Gretchen Jeannette Interview

Hello Friends! My name is Gretchen Jeannette. I live and work in Chester County, Pennsylvania, an area rich in Revolutionary War and Colonial American history. My enduring interest in 18th Century America began at a young age, inspired by the novels of Dale Van Every and Allan Eckert, whose timeless tales of adventure and romance capture the essence of early American lore. Eager to read more such stories, to my disappointment I had trouble finding them on bookshelves. So I decided to write one of my own. Thus began a journey fueled by my passion to breathe life into history

What inspired you to write?
Growing up in an area rich in Revolutionary War history, I developed a fascination with the legends, heroes and lifestyles of that era. I read every novel on the subject I could lay my hands on. I was fortunate in that my mother encouraged me to read as much as possible, with an eye toward someday writing my own stories. She, more than anyone, inspired me to follow my dream of becoming an author.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
I began writing short stories in the fifth grade. My love of writing continued through high school, after which I entered the workplace and necessarily put my writing dreams on the back burner. Years later I couldn't hold back any longer. I began writing a full-length novel while working a full-time job, a situation that continues to this day. The hours are long, but I simply can't stop writing because the blank page keeps calling to me!

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
I always start with a bare-bones outline. However, the story line usually changes as things progress, as the characters take over and in some cases dictate the story's flow and pacing. The more I get to know them, the more they influence the plot.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
I've received encouragement from family and friends, but the writing process itself is a solitary venture. As I like to say, writing is the loneliest, most rewarding profession on earth.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Research. As a writer of historical fiction, I'm a stickler for accuracy regarding not only historical events but also dialogue. Writing dialogue that's authentic to the times is challenging. I rely on etymology sources and historical slang dictionaries to ensure proper word meaning and usage.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
Getting to know my characters. Creating a fictional hero or heroine and then developing that character into a multi-dimensional being is extremely rewarding.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
I didn't really feel transformed as much as personally satisfied. I've always felt compelled to write. I would probably have written stories even if I never published a single word.

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Life is full of inevitable distractions that interfere with inspiration and motivation. Family matters, personal setbacks and world events can happen in flurries and totally derail one's train of thought.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
I believe constructive criticism can only help an author. Therefore nothing I write is set in stone. If someone takes issue with an aspect of one of my novels, I'll take the time to decide if their criticism is valid and, if so, I'll revise/edit my work to address the point in question. If I disagree with the criticism, I simply ignore it. I learned long ago that not everyone will love what I write.

Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up on a small farm in Chester County, Pennsylvania, one of seven children. Looking back, I so appreciate the freedom we enjoyed in being able to play outside, even after dark, without fear of two-legged predators. My siblings, friends and I competed in capture the flag, kick the can, hide-and-seek, and many other outdoor games that stimulated our imaginations while keeping us physically fit.

My worst memory is that of losing our beloved pony, Ike, during a particularly harsh winter.

Do you have a favorite quote?
"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach." --Aldous Huxley

What is your favorite show on TV?
Taboo.

Favorite movie?
Amadeus.

Favorite book?
That's a tough one. I suppose "Bridal Journey" by Dale Van Every, but there are many other historical fiction books that I absolutely love.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Benjamin Franklin or George Washington. If I had to pick just one, Franklin.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
I would like to be able to speak another language fluently, either French, Italian or Spanish. I love the romance languages. I dabble in Spanish, but I've a long way to go to be considered fluent.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I curse like a sailor at the drop of a hat.

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Not easily influenced.