I have previously reviewed ‘Ghosts of Arlington’ (You can find my review here). Today, I welcome to the blog, the author of ‘Ghosts of Arlington’, D. G. Gass who has graciously agreed to answer some questions about her books, her writing career and of course herself.
Now on to the interview!
D. G. Gass
Describe your book?
“Ghosts of Arlington” is a fictional account of one woman’s attempt to cope with the suicide of her husband. After witnessing her husband’s suicide, Candace Benning tries to move on and move through the emotional issues that she now struggles with. A series of unexplained events, has her beginning to question her own state of mental health. And the ghosts she faces are not always the specters from the beyond. In the process of regaining her life, she becomes a reluctant advocate, with the help of a reporter. In the process, she finds her voice and her ability to love again, despite the loss in her life.
What genre do you consider your book?
The best I could fit this in would be Contemporary Fiction. While there is a paranormal twist and romance involved, the core of the story is a character dealing with a very real, present day issue facing returning soldiers and veterans.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are a lot of messages in the story and I’ll let the reader take away from it what he or she will.
Are the book’s characters or story based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes and no. While my husband, who is a Gulf War veteran suffers to some degree from ptsd and chronic depression, he’s still here. Not to say we haven’t had our suicide watches and not to say we haven’t had our own frustration with an overburdened VA system in trying to get him help, but at least we’re getting it for him. I guess, in a sense that Ghosts of Arlington was more of a “what if” for me. I had, however, lost three friends (all civilians) to suicide in my lifetime.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
As a veteran, I was already aware of the issues and the stigma surrounding mental health issues with veterans and active duty military returning from a war zone, so the research was pretty easy.
What was the hardest part of writing the book?
Focusing on the writing. Honestly, I’m a little ADHD which means I can easily be distracted, and there were distractions. That and trying not to let the book become an outright political and sociological rant, which it risked becoming.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes. A lot had to do with the writing process itself. Each writer has their own style and the key is that when you find your own style, it tends to be a little easier than trying to mimic another writer’s style.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Not a thing. I’ve often said that the story became the story it wanted to be and gave birth to itself. It originally was titled “Dress Greens” then went to “Dress Blues” and finally “Ghosts of Arlington”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I think there are always challenges; the biggest though is gaining enough confidence in myself to actually allow someone else to read my stories.
Was there somewhere in the book you felt stuck?
For GOA, not really, which is rather odd since the first novel I actually tried writing was a heavy romance novel, I never made it past chapter sixteen on it.
What are your current projects?
I’m am currently working on about three at the moment. Another poetry compilation. A trilogy that’s along the lines of a demon fighter and a crime (fiction) novel that involves a professional American football team.
What book are you reading now?
Currently, I’m reading a short story by Sean Sweeney (aka John Fitch V) called “One Hero, A Savior” Which are your all-time favourite authors / books? Anne Rice, Stephen King and Dean Koontz would be my all-time favorite authors. As far as favorite books, that would have to be “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman and probably “Pride and Prejudice”.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
That’s a tough question. I tend to put myself pretty much out there, whether it’s in my political blogs, sports blogs or just in the everyday interactions with people. Let’s see. I’m really not as confident as I project, sometimes I have to force that. Public speaking doesn’t bother me and a lot of times, I find it difficult to talk about myself.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
I know a lot of writers tend to address their writing and encourage others to pursuit their dreams. If there’s one thing, and forgive me for getting on my soap box here. Over the past decade the suicide and attempted suicide rates of veterans and individuals in the military have been climbing at an alarming rate. One of the problems or deterrents for many from seeking help is the stigma that having a mental illness carries with it. That it’s a sign of weakness to admit the need for help. Over the years, there has been a shift of in how the military and the Veteran’s Administration is handling the psychological aspects of the soldiers well-being, albeit, slowly. At least now it’s getting the attention it needs to get.
If you, the reader, are, or know someone that’s suffering from depression, anxiety or other symptoms of ptsd, whether that person is a civilian, current active duty or veteran, please urge them to seek help. There are some wonderful organizations, especially among returning soldiers out there that are trying to reach out and help. There is no shame or no weakness in seeking help.
I’d like to thank you, Ritesh, for allowing me the opportunity to discuss my writing.
Inspired by Walt Whitman and Carolyn Keefe, author D.G. Gass, from a young age, has always loved to write. It just took 40-years for her to believe in her work enough for it not to find the trash when she finished. Originally from Jeannette, PA, the Yankee transplant, currently resides in Columbia, SC with her husband and daughter, not to mention, three cats that own her.
A veteran of the US Air Force, whose day job is in healthcare IT, the author has a passion for veterans issues, which is the driving force behind her first book, “Ghosts of Arlington”. When she’s not writing, she can be found curled up with a good book, working on handcrafts, or staring blankly at walls in a catatonic state.
D.G. Gass released her first poetry compilation, “Twilight Ponderings, Midnight Musings” at the beginning of 2011. The compilation is a series of poetry and prose that was born out of loving someone with diagnosed chronic depression.