail these were the events and situations that I had pulled from my own real life. These were the “true story” parts of my story. Under the heading of truth is stranger than fiction— for example, after I left my marriage and eventually began a new relationship, my ex reached out to my new partner’s ex (whom he did not know previously) and they proceeded to form a relationship (I think a friendship). They proceeded to team up to interfere with our lives for years afterward. My ex even brought my partner’s ex to some of our divorce court hearings (the only purpose to that being to throw me for a loop, which it did). Events like those play as humorous in my book although they weren’t funny for me when they were playing out in my real life.
What has been your hardest scene for you to write?
Full disclosure, I suck at good-byes. I am so close to (psychotically attached to?) my four amazing, grown children, that whenever I have to write a scene where the character is saying good-bye to her kids (not a forever good-bye—I could never write that scene and live to tell about it, just like an “I’ll see you in a month or two” good-bye) I get so choked up I usually bawl my eyes out while writing it then need to make a nice cup of tea to recover. My MC in my mystery novel has to leave her kids for a while and also say a final so long to her family home of over 20 years, so yeah, I need my therapist on speed dial for those scenes.
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?
The villains in my books are the toughest to write because they’re always reflections of the villains in my own life. I write about these characters purposefully as a way to exorcise them from my psyche since I can’t off them in real life, but it’s not an easy task for me. The antagonist in my current WIP is proving very difficult to write because thinking about this toxic person forces me to relive a painful past. I work through it but it takes a toll.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be?
It’s a little frightening really, but I guess I actually am following in my main character’s footsteps right now. When I wrote about her moving from Toronto to the shores of Lake Huron in my first mystery novel, I had no intention of doing so myself but after I wrote the book I ended up buying the home I created for my main character, in the town where I had sent her to live. There are other parallels between us but I had better stop there before someone orders a straight jacket in my size.
Have any particular authors that have influenced how you write?
Alice Hoffman is my all-time favorite writer because I love the way she weaves magic into the everyday. I relate to that because I see magic everywhere. Make me laugh – I love funny, Nora Ephron, Helen Fielding, Marian Keyes. I also crave a good, hard-boiled detective novel, Raymond Chandler, Walter Mosley, Robert B. Parker, Elmore Leonard. Wuthering Heights, Beloved, and Practical Magic are three of my all-time favorite books.
Do you have a secret talent that readers would be surprised by?
I live in a rural area so most people rely on wells for their water. My secret talent is that I can witch for water and even discern how many feet deep need to be drilled down to hit the water table. I can find water anywhere and mark the spot within inches. You’d be surprised how many times this gift has come in handy and I save people a ton of money because they don’t have to pay well drillers to dig a bunch of test holes searching for a spring or aquifer.
Your favorite go-to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
Cookies are my comfort food. As a child, the cheap, boxed ones kept my tummy full when there was no one to make meals for me and I couldn’t yet reach the stove. I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Being sad. I’m not good at it and do everything within my power to climb out of bad feelings ASAP. It would probably be healthier for me to stay with the heaviness for a while and work through these emotions but it’s kind of a dangerous place for me to be so I don’t let myself hang out there more than I have to. I write humorous mysteries and comedy because happy is my sweet spot so when I’m down I can’t get much writing done.
What sets your main character apart from all the other amateur sleuths out there?
My main character Gina Malone is middle-aged and she’s real. Gina is irreverent, funny, and cringingly relatable. At 50, she’s pushing the restart button on a whole new life for herself. Many women set aside numerous personal dreams and desires to fulfill duties and obligations and care for others in the first part of their lives. The beauty of middle-age and beyond is that we get to pursue those long-held desires with vigor now—If we’re brave enough. Gina is doing all those things, for better or for worse, and the reader gets to go along for the ride, and perhaps end up inspired by Gina’s successes and her failures. I feel like this mystery novel of mine has set me on a pro-aging mission. Attitudes toward aging need to change, particularly for women, and I’m prepared to kick ass to help make it happen wherever I can.
This sounds like an amazing read! Thank you so much for sitting with us today.
Reader’s, make sure you snag a copy of Gabrielle’s latest release HOW TO MURDER A MARRIAGE
Gina Malone, a bestselling relationships advice author and expert on exes, meddles in other people’s affairs for a living. It makes for enemies. One of them is scaring her to death.
A modern-day Miss Lonelyhearts, Gina’s smart, she’s sassy, she’s got a potty mouth, and she’s determined to live life on her own terms. She’s also divorced, an empty nester, and turning fifty. In the true spirit of mid-life crises, Gina dyes her hair, pierces her nose, and moves to a tiny tourist town on the Canadian shores of Lake Huron.
Just as she’s settling into her new life and deciding whether to fall into bed with her hot contractor, Gina advises a reader to leave her husband, right before the woman goes missing. And Gina’s got a stalker. Is it her vengeful ex-husband, the abusive ex of the missing woman, or her new crush’s crazy ex? All three would love to get her alone in some dark and deserted place, which isn’t tough to do since her new residence is an old family cottage she’s renovating on an empty stretch of beach.
Can Gina outsmart her stalker and find the missing woman before the noose around her own neck gets any tighter?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabrielle St George is a Canadian screenwriter and story-editor with credits on over 100 produced television shows, both in the USA and Canada. Her feature film scripts have been optioned in Hollywood. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of Canada, Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. Ms. St George writes humorous mysteries and domestic noir about subjects of which she is an expert—- mostly failed relationships, hence her début soft-boiled series, THE EX-WHISPERER FILES, which launches with HOW TO MURDER A MARRIAGE on July 20, 2021, from boutique American mystery publisher Level Best Books. To step into the shoes of her main character, Gina Malone, a relationship advice columnist and author of several bestselling books, St. George wrote actual self-help guides under the guise of her character, the Ex-Whisperer, and the books quickly found a devoted following online. They’ve become so popular that Level Best will also publish these books in print this summer as How to Say So Long to Mr. Wrong, How to Know if He’s Having an Affair, and How to Survive the Love You Hate to Love. Gabrielle lives on a fairy-tale farm along the Saugeen River and spends weekends at her 1930s cabin on the shores of Lake Huron with her partner (current coupling still alive and kicking) and their extremely disobedient dogs. When she’s not writing, painting, gardening, stargazing, moondancing, and daydreaming, she travels the world to visit her four fabulous children who live abroad.
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