Golden Heart Spotlight – Gabrielle Luthy

Gabrielle Luthy spent her teen years on a mango plantation in Central Queensland, Australia. While her brother quickly got his driver’s permit so he could go play in the closest big smoke (60,000 people), she was content to stay home and write tales of people playing in other big smokes (San Francisco was a favorite, and remains so). She moved to Melbourne for the career opportunities and the coffee before heading off to Paris (where the coffee sucks). After five years of working for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, she’s back in Melbourne, sharing an apartment with 2 18-year-old cats who don’t realize they’re geriatrics, and planning a move to another big smoke. New York City’s topping her current list, although Montreal holds a certain appeal.

Her writing has won numerous awards, most recently the 2009 Golden Rose and the 2009 Beacon Unpublished with The Lake Effect, which also won the Single Title category and Grand Prize of the 2009 Launching A Star contest. You can read more about Gabrielle and her writing on her website.  Here’s a little about her Golden-Heart finaling manuscript in the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category, THE LAKE EFFECT:

Twenty years ago, wide-eyed Midwesterner Farris Degraw went to summer camp in Maine and came away with five friends who would change the course of her life: Lucy, hiding secrets behind a flamboyant exterior; Tucker, whose quirky outlook gets them through the dark times; self-contained Down-Easter Craig; and Sara, the kind, clever Bostonian Farris wishes she could be. And then there’s Dan. The child of career diplomats, Dan Owens learned to be different things to different people, without learning to be himself. For years, Farris followed him around the country—until she asked him to follow her and he said no.

Now, with Sara terminally ill, the friends gather at a lake in Maine for one last Christmas. A successful designer who’s come a long way from star-struck teen, Farris is determined not to fall under the spell of the man she left seven years ago. But it turns out that—like old insecurities—first loves aren’t easily vanquished, and Dan isn’t quite the bad guy Farris remembers. Things are busting wide open at the lake house, with all six forced to confront the complexities of friendship, betrayal and the enduring links between past and present. In doing so, Farris must learn to let go of past disappointments and rediscover what matters most: love.

And here’s a little bit about Gabrielle…

1.  How long have you been writing?
Since I was thirteen. I was reading Book 3 of a beloved series and couldn’t believe the author killed off my favorite character. So I rewrote the book, saved the character, and found my calling in the process. (See? There is a place for righteous indignation in this world!)

2. Did you always want to be a writer or is this something you fell into later in life?
Apart from a few short months when I was about six and thought I might try becoming a ballerina, I can’t remember wanting to be anything else. Once the writing bug bit, nothing else mattered. I remember being in a chemistry exam and shocking the teacher by asking for more paper. He thought I’d given up on that class, and he was right: I’d circled A, B, C, D for the multiple choice questions then used the essay time to work on whichever angst-ridden YA I was obsessed with at the time. Years later, I stood in front of the how-to-write section of a Barnes & Noble in New Haven, CT, and thought, “Well, someone’s making a living from this, why not you?” That’s what I’ve been working on ever since, and every job I’ve ever had was to keep the cats in kibble until that happens.

3.  What do you do in your “other life”? 
Try to escape it <g> Actually, I work in IT with some really cool people. And I watch people. I live in a bayside suburb known for its hijinks, so I’m guaranteed writing fodder every time I step out of my apartment. (Actually, I can stay home for that. The lane beside my bedroom is often the setting for late-night drama, and I’m still trying to figure out what my upstairs neighbor does for a living.) When I’m not watching people, I’m watching copious amounts of TV. I write visually, with everything playing out in front of me, and some of my best writing lessons have been from shows such as E.R., Friday Night Lights, Californication, Breaking Bad, Being Erica, The West Wing, United States of Tara and Rescue Me. (Great excuse, huh?) When not doing that, I’m making scented candles and taste-testing my latest attempt at creating the perfect margarita.

4.  Who are your favorite authors?
Yay! My favorite subject! My auto-buys are Emily Giffin, Julie Buxbaum, Megan Crane, Jonathan Tropper, Sarah Addison Allen, Armistead Maupin, Barbara Samuel, mystery writer Earl Emerson, and Caleb Carr—whether he’s writing historical fiction, historical non-fiction or cranky letters to the editor, I’m there. I get a physical buzz from writers who twist the English language into something bold and rambunctious: Hunter S. Thompson, Denis Leary, Diablo Cody, David Foster Wallace, and San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, whose collection, The Daring Spectacle, I’m giggling my way through. I also read a lot of YA (I just finished and adored Keris Stainton’s Della Says: OMG!) and non-fiction, mainly pop culture and current affairs. My most treasured book is Robert Redford’s The Outlaw Trail, a photojournalistic account of the horseback trip Redford and a National Geographic team took in 1975, from the Canadian border all the way down to Mexico, as they traced the path the outlaws rode and chronicled a way of life that’s since disappeared.

5.  Do you have an agent?
Not yet, but all offers will be entertained 😉

6.  Where do you see yourself in five years?

Weird thing: a few months ago, I had this image of me living in an apartment just like Josh’s from The West Wing. I don’t know where exactly, just that it was East Coast (maybe Brooklyn, maybe D.C.) and I was watching snow fall outside. So, as freaky-deaky as it sounds, I’ll say I’m going to be living in that apartment, with several of my books on the shelves, working like crazy to complete the others I’m contracted for and continuing my hunt for the perfect margarita during my down time. Yeah. That sounds just about right.

And now, in Gabrielle’s own words…

Setting: much, much more than just a place

A few days before NaNo 2008, when I was committed to the task but with no idea what I’d write, my first question was, “Where is this set?” The answer came back to me almost instantly: in Maine, on a lake with a winter storm closing in. Never mind that the most time I’d spent in Maine was a day trip to L. L. Bean, or that I had no idea which lake, or what it was like to live through an ice storm. Because, while many writers start their manuscripts with a character or a situation, more often than not, I start with setting—and once it’s determined, I can’t change it without changing the whole book. Let the research begin!

It’s fair to say I’m obsessed with setting. It dictates the characters, the season, sometimes even the events. It also dictates my reading. Contrary to what I once heard an editor say, some readers do buy based on setting. It might not be a deal-breaker/clencher, but I’m very happy that Amazon allows me to search by whichever setting I’m in the mood to read; I’ve found a lot of favorite writers that way, most recently Julie Buxbaum, whose NYC-set book The Opposite of Love I might have missed. And that, my friends, would have been a travesty.

I’ll admit it: screwing up setting can prejudice me against a writer. I stopped reading a massive bestseller after only a few pages because the character drove from Paris’s Ritz Hotel to the Louvre via the Opera Garnier—something you just wouldn’t do when you’re supposed to be rushing to a murder scene. Extreme, perhaps, but I didn’t feel I could trust the writer because his characters were out of synch with his setting. I knew I was going to have a hard time with a former critique partner when she set a manuscript in NYC, left out any mention of setting apart from a trip to Central Park, and told me it was an editor’s job to include the detail.

Have I screwed up setting? Oh yeah. I once wrote a scene where a character drives down a Paris street, then later walked it myself—and found huge bollards that prohibited driving. I was lucky that I had the opportunity to check out my setting in person. I’m sure that wasn’t the only mistake I’ve ever made, but not for lack of trying. In the days before Mapquest then Google Earth made things easier, I’d pour over maps, vacation guides and Yellow Pages, to get an idea of layout, topography, local businesses—anything that would help me walk the streets just like my characters. Historical writers, you have my admiration for bringing to life places that may have changed drastically—or may no longer exist. Futuristic and fantasy writers? You make me feel lazy!

Setting also influences character and creates conflict. Although The Lake Effect takes place in Maine, the character of Dan is rooted in the kids of the friends I made while living in Paris—smart, sophisticated Anglophone teens straddling two cultures and not always sure how they fit into either. There’s a big difference between a kid from that world and one raised, as The Lake Effect’s lead character Farris was, in a small Midwestern town. No matter how much she wants out of that town, there will be things she won’t understand in the world she chooses, which leads to conflict. And while I do my best to avoid character clichés, there are some details that just make sense. For instance, in Learning How To Stay, set in L.A.’s Topanga Canyon in summer, my characters drink margaritas creek-side and chow down on Double-Doubles from In-N-Out Burger, while in The Lake Effect, the characters crave Fribbles from Friendly’s. (Did I mention that I love to vicariously eat and drink via my characters? Coz I do, almost as much as I love vicariously living in their fabulous houses!)

An unexpected, happy consequence to being setting-obsessed is the people I’ve met, both online and in-person, in my quest for detail. I’ve found that the majority of people enjoy helping writers—even if they can be a little suspicious at first. I once had a lady in San Francisco ask me if I was carrying a gun before she invited me into her house to check out the period features and design. I’ve also struck up an online friendship with the person who lives in the house I’m using in an upcoming manuscript. I knew the house’s address, found photos on Flickr and mailed the poster, asking for information on the logistics associated with living in a hillside house accessible only by stairs. She answered all my questions and more. It works the other way, too: when my friend was writing a book set in my ‘hood of Montmartre, I was able to help her out with the apartment building she’d chosen for her protagonist—because, out of all the buildings in Paris, it just so happened that my landlady lived there.

How about you–does setting play a major part for you, or is it a bit character? Are there particular places you keep coming back to in setting your books, or do you prefer to revisit the same one and introduce new characters to it? What tips can you share on researching your setting?

46 comments to “Golden Heart Spotlight – Gabrielle Luthy”

  1. Kathy Holmes
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:33 am · Link

    Great interview, Gabrielle. And even though we’ve known each other online for several years, I discovered so many more fascinating details about you!

    I also choose books because of their setting and if the character travel from place to place, even better. I’m re-reading one of my favorites of all time – Oriental Hotel – London, Cairo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok – that inspired me to visit Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bangkok because of the book.

    Yes, the setting is definitely a character.

    I can’t wait to see where you go next and to get my own shelf of Gabrielle Luthy novels!

  2. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:38 am · Link

    Kathy, knowing how much you love to travel–not to mention live in different places–I’m not surprised that you also choose books for the setting. Thanks for dropping by, and I hope we get to be in the same place at the same time one day 😀

  3. Keris
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:36 am · Link

    Thanks for the shout-out, Gabrielle! 🙂

    I start with setting more often than not too (and I also choose books by setting – New York and San Francisco mostly).

    Can’t wait to come and visit your Josh-apartment (you know Josh’s stoop was the Cosby house, right? And it wasn’t in Brooklyn) and see your shelf. x

  4. Elizabeth Stock
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:53 am · Link

    Love what you wrote about setting and The Lake Effect blurb is fantastic. And I especially enjoyed that you mentioned Rescue Me – one of my favorite shows and yes, full of examples of powerful writing. Really enjoyed reading this!

  5. robyn
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:58 am · Link

    Great interview!
    I write english set historicals which makes for interesting setting research. I just wish i could walk the streets my characters walked, and see what the world looked like back then.
    At least there are still some beautiful old houses with internet tours! thank god for the internet1

  6. Beth Weathers
    June 17th, 2010 at 5:23 am · Link

    So glad to see you are getting press! Really enjoyed reading your background and comments. Any time you want to do your novel in a boring, middle class, split level DC suburb, ask away – LOL!! I am saving shelf space for my Luthy collection.

  7. janet jones bann
    June 17th, 2010 at 5:27 am · Link

    Great job! Your book sounds terrific… can’t wait to buy my very own copy. Best of luck with it.

  8. Lynda Bailey
    June 17th, 2010 at 6:45 am · Link

    Wonderful interview, Gabrielle! You spoke quite a bit about the physical setting. How does that influence the emotional atmosphere of your books? THE LAKE EFFECT is set in Maine, during an ice storm. Did the relationships between your characters start out as cold as the setting? Or did you go in the opposite direction and have everything warm and cozy? I must confess I’m not nearly as diligent as you in researching the settings for my books. If you’re “lazy,” girlfriend, then I’m a downright sloth. LOL!
    See ya in Orlando! L.

  9. Lizbeth Selvig
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:15 am · Link

    Hi Gabrielle,
    Great, fun interview. I have a super soft spot in my heart for Melbourne because I actually got to visit for three weeks in 2002 when my daughter was spending a semester at the University of Melbourne. While you’re fantasizing moving to NYC, I’d give anything to return to your “big smoke.” It’s unequivocally the friendliest place I’ve ever visited in my life.

    I, too, love setting in a book and I try to be just as meticulous as you described about “getting it right.” I set one of my stories in Liverpool, England–talk about getting a lot from Google Earth! Found the exact spot in the huge city park where my teenage characters make out 😉 And I found an online Liverpudlian who was invaluable in helping get details accurate. I love reading little details about places I haven’t been. I like real restaurant names, correct streets and landmarks. If I don’t them myself, it’s fun to look them up. My current WIPs are set in different parts of Alaska. I was fortunate to live there and it’s sure easier to describe places you’ve seen, still–part of the joy of writing is the research into someplace exciting and new!

    I wish you all the good luck in the world with your book. Congrats on the GH final. Will you be in Orlando next month? It would/will be such a treat to meet you!!

  10. Keli Gwyn
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:25 am · Link

    What an enjoyable interview, Gabrielle! I love your Voice. I feel like I’ve just had a nice chat with you and learned many fascinating things–as well as had fun.

    Congratulations on your GH final and all your other contest successes. And woohoo on taking the top honor in the Launching a Star contest. I have fond memories of that one myself, since my Dream Agent judged my category, requested the full, and offered me representation. 🙂

    I write historicals, and I love to bring the setting to life. I became hooked on romances as a teen. My mom, sisters, and I trooped to the used bookstore where we bought stacks of Harlequin romances for 10¢ each. Most of the sweet, traditional stories of the seventies were set in Europe. I favored the authors who made countries I only dreamed of visiting come to life.

    I did end up living in Europe for four years after all and visiting many of the countries I’d read about. Those authors had done a good job of setting because the real places matched the images I’d carried in my mind all those years. Nice.

  11. Angi Morgan
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:25 am · Link

    Love your quest for good setting! I feel the same way about an author who just drives from oneside of Dallas to the other )in traffic mind you) in twenty minutes–a helicopter, maybe–but not in traffic. Oh, and of course, we have oak groves on the sides of our city twelve lane highways. LOL I finished that book, but it was hard.

    I also pour over Google Earth. It’s also a great place to get ideas for where the story should head.


  12. Donnell
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:32 am · Link

    Gabrielle, fascinating interview. Love the term smokes and I hope you find the perfect one. Also the perfect margarita. Let me know when you do. Your story sounds intriguing, like a made for television movie. Good luck!

  13. Gillian Layne
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:34 am · Link

    What an amazing life you’ve led! I’m sure your book will find a home soon; I’d love to read it.

    I write Regency historicals, so setting is pretty important. But I have a secret desire to write a fantasy so that I could create a world that only had to follow my rules. What fun that would be. 🙂

  14. Jen McAndrews
    June 17th, 2010 at 8:02 am · Link

    Great topic, Gabrielle! Especially interesting for me seeing as in my current wip I really want the reader to experience the setting along with the characters. Right now I’m struggling with how much detail is too much — where does it go from enough information so a reader walks the path to so much information so a reader gives up on the book. That said, I’ve suddenly got an urge to write a Paris-set story and pick your brain for details 😉
    The Lake Effect sounds fabulous! I can’t wait until it’s available at a bookstore near me!

  15. G. Jillian Stone
    June 17th, 2010 at 9:06 am · Link

    Excellent blog, Gabrielle. Setting is so important as a foundation for both plot and character!

    I call it adding layers. These layers help me create texture and ground characters in time and place. Helps them to breathe! My first big thrill in writing a new novel is when I first begin to feel a character breathe. Wierd? Gosh, maybe that should be the topic of my upcoming blog here.

    I am pretty much only interested in writing (ergo living) in another period of time. I am also fascinated by getting the setting as accurate as possible. I started writing THE YARD MAN three years ago and spent several days in London (on my way to Scotland researching another novel) skulking around the neighborhoods and streets of London pertinent to the ms. I even walked the hero and heroines neighborhood and have pictures of the exact house/flats they live in. Note the description “live in.” Lol!

    By the way, At the end of the story, there is a long chase scene from Montemarte all the way down to the (in 1887 under construction/half-built) Eiffel tower. I was in Paris for about ten days in the mid 90’s and recalled nearly killing myself several times on the steep, cobbled streets of Montemarte. Consequently, my hero slips and falls/bangs up his ankle badly, but manages to continue on by carriage. I don’t think I would have thought to write that fall into the scene, unless I had the physical experience of the place.

    The wonderful thing about settings in Europe for a historical writer is that most of the places you write about are still standing––although not always!

    Anyway. What a terrific lesson in the importance of research and setting. Thanks, Gabrielle

  16. Laurie Schnebly Campbell
    June 17th, 2010 at 12:11 pm · Link

    Gabrielle, I hope you wind up in Brooklyn — it’d be such a treat to meet for coffee again! (You’ll be at National next summer for sure, right?)

    As for setting, I’m awed by people who make it part of the story. I’ve never even come close…to quote Gertrude Stein, there’s very little “there” there. But you’ve got that down, and it’s a treat to read!

  17. Keely Thrall
    June 17th, 2010 at 12:21 pm · Link

    Hey Gabrielle! Neat interview!

    I usually start with a scenario and work from there. That said, I knew I wanted my Golden Heart entry to center around a gothic cathedral – I work on the grounds of one and just couldn’t let it go to waste!

    One of the funniest scenes in the movie The American President is when Annetter Bening’s character says she drove to the White House from Virginia (or Georgetown, or somewhere) and got stuck in traffic at Dupont Circle. It was just ridiculous to imagine taking that route. Still like the movie, but I groan everytime it gets to that part!

  18. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 2:48 pm · Link

    Keris–Josh’s stoop was the Cosby house? I think we need to find it and hang out. I’m sure the real owners wouldn’t mind 🙂

    Elizabeth–oh, I loooove Rescue Me. Just when you think things can’t get worse, they do. I have no idea how Tommy’s going to get out of the last season alive. But then, I always think that and they always do it. I think it’s great for learning how to write male character interaction. Those guys hold nothing back. It starts up soon, right? I must admit, I need my Franco fix. 😉

    Robyn–old houses with internet tours–how cool is that?! We’re so lucky. I think the internet is also a calling for us to pick up our game. It’s almost as though we have no excuse for fudging things now, because if we’re willing to put in the work, there’s always someone out there who can give us the info we need. And people are so generous 🙂

  19. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:18 pm · Link

    Thanks for dropping by, Beth! I miss not seeing you on your Paris trips. And you know I’m taking you up on your offer to visit in the D.C. suburbs–I’m sure there are all kinds of undercurrents there, just *waiting* to be stirred up! 😎

    Thanks, Janet–I’ll let you know when it’s available 😀

    *Excellent* question, Lynda! And the answer all depends on which relationship in The Lake Effect you’re talking about. Some start out cold then heat up, others take unexpected plunges into ice-cold water, all with the growing storm creating tension in the background. But it’s all niiiiice and cozy at the end. 😆

  20. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:27 pm · Link

    Hey, Lizbeth 🙂 So glad you enjoyed Melbourne, it *is* a great city. The issue I have–and I know this sounds weird, but an Australian friend living in Paris said the same thing to me when she was visiting recently–is that I *physically* feel like I’m at the end of the world and I’m going to fall off. I guess it’s a result of having lived in a place that’s the center of so many things.

    I’m *so* with you! I use real restaurant names, etc. I’ll make up a place if I have to, but I prefer not to. Do you ever have freaky things happen, like imagining a street is laid out a certain way then checking online and it is? I had a scene in my mind of a bookstore then ice-cream store then building of a certain type–and I found exactly that. I’m looking forward to reading Alaska through your eyes 🙂

    Unfortunately, I’m not going to make Orlando–I’m so going to miss meeting you all. While my cats don’t *think* they’re geriatric, their vet bills over the last 2 months prove otherwise. I’m sure they knew I had a trip planned and decided to put the kibosh on it, little mongrels. I’ll be cheering you all on via Twitter!! 😀

  21. Tee McNeill
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:27 pm · Link

    What a fantastic interview, Gabrielle! It’s so very YOU!!

    I can certainly attest to your obsession with setting and getting the details just right. I remember that time way back when we were touring the Richmond district in SF and you made me stop the car so you could take a picture of that house. The next thing I knew, the owner was inviting you in! Madness, sheer madness! 🙄

    Or the time we had margaritas at Abuelitos in Topanga sitting next to the funny guy with a face tattoo. Not to even mention the good time we had with those crazy Europeans later that evening when the lights went down. Fun times, my friend, the best I’ve ever had and it ain’t over yet! 😉

    Best of luck to you on Golden Heart night at RWA. May all your dreams come true and then some. MUAH!

  22. Shea Berkley
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:29 pm · Link

    Great interview, Gabrielle. Setting is wonderful an amazing tool. It can create tension and add to the characters if we use it correctly. I’m always fascinated by what authors pick out for their characters to notice. It adds so much to the reality of the story.

  23. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:40 pm · Link

    Hey, Keli 🙂 How cool that we seem to be following a similar trajectory. I highly recommend Launching A Star for the fantastic coordination and feedback, and the great opportunities.

    Do you think reading those romances made you want to live in Europe? I know reading Dell Candlelight Ecstasy and Second Chance at Love and Harlequin Temptations made me want to live in the US. Funnily enough, it wasn’t until I wrote a ms that had 1 scene set in France that I decided to take a trip to Paris, and that was that 😆

  24. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:48 pm · Link

    Ooh, Angi, I’m wincing! I *hate* it when I get things wrong, and I kinda hope the author you mentioned doesn’t know s/he did. I have a hard time watching anything that’s set in Paris–or supposed to be. Some of The Gilmore Girls was completely ruined for me, that episode when Lorelie’s in Paris with the ex. Because 1. there’s no resturant where they were supposed to be and 2. there’s no way the Eiffel Tower lights were on at 3am in winter. I know *why* writers/directors do that, but it still spoils things for me. Life would be so much easier if I weren’t a setting pedant 😛

  25. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 3:51 pm · Link

    Thanks, Donnell–I’m looking forward to relaxing with a margarita and reading your YA! (Followed up by a chaser of Angi’s books, esp. the one with that delicious hero on the cover!) I *looooove* the idea of a TV movie–although, to be true to the feel of the story, I’d have to go HBO or Showtime. Hallmark would boot me out, even if it *is* set at Christmas. Now, who to cast…. 😀

  26. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:01 pm · Link

    Thanks, Gillian 🙂 Not only is setting important in your Regencies, but everything they wear and eat and touch. That’s what I love about Regencies, maybe even more than other historical periods–or maybe that’s because I’ve read more Regencies than other historicals. But yeah, to create your own world–what a blast you could have!

  27. Jane Sevier
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:04 pm · Link

    Fantastic post, Gabrielle! Can’t wait to read your stories. You made me long for Paris and San Francisco all over again . . . and made me hope that I’ll get to Maine one day, L.L. Bean outlet and all. 😉

    Setting is crucial to my stories. The initial inkling, the germ of the idea for my first manuscript, THE QUETZAL’S TALE, came to me while I was on assignment in Bolivia, visiting a tiny village that had never had a doctor or any kind of organized health care before my agency built the clinic there. For reasons too convoluted to go into here, the Bolivian Altiplano morphed into the Guatemalan Highlands in my book, but that remote village and that cinderblock clinic remain at the heart of it.

    My Golden Heart manuscript, FORTUNE’S FOOL, takes place in 1930s Memphis, a culture so spiritually, racially, and socially rich and diverse that setting it anywhere else would make it a completely different story. Of course, the Memphis I know is not the Memphis of the 1930s, but maps and texts from the era help me evoke the setting.

  28. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:06 pm · Link

    Hmm, Jen…how much is too much? Always a good question. I had one Lake Effect judge say “I want to feel the setting more” while another said “I could really feel this.” I think the answer might be in what the character notices naturally. TLE is first-person, and Farris is a home-goods designer–so everything’s filtered through her designer eye. A different character might not see the same things. So I say, make it specific and unique to your character, and you’ll be on the right path.

    Any time you need help with Paris, let me know and I’d be happy to help. 😀 The funny thing is, I never wanted to write a book set in Paris while I lived there. Now that I don’t, I’m taking another look at an idea I had set there. It’s almost like my writing is a form of armchair traveling–or love letters to the places I’ve been/long to be.

  29. Laurel Vize
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:13 pm · Link

    😀 Well done!I can remember you telling me one day in high school that you wanted to live in Paris,and i stumbled badly in french class.Congratulations!

  30. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:24 pm · Link

    Jillian, I think that sounds like an excellent idea for a blog post, can’t wait to read it! And I completely get you–the moment it hits, it’s like the character is breathing through you. And when the layering comes organically, it’s like a physical charge. You can feel the momentum building. Such a beautiful thing, it makes me happy just thinking about it.

    I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only one skulking around streets. It’s essential for me to have the right house (as you can see from Tee’s message 🙂 ) Whenever I visit a place, most of my photos are of houses, and not my friends or me. Houses, finding where they belong, are very important to my characters (I think I’m doing my therapy in public )

    Your chase scene sounds awesome, can’t wait to read The Yard Man I feel for you/your hero. I fell foul of those cobblestones a few times myself. (Still, there’s no more magical place in Paris than Montmartre, and I count myself lucky for the years that the Eiffel Tower was my view–along with the windmills, and most of Paris.) And you’re right–if you don’t have that experience, you can be missing out on little things that will bring your wrting to life. I’m going to take the opportunity to plug my friend Lisa’s ms, Luc de la Rue. She’s got a scene in which her character walks down Rue Lepic and I got chills reading it, because she brought it all to life. Can’t wait until both your books are on the shelves!!

  31. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:29 pm · Link

    Laurie, it *will* be such a treat to meet up again! First Phoenix then Paris then San Francisco–next, where? Don’t you love this world that allows us to travel, and to stay in touch in between? Though I think you might be underestimating your setting talent–or it could just be that you write such wonderful, vibrant characters that the rest just falls away 😀

  32. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:37 pm · Link

    Keely, if I worked in a gothic cathedral, I’d have to use it, too! I love knowing how things work, buildings “hang” together, all the little quirks (I would have been an architect, if my mind worked that way but it doesn’t, so I’ll just admire other people’s work), and you’re perfectly placed to deliver that. Another book I can’t wait to read.

    P.S. The building I worked in in Paris was the former home of the Grimaldi royal family, and though the marble staircase had lone been pulled out to make way for elevators ::sob!:: I always imagined Grace Kelly sweeping down them. The glamor torch was passed across the narrow street to Princess Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister, who we used to always keep an eye out for, and who a colleague managed to freak out once–she was one her balcony and he stepped out onto our balcony and called across the street to her, while we were trying to pull him back in 😀

  33. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 4:45 pm · Link

    MUAH back atcha, Tee–for so many things, not the least being willing to drive me around to find the houses, and all the roadtrip adventures we’ve had along the way. Fun times across 3 continents. Only 4 more to go-let’s hope they’ve all got cupcakes!

  34. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:17 pm · Link

    Jane, I love that you were involved in bringing health care to parts of the world that need it–such a rewarding venture, and look what you got out of it personally 🙂 Fortune’s Fool sounds like it would make a great movie–have you turned it into a script yet?

    Oh, how I love L.L. Bean! So much, I’ve even got a scene set there 😀

  35. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 7:25 pm · Link

    Laurel–really?! It scares me, what people remember from school that I forgot a long time ago 😆 Thanks so much for dropping by, I really appreciate it 😀

  36. Elisa Beatty
    June 17th, 2010 at 8:38 pm · Link

    Oh, my goodness, Gabrielle….Learning How to Stay is YOURS???

    I judged that in a contest once, and loved it so much!!! It’s really stuck in my mind ever since, and I’ve always wondered if I’d ever find out who wrote it.

    Wonderful characters (even the kids felt real), and YES setting was palpable in it (the Topanga Canyon versus LA life)….

    How wonderful to find out who wrote it, and to learn it’s a fellow Unsinkable!!!! Hurray!

  37. Gabrielle
    June 17th, 2010 at 9:06 pm · Link

    Elisa, are you kidding me?! I guess that means I owe you a TY letter (shh, I owe a few–I got behind on that). How cool that you judged it and remembered it!! 😀

  38. Jane Sevier
    June 17th, 2010 at 9:13 pm · Link

    I wasn’t one of the amazing people who do that work, Gabrielle, but I was lucky enough to get to write about them when I was with USAID.
    Nope, Fortune’s Fool isn’t a script yet. I’m still turning it into a novel. 😉

  39. Meg Mims
    June 18th, 2010 at 1:13 am · Link

    Fab interview, Gabrielle! You’re an incredible traveler and kudos to you for following your heart to Melbourne, Paris and back to Oz, and I am sure you’ll be on the East Coast soon! Best wishes for bringing home the Golden Heart, too.

    As for setting, I totally agree – love infusing my writing with the details that really immerse the reader into the time/place. My 1908 historical mystery is set in a small summer resort village, Saugatuck, Michigan – and I had a blast going there to research the history and see the changes over 100 years. In some ways, it’s the same… love all that.



  40. Vanessa Barneveld
    June 18th, 2010 at 3:33 am · Link

    Hi, Gabrielle and Elisabeth!

    Isn’t Google Earth a wonderful tool for the travel-starved writer?

    THE LAKE EFFECT sounds like a fabulous, layered story. I’m not surprised it’s earned you so many accolades.

    Good luck in making a decision for your next big move. I’d pick New York if I were lucky enough to be you!

    See you in Orlando.

  41. Sharon Lynn Fisher
    June 18th, 2010 at 9:42 am · Link

    “Futuristic and fantasy writers? You make me feel lazy!”

    This cracked me up! I write futuristic and fantasy, yet the idea of setting a book in a real location I have never visited makes ME feel lazy. I guess because I know how hard I’ll have to research to keep from making mistakes that cause the local folk to wince.

    Great post, Gabrielle, and congratulations on all your contest success! See you in Orlando!

  42. Pat O'Dea Rosen
    June 19th, 2010 at 10:39 am · Link

    Loved this interview, Gabrielle. Oh, the places you’ve gone–and will go. I look forward to reading The Lake Effect and experiencing Maine.

  43. Gabrielle
    June 19th, 2010 at 7:28 pm · Link

    Jane, you said “Nope, Fortune’s Fool isn’t a script yet. I’m still turning it into a novel.” Oh, do I hear you! Revisions are still going strong here, though I have the feeling I’m juuuust about done with them.

    Hey, Meg 🙂 I know how much you love Michigan, and I have no doubt you’ll bring it vibrantly to life.

    Vanessa, Google Earth has saved me on so many occasions. And I think you’re right–NYC sounds like the best bet 😆

    Good point, Sharon–your world, your rules, and no locals except your characters to say “Hey, wait a minute…” 😛

    Hey, Pat, so good to see you here and congratulations on being a GH finalist! So nice to know that, after all our time spent in the Castle, we’re doing this together.

    Thanks to Elisabeth for letting me run amok, and thanks to all who dropped by–I’m so looking forward to seeing your books on my shelves 😀

  44. Erica O'Rourke
    June 22nd, 2010 at 2:52 pm · Link

    Oh, Gabrielle! The setting I love most is Maine, in the winter, and I will cheerfully buy a book based on setting, so I will be first in line to read The Lake Effect when it’s published!

    Setting is tremendously important to me. I have always lived in the Chicagoland area, and there are things here — the Mayors Daley, the refusal to put ketchup on hotdogs, the Cubs and their inability to win a World Series — that I couldn’t keep out of my writing if I tried!

  45. Gabrielle
    June 22nd, 2010 at 3:01 pm · Link

    Erica, you made me laugh. The Daleys and the Cubs I know, but not putting ketchup on hotdogs? That’s a classic!! Who came up with that? Me, I put on everything I can get my hands on. Thanks for your comment and I hope I do Maine proud 🙂

  46. B. A. Binns
    June 23rd, 2010 at 12:03 pm · Link

    I’ve just recently begun to truly realize and work with the power of setting. I admit that when I read I frequently overlook the “boring parts”, which often includes setting. It never seemed important to me. Now I’ve begun paying more attention, realizing that most readers do want to be grounded. Thanks so much for this post.

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