Interview with Dana Glossbrenner, author of Low
has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Living in Texas
all my life has made me acutely aware of speech patterns of Texas—the
small-town accent versus the urban accent, the regional variations from the
soft “r” of East Texas to the harder, flatter “r” of West Texas. I’ve known
many people that stereotypes are based on: ranchers, oil-field workers, cowboys,
bartenders. When I use these expected “stereotypes” as characters, I present
them as unique individuals with their own souls, aspirations, and quirks.
does your book relate to your faith?
Crossing brings faith to the table, but not blatantly. Faith,
for me, is fluid and adaptable, not a rigid set of beliefs. Cynthia exemplifies
the struggle with rigidity and moving beyond. Lucy is without faith, because of
her upbringing, but develops a faith in herself, relying totally on herself (a
former version of myself). Lou is a person of faith in that she prays,
forgives, loves, and practices mindfulness (the way I try to). From a spiritual
point of view, one can see the central character, Wayne, as having cultivated
an accepting, noncombative attitude toward others and the events of life. He
loves more deeply as he matures, and he grapples with the low points with a
knowing that he’ll move on—a spiritual approach.
made you decide to write a sequel?
Crossing is what I call a “spin-off” to The Lark. LWC is
set in Sulfur Gap, Texas, with many of the same characters appearing as in Lark.
Main character Wayne, Charley’s mentor from Lark, is the focal point.
Readers expressed a desire to see more of Wayne—and Lou—so I decided to tell
their story. It was already outlined for me! One scene in Lark had a
mention of Wayne having two previous marriages—with one wife deserting, and the
other being killed in a traffic mishap. Because of those few words, I had a
broad outline but also a hurdle—I had to kill the second wife! I liked
Cynthia, the Bible-thumping Southern belle. I tried to think of a way out, but
there’s no way to say someone died in one book and have them escape that death
in the next, unless you’re writing fantasy! The advantage of my liking
Cynthia—admiring her parenting skills and commitment to family—was that I
didn’t have to use a lot of imagination in describing the feelings of loss that
came with her death.
did you decide to self-publish?
On my first
novel, I had experienced working with a small publisher, but they closed down. In
searching for another publisher, I didn’t find one that seemed to fit. I wrote
queries to maybe thirty literary agents, which I know is not an exhaustive
search. Learned a lot. Did lots of research. The first queries were so lame
compared to later ones, which benefitted from reading online blogs and taking a
I know that the
next thing I’m saying here could come back to bite, but it’s true for me. I
learned, in looking at literary agents’ profiles and gauging their responses, that
they, of course, wanted some or all of the following: a famous name, a massive
social-media presence, trendy subject matter, and an author who has the
potential to crank out ten books in the next five years. It was daunting as
someone getting started and not getting a second book out for four years
(because I was learning). Also, I was not the youngest of potential clients.
I felt moved to
self-publish because I wanted to try it and see what happens (it’s a learning
experience for sure!). I don’t rely on book sales as a livelihood, so
self-publishing can be looked at as a luxury (even though I’d love to have the
partnership of a bona fide publisher or agent).
was the hardest part of writing this book?
a lot of pain in Low Water Crossing. And yet, someone told me it was a
feel-good book. (I immediately went into my Amazon Sponsored Ad campaign and
added that as a keyword: “feel-good.”) It nails what was hard in writing: Keeping
away from the maudlin in tragic life events. Allowing humor into the story
without insensitivity. Describing recovery from hard life events without being
wedding at the end might be a little sappy, but I still think it’s realistic. I
tried to humanize Wayne with his long-term animosity toward the sheriff, his
running away from Lucy and returning three days later with red eyes and beard
stubble, wanting a divorce, and so on. In short, the hard part was balance.
What goes down, comes up, as reflected in the title.
did you enjoy most about writing this book?
playing with first-person POV. There are four narrators: Wayne, Lucy, Cynthia,
and Lou. I enjoyed getting immersed in the mind and voice of each one.
there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?
Yes. A victim of
child abuse whose cry for help wasn’t answered. A person with a serious mental
illness left to her own devices. A ten-year-old boy who’s beginning to figure
out he might be gay. A nerdy West Texas sheriff who tries to pull off a studly
image and fails but is still a really good law officer. A Hispanic game warden
married to a Minnesota beauty queen who looks like Michelle Pfeiffer (that
reference fits with the time frame).
are some of the authors you feel were influential in your work?
lyrical writing; Elmer Kelton, in describing the lives of Texans and physical
reality of the land; Larry McMurtry with his sense of humor.
read, from classics to best-sellers, so it’s hard to say what had the most
influence. Certainly, the great Texas writers. James Michener inspired me to
strive for a leaner style (he never left a detail out, it seems).