Q & A with Gloria Hansen

This interview appeared in the CommuterLit eWeekly newsletter Monday, June 17, 2013. Subscribe to the newsletter to enjoy more Q & As with CL contributors. Read more about Gloria Hansen.

Introducing Gloria Hansen
Welcome to the second in a series of short Q & A interviews with CommuterLit contributors. This week we talk to Gloria Hansen, based in Elliot Lake, Ontario. Gloria spent many years working as a nurse; she is a member of an all-woman bluegrass band called Algoma Wildflowers. Read Gloria’s lastest story on CommuterLit: Arnie, Amber and Ella. This week’s schedule of stories and poems is listed below the interview. Read the latest Q & As with contributors by signing up for CL‘s eWeekly newsletter.

CL: Many of your stories seem to be autobiographical in nature. Is that a conscious decision?
GH: I don’t believe I have made a conscious decision to write autobiographically. Most of what I write is pure fiction based sometimes on childhood memories. So although a little bit of me shines through my writing efforts, most of it is made up, embellished, springs from an overly active imagination that my mother tried desperately to rein in.

CL: How do your family members react to being in your stories?
GH: Family members, particularly my mother, when they saw they were part of my writing, were at first appalled. But over the years, they have learned that what I write is mostly made up and I thank them for being part of the finished product, sometimes in unrecognizable ways. In fact, my first Rural Roots book, a collection of short stories about growing up in my home farming area of Kipling, Ontario, was not well received by my mother; she called it a “pack of lies.” Only when I pointed out to her the explanation on the flyleaf about the stories within being fictional in nature based on true events, did she settle down and actually read the book. Growing up, we had very little even though we lived on a farm. I would “colour” harsh truths when speaking to others just to make it seem as though I lived a different life than the hand-to-mouth existence of being the eldest of nine children being raised by a widow. She claimed that was “lying” and I was often punished for my made-up stories.

CL: What themes do you find yourself tackling over and over again in your writing and why?
GH: I think many of my stories harken back to being raised in rural Northern Ontario, and my futile attempts as a farm brat to fit in with the well-dressed and popular town kids. There was always something missing in my life (I thought!). Nowadays, I wouldn’t trade the way I was raised, except I would have loved to have had a closer relationship with my mother as a budding teenager. She was so tough with us. I understand it all now, putting food on the table and caring for nine rowdy kids, but I so often wished she could have been a bit like other moms I saw, who spoke with their daughters, especially about body changes and such. My mom threw a pamphlet and a box of pads on the bed for our menarche, and expected us to learn about puberty through that. We joked a lot with her about that when we were grown women, but it was no joking matter when we were going through the angst of young adulthood. So I do see a lot of my processing of early childhood in my stories, peppered with much of my grandfather’s healthy sense of humour. He had a permanent twinkle in his eye, and could see something funny in the most serious of situations.

CL: What books are you currently reading?
GH: I usually read horror of the bloodiest kind and medical mysteries, as do most nurses. I am presently reading Passage by Justin Cronin, finding it a bit bizarre and futuristic, but I will finish it. I just read the last Anna Gabbledon novel, and found that entire story fascinating and spellbinding, as were the Clan series by Jean Auel. I enjoy historical romances if they are not too sappy, but my favourite authors are the horror guys, Koontz, King et al.