Grandpa Hank’s Writer Interview – Molly Gross (Part I)

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Writer Interviews | 0 comments

Grandpa Hank’s Writer Interview – Molly Gross (Part I)

What time is it? Well as I’m writing this it’s 11:03AM. Ah, crap, now it’s 11:04. And most likely it’s a completely different time for you as you read this. (Although if it’s indeed 11:03 or 11:04 for you as well, what an insane LIFE CHANGING COINCIDENCE!) Nothing you thought you knew about the world makes sense anymore. Chaos is your only reality, an unsettling freedom that causes you to toss your underwear into the sky and yell to the heavens, “It’s all finally, gloriously come together!”

No? No? You’re still just sitting there reading? Ok then.

What time is it? It’s writer interview time. This week, we’ve got a very insightful interview from an incredibly talented playwright who got her BA in acting and directing from the University of Arizona and followed it up with an MFA in playwriting from the University of California-Riverside. She is currently the Assistant Professor of Learning Support Reading at Andrew College in Cuthbert, Georgia. Her plays have been seen all over central and southern California, and most recently her mystery “Murder at Buckhorn Manor,” was produced in Fort Gaines, Georgia. Grandpa Hank welcomes to the shack – Molly Gross.

GRANDPA HANK: What tends to inspire you? Do you get plot ideas first or do you find characters and figure out a way to revolve a plot around them?

MOLLY GROSS: Ah, we’re starting with the tough one, eh? To answer the first part, it sounds hokey, but anything can inspire me. I’ll drive by a lonely tire swing and want to work it into a play, or I’ll see a woman with a tear in her purse and imagine how she just used it to fend off a rabid Chihuahua, or one of my kids will shout “Get to the spankery!” and out comes the lap top.
To answer the second part, I think I have just as many plot-driven ideas as I do character-driven ones – it just depends on where that initial spark comes from. The image of the tire swing on stage, for instance, makes me think about how it became lonely more than who is involved, while the woman who sacrifices her purse to a rabid dog will make me wonder who she is. I’m pretty forgetful, so I carry around these little notebooks in my bags and in the car and jot down anything interesting to me. That way, I can flip through my inspiration when I’m ready to write, and I find the plot and character get mixed up pretty quickly as soon as I start outlining. With two kids and working full time, I unfortunately don’t write as often as I’d like.
GH: What is your favorite character you’ve ever created?
MG: How does a writer narrow that one down? Aren’t we all in love with our own characters?
Some characters are my favorite because of their voice, like a re-invention of Juliet in a play of mine who speaks in iambic pentameter but with a contemporary, sassy flare. Other characters I love because of what they do, like Rowan, a hermit-like teenage boy who breeds flies in corpses. It was kinda neat being in his head for a while. (Hmm….I don’t know what that says about me) I guess my favorite might be a little girl from a one act, who looks up to her parents and tries to keep them from getting divorced, because creating her made me laugh and broke my heart at the same time.
GH: What play or production do you consider your biggest success as a playwright?
MG: I wrote a one-act in grad school called “Wish of an Almost Widow” that got produced at a local theatre in Redlands, CA. It’s a drama set during the Dust Bowl that I later developed into a full-length play, but I felt I never quite captured what the one-act did. Towards the end of its single performance, there was a woman in the audience behind me, crying. It was one of the best sounds I’ve ever heard.
GH: How is your life as a playwright the same or different than you envisioned when you first got accepted to your MFA program?
MG: Picture a thin, long-haired blonde sitting alone outside of Starbucks in Hollywood, dressed in Ann Taylor, a sleek lap-top and a latte that’s being temporarily ignored while she finishes a phone call with a director in New York who’s about to begin rehearsals for her newest play. Her desktop is crowded with dozens of completed plays and screenplays, many of which have been produced or recently submitted to theatres or competitions around the world. She is waiting for the other members of her weekly writing group to show up, and wonders if she has time to book her flight to NYC before they arrive.
Now picture a not-so-thin, scraggly-haired brunette, sandwiched between a three and a five year old on a couch in her living room in Georgia, dressed in her pajamas, a scratched-up lap-top and cold coffee that’s being temporarily ignored while she finishes a phone call to her husband who is about to pick up the milk and bread they need from the store. Her desktop is crowded with dozens of ungraded essays, many of which will be filled with grammatical errors like “He would of seen it,” and “The facts shows its true.” She is waiting for the dryer buzzer to go off, and wonders if she can squeeze in an hour today to outline an idea for a play that’s been nagging at her, but before she can give it another thought, her son plants a big wet kiss on her shoulder.
So, yeah, it’s pretty different. But aside from needing to create more writing time, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

End of Part 1

Grandpa Hank here once again. Picture him running around with his arms over his head like Kermit the Frog backstage at the Muppet Show yelling “THIS IS WHY WE DO WRITER INTERVIEWS!”

Stay tuned for Part II coming up later in the week.

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  1. Grandpa Hank’s Writer Interview – Molly Gross (Part II) | Grandpa Hank's Writing Shack - […] And now the exciting conclusion of the Molly Gross interview! […]

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