What can I say about Gail Grenier, my former writing teacher turned friend and role model? She's a pure soul, has an infectious laugh, and really listens when you talk. Also, she now has a new book out!
Let's see what Gail has to say about this novel of hers...
Gail: I call it a novel but it’s 90 percent true – maybe more – about the zany things that happened to my husband and me on a road trip in 1972. “Max and Ginny” stand in for my husband and me. They throw a mattress into the back of an old van and head for parts unknown on the day after their wedding. Max and Ginny are sick of Wisconsin’s winters and want to find a place where they can grow vegetables in three seasons.
Karen: What are some of these zany happenings of which you speak?
Gail: Everything that can go wrong with the van does – in fact, it’s amazing that Max and Ginny survive the Ozarks. They have unlikely tangles with officers of the law and with a judge who has rollers in her hair. They meet up with various hitch-hikers: a biker with a busted Harley, suit-wearing preacher-types, and a couple of hippies. And they have harrowing encounters with insects that get progressively bigger the farther south they travel.
Karen: So the book is a catalog of silly happenings?
Gail: No, it’s more than that – because the biggest adventure for Max and Ginny is sorting out the push and pull of newly-married life. They also reminisce about the things they learned growing up, and try to figure out what’s important for them in their new life.
Karen: Who is the audience for the book?
Gail: As I wrote it, I kept thinking of my kids. I thought, “I want them to know how it was.” I’d write and laugh, write and laugh. There’s one thing that happened to Mike and me that my older son still doesn’t believe. So I wrote it for my kids, but when I finished the book, I thought “I’ll bet every Baby Boomer in the USA will relate to this story.” It’s a journey down Memory Lane, to a time of telephone booths, five-cent cups of coffee, and arguments about the Vietnam War.
Karen: The Vietnam War. So Don't Worry Baby has a serious side?
Gail: Overall, the book is light-hearted, but Vietnam is a background to the story. There’s some tension because Max is an Air National Guardsman but has doubts about the war. He and Ginny talk about the war with each other and with the hippie hitch-hikers. It would be impossible to write a story about 1972 without mentioning the war. There’s also a large sense of the back-to-the-land movement, and a smaller feeling about the women’s movement and the Civil Rights movement. I think the book would be a perfect companion to courses in 60s/70s studies.
Check out Gail's book here! Tell her Karen sent you.