PRAISE FOR THE MANICURIST-- "Schieber has painted a fine portrait of the struggles and challenges of being different in an unforgiving world. Her characters are authentic and touching. Using language that is at once both straightforward and evocative, Schieber writes a story that you will...

Phyllis Schieber

Interview with Gwen from Willing Spirits

Interview with Gwen from Willing Spirits

1. What is the name of the book where we would meet you? What genre is it?

You would meet me in Willing Spirits, a Women’s Literature novel.

2. Who wrote the book?

Phyllis Schieber

3. What do you think of the author? You can tell us the truth.

I always tell the truth! I’m very much like the author in that way. She’s fairly irreverent, often cynical, but also very nurturing and loving. She demands solitude. I admire her outspokenness and her sense of humor.

4. Tell us a little about yourself. How would you describe your appearance? That’s more than just really cute or drop dead gorgeous. Give us enough detail to get a clear idea of how you look.

I’m tall and quite thin, though not as thin as I was before I had my two boys. I have very long legs, a feature most people notice about me first. My eyes are blue and my hair is dark, blue black really, and very straight. I’m quite fair skinned for someone with such dark hair.

5. What character are you in the book? Are you the hero, the best friend, the side kick, the hero and heroine’s child or someone else?

I am definitely one of the heroines. I think I share the heroine position with my best friend Jane.

6. Is there a specific reason why you’re in the story? Don’t give us any story spoilers, but you can share some teasers if you want.

Well, there wouldn’t be a story without me. It’s my story, and it’s Jane’s story. We have our children, and our parents, and we have and then don’t have husbands. And we have lovers and some happiness and lots of disappointment. But we always, always have each other. That never changes for us.

7. What time period do you live in?

Contemporary.

8. Where are you from?

Fayetville, North Carolina

9. Do you live in the same place now?

No, I live in the North now. I live in an apartment in New York City.

10. Tell us about your hometown and your current home.

Everyone knew everyone else’s business in the town where I grew up. There were no secrets. The people were good people, and we had our share of eccentrics for sure, but it wasn’t a place where someone like me—tall, outspoken, independent—could blend in easily. I think my folks were relieved when I let. I’m more comfortable in New York. There is a certain relief in the anonymity. I have neighbors, but we have our boundaries. Still, I would be able to knock on someone’s door if I needed something.

11. Tell us how your hometown or your current home affects you, the things you do and how you feel about life?

I feel happy to be living in a city where there are so many choices. I can be alone, or I can be with others. I feel less judged and less pressured to follow a certain lifestyle.

12. What special skills or abilities do you have?

I’m an elementary schoolteacher. I also love to cook and bake. I tend to bake breads when I’m feeling troubled. My children are always suspicious when I start baking. They see it as a portent. I find baking immensely relaxing. I love working the dough and waiting for it to rise. It soothes me.

13. How do those affect your part in the story?

The baking I do becomes sort of symbolic. I like the way my baking bread is worked into the story.

14. Are you happy with the story?

The story is truthful. I like that about it. I am not perfect, and I am not in a perfect relationship. However, I love Daniel even if I don’t always know what I want. In a perfect world, the story might not have had the impediment and delays that it does, but then the story would have been insincere. So, yes, I am happy with the story.

15. Do you have some ideas that the author should consider about the story? You can share them with us. We’re all friends here.

I never liked thinking about myself as the “other woman.” It’s a very uncomfortable role. I do think that Phyllis deals with the complexities of that situation without judgment, but I think there could have been more discussion with Jane about my relationship with Daniel.

16. Tell us about your past. Can you share one really good experience and/or one really bad experience? I know that bad experience can be tough, but it would tell us more about what you’ve been through.

Some people might suspect that the worst thing to ever happen to me was the dissolution of my marriage. It was devastating. I was very young, alone in a city where I had no friends, and totally isolated from other women my age. However, in retrospect, I think my brother Warren’s untimely death was the worst experience of my life. Everyone blamed me even though it wasn’t my fault. My parents never seemed to recover, especially my mother. It changed our relationship and catapulted me into a different future, which is both good and bad. Nevertheless, combined with the actual loss of a brother I adored, Warren’s death was pivotal in my own life.
My friendship with Jane helped me redefine my belief in relationships. I can spend a day with Jane and speak to her on the phone later again. Daniel always teases me about that, but I think he understands. Actually, I can pretty much do the same thing with him, but not quite. Jane hears me differently than he does. There is less need for explanation with Jane. She just knows what I mean, and even if we don’t always agree, we always understand each other. That’s a very good thing in my life.

17. Who is the most important person in your life? Tell us about them.

My sons are more important to me than anyone else. They have kept me sane. I have to be intact because I have to take care of them. I was a single mother at a very young age. And certainly Jane matters greatly. She’s my touchstone.

18. Is that person in the story we’re talking about?

Yes, they are all present in Willing Spirits.

19. How does that person impact you and your life?

I would say that my sons define my place in the world, and Jane helps me make sense of that world.

20. Do you have any children?

I do. I have two grown sons, Matt and Ethan.

21. If you do, tell us about them. If you don’t have any children, you can tell us why not – but, only if you want to tell us.

My sons were very young when their father left. It was very hard on Matt and Ethan because I came undone for a time. Children can get through most anything as long as they see their parent intact. Theodore, their father, just left, so I had to do everything. I was paralyzed with fear, and they sensed that. Fear is terrible. Matt is my older boy. He’s quite solid. He likes to tease me. His brother Ethan is the worrier. He’s my protector. He always wanted to take care of me. They’re both good boys. It was very difficult for me once they were both away at college. I was lonely for them, but I did everything not to let them know that. They don’t necessarily approve of my relationship with Daniel, but they like him.

22. What do you see in your future?

I don’t want to go into too much detail—it would be somewhat of a spoiler—but I am hopeful that I will be happy.

23. Do you think your author is going to write another story about you? Or, are you part of a series?

No, I don’t anticipate a series.

24. Do you like being a character in a book?

I’m a character in a book? Me?

25. If someone ever decides to make a movie based on your story, who should play you in the movie and why?

I think Geena Davis could play me. She’s tall and about my age. I think she could capture my restraint and my playfulness with equal candor.

Its been great to talk with you. If you want to tell us anything else, feel free. Also, tell us about a website where we can learn more about you and where we can buy the book. If you have a picture of yourself, feel free to send it.
www.willingspirits.net

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