Gwynne Forster is a multi-award winning author, including multiple recognitions as a Top Ten Favorite Author by readers of Affaire de Coeur Magazine, culminating in her 2006 selection to the magazine’s Hall of Fame. She has also won an Emma Award from Romance Slam Jam in 2001 and a Lifetime Achievement award from Romantic Times magazine in 2007. Gwynne will present the workshop “Research Methods & Techniques for Fiction & Nonfiction” at this year’s BWRC.
Let’s jump right in. Gwynne, where were you born and raised? Did you attend college or formally study the craft of writing? If so, where?
I was born in North Carolina, grew up in Washington, D. C. received B.A. and master’s degrees from Howard University, M.A. from The American University and additional graduate credits from Columbia University.
When did you realize that you had a passion for writing, publishing, etc.? Who is one author that you look up to and why?
I’ve been writing since my teen years. The writers who influenced me most were my mother and Langston Hughes. I wrote because I read all the time, and when I wasn’t reading, I was dreaming up stories. All kinds of stories.
What would you like attendees to know about you, your background, strengths, or interests, that is not included in your bio?
Professionally, I’m a demographer—one who analyzes the determinants and consequence of changes in national populations world wide. Although the subject is taught in universities, the majority of demographers are researchers—as I am—and that involves writing. No one pays you for research if you can’t write the result in a form suitable as bases for polity making and programming. So writing is what I do, and research is second nature to me. The importance of research for novel writing cannot be over stressed, and that is why I chose to give my workshop on that topic at 2008 BWRC.
Writing demography is a different genre from fiction writing. To begin with, demography demands factual accounts, and facts do not necessarily enter into fiction writing. So the first thing I had to do which I decided to write fiction was to learn the language of the novelist and forget those highfalutin words and expressions I spent years, hard work and a lot of money learning. One thing I have carried over with wonderful results is the ability to do the research required to broaden my knowledge of any topic, place or type of individual.
How did you get started writing/publishing/etc.?
I used to look askance at popular fiction, until I was in Asia on an assignment, needed something written in English to read and found a novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Thereafter, I read novels whenever I had time.
I wrote my first novel accidentally, recording a story I told myself in order to keep myself company while traveling. The experience addicted me to novel writing. I decided to learn how to do it, read some relevant books and sold the next one ten months after I wrote the first word. That was in 1994. Thirty books and novellas later, I still enjoy it.
If you were to describe your upcoming session/presentation in one word, what would it be?
The best one I can think of is “Basic,” because research is basic, the fundamental substance needed to enhance fiction writing. Why? Because few of us know and understand all the ramifications of the ideas, words and pictures that crop up in our minds.
Who is your session particularly suited for, i.e., what skill level, interests, experience should they have to benefit most from your session?
My session is suited to writers and aspiring writers.
At what other writers’ conferences have you presented a session?
I have presented sessions at The Romantic Times Convention, The Seattle Rainbow Bookfest, Romance Slam Jam, Writers Conference at Howard University, San Francisco Writers Conference and others.
What advice would you give to someone who has never attended a writers’ conference?
If you have never attended a writers conference, list your needs as a writer and check the program well before you leave your place of residence so as to be sure and attend the session that will be of greatest benefit to you. If you want to meet an author or agent who is listed as attending the conference, contact that person in advance tell her/him why you want to meet with her/him and make an appointment. In this way, you will get the most out of your attendance. If you are going because you’ve never seen Tampa, call the Tampa tourist board and find out what you must see.
Hope to see you in Tampa!
Learn more about Gwynne and her books across the Internet:
My Space: http://www.myspace.com/gwynnef