Elizabeth Gunn: Look Ma, I'm Dancin'!
Excerpts from the interview by Lynn Kaczmarek in the August/September 2002 issue of Mystery News
It was an innocent question, really, when I asked Elizabeth Gunn about moving around. It was just a lead-in to the writing thing - I figured we'd chat a bit about that and then get on to the books. Little did I know...
"We were innkeepers. We raised our children and we bought one tiny motel in Helena, Montana and spent a number of years turning it into two big ones. And in the same period of time we raised our two daughters there. We were the old kind of merchants who live above the store, and that is a very confining combination - raising two daughters in a motel. And as a result, we had a lot of restlessness piled up. We always wanted to travel anyway, so that is what we did.
"We left Helena, Montana, went to San Diego, bought a sailboat and took it to Mexico...We stayed a year and a half and broke virtually everything on the boat at one time or another, but not ourselves. We survived the experience and learned how to be blue-water sailors...."
...Barcelona. On the Mediterranean. From there the Gunns took Spanish bus tours all over the continent. The year they were in Europe, the Berlin Wall came down. "It was the most tumultuously exciting time in Europe. So, of course, the next thing we did was go straight to our travel agent and book a Spanish bus tour to East Germany. And oh my, what a time to be there..."
And then came the writing. Back in the U.S. the year before the Barcelona Olympics, Gunn figured out that all those pictures her husband Phil had taken while in Spain could be put to good use. "So, I wrote a travel article about Barcelona. As you know, with travel articles you can sell them many times as long as you stay out of a market area where you just sold it. And so, I had a lot of success with that article; I sold it several times and we had that first zinging experience of seeing your byline in print. Oh god, there's just nothing like it! It's like, what's that thing you used to say, 'Look ma, I'm dancin'!"
Of course, it didn't stop with Barcelona because the Gunns kept moving...
"...what was immediately obvious was, this is lots of fun, but I could do this forever and I would be still basically just spinning my wheels...So it was at that point that I was emboldened to go in a room and close the door and sit there and summon my courage to try a novel. Desperation drove me to it is what I'm trying to say."...
In the near future, Elizabeth Gunn will be wandering off again, but this time it will be to Lake City, Minnesota where the final chapter of Six-Pound Walleye is set, and where, in celebration of reading, most of the people in town are reading that book. "I'm going to go there on the 30th of July and we're going to have lunch, and in the afternoon talk to readers, and in the evening we're going to have a fish fry. As far as I know, we're going to be dancing in the streets. I'm going to have my own show in Lake City, Minnesota. Isn't that wonderful?"
It is, indeed.
Read the complete interview in the August/September 2002 issue of Mystery News