Gwynn Ambrose is a first-time published author with Penumbra Publishing, and also has contributed to the design and execution of several book covers for Penumbra Publishing. Leslie Dyer, Sales/Promotion Director at Penumbra Publishing, conducted an online interview with Gwynn to share her views and experiences with artists and writers everywhere.
PP: Gwynn, please tell us about your background interests. How long have you been writing, and how long have you sustained an interest in art?
GA: Leslie, I've been interested in drawing all my life, from the time I was a tot and got spanked for coloring on the walls at home. I've always been a doodler, drawing little images or scribbles in the margins of whatever might be at hand, be it school homework, utility bills, or notepads by the phone. This tendency has often gotten me in a bit of trouble.
My interest in writing arose when I was required to produce a 'term paper' in eighth grade for social studies, incorporating various geological and sociological factoids. Bored with the prospect of writing a dry treatise on the gross national products of several different countries, I decided to ‘spice things up’ by writing a short story about a ship at sea that visited several ports. The various characters were involved in such things as diamond-smuggling and attempted murder aboard ship. This apparently impressed my hard-nosed teacher, and she pointed out my effort to the class as a shining example of how to creatively fulfill the homework requirement. The experience was an eye-opener for me, and I realized then that a lot of the artwork I’d been doing – drawings, paintings, etc. – were actually illustrations depicting a scene of conflict or action or drama. It was then I realized I was a storyteller, or at least wanted to be one. I went on to illustrate my own comics (or graphic novels, as they are now referred to), and busily wrote many daring and romantic stories to entertain myself. It wasn’t until several years later that I realized I too could become an author of books like those that I eagerly devoured for escapism. It took me a long while to get up the courage to participate in some online and in-person writing and critique groups. When I decided I’d finally developed the writing maturity to complete a novel (short as it is), I felt I was ready for publishing.
In the meantime, I amused myself with learning how to create electronic-based illustrations for book covers and other purposes. So the art and the writing have pretty much gone hand-in-hand for me. I’m sure many other people have similar background stories to tell about their experiences. I know I’m not unique in this, because there are so many creative and successful artists and authors out there, it astounds me.
PP: What are your future plans for putting your creative skills to work?
GA: I hope to remain involved in cover production for Penumbra Publishing, as I’m happy with the environment and eager to tackle creative challenges that each new book cover presents. As far as writing goes, I am involved in a lot of other activities, so sometimes writing gets put on the back burner, even when I have a strong desire to work on current writing projects. Sometimes it’s difficult to set priorities so that personal wants and needs are met satisfactorily. I guess if I were to look at my writing as a profession rather than a hobby, my priorities would necessarily have to change, but that’s hard to accomplish with a ‘day job’ that interferes with preferred pastimes, even if that job represents the major earnings potential in my life.
I guess my real goal, then, is to replace my day job with a creative gig that can sustain the same or even surpass my current earnings I'm making now while working for someone else. Of course I never forget that even self-employed authors and artists always end up working for somebody else somehow, to some degree – and usually the person they work for is the one who buys their work. So it’s a trade-off, but I hope to make it one where I call most of the shots and make most of the decisions I want to make, rather than having someone tell me when to show up and when to leave, and what to do in between. The dream of self-employment seems to promise an end to that, but oftentimes, for writers especially, deadlines loom almost as oppressively as a punching a time-clock.
PP: Gwynn, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.
GA: Thank you for asking!