The Writers Write Interview – Gail Schimmel

The Writers Write Interview – Gail Schimmel


Author: Gail Schimmel
Birthday: 9 January 1974
Date: 19 June 2009
The Book: Marriage Vows

Gail Schimmel is a South African author of three novels – Marriage Vows, Whatever happened to the Cowley Twins?, and The Park. She runs her own consultancy as a specialist in advertising law and lives in Johannesburg with her family.

1.   Who is your favourite hero of fiction?

This is too hard! There are so many lovely heroes. Can I cheat and choose a favourite family? Then it is Marian Keyes’ Walsh family.

2.   What is your most treasured possession?

While I am writing, definitely my laptop.

3.   Which living person do you most dislike?

Robert Mugabe. With ol’ George W as a close second. Isn’t that the same for everyone? Oh, and my matric English teacher who gave me zero for a writing assignment – although perhaps I should thank him for making me want to prove him wrong?

4.   What is your greatest fear?

Losing my family. Touch wood, touch wood, touch wood.

5.   Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?

At the risk of sounding clichéd, my husband Paul and son Thomas.

6.   What is your greatest regret?

I strongly believe that you regret more the things that you don’t do than the things that you do. It’s hard to isolate a “greatest” regret though.

7.   If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?

Easy – Harry Potter. I can never quite accept that I don’t have magical powers.

8.   Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

I reread lots of books, and often, but probably one of the classic John Irving’s would win – either The Hotel New Hampshire, The World According to Garp, or The Cider House Rules.

9.   What is your favourite journey?

The journey home when I am tired.

10.  What do you most value in a friend?

The ability to make me laugh.

11.  What quality do you most admire in a woman?

Strength and drive.

12.  Which book that  you’ve written is your favourite?

Marriage Vows – because unlike the manuscripts that languish in my laptop, this one actually got published!

13.  What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

The only way that you will write a book is by sitting down and writing. It’s not going to land in your lap ready written, waiting for you to take the credit.

14.  What are your favourite names?

Has to be Thomas, because that’s what we named our son!

15.  What do you do as a hobby?

Between working from home (I’m a lawyer), being a mother and writing, hobbies fall by the wayside. I read, but that counts as an essential activity without which I can’t live, not a hobby.

16.  What are your top three books? 

This is also too hard – I’m going to choose my top 3 books of recent reads:

  1. Bridge of Sighs – Richard Russo
  2. Double Bind – Chris Bohjalian (my best recent discovery!)
  3. The Help – Kathryn Stockett

17.  Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

Watching people, and imagining “what ifs” about my own choices.

Amanda Patterson and Gail Schimmel, Write Away Conference, 23 May 2009

Follow @GailSchimmel on Twitter.

Interview via email by Amanda Patterson

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