Gill is accustomed to doing research — first for her degrees, then for her day job, and most particularly for her novel writing. With her first book coming out soon (“The Last Wave” May 4 in the U.K., August 26 in North America), she is deep in research for her next novel. No moss growing here! Some of this research involves going to libraries, interviewing people, and traveling to different destinations to soak up the ‘atmosphere’ of the places for background settings.As you can see, dear readers, a great deal of time and effort goes into her novels.
As a little girl, Gill had a favorite book entitled ‘The Casual Observer”. The main character was a wee girl who wears an old-fashioned bonnet and Laura Ingalls-style dress as she flits about the countryside watching — everything from birds, bees, flowers, animals, people and comments on them. That’s Gill to a ‘t’.
Having just written this, I realize that she is, for better or worse, a chip off the old block…that would be me. I do more observing than actually walking on my walks in the world. I also view everything I see or meet or experience as fodder for the gristmill of my writing. It has gotten to the point that, when The Man In My Life and I are out with family (his, not mine… my family already cringes since they know what to expect!) or friends, he issues the warning:”Be careful…this could end up in The Globe!” (For those in other countries, that is our national newspaper.)
Recently Gill took to a park bench near her flat –on the one day of the month that they had sun– to read a book that she had bought for her research. She was extra careful to hide the cover lest passersby might think she was hinting that she needed an intervention…or the little men in white with the large nets! The title of the tome was “Tips For Suicide”. I personally think Gill should invest in a roll of brown paper to cover the book — in much the same way porn or other questionable things used to be sent through the mail.I remember, as a girl, receiving a book from my mother on “Becoming A Woman” wrapped in brown paper…which says a lot about my generation’s general lack of knowledge about things sexual. And Sex Ed in school??!! Please…
Gill received some strange looks in the park but nobody called 911. I commented: “Not a wise idea. People get freaked out by that sort of thing. You might want to be a bit more circumspect…And by the way, could you choose topics that are less, uh, grim for your novels?”
“Why do you always assume the topics are grim or depressing, Ma?”
“Well, I don’t know…most people would think suicide belongs in the grim column.”
“I’m a novelist, Ma! Just because I find certain topics fascinating, that doesn’t mean the books will be downers! It’s a relevant topic these days and I do research so I get the facts correct.”
“I realize that and I commend you for your desire to be accurate. I guess your methods of writing are different from mine.”
“You’ve got THAT right, Ma. Your research just involves telling your kids to go out and do stupid shit so you can turn it into a funny story! Not that we wouldn’t do it anyway. At least I make some attempt to be professional!”
“Where’s the fun in that? I think the world needs more humor. So what’s the next step in your research for the new book?”
“I’m interviewing a person who works in a charity shop for the elderly…and then the director of a nursing home.”
“Don’t you think that’s a bit unnecesary? After all, I’m elderly and you deal with me all the time! Talk about a wealth of info at your fingertips! And you remember the nursing home that Grammy was in..surely that gave you enough details. Don’t you recall her incessant ‘packing to go home to her childhood home’? And she tried to call her dead parents on the phone? I’m sure it would be a simple matter to turn those things into an upbeat story, not a Debbie Downer tale. But that’s just me…”
“Yes, that IS you, Ma! But this is me…and by the way, I’m going to go to a seaside town next weekend to continue my background research. It’s a dour, depressing, ugly place…just up my alley. You’d hate it!”
“Why do you deliberately egg me on?”
” ‘Cause it’s so much fun! Now off you go to write something hilarious about me…I take my job to supply you with material very seriously.”