Adventure, mystery, and wild creatures all play a part in Gloria Repp’s many books. She grew up in the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Northwest, and it was there she learned a love for wilderness that pervades her stories. Over the years, experiences gained from raising three children, teaching school, and editing have made useful contributions to her work.
During recent years, traveling has added a new dimension to her writing. Most of her trips take her to one of her favorite places to explore—the thousand-acre wilderness of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. One spring, she listened to the songs of rare Pine Barrens Treefrogs, and she envisioned stories for children about a tiny frog named Pibbin. As she hiked the quiet pine woods, she felt her splintered edges heal . . . and the beginnings of a novel began to stir.
Pibbin’s adventures have taken shape in a series: TALES OF FRIENDSHIP BOG, and the tumbled ruins and gleaming dark streams of the Barrens have provided the setting for her novels, THE FOREVER STONE, DEEP FOCUS, and those to follow.
What inspires you to write?
Most often, inspiration begins with a setting that grabs me. Since people are often influenced by their surroundings, it is while I am exploring the area that I begin to think about a person or a creature within that setting; I start to wonder about the problem or need they might have. For example, all my recent books—both for children and adults—have roots in the NJ Pine Barrens.
Tell us about your writing process.
After I have a feel for the setting and the overall concept of my story, I flesh out character sketches and do a brief overview (centered on plot points). While I’m pondering that, I research exhaustively, which helps to fill in the empty spaces for a running outline which may have bits of dialogue or scene comments, such as “She HAS to find out XX here!” Then I begin a rough draft. I often write in pencil on a legal pad, since it is easy to jot notes in the margin, and computer antics won’t distract me.
When I’m working on the plot, I sometimes confuse myself, whether it is a Pibbin adventure of ten thousand words or a Dumont Chronicles novel at a hundred thousand words. For that reason, I make charts and sequence pages. This activity quiets my left brain, which worries about getting everything straight. I use colored tabs and bits of bright ribbon and lay out the plot on a large piece of cardboard. I’ve found that using color gives me a boost in thinking logically; eventually I learned that it’s because I’m so strongly right-brained.
Once I have the rough draft, I feel much better about the book. I’ll type it into the computer, revising as I go and keeping an eye on my charts, and then I will do several more drafts to make it fit what I envisioned.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I often hear my characters talk to each other, and I sometimes find myself thinking the thoughts of my main character and worrying over her problems.
What advice would you give other writers?
• Read—widely and deeply. Read in genres you enjoy; re-read books you admire; try to read well-known works that don’t immediately appeal to you.
• Study your craft. Take writing courses, whether in person, online, or from books. Follow good writing blogs. Try to use what you’re learning to analyze the books you’re reading.
• Write—every day, no matter the subject. If you set up a schedule for studying and writing, you’ll be encouraged by the results.
• Don’t ever give up! Follow your dream and work to make it come true.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Two factors influenced my decision to become an Indie author. After publishing twelve books with traditional publishers, I queried my children’s book publisher with an idea that I felt strongly about and met with a lukewarm response. Meanwhile, I had written a Christian novel that my agent was enthusiastic about but couldn’t place because “It is not what editors want.” I began to watch what was happening in the exhilarating new world of Indie Publishing and, with some trepidation, decided to join it. I have never looked back.
I’m not sure how I would advise a new author. I learned much about craft, design, and audience from my editors and others in the traditional publishing business. Unless a writer is very focused and disciplined—or can find a mentor—she may not be able to absorb such valuable insights from books, instructional blogs or other online helps.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I see a bright but turbulent future for book publishing, and from the bottom of my heart, I hope it includes print books. I am not qualified to answer this question in depth, although I find many wildly varying opinions online and a few of them are instructive.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
My backlist books center on fiction for children and teens; I have written one biography for adults. At present, I am focused on two genres: children/fiction/animals (ages 7 and up) and adults: Christian/romance/mystery.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print