Thursday, August 10, 2017 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Madge Gressley

The Write Way Café welcomes Madge H. Gressley, who has the best of both worlds with her dream job and writing.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
     I have always loved reading, and I often thought, as many do, "I can write a book." But, that was as far as it ever went. Since I could pick up a crayon, I have been an artist—drawing, painting, etc., but never really thought seriously about writing until my husband passed. He was my greatest cheerleader for my art and with his passing went my desire to pick up a brush or pencil, but the creative part of me still needed to be fueled. When I stumbled across the Twilight series, that was the spark I needed.
     At that point, I was not sure what I wanted to write about, but I knew I had to write something. What genre I would write in never occurred to me as I put my fingers on the keyboard and typed away. The words whirling in my head needed to be put down.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
     I don’t let things simmer. When I start a project, I carry it through to the end. You could say that I get a little obsessed with the project. I started the book in June and had 500 pages written by the end of August. I asked advice from friends who were authors what I should do next. They were accommodating. I lined up an editor and went to work polishing up my draft. Finally, I broke the story up into a three-book series.
     I spent hours on the internet researching the different aspects of the book. At one point, I became a little paranoid with all the news stories talking about how some government offices was checking the internet for search words that might indicate terrorism, and since I was looking for different types of weapons and ammunition as well as human trafficking, I thought I might be a candidate.  Apparently, my searches didn’t have any “trigger words” because no one came knocking on my door. Whew!

Where did the idea for your story come from?
     Now that is a difficult question to answer. When I started writing, a scene appeared in my mind with two people. I tried writing what I thought they should be doing, but after several attempts to force the scene, I gave up and started writing what I saw in my mind. It was almost like watching a movie but in my head. The words just flowed. The plot just unfolded. It was like I had no control over what the characters would do next.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
     I didn’t. My characters did. I had no control over it. As I said, things just appeared in my mind, and I wrote them down.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
     The only character that is anywhere close to anyone I know or have met is Darcey. She has a little of me in her with her "Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead." attitude and she is a graphic designer which is what I do for my day job. The rest are completely imaginary.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
     I did not have any blocks with the Inescapable series. However, with some of the books since, there have been times that the words just wouldn't come. When that happens, I do what I call "free writing." I start writing whatever comes to mind. It could be related to the story I am writing, or it could be something entirely different. The object is to put something on paper. I find that as soon as I quit trying to force the words, they start coming on their own. It is tough to explain, but that is the best I can tell you.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
     The biggest surprise was finding out just how many authors there are writing today. The internet has been a boon to the independent author who struggles to find an agent or publishing house for their book.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about Morocco and human trafficking?
     While researching the tragic and awful business of human trafficking, I decided to do a "what if" and wrote my character Luis Vargas as a somewhat "good" villain. I know that is an oxymoron, but I wanted to portray him as a person with mixed moral values who was trying to do good while still living outside the law. I must tell you when he first came on the scene, he was not a good guy, but somehow, I felt he had goodness in him, unlike another character later on in the book who has no redeemable qualities.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
     My space is now in my bedroom which forces me to make my bed every day, something I have been lax on over the years. It was always so easy to just close the bedroom door. (Don't judge. :-D) When my mother-in-law passed, we converted her mother-in-law quarters into my office, but now since my granddaughter has come to live with me, I have moved my office into my bedroom so she can have that space. It works well for both of us. I have my computer, my TV, radio, phone, everything I need to keep me working, and of course the door to shut out the world when needed.

What are some of your favorite books and why?
     There have been so many over the years that it is hard to pick just one. However, if I have to, I think Stephen King's The Stand would have to be my favorite. I have read the book at least five times and it still never gets old. A close second is Frank Herbert’s Dune. I have read it equally as many times. I also have the CD of the movie. When I need to get away and just chill out, I pop the CD in, and it takes me lightyears away from the maddening crowd.

What are you working on now?
     I am working on a historical romance and a time travel. The third book in my Sophie Collins mystery series is percolating on the back burner, too. I have been exploring different genres like I did with different mediums when I was doing fine art. I feel variety is the spice of life and I don't want to be pigeonholed as one particular thing. I also have two children’s books that I wrote and illustrated—Dexter’s Wonderful Day and Totally Terrible Tommy.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
     I already have the best of both worlds. I have my dream job and write, too. I am a graphic designer by trade and co-owner in Art & Graphic Innovations, LLC, a full-service graphic design business.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
     I guess what gives me the most trouble would be when my characters won’t do what I want them to do. Sometimes it is like herding cats. I have even gone so far as to delete a character because they wouldn’t play nice with the others.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
     I guess I will be telling my age, but I have always loved Nancy Drew. She is who I patterned my Sophie Collins character after. I loved her strong personality, her strength, and fortitude. My cousin and I spent many youthful summers at our aunt's farm reading Nancy Drew mysteries with the kittens in the hay loft of the old barn in 100°+ heat.

When Darcey Callahan, tumbles for Brad Daniels, it starts her on a dark and perilous journey that quickly turns into her worst nightmare. Believing Brad has gone missing—while investigating an attempt to sabotage his top-secret project in Peru—Darcey dashes off to find him, setting in motion a series of events beyond her control. Awakening from a near-deadly car crash, she finds herself with no memory and a prisoner in the dangerous world of human trafficking, murders, and espionage. Held captive in Morocco until she can be “sold,” she doesn’t know whether to trust the stranger who has come to rescue her. Is he really willing to help her, or is this a nightmare from which she may never wake up?

Black Opal Books       Google Books       Kobo

Barnes & Noble      Amazon       Smashwords

About Madge:
       I grew up in the Midwest, specifically Sedalia, Missouri, home of the Missouri State Fair, and for over 60 years, I have been a visual artist.  From the early years in elementary school where I drew horses and horses and horses (I like horses) for my classmates to the present, I have been honing my skills as an artist, winning numerous awards along the way.
     Unfortunately, my life took a drastic turn in 2011 when my husband and biggest cheerleader passed away. At that time, I totally stopped painting or drawing. But, the growing need to create would not go away. I tried many times to bring out my brushes again, but to no avail. The excitement for the paint was just not there. So, I made the decision to channel my energies into my graphic design business.
     Then in 2013, I was introduced to the “Twilight Saga” and that changed everything. My family can attest to how obsessed I became. I bought the books, the DVDs, the CDs, and anything else “Twilight” related did not escape my grasp. One day, while surfing the web to add to my obsession, I came across a website totally dedicated to the “Twilight Saga,” and that was the beginning.
     The site was full of thousands of other “Twilight” followers, some even more obsessed than I was. Hard to believe, but I assure you it is true. Among the many obsession-filled pages were the pages featuring Fan-Fiction. Some of the stories were extremely good while others were so-so, but I enjoyed the creative bent they all took on Meyer’s work. Slowly, as I read, I felt a small creative fire developing. It finally exploded into a full-blown inferno when I put pen to paper, or in this case fingers to keyboard and turned out my first 500-page novel, later separated into three books for my “Inescapable Series.”
     The “Inescapable Series” has been picked up by Black Opal Books and the first book in the series came out in April 2017. Book two is scheduled for release in October 2017. In the meantime, I have been keeping busy writing my young adult series “Sophie Collins Mysteries.” Sophie is my vision for a modern-day Nancy Drew. “The Red Coat” is book one in the series. I have just finished book two “The Secret of Trail House Lodge,” which has just been released.
     I have also written and illustrated two children’s picture books—“Dexter’s Wonderful Day” a Purple Dragonfly Book Awards winner, and “Totally Terrible Tommy” a 5 Star Readers’ Favorite choice. I also have a short story with four other authors in the romantic anthology “Now & Forever.”
My granddaughter and two dogs (Pixie and Lily) live with me. I enjoy working from home where I squeeze in my writing in between my jobs for my graphic design business and letting the dogs in and out—a full-time job in itself.

“INESCAPABLE: The Beginning”  Paperback or eBook on Barnes & Noble
“The Red Coat”
“The Secret of Trail House Lodge"
“Dexter’s Wonderful Day”
“Totally Terrible Tommy”

Follow Madge on TwitterFacebook, or Facebook Author Page 


HiDee said...

Thanks for sharing your story with us. This sounds like a very intriguing book!

Lynn said...

Good luck with your writing! Glad to host you today!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having me today.

Angela Adams said...

Best wishes with your book, Madge!

Anonymous said...


Jack said...

This interview was just the thing I needed to read right now. i'm sick of all those celebrity interviews that have no purpose unlike this one which was actually providing useful info.