Author Interview: ‘Loose Gravel’ by Ginny Fanthome

About the Book:

The grimy road story of Spooge – a punk band who gets to know each other way more than they want to, cooped up in a crap-beaten van on their first tour. This, like any typical band relationship, resembles a one-night-stand; everybody’s in it for the fun, there’s an unspoken hope of it becoming something more, it’s usually bitterly disappointing, and no one knows each other’s last names.

A peculiar odyssey of archetypical music scene types, lies and discovery, a thieving runaway, a coming-out story, and flaming chest hair… all underscored by a bizarre curse.

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Author Interview:

1. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing.

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I would write poems, and I wrote a few mini-novels that were essentially folded up pieces of paper stapled together to form a crude book. I also started a community newspaper when I was around 7 or 8, giving myself the title of Editor-in-Chief, of course! I wrote what could be considered my first ‘real’ novel in my early teens, and in my late teens while working in college radio, I wrote scripts for an insane children’s show. Soon after that, I had a poem published. Because I’ve always been so deeply interested in music, even becoming a musician myself, I started contacting a few bands I liked and proposing that I write their biographies. When that didn’t pan out, I decided to concentrate my efforts on writing fictional novels and submitted all of them to publishers over the years. When I didn’t get a bite from any of them, I became discouraged and pretty much gave up on writing for a few years. During the pandemic however, I became so bored that I decided to self-publish ‘Loose Gravel’. I’ve written 5 novels in total, not counting the one I wrote as a teen, and have plans to self-publish another one sometime soon. I also write as a career, but that’s more in the realm of training.

2. Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

I can’t say I’ve ever really had a favorite place to write. I’ve always been happy wherever inspiration hits me. However, in recent years I’ve been finding that being by a quiet lake really super-charges my imagination. For example, for the last couple of years, my husband and I have been renting a charming waterfront cottage that has the best ju-ju. Last year, I wrote an entire novel there in just two weeks. The year before, being there inspired me to jot down a ton of ideas and create outlines for my two-week novel, a second novel, and a play.

3. Where do your ideas come from?

To be honest, they just seem to come out of nowhere and I never know when it will happen. Sometimes there will be years between ideas, while at other times, ideas will hit me in quick succession. In the past, I’ve been inspired by something I see, something I’ve experienced, and a couple of times by dreams I’ve had. With ‘Loose Gravel’, it was inspired by my love of music, and my own experiences touring with bands. 

4. Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

It depends on the novel. Sometimes I plan out what the story will be about and how it will generally unfold, but at other times, the characters just seem to take control and carry me along with them… and I just obey. Like this one time when I was incredibly busy – I was playing in 3 bands, working full time, and getting a Psychology degree part time. I honestly don’t know how a novel managed to jam itself into that cluttered head-space. Anyway, one night after class, as I was climbing the stairs of the bus home, this conversation between two characters I’d never met before just started unfolding in my head and I knew I had to write it down, but the bus was really crowded and there were no seats. So I had to stand there with a scrap of notebook paper trying to write it down using my leg as a table while trying to keep myself balanced with the movement of the bus. It was a crazy moment. But guess what? That conversation eventually turned into a massive War and Peace-length novel that I’ve recently been considering turning into a trilogy. 

5. What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

I would have to say simply general fiction. While ‘Loose Gravel’ and two other novels I’ve written are set in the music scene, music isn’t really the true essence of these novels. In all of my novels, I write about relationships. It doesn’t matter what the setting is — that’s just the backdrop for me to explore fascinating worlds and how people relate to one another in different situations. I love digging in to my characters and showing the reader their back stories so readers can see how the characters became the people that they are. I firmly believe that if we took the time to discover each other’s back stories, we’d have a lot more patience and understanding with the people around us. 

6. What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

It’s funny you ask this because most people who read ‘Loose Gravel’ have said it would make a great movie or a Netflix series. I’d love if that would happen and I think it would be great to use unknown actors who are getting their feet wet in the business. And I’d love to be a part of the casting process because I know my characters so well and I think I could spot the spark that defines each of them if I saw it emerging in an actor trying out for the part.

7. Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I used to read a lot more before the pandemic and was like one of those cartoon characters eating a stack of sandwiches – I’d have a stack of books beside my bed and read them voraciously. But I really had to struggle to read during the pandemic, but I’ve been trying to get myself back into it. I must admit, I can’t really say I have any favorite authors. I choose books based on the subject matter and whether the writing style interests me.

8. What book/s are you reading at present?

I’m reading a lot of non-fiction these days as I just seemed to have gravitated towards it in recent years. This includes music/band biographies, psychological studies, and autobiographies of ordinary people who’ve lead unusual or challenging lives. Currently I’m reading a book about the history and mystique of the Freemasons.

9. What is your favourite book and why?

I have far too many favorite non-fiction books to choose just one. As for fiction, I recall enjoying ‘World of Wonders’ by Robertson Davies, ‘Half Blood Blues’ by Esi Edugyan, ‘Youth in Revolt’ by C.D. Payne, and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. However, when I read those books, I was at a certain age and time in my life when they really appealed to me. I’m not sure if I’d be as enamoured with them as I was back then, but I’ll probably never find out because I have too many other books I want to read before I’d ever go back and read one I’ve already read.

10. What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

I find that people who make the best writers are people who, when asked to tell someone about something that happened to them, will tell it in an elaborate story form with lots of added detail. From personal experience, I’ve found that taking writing courses is a great start, as is getting involved with a local writing group where you read and diplomatically critique each other’s work. If you’re interested in a specific genre, make sure you read a lot of that genre to familiarize yourself with how it’s written and what stories are already out there. And if after awhile and a bit of experience your characters start talking to you? Let them. They will provide you with amazing advice and guidance about what they’d do or say — advice that you may ignore at first but later find you need to listen to them because they’re always right.

11. What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads. If you search for “Loose Gravel, Ginny Fanthome” you will also find a ton of online reviews of my novel.

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About the Author:

I was born in Ottawa, Ontario Canada, but I’ve spent most of my life in Toronto. I swear I came out of the womb with a pen in my hand, screaming for a piece of paper because I’ve been writing ever since, in both my personal and professional lives. In addition to writing, I keep myself sane through many other creative endeavors. I’m a musician – specifically a drummer – who has played in many bands over the years. I’m also an artist who creates works in acrylics and wax. I write about people and how their relationships change in uncommon situations because there are so many crazy tales to tell.

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