I met Gabrielle Glancy in middle school when I had to call her ‘Ms. Glancy’ and she was my English teacher for a semester in Northern California. As of late, I have noticed she has been publishing up a storm, and in my opinion, doing a great job of getting the word out about her books. I wanted to chat with her about her process and her latest book ‘Vera’.
Jennifer Bowen: Let’s talk about ‘Vera’, your most recent book, being published by Oneiric Press. You wrote it two decades ago, but are publishing it now. How did this come about?
Gabrielle Glancy: Twenty years ago, I received the most dazzling slew of rejections imaginable and was on a publishing roller coaster for almost two years. In fact, the highs were so high and the lows were so low, it took me a long time to recover! Recently — say eight months ago — a friend told me about TRANSPARENT, the show produced by Jill Soloway. She said, “You gotta watch it! It’s really great!” So one weekend, I binge-watched all the episodes in all the seasons available at that time. Somewhere in the process of watching it, I had an epiphany. I thought: “The world is ready for VERA!” So I enlisted the help of a friend — it was a very dusty job — and we got the ms. down from my attic. It had been nearly twenty years since I had even touched it. I read it and re-read it and saw that with just a few tiny changes, it would be ready to send out into the world again, a new world, in hopes that this time, the book would get the recognition I believe it deserves.
JB: I love that after your journey to get it published, you saved the rejection letters, and then used the quotes from real editors on the back cover of the book. Explain why you did that?
GG: The rejection letters were really amazing, very flattering. And they contained in them exactly what I wanted to showcase — that the book was admired, sometimes read in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon — by many of the bigwigs of the publishing world — but they were afraid to publish the book. They said it “sizzled” too much to take on. I thought, “Perfect! I’ll quote you on that!” And where before, in 1999, that may have been a liability. Now it would be a draw.
JB: How did you first get connected with Oneiric Press? I see they published your memoir of sorts, ‘I’m already Disturbed Please Come In.’
GG: Oneiric Press is a publishing cooperative, meaning the people who run it work together, collaborate on all aspects of the process. I was excited to find a publisher that was interested in new work, groundbreaking work, was willing to take risks and was publishing interesting, high-quality books.
JB: As a writer myself, I think of my plays and fiction as to trying to answer a question. Does Vera have a central question in your mind?
GG: Certainly the question of the book is “Where is Vera?” At least it begins that way. Then, as the plot thickens, the question becomes, “Who is Vera?” Since Vera means “truth or faith” in Russian, I suppose the question also becomes, “Is there a Vera?” The book draws into question her identity, her sexuality, her very existence — and so in that way, it’s kind of a sexual existential novel. But even the genre is “trans” as it’s both memoir and novel all at once.
JB: I noticed on social media that you sometimes crowd source to get feedback on covers, titles maybe even, etc. What draws you to that kind of collective feedback?
GG: I didn’t do that for Vera, but I did ask editor and writer friends what they thought. We are living in community — a hive, as it were. And sometimes I call upon the other “bees” in whatever ways are available to me.
JB: What is your writing process like? Do you write every day?
GG: Vera was written (by and large) twenty years ago. I’ve written quite a few other books since then. My process is different for all of them. I wrote the first draft of Vera in 11 months. Revised it over a period of two years. And then put it away for almost twenty!!
JB: A lot of art forms the last few years, especially Film, Television, Reality TV, are furthering the discussion of identity and the voice of the LGBT community. What do you think ‘Vera’ adds to this mix?
GG: As I mentioned, the work of Jill Soloway inspired me to exhume Vera in the first place. Also, Orange is the New Black. I think Ellen has had an influence on me as well as Eileen Myles. My hope would be that Vera deepens and furthers the discussion and doesn’t take the easy way out in jumping on the bandwagon of trends in LGBTQ literature, but forges his/her/it/our/their own unique path — and opens the door to a more fluid, accepting and compassionate playing field.
JB: You seem to be great at promoting your work. Any advice on how authors, whether they have the support of a publisher or not, can promote their work?
GG: Oh my! Self-promoting is not really my thing! I despise it! But these days you kinda have to do it. I just write people who I don’t know and explain what I’m doing. They have been miraculously responsive. I would just say, BE FEARLESS. You have nothing to lose.
To view the book trailer for ‘Vera’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j-7VkYHYb8
You can follow Gabrielle Glancy on Twitter @gabglance
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Jennifer Bowen, QueenBee (more fun than CEO), of BookHive Corp.