On January 23, 2015 the Critique Compendium’s editorial staff interviewed local South Jersey author, Marie Gilbert. I’m sure readers could discern Ms. Gilbert is an author: she answered all the questions in complete sentences. We conducted our discussion via e-mail.
Critique Compendium: They call you the “Steampunk Granny”. How did you get that nickname?
Ms. Gilbert: Everybody knows me as Steampunk Granny, but how I originally got the name will require a little trip back to the year 2008. I was working at the Academy of Natural Sciences and my eldest granddaughter, Allie Gilbert, was attending Moore College of Art and Design http://moore.edu/ which is right next door to the museum. Allie was also a part-time cashier in the Academy’s gift shop. One day, Allie stopped by the exhibit and invited me to accompany her to a Steampunk Event in Center City. I had no idea what steampunk was, but I would soon learn. Allie dressed me in one of her outfits and off we went to Dorian’s Parlor. As soon as I entered the ballroom, I was immediately hooked. I’ve been attending every event since. http://biffbampop.com/2013/01/01/enter-2013-with-biff-bam-pops-steampunk-granny/
Over time, I made many friends and because my granddaughter and I were always together at these events, her friends began to call me granny. It wasn’t until I was asked to take part in a Cabaret/Fashion Show hosted by the owners of Steampunk Works that I introduced as Steampunk Granny.
I have to give James Knipp, my friend and a fellow member of the South Jersey Writers’ Group the credit for officially naming me Steampunk Granny. Up until then, I was only using the title when attending Dorian’s Parlor, but James gave me the courage to use it all the time. Thank you, James.
Critique Compendium: What inspired you to start writing?
Ms. Gilbert: I grew up in a large Italian family and it was customary for adults and children alike to gather around the dinner table every Sunday at my Grandmother’s house. My siblings, cousins and me were entertained for hours with tales of our grandparent’s and parent’s childhood. The art of storytelling was introduced to me at a very young age. Although I wrote stories as a child, it wasn’t until I worked as the manager in the Academy’s Changing Exhibit Hall that I began to write seriously.
As part of my job, I was required to do extensive research for each new traveling exhibit that arrived at the hall, then I would write scripts for my staff and volunteers in order to help them explain the sometimes complicated material featured in these traveling exhibits to visitors of all ages. I was also in charge of the diorama carts, and again, had to prepare skits for my volunteers to educate the visitors. I received many awards and compliments on my skits and lesson plans.
I have always loved horror stories from when I was very young. I spent all my free time reading the works of Poe, Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein and H.G. Wells. When I retired from the Academy of Natural Sciences at the end of 2009, I finally had the time to take on two of my favorite passions; writing and ghost investigations. I am an Empath and I do professional investigations.
Critique Compendium: Could you tell me a little about your work?
Ms. Gilbert: A few months after retiring, I begun working on and completed a novel called Beware the Harvesters, but something happened on the way to getting this novel published. The secondary characters began to take over the story, fighting for their rightful place in my imagination and on the page. Roof Oasis was my way of satisfying one of my character’s demands to tell her story her way. Alas, this character still holds reign over my story. Book two of my apocalyptic series, Saving Solanda, will be out this summer, followed by two more books.
I love writing about zombies and even though they scare me to death, they are witness to what may come. Can a zombie apocalypse really happen? I feel we’re already there. We trudge through life in a daze, behaving like the shuffling dead, doing routine choirs or jobs that deaden our spirits and, we follow blindly instead thinking for ourselves. Scary right, now add to that scenario the long term effects of GMO’s on our health; physically and mentally. We are what we eat, and that, my little zombie snacks is the plot for Roof Oasis.
Critique Compendium: What’s next for Marie Gilbert?
Ms. Gilbert: What’s next for Marie Gilbert aka Steampunk Granny? I want to finish my apocalyptic series, then work on getting my Life with Fred and Lucy memoir published. I have a vampire story called New Home that will be published this year in the Bloody Kisses Press anthology Babes and Beasts and I was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Touched by an Angel with a true ghost story called Angel on the Footbridge. I’m still working on a science fiction story called Jack Sprat, the Amazing Adventures of a Slider and, I’m working on a book about a ghost investigation that I took part in last year. http://biffbampop.com/2013/08/08/gilbert-and-the-angry-ghost/
I was recently asked by Independent Director, Chris Eilenstine, to be a writer for his new horror film, Shadows of the Forest. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3264880/ This is my first venture into screenwriting and I’m both honored and very excited to be part of such an amazing team.
Critique Compendium: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Ms. Gilbert: The advice that I would give to aspiring authors is the same advice that I give to my nine grandchildren; think outside the box. Educate yourself by reading all types of books, even books that are outside of your comfort area. Think for yourself and don’t follow blindly. You can read all the advice columns ever written on how to write that perfect book, but in the end, you need to sit down and write the damn thing.
Make time for writing every day. Make it part of your daily routine. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Start a blog and post a story at least once a week. You should blog about people, places and things that you find interesting. If it’s interesting to you, believe me, others will also find it interesting. Blogging will also help with your writing skills and, when you complete that best-selling novel, get a good editor. Most importantly, my little zombie snacks, write because you love it, because you can’t imagine your life without writing. Do this and the story will fall into place.
Ms. Gilbert blogs at: gilbertcuriosities.blogspot.com
For additional interviews with Ms.Gilbert, please visit the following sites.