Interview with Barbara Gipson

Describe your desk
Actually, it's a table. It has a calendar, a pink desk lamp, that's Shirley's favorite color. That's why she keeps talking about the powder blue bedroom. My favorite color is yellow. Oh wait, I've gotten off the subject. Let's see my telephone is on there, a rolodex (that's where people my age keep their phone numbers), some vitamins, there are two paper trays where I keep my works in progress, my notes, and my reference books.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read all of my e-books on a Kindle. I tried to read a few books on my son's iPad, but, like other iPad users, I know, he very possessive.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on Vineyard Avenue in Los Angeles, California. My family is originally from Oklahoma where the stories are based. This part of my writing has not been influenced by childhood experiences, other than the ghost part of it. The first book in this collection is a transition of Shirley from California to Oklahoma. These stories are pretty much based on stories my mother and my aunts shared at family gatherings. However, a picture book that I'm writing is based on an experience I had in California when I was seven-years old. Boy, did I have a wild imagination.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in 1978. I kept having these dreams, and, upon waking, I felt they'd make a great story. Not to tell, as I had been doing before, but to put into a mystery novel. I had a big, big notebook of story ideas and notes. Later when I sat down to put these notes on paper, none of them made any sense. I did get enough notes on a common theme and set out to write my first mystery novel. It wasn't long before I discovered that I didn't know the first thing about writing a mystery novel. So I stopped and started learning how to do that. Somewhere along the way, I learned about an online class for writing children's books and my interest in writing turned in that direction. I began writing children's stories in 1996. Someday, I'm going to write that mystery novel.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind this book is a dream. For three nights, in 1994, I had this dream about being a little girl and following wet footprints around on the ground to see where they disappeared, and then, guessing where that animal or person went. I was with a coworker named Shirley Brown. She is a wonderful woman who has childlike qualities. I always felt like a kid when I was around her. Back to the dreams. On the first night, we were on our way to school, and we saw some bird footprints, we followed them and when they disappeared, Shirley found the bird high up in a tree. The next night, we were following a dog. We didn't have to guess where he went. He chased us up that same tree. The next night, we decided to stop playing the game, until we came upon a man's footprints. Without a second thought, we started following them. In the middle of the sidewalk, they disappeared. We looked all around us. There was nothing that showed he'd walked on the grass, or turned and gone back. "So this is why you're alway late for school," a voice above us said. We both looked up to see her father hanging from one of the branches. I woke up laughing knowing this would make a good story. What? I told you I had a wild imagination.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Before I wrote Disappearing Footprints, I wrote The Secret of Copper Springs. I sent that book off to a lot of publishers, and it was rejected. Each time, I tried to learn more and about writing, revise in the way I thought it should be written, and submit it again. Still, it was rejected. I even tried to get an agent for my book. She also rejected it, but she gave me a reason for the rejection. According to her, publishers gave out themes on the type of books they wanted to publish. The Secret of Copper Springs did not meet any of those themes, neither did any of my other books. So I started looking up ways that I could self-publish. The word indie author kept coming up. I looked it up and discovered it meant an author who publishes their own book(s). I didn't know how to do that until I entered two writing contests. They provided free classes on developing an author's platform. From there, I took a class called Easy Author Marketing which ultimately led me to Smashwords.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
They've given me a home for my books.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Telling the story. I love to hear stories. I love to read stories. Therefore, I love to write stories.
What do your fans mean to you?
Joy, because they are the one's I get to tell my stories to. I humbly thank each and every one of them.
What are you working on next?
Are you ready for this: The Secret of Copper Springs. I left an excerpt of the first chapter for you at the end of Disappearing Footprints. Enjoy.
How do you approach cover design?
Like other author's I have read, I wanted to take an event, an expression, observation or a subject from the book and highlight it. In DISAPPEARING FOOTPRINTS, I originally wanted to show two things: disappearing footprints and the slight overstep on the third step back. However, I couldn't make the overstep small enough, it kept coming out too thick. Plus I didn't have Photoshop at the time and the picture didn't look good. I sent out requests for an artist to make the cover for me, but they weren't showing disappearing footprints, most were just footprints in the sand. Eventually, I found a picture online that showed disappearing footprints, and using Apple's Pages, I was able to make the cover myself.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My family, and the stories walking around in my head begging to come out. I live close to the beach and I love to hear the waves crashing on the shore. I also love to hear the foghorn blowing from the lighthouse on a cool, foggy morning.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Okay, you got me. I'm addicted to video games. Specifically Hidden Object, video games because they are most like a mystery. I also cook, draw, paint (landscapes and pottery), and work on jigsaw puzzles. I also read, now I'm reading books for review from my GoodReads Middle Grade Reading Group, but I also like to read comic books and graphic novels.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I discover most of my ebooks from websites I have visited.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I have been writing snippets, little bits and pieces of stories since I was twenty-six years old. I developed a large, large notebook of mystery story plots and ideas, which I still have. The first full story I ever wrote was for entry into the Children's Institute of Literature and was entitled THIRTEEN CENTS. It was a very funny short story about three kids who wanted to earn money from the richest woman in the neighborhood to buy skateboards. One of them had gotten five dollars from her just for going to the store and buying a loaf of bread. They offered to clean her apartment in exchange for payment. She used the kids to clean the whole building. With all the work they had done, they believed they were going to give them fifty, sixty, even one hundred dollars. She opened her wallet and gave each one of them thirteen cents.
Published 2015-10-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Disappearing Footprints
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 17,410. Language: English. Published: August 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
One moment, Shirley Brown is in Los Angeles playing Disappearing Footprints with her best friend. The next moment, she awakens beside her bed in Copper Springs, Oklahoma. She was dreaming. The same dream she’s been dreaming all week. Tonight--. it’s a dream. Nothing like that will ever happen. Will it?