Gay Partington Terry blends the real and the fantastic in an imaginative and mischievous way; her contemporary fables present remarkable characters trapped in unusual situations.
Hi Gay, please tell everyone a bit about yourself.
Gay: I’m a Manx insomniac who grew up in northern Appalachia, I assisted my dad in his magic act as a teenager and since then worked as a waitress, factory worker, welfare worker, catalogued tribal arts for Sotheby’s and volunteered in Margaret Mead’s office before she died. I’ve had poetry and short stories published in e-zines, fantasy magazines and anthologies, and wrote screenplays for The Toxic Avenger II and III (and worked on the original). I’ve spent over thirty years studying tai chi, qi gong and yoga; have two married children, three and a half grandchildren, a long-suffering husband and I’m watched over by the ghost of a loyal (canine) Australian Shepherd. I lived in NYC for thirty-two years, moved to Brooklyn for seven, and back to Harlem where I’m pretty much a slacker who enjoys teaching my grandkids “weird stuff.”
When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?
Gay: I’ve been writing off and on since childhood. Sometimes life interfered and sometimes I gave it up thinking I was wasting my time. I got a job, raised my children, took up embroidery (a disaster), tried to perfect my pie crust (a more tasty disaster)…but always went back to writing.
When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Gay: I started writing because I was compelled to do it. Everyone needs a creative outlet and I can’t dance, sing, or play an instrument. I was laughed out of art class in the seventh grade.
If there’s a message, it’s that “reality” is relative, and it doesn’t matter that you don’t have a firm grasp of what others say it should be.
Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Gay: Meeting the Dog Girls is a collection of short stories, some of which were published in fantasy magazines, anthologies, & e-zines. The title story, when first published, got a lot of positive response so I extended it and made it into a novel–yet to be published.
How do you develop characters? Setting?
Gay: Interesting characters are all around. They sit across from me on the subway, they peek out at me from behind corners, they stand in line at the post office… They choose their own setting and do what they do. I can’t tell them anything.
Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Gay: Oh, boy, plot! I’m not a good plotter. I see life as random and haven’t figured out the plot yet.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Gay: I grew up in a “patch town” near the West Virginia/Pennsylvania border, so I write about mine subsidence a lot. When you’re unsure about what’s going on under your feet, it brings up all sorts of things. I was a shy only-child with plenty of time to read and daydream. My dad was a magician so the line between real and imaginary was blurred.
Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
Gay: Someone, a complete stranger, wrote a review on Amazon and compared me to Neil Gaiman. Also, my two-year-old grandson said he wanted to sit near me because I was “cool.” Nobody ever called me cool before. Does that count as a review? This was cool too:
… I found myself quickly turning pages of short little snippets that came to feel like personal friends. I both did not want each story to end and could not wait to get to the next one to see what else Terry had in store for me.
Terry’s gift is in presenting the crazy, the abnormal, the other-worldly with subtlety and elegance.
— A. Allen
What are your current projects?
Gay: I’ve written a novelized autobiography and illustrated it with old family photos and I’m always writing short stories.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Gay: I have a website: http://www.gaypartingtonterry.com/
There’s an interview and an excerpt on the NonStop site: http://nonstop-press.com/?s=Meeting+the+Dog+Girls&x=40&y=9
reviews on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Meeting-Dog-Girls-Gay-Terry/dp/1933065303/
Thank you for joining us today, Gay.
Gay: Thanks so much Shelagh. I really appreciate the exposure.