Gloria Alden and Her Gnome
Today I am chatting with Gloria Alden, one of the authors in Mystery and Horror, LLC's new anthology Strangely Funny. Gloria has a number of published short stories, including “Cheating on Your Wife Can Get You Killed,” winner of the 2011 Love is Murder contest and published in Crimespree Magazine; “Mincemeat is for Murder” appearing in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, “The Professor’s Books” in the FISH TALES Anthology; and “The Lure of the Rainbow” in FISH NETS, the newest Guppy Anthology. She is the author of the Catherine Jewell mystery novels and a middle-grade book, THE SHERLOCK HOLMES DETECTIVE CLUB. She lives on a small farm in Southington, Ohio with two ponies, some cats, five hens and her collie, Maggie. She blogs on Thursdays with Writers Who Kill and once a month with the Fish Tales Anthology Blog.
So Gloria, tell us a little more about yourself.
I’m a retired elementary school teacher with a Master’s degree in English. I’ve been writing mysteries for some time and have had five short stories published now and this past year I decided to indie publish the first in my Catherine Jewell mystery series – TheBlue Rose and the 2nd one Daylilies for Emily’s Garden came out in May. I’m in the final edit of my third. I also have a middle-grade mystery out – TheSherlock Holmes Detective Club based on a writing activity I did with my third grade having them follow the adventures of an elderly woman, who was traveling around the U.S. on the track of two jewel thieves. Because the letters came postmarked and unopened from places she was having her sometimes dangerous adventures – thanks to friends and relatives around the country, they believed in her and their letters to her are funny and precious. I live on a small farm with two ponies, a few hens, two barn cats, two house cats, and my companion, Maggie, a tri-color full sized collie. I’m also an exuberant gardener who doesn’t know when to stop making new gardens which is why my books have a gardening theme. I took up backpacking when I was 60 and only stopped when my younger sister couldn’t do it any longer.
What event in your life helped you know you wanted to become a writer?
A year after my oldest son died of cancer at eighteen; I entered college for the first time to become a teacher. The first essay I wrote for an English class was “Saying Good-bye” about his death. My professor liked it so much that she suggested I submit it to the campus’s literary magazine. I did and it was accepted and from then on I wrote a lot of poetry and submitted it and also had a short story win an award for freshman writing. I also took an overload of every literature and writing class offered in addition to my elementary education courses and did well in all of them. I even enjoyed writing research papers. I think going to college as an older student is what led me to become a writer.
What made you decide on writing mysteries?
That’s easy. Although I’m an eclectic reader, mysteries have always been my favorite reads starting with Nancy Drew. I love trying to solve the problem of who done it before the end as well as getting totally immersed in a place and characters that make me feel like I am there.
You write adult and young adult mysteries. What do you see as the difference in writing for a younger audience?
Actually, I don’t write young adult, but middle-grade. I love middle-grade kids and after teaching that age for 20 years plus having Cub Scouts and then a Girl Scout troop for 10 years, I relate to this age, and in some ways my sense of humor works well for them. But writing for a mature audience is more full-filling for me. I can include topics including murder as well as others that would not be appropriate for youngsters.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m more of a pantser; however I do create characters, especially my murderers by writing a biography of them showing what leads them to murder. In doing so, I actually have sympathy for my murderer and wish he/she didn’t take that final irreversible step. Once I start the book, I have some notes of things I want included, I have a plot in mind, but from then on the characters and story kind of take off on their own.
What makes you so sexy?
After I got up from the floor from laughing so hard, I thought about it. Maybe it’s because I wear very little makeup? Or maybe it’s because I’m more comfortable in jeans or shorts? Or could it be my white hair worn in a simple style that I never fuss with? And then I decided it was the barn boots I wear when it’s wet outside for my walks in the woods or cleaning the pony stalls. If I asked my son and daughter-in-law whose house I pass each morning, they might say it’s the raggedy and well-worn, but warm old snowmobile coat I wear in the winter with a red knit hat, although they’ve been nagging me for years to buy a new one even if I have to go to Good Will.
Okay, so you’re an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Mysteries, of course, mostly traditional, but I’ll read others, too. I’ve always enjoyed Jane Langton for her intricate plots, characters and great sense of humor. I like Elizabeth George and Louise Penny, and so many other authors I can’t list them all. I also belong to two book clubs and almost always I enjoy the books that are chosen that I might never have read if it wasn’t for them. I also read TIME magazine and the daily newspaper. I have a library/dining room/office with several walls of book plus book cases in almost every room of my house and where there isn’t a book case, books are still somewhere in the room.
What books have most influenced your life?
I’ve been reading since I was six – a lot of years - so that’s impossible to say. I can’t imagine a life without reading books. If I had to pick one book that I’ve read three times and would be on almost everyone’s list as one of the best, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Do you see writing as a career?
It’s one of the things I really enjoy doing and plan on writing for as long as I can. I have so many stories still inside me. I’m editing my third book in the series and have my plot for the fourth, and actually some notes for future books. My series is on a monthly basis; 1st in June, 2nd in July and on. I also write a blog for every Thursday on Writers Who Kill. But do I consider it a career? Not really. I won’t get rich at it, but I have a pension and it’s not so much about the money as wanting to be read. I’m not going to put in hours and hours every day on writing my mysteries. I have a rather large family, friends, and other interests like gardening, volunteering, and reading to name a few. Plus my critters take time, and I can only stand just so much clutter surrounding me.
Thanks for being my guest today.