Playing, Plotting and Pantsing, with Gail Anderson-Dargatz


Writing as play is something we need as authors. It’s fun, it’s freeing, and most of all, it can be the kind of thing that helps us reach new heights in our writing and publishing journeys.  

Our guest on this week’s episode is best-selling author Gail Anderson-Dargatz. Gail’s written several novels, and her thriller The Almost Wife that became a Canadian bestseller in 2021. And as she’ll tell you, Gail wrote a thriller so she could play. 

But that’s not all we need for writing success. Gail’s learned plenty of tricks over the years that have changed the way she goes about her writing, from mashing-up genres to streamlining the writing process. 

Listen to learn: 

  • The value of being both a panster and a plotter
  • How to use narrative structures as tools in your brainstorming
  • Tips for shortening novel-writing time 
  • How to avoid a passive protagonist

Of course, you’ll have to tune in to hear about the four Ps in this episode: playing, passive protags, planning, and pantsing. 

Here’s a sneak peek…

[04:30] I had a full-on Cinderella story, which took me about 10 years to get to…

[08:11] So for me, it was play, it was all about play, you know, it was just to do something different, to have some fun. And it really breathed life into my writing career. 

[11:18] Well, I always consider setting another character to any book. 

[14:51]  … I'll finish talking to a writer I'm working with, and I'll go, “Shit, I'm doing the same damn thing,” right?

[16:08] So we're constantly trying to protect our protagonists from themselves… 

[27:00] You plan, and then things will come up in the course of writing that you just don't expect as an author. 

Links from the episode: 

A Passion for Narrative by Jack Hodgins

The Virgin's Promise

Gail Anderson-Dargatz


The Resilient Writers Radio Show: Playing, Plotting and Pantsing, Interview with Gail Anderson-Dargatz -- Full Episode Transcript


Well, hey there, writer. Welcome to the Resilient Writers Radio Show. I'm your host, Rhonda Douglas, and this is the podcast for writers who want to create and sustain a writing life they love. Because—let's face it—the writing life has its ups and downs, and we wanna not just write, but also to be able to enjoy the process so that we'll spend more time with our butt-in-chair getting those words on the page. This podcast is for writers who love books, and everything that goes into the making of them. For writers who wanna learn and grow in their craft, and improve their writing skills. Writers who want to finish their books, and get them out into the world so their ideal readers can enjoy them, writers who wanna spend more time in that flow state, writers who want to connect with other writers to celebrate and be in community in this crazy roller coaster ride we call “the writing life.” We are resilient writers. We're writing for the rest of our lives, and we're having a good time doing it. So welcome, writer, I'm so glad you're here. Let's jump right into today's show. 

Rhonda Douglas: Okay, welcome to another episode of the Resilient Writers Radio Show. My guest today is Gail Anderson-Dargatz, and in case there's someone out there who doesn't know Gail Anderson-Dargatz, I'll give you a quick intro. So, Gail's first novel was The Cure for Death by Lightning, and it was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the UK's Betty Trask Award, the BC Book Prize for fiction, and the Vancity Book Prize. Her second novel, A Recipe for Bees, was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was a finalist again for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. And The Spawning Grounds was nominated for the Sunburst Award and the Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award, and shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for Fiction. Her literary thriller, The Almost Wife, was a Canadian bestseller in 2021. She's taught for nearly a decade within the MFA program in creative writing at UBC, which is where we met, and now mentors writers online—she's a very popular writing mentor, if you ever get a chance—and she lives in the Shuswap region of British Columbia. So, welcome, Gail. Thanks for being here. 

Gail Anderson-Dargatz: Hey, Rhonda. So good to see you. 

Rhonda: Good to see you. So, I wanted to start with short stories. That's what you first started writing, right? Short stories. 

Gail: Yeah, I did. I started writing poetry, actually, and then short stories.

Rhonda: Poetry? I don’t think I knew that you wrote poetry. 

Gail: Yeah, and then moved to working at a small town newspaper as a journalist, where I continued to write short stories, and started to enter competitions and started to win competitions. And one of them was actually judged by Jack Hodgins, who became my mentor. I ended up going to UVic and studying creative writing and worked with him there. So, yeah. Short stories led into all that. 

Rhonda: It just started everything. Poetry, gateway drug, and then short stories. 

Gail: Yeah, definitely. Gateway Drug. Yep. <laugh>. 

Rhonda: And Jack wrote…. it's A Passion for Narrative, right? That craft book. So good. Love that. Highly recommend that. I'll put a link to that in the shownotes ‘cuz it's really great. So, and then, you know, your big break came about with The Cure for Death by Lightning. Like that's the one that kind of was all buzzy, and took off, and award-winning, and the whole thing, right? 

Gail: Yeah, actually, what really started it was, I took a short story from The Cure for Death by Lightning. I was working on the manuscript, and you know what it's like, it takes forever to write a literary novel. And so to keep the faith, keep the energy up, I started sending stories out from the novel manuscript. It was also a way to work out story threads, character relationships, that kind of thing. And anyway, I started sending them out and one of them actually won the CBC Short Story Prize. 

Rhonda: I didn't realize that when you won that contest, it was with an excerpt from the novel. 

Gail: Yeah. And that really started things for me, because at that party I met an agent who took me on, and then she went on to sell The Cure for Death by Lightning internationally. And it just took off like crazy. So I had a full-on Cinderella story, which took me about 10 years to get to, you know, it's like every… <laugh>

Rhonda: Overnight success. 

Gail: Yeah, overnight success <laugh>. You know, I placed with the CBC Award a couple of times, and that was really cool. But yeah, I really encourage anybody who's listening, if you've got a bigger project on the go, pull a short of pieces from it. Wind them into short stories, or prose poetry, I did that too. So, with quite a number of my earlier works, I took poetry and rewound it into prose. So you can, you know, use what you're working on in all kinds of ways, just to keep the faith up, keep that energy up. Get that stuff out there so that you're feeling like you're part of the wider world. ‘Cuz you know, writing can be so isolating as well. 

Rhonda: I love that. How long did it take you to write The Cure for the Cure for Death by Lightning? And did the time get shorter with each subsequent book? 

Gail: Well, you'd like to think so, wouldn't you? 

Rhonda: I would, that's why I'm asking, Gail <laugh>. Please say yes. 

Gail: Yeah, The Cure for Death by Lightning, from concept to finished book, it was about seven years, seven fricking years, eh, you know? And I've had books that took less time. Recipe for Bees took less time. I think it was somewhere around three years. But The Spawning Grounds, oh, that one was nine freaking years, right? It took forever. But I think that one, it had a lot to do with what was going on in my personal life. I lost both parents during that time. I had my kids late, I divorced, I remarried, I took on step-kids, I started teaching at UBC. Anybody who teaches knows how time consuming that is. So, I think it was a lot of other things that were getting in the road. But certainly over time, I learned some tricks of the trade to speed up the whole process. And the biggest one, of course, is planning. And, you know, there's that debate of pantser or planner, but it's not one or the other. It's both, right? So we can talk a bit about that process, if you like, but it's… over time just learning to plan ahead, and really learn about structure, really speeded things up. So, you know, with The Almost Wife, that was about two years. 

Rhonda: That was the first literary thriller you wrote? 

Gail: First thriller. Yeah. Well, I shouldn't say that. I also write hi-lo books for both adult and middle school readers who are working to improve their literacy skills. And so I've written a lot of that. I've got 14 of those, and more on the way. So, that was my first introduction to writing the thriller. But of course, I'd worked with a great many writers along the way who wrote thrillers. So I was certainly, you know, versed in the form. But The Almost Wife was the first full on thriller. And then I followed up with The Almost Widow, as well. 

Rhonda: Yeah. The one that kept me up last night. 

Gail: Oh, good. <Laugh> 

Rhonda: Yeah. In like, the best possible way. You're like, “I'm just gonna read another couple of pages” <laugh>. “Okay. I'm just gonna read another couple of pages. I'll just get to Thursday. Let me get to Thursday.” 

Gail: They're fun to read. They're really fun to write. And that was a big thing for me. I hit, you know, my fifties, and I think like most people, mid-career, or even later career, they go, “oh, you know, this used to be fun, but maybe it's not so much fun anymore.” Or, “I could really use, you know, a change of scene.” And so I talked to my agent about writing thrillers and to my surprise, she said, “go for it”. And so for me, it was play, it was all about play, you know, it was just to do something different, to have some fun. And it really breathed life into my writing career. 

Rhonda: Were you a big thriller reader? Like, do you like to read a thriller? 

Gail: I do. Here's my spill moment, here. I'm actually all about sci-fi. I love sci-fi. 

Rhonda: No way.

Gail: I watch sci-fi, you know, read sci-fi. And, as far as I can get away with it, I put magic realism elements into my writing. But really, I would love to write full on sci-fi, so I'm creeping in that direction too. And my next project has some sci-fi elements, that… 

Rhonda: Little something-something. 

Gail: Little something-something, but it's more upmarket or literary. 

Rhonda: Oh, I love that. Yeah. So I've been describing it as a literary thriller. Would you consider it literary? 

Gail: No, I was trying for a commercial thriller, but, you know, my literary sensibilities are gonna spill into it. Yeah. 

Rhonda: Yeah, like, I was thinking the setting is so rich. And how you describe it is so fresh, the language is gorgeous. So, that for me sort of brought it more into that literary space, but I don't even know if—are those distinctions even made anymore? Is that a thing? 

Gail: Well, I don't know. I think less and less. You know, I always did use what I would consider thriller elements in my writing, because it's a really great backbone to pull the reader in and keep them there. So even with The Cure for Death by Lightning, my first novel, I had thriller elements in it. 

Rhonda: I can see that now that you say it, but I wouldn't have thought of it before. 

Gail: Yeah. And I did that consciously, too. I think though the distinctions are less and less important, certainly for readers, I think they're more important for book sellers. And, you know, our marketing teams.

Rhonda: What shelf do we put this on? 

Gail: Yeah. What shelf do we put them on? In Europe, there's less distinction. So you'll see more commercial thrillers sitting side by side with a, you know, full on Pulitzer Prize-winning book, you know, all this kind of thing. And more and more you see the mashup, too, where people are using multiple genres within a given book, which I love. 

Rhonda: Yes, love that. Love that. 

Gail: I love it. And I'm thrilled to see that. And that started, of course, with young adult books, and then of course those young adult readers grew up and  wanted more of that. So I'm thrilled to see that. So yeah. I think I'll be mashing it up for some time, <laugh> for some time to come. 

Rhonda: So in your books they're really strongly based in a particular setting, right? In British Columbia. And this one takes place in, you know, with the context—the sort of backdrop, if you like, is protecting old growth forests in British Columbia. And did you go into it thinking that’s—like, what came first, story or setting? 

Gail: Well, I always consider setting another character to any book. With the first thriller that I wrote, The Almost Wife, it was set on Manitoulin Island, which I was very familiar with. We spent summers there for years because my husband's family was there. 

Rhonda: You used to hold writing retreats there, I know ‘cuz I was always very jealous. People would be saying, “I'm going to work with Gail in Manitoulin.” I was like, “next year, next year.”

Gail: Just an amazing environment. And I actually hope to go back there and do that again. But in a way, landscape comes first because it's part of the situation, part of that soup that you throw your character into and see how they survive or how they float. I've always wanted to write about the inland rainforest, because I live very, very close to them. We have inland rainforest right here in the Shuswap, we have them in Revelstoke, and of course they go all the way up through the Kootenays, right up to Prince George. So, a vast and very rare and very endangered forest. So I really wanted to write in that setting. And when I decided to do another thriller, I thought, “okay, well this is a perfect setting for a thriller because it's beautiful, but it's also a deeply haunting landscape and a perfect place to set, you know, a missing person.” <Laugh> 

Rhonda: Mm-hmm. 

Gail: Kind of a situation. So I knew that's where I would set it. And of course, then the story evolved, largely from that setting in which the action happens. 

Rhonda: And then, you must find that then the setting ends up driving plot to some extent, right? Because we interact with our landscape, right? 

Gail: Absolutely. And I think landscape is always important, but to a lesser or greater degree, depending on the writer, depending on the genre as well, I guess in, in many ways. But certainly for me, it's always, always a character in the book. And it always has been. 

Rhonda: Now this book—I don't wanna give any spoilers—but I really, I love that it is—so it's The Almost Widow, and it's a woman, a female protagonist, but it's not that woman-at-risk thriller, do you know what I mean? Like, where she's at risk of being violated, or murdered, or whatever, whatever, right? And that's such a, like, I'm over it. I'm over it as a trope. I'm over it in the world, and I'm over it as a trope <laugh>. So this isn't that. This is the opposite. I mean, there's like this little, kind of—I'm not gonna say any more. I was gonna describe it. I'm like, “no, don't go there.” So there's a little thing that kind of comes up that can be seen that way, but it's not her at risk. She's the active protagonist. 

Gail: She’s the one tracking it, yeah.

Rhonda: She's the champion, she's the hero. 

Gail: She’s the hero on a quest, really, yeah, 

Rhonda: Yeah, she is. She totally is, now that you say it. So Gail, can we talk a little bit about… because as I'm reading your book, and you're such a master of all of this stuff, and I'm comparing you to, in my head, some of the stuff that sometimes I see with emerging writers that I work with. And often, we have this issue of the passive protagonist, right? 

Gail: Oh, yeah. It's huge. And even when you're experienced, I see that problem cropping up in my own stuff. Right now, I'll finish talking to a writer I'm working with, and I'll go, “shit, I'm doing the same damn thing,” right? <laugh> I mean, and that's just the way of things. 

Rhonda: Yes. Especially in the early drafts, when you're trying to figure out… yeah.

Gail: Totally, totally. You know, in that discovery draft where you're literally discovering what the conflicts are. But, you know, it is not surprising that we have passive protagonists. Most of us as writers, we're brilliant people and we're often introverts, and we often avoid conflict. And so we do it on the page too, right? And we do it in all kinds of cool ways, too. 

Rhonda: Mm-hmm. Very beautiful ways, very beautiful, lyrical ways. 

Gail: Lyrical ways. We avoid conflict in any way we possibly can. And I think of my job as trying to help writers find the focus of their protagonist conflict and make sure that they're actually putting their protagonist right in the heart of it. Because we will send our protagonist off on trips, we will have a coincidence where they bump into people accidentally rather than having them consciously look for them, you know, we will have them wanting to say things that would get them into trouble, but they don't, or wanting to do things that would get them into trouble, and they don't. So we're constantly trying to protect our protagonists from themselves, and that's why we end up with that passive protagonist who isn't fully engaged in their own conflict. 

Rhonda: Yeah. And then we're wondering why the draft feels like it's fallen flat somewhere in the middle there. Yeah. Yes. 

Gail: Yes, yes. Or even before, right. We're just not allowing our protagonists to act. So that's the real key, is allowing them, not only allowing them to act, but making them act, and making sure they have clear story goals. What do they want, what do they need, what do they desire? We're often really unclear about that in our early drafts. And then of course, what are they gonna do to reach that goal, you know? What's stopping them from reaching that goal? So if you keep asking those questions all the way through, and making sure you have answers, you have clear story goals. Then you'll have a much more active protagonist. 

Rhonda: Let's talk about the planning versus plotting, and the process. So, because you also just mentioned the discovery draft, which is the beloved child of the pantser, right? The discovery draft <laugh>. At what stage do you begin, like, really planning, outlining, when do you do that versus— 

Gail: Well, I can walk you through my process, and I think it's the process of a great many pros now, and it isn't either one or the other. It isn't either planner or pantser, I do both at every stage. What I do now—that saves me so much time, I can't tell you, and so much grief, I can't tell you—is I start by writing a synopsis. Back when I was teaching at UBC in the MFA program there, one of the things I would do is get the writers to actually go through the process of applying for a Canada Council grant. Whether they sent the application away or not, what I was really getting them to do was to write a clear synopsis. Because when you apply for a grant, you need that description, which is a synopsis. 

Gail: And just going through that, it's real work. It can be fun, but it's real work. Going through that process means you're focusing on the situation like we were talking about earlier, focusing on the conflicts, focusing on causal chain, to make sure one thing leads logically to the next. So you really have to hammer out those fundamental elements of the story, and make sure you have a backbone to that story. So I start by writing a synopsis, and I'll use existing narrative structures as brainstorming tools. They're never formulas or templates, they're just brainstorming tools. So these will be the Save the Cat structure. And there’s that guide out, Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. She's picking up on what writers have been doing for a very long time and seizing that structure. One of my favorites is The Virgin's Journey, and a great guide for that— 

Rhonda: Oh, I don't think I read that one. It's off The Hero's Journey, right?

Gail: Yeah, it's different because women's experiences are different, but it can also be used for men's stories where the hero's an anti-hero. You can think of Loki in the Marvel universe, that kind of thing. So I'll find all kinds of structures that will just help me brainstorm. Romance structure, I have no problem using the romance structure to brainstorm, with thriller structures, if it's that kind of book, mystery structures. And I'll just use those to brainstorm on that synopsis. Then I'll move to an outline, and then I'll move to a chapter outline. So I'm actually outlining individual chapters. 

Rhonda: Oh, wow. Okay.

Gail: And this seems like a lot of planning, but like, again, over time I've really learned to do it. I use Scribner as an outlining tool, because it's got a ready-made tool for outlining, and I can change things easily in that outline and print it off. And then once I have a pretty clear idea where I'm going, I sit down in the discovery draft. It's there where the surprises turn up, things I never would've expected. And I will take those and incorporate them back into the outline. So as, as surprises come—

Rhonda: As you’re writing the draft. 

Gail: As I'm writing the draft, I'll go back and incorporate those changes into the outline. And as I'm working with the outline, changes will come up there, surprises I never would've guessed, that goes back into the writing. So it's a very fluid back and forth kind of process, but because I have that clear map going in, I'm going from nine years writing a novel to one year writing a draft. 

Rhonda: Oh, wow. Okay. 

Gail: Yeah, that's the big difference. That's the difference. So it's really worth doing the legwork with the synopsis, which most people think of as a marketing tool that you do after the novel’s finished. I do it first.

Rhonda: Which is a different version of the synopsis, I think, that you use for marketing than you would use to guide a discovery. 

Gail: Oh, definitely. Yeah. But having said that, when I'm finished the manuscript and the publishing team is coming to me for that book cover blurb, well, I've got the bones of it there already. 

Rhonda: And at what point would you—‘cuz you're working with an agent, representing your work to a publisher—so, at what point would you show your work to your agent? 

Gail: Well, I actually start… I back up, I have readers. One of them is my husband, and he was a big influence on The Almost Widow, because he's a drone pilot and drones are big in this. 

Rhonda: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Gail: He's a GIS analyst. So, he worked with forestry for years, and currently works with First Nations Technology Council. So, GIS is all about forestry, so he could really… 

Rhonda: It's a great research source.

Gail: Huge resource. And he would also read through things on drones and say, “hey, wait a minute. It doesn't quite work like that,” you know? So, I'll start with him as a reader. My youngest son, who's just going on 22, is a very gifted editor as well. I'll get him to read it for language, flow, even copy editing elements. So I have a lot of readers before I get to the point where I'll hand it over to my editor and start that process, which is quite a long, elaborate process. 

Rhonda: Okay. And that's because you already had a contract for the book, so you weren't looking to sell it. You already had a contract for this one, did you? 

Gail: Yes. This is a very unusual situation. It's very, very rare to have a contract for a book ahead of time. Unfortunately in our business we have to act on faith, and write the book, and then hope it'll find a home. Book by book. And that's really challenging. So I, again, had a bit of a Cinderella moment there, to have a contract for both of these books. But that's exceedingly rare. And especially for a literary book. 

Rhonda: You didn't shift publishers when you shifted genres, when you started writing thrillers, did you? ‘Cuz it's, it's hard. 

Gail: Yes, I did, actually. I went to—HarperCollins, took me on for that, but I'm still… with a literary book, I will still be working with Penguin Random House. And I also work with Orca on the hi-lo books. So I have three publishers. 

Rhonda: Wow. So you say you've published 14 of the hi-lo books for readers trying to improve their literacy. What is different about those when you're writing them? 

Gail: Oh, wow. Absolutely different. I mean, they're actually way more challenging to write than literary books by far. I have to consider every word for readability. Sentences have to be under 15 words. You want, really, no more than one comma. You can have no more than, say, five characters, no subplots, no symbols, it's all set up for readability, so those who may have a learning disability, who have English as a second language, reluctant readers. It also has, given all of that, you still have to have a story that really engages a reader, pulls them in, and really keeps them there. So it has to be, as the name suggests, high interest. So it's high interest, low vocabulary. So I've written some of these books at a grade one level for teens that are, say, 14, 15. So that's a really, really challenging thing to do. 

Rhonda: But it sounds like an incredible craft challenge. 

Gail: It is. It really is. It's huge. Once I got into it, though, there's a rhythm to it, like any other kind of writing. And I've had really wonderful editors at Orca Book Publishing. They're a fantastic publisher to work with and really care about literacy. So that's been, you know, hugely rewarding to do those books. 

Rhonda: Yeah, I can imagine. I wanted to ask about The Almost Widow. So as I say, it kept me up, which I think is what you want a thriller or a mystery to do. Like, definitely if a thriller or a mystery doesn't make you wanna like, stay up late, then I don't know if it's doing its job, you know? So, it's such a page turner. But I wanted to ask, in a book like this, you have your red herrings, right? You have the things that might be the thing, but might not be the thing. And, did any of that change in the process of writing it? Because I thought they were, they were quite mixed and interesting. They were like, some of them were character based, some of them were situation based, some of them were landscape based, some of them were deep history based, you know, deep history of the place. Did you have that all sorted out in your outline, in your synopsis? Or did that change really late in the process for you? 

Gail: No, I mean, there were a few elements that I kind of planned out, and we're really talking about the twists, right? We're talking about the—

Rhonda: Yeah, the twists, yeah. 

Gail: Setting up reader expectations and then breaking them. And that's the joy of reading these kinds of books, is the twist. And that in itself is hugely challenging to do. I had a general direction that I was going with the book, but then of course, in the discovery draft, these elements came up that surprised me. And then it was a matter of developing them further and further and further. And of course, as you do that, you again get surprises coming up. So this is why I say, of course it's not pantser or planner, it's both right? You plan, and then things will come up in the course of writing that you just don't expect as an author. And that's the fun of the writing, right? <Laugh> That's the joy of it, right there.

Rhonda: It's the fun of it. I find though, that sometimes writers will get into this space where they feel like they're not doing it right. If they wrote an outline and then things change on them, you know, like, “oh, it's broken” or whatever. Like, no, that's the fun. 

Gail: Yeah, you expect the change. And not only expect the change, but expect the work that comes with the change <laugh>. Because, you know, we don't wanna throw away the ideas. We don't wanna throw away the writing that we did, that no longer applies because things have moved on and shifted. But that's just process, you know, we just have to let go, and let go, and let go. One of my favorite things is the situation rethink. And this is really useful when it comes to dealing with that passive protagonist problem we were talking about earlier. Whatever situation, you know, a writer may have put their character into, I'll sit down with them and go, “okay, what if we just changed this little thing, what if we turn this this way? What if we give a job that belongs to a secondary character to the protagonist?” 

Gail: “How does that change things?” So, the situation rethink, we're rethinking a situation to put a character or protagonist more firmly in their conflict. Writers are at first quite resistant to that, because they're giving up ideas. They're giving up writing at the time, pages they've written, it's painful! But when you learn that that's fun, when you start to get into that, that’s process, and that’s a game changer when you learn that situation where rethink is fun. Just an easy example of this, writers that I work with tend to put their characters in just a handful of jobs. So they're writers of one kind, no big surprise there, librarians, teachers, visual artists, and book sellers. So, they're jobs that they can envision themselves doing. The problem with that is most of them are passive, kind of situations, where it's really hard to get the character active. And if you do a simple situation rethink, where you give them a different job, one that's more compatible with the conflict that you're writing about, it'll change everything. So again, a situation rethink. And so I'll work with writers, trying to get them, nudge them. Sometimes dragging them out of a given situation into something new, and eventually they get it. Eventually they find it's fun, ‘cuz it really is. It's like a jigsaw puzzle that you can put together in any given number of ways. 

Rhonda: Yeah. Yeah. So now that you've done a couple of thrillers, are you gonna continue writing thrillers, or are you moving into something different? You mentioned the sci-fi love. Are we gonna see any like Gail Anderson-Dargatz Star Trek series, or anything? <laugh>

Gail: Oh, it's funny you mention that, ‘cuz I am, I'm such a Trekkie. No, I'm— <laugh>

Rhonda: No, same, same <laugh>.  

Gail: In fact, my kids, last year for Mother's Day—we’re just coming up on Mother's Day here—last year, they got together and got me, it's a cameo, where one of the Star Trek people will say, “hi, Gail, your kids think you're wonderful, happy Mother's Day,” right? 

Rhonda: Oh my god, that's amazing. 

Gail: Oh, I can't think of her name right now. She's the actor who played Shelby, the very strong foe to Riker, right? 

Rhonda: Oh, I love her. Yeah, yeah. 

Gail: And I, oh my God, I was just like, I was in tears, right? So I'm that much of a Trekkie when it comes to writing actual sci-fi, I'm not sure I'll go in that direction. But definitely the next one has elements that are, you know, creeping and creeping that way a bit. 

Rhonda: Stolen from, or reminiscent of, yeah. 

Gail: I'm playing, I've reached a point in my life where I'm playing with the writing and, so, I'll definitely do more thrillers, I think, and I'll definitely do more literary works. But I'm just going where the spirit takes me at this point and enjoying it. 

Rhonda: So The Almost Widow is out this week? 

Gail: It is out tomorrow. It is out tomorrow, yeah, yay. So, I made a big launch day online tomorrow, and then I've got several in-person events, which is huge.

Rhonda: Which is new now, yeah. Great. 

Gail: Yeah. The last book, it was totally online because of the pandemic. So this is big for me to get out in the world again. 

Rhonda: Yeah. Well, I love the new cover, and I hope that it's wildly successful. I'm sure it will be. It's a great read. Like highly, highly recommend. In fact, I think I'm going to get it for my dad. It's the kind of thing he loves too. So, yeah, that'd be a nice Father's Day gift. Good timing. Thanks so much for this, Gail. I just really appreciate you being here. And it's just so much fun to talk about writing and I feel like I've learned a lot from you over the years on process generally, but this was really, really interesting for me, so.

Gail: Well, it was a pleasure for me, so good to see you. 

Rhonda: All right. Talk to you soon. Take care. 


Thanks so much for hanging out with me today and for listening all the way to the end. I hope you enjoyed today's episode of the Resilient Writers Radio Show. While you're here, I would really appreciate it if you'd consider leaving a rating and review of the show. You can do that in whatever app you're using to listen to the show right now, and it just takes a few minutes. Your ratings and reviews tell the podcast algorithm gods that “yes, this is a great show. Definitely recommend it to other writers.” And that will help us reach new listeners who might need a boost in their writing lives today as well. So please take a moment and leave a review. I'd really appreciate it, and I promise to read every single one. Thank you so much.



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