I recently read the novel Edna & Luna, about an unconventional connection formed by two very different women in the face of a culture that is often isolating. Gleah Powers creates believable, unique characters and I was so interested in learning about her writing process.
When did you start writing, when did you start calling yourself a writer and when did you decide that being published was a goal?
At 14, I began writing poetry and making art. I spent many years studying and pursuing an art career. In my 30s, as the content of my paintings became more and more narrative I turned to writing. At first, I wrote plays: monologues and one-acts which I staged with actors and directors or performed myself in a series of dramatic readings. This was a natural step after having spent some time in New York studying acting, singing and dance. As I received support and admiration for my writing, I began calling myself a writer and my desire to be published started to grow. For the past two decades, I’ve devoted myself to writing fiction, literary nonfiction and poetry.
What sort of formal training, if any, did you receive as a writer?
I took writing classes at UCLA extension, online with One Story, studied privately with Kate Braverman and Judith Taylor, attended writing conferences, and finally received an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles a few years ago.
What inspires you? What do you do if you get stuck?
Reading poetry inspires me and helps me to get unstuck. I also find it helpful to attend readings, be around other writers and hear their work. I’ve been part of a writing group for the past 15 years. If I feel discouraged or stuck, the fact that I have to read their work and give them notes, even if I don’t want to, helps me to push through my own stuckness.
Why do you write?
My initial impetus to write was born out of and developed from a burning desire at a young age to search for the most effective ways to address emotional pain and broaden consciousness.
My search led me to the arts; painting, theatre, dance and to the exploration of many alternative therapies.
In writing, I’m able to use the elements of all these disciplines: creating sentences that have a particular rhythm or movement, compelling characters, dialogue that zings, and always, the surprising realizations and thoughts that well up from the juxtaposition of all these qualities.
Writing a story is like making a collage.
Talk about Edna & Luna. Who should read this book?
I have led a life by turns grounded and nomadic—a perfect preparation for discovering in myself the voices of Edna and Luna. In my early teens, I lived with my grandmother in Phoenix. For many years, I was an explorer and teacher of alternative therapies.
In writing the book, I wanted to find out what would transpire if a relationship somehow developed between two women with very different backgrounds: a crabby widow, a bit of a drinker, who runs over people’s toes with her grocery cart and a new age healer who chooses food by its vibration. The exploration of each woman’s curious background and their developing bond tells the story of how family can be found in the most unlikely people. Most of us have had the experience of coming to know and even love someone we initially mistrusted or were suspicious of.
The book addresses themes of women supporting each other, challenging one’s assumptions & prejudices, compassion & empathy, important messages that are so crucial right now.
It is a for book for women and for men who are curious about the nuances and deep intimacy of female friendship.
Find out more about this author here: www.gleahpowers.com
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Love these interviews.