Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Meet Gretchen Stull

This past couple of weeks, we've added 2 employees to the Diner Staff. Last week we met Annie Solomon and this week we're meeting Gretchen Stull, who's our special Graveyard Shift waitress. Gretchen doesn't work full time -- we only open for the late shift on special nights -- but her first post will be this coming Friday.


1) Briefly, who are you as an author and what do you write?

As an author, I am dark and mysterious. Wait no, no that's not me, that's someone else entirely.

I'm pretty much the same, as an author and just as myself. I like to venture into dark territory at times, but only if there's humor to be found in it. I'm more of a cynic than an optimist, but I fully believe in happy endings. I prefer anti-heroes to heroes, and alpha males to any other kind, but I still like characters who are intrinsically good and who'll do the right thing when presented with a choice.

That's what I like about paranormal romance, which is what I write. It can be dark, it can be gritty, it can be emotional, but it can be funny and reaffirming at the same time.

2) What do you do (voluntarily) when you're not writing?

I like to sleep. I'm a big fan of sleep!

When not writing, slaving away at my day job, or sleeping, I like to sew and make clothing, watch movies, read for fun, attend concerts, and travel.

3) What's your favorite deadline snack?

As much as I hate to admit it, when I'm on a deadline I head straight for the junkfood. Deadline snacks have to be fast and easy because I don't want the act of cooking or going to a nicer restaurant to waste any potential writing time. So that means hitting up a fast food establishment for meals (McDonalds fries and iced coffee often became the meal of choice during thesis-writing hell), and as for actual snacking, I like the snacks that mix salty and sweet. Kettle Corn has often kept my laptop and I company on those long, lonely deadline nights.

4) What is it about paranormal romance? How do you feel paranormal elements enhance the romance and vice versa?

Paranormal romance captures my imagination like no other stories out there. I think paranormal elements enhance all relationships and interactions within paranormal stories, not just the romantic relationships. No matter how mundane an action or interaction may be, when it's skewed by a paranormal element (be it a paranormal being or setting), the stakes are upped. Paranormal stories usually contain closely guarded secrets and life or death stakes. A wrong move doesn't just ruin a relationship, it can jeopardize a life or even the safety of an entire group of beings. I think those kind of stakes make characters more cautious of entering into romantic relationships and render the final decision to make that plunge into a monogamous romantic relationship an act of bravery all its own.

5) Authors also tend to be devoted readers. What authors do you read for inspiration and/or enjoyment?

I love JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. To be completely honest, her Dark Lover was the first true paranormal romance book I ever read. It's what got me hooked! I think Neil Gaiman is nothing short of brilliant, I read Stardust as a teenager and it's been my favorite book ever since. Max Brooks' World War Z is a book I recommend to everyone, it just works on so many levels. Those are really at the top of my list, though I also greatly enjoy the works of Charlaine Harris, JK Rowling, Lauren Willig, and Janet Evanovich as well.

6) What is your biggest "collection" (besides books)?

DVDs. I have an embarrassing amount of DVDs lying around. I've always loved movies and I used to freelance as a film critic for a small newspaper in Alabama. I also studied film in college and grad school so, yeah, I have more than my fair share of movies.

7) What were your favorite childhood (as in pre-teen, even) books or movies? Can you spy the seeds of paranormal romance budding even then?

Oh, the seeds of paranormal romance were sown early, even if I didn't realize it at the time. When I was 9, NBC decided to revive the old soap opera, Dark Shadows. It was an abysmal failure that lasted only 13 episodes, but the damage was done. I was hooked. Ive been a vampire addict ever since.

After Dark Shadows, I became obsessed with the X-Men cartoon that showed on Fox in the mid 1990s. During my freshman year of college, it was Dark Angel, followed soon after by Smallville, Special Unit 2, and Firefly. Futuristic, paranormal, and science fiction shows, laced with romantic tension, have always been my favorite. Im eagerly awaiting True Blood, season 3.

8) What paranormal book or movie would you like to be dropped into the middle of, to experience the world if not the entire plot?

Honestly, if I could only choose one, I would choose the Harry Potter world. Even though that probably sounds a little juvenile, the world Rowling created in those books is so multilayered and fascinating. I would love to experience that world as a witch, I doubt it would be as much fun as a muggle.

9) If you had to have a lifesize standee of a character in a paranormal tv series, movie or book in your bedroom at all times, who would it be and how would other residents of your household probably feel about it?

If I had to have one, which is the only way I would, it would likely be a lifesize standee of Vampire Eric Northman from True Blood, and likely it would be a present from my friend Kristen who tends to turn up with odd things like that.

As for the other residents of my home? My boyfriend would probably notice it once, roll his eyes at me, and then promptly begin using it as a clothes hanger. Brady the dog would be terrified of it, because he is terrified of everything. And Simon the cat would use it to sharpen his nonexistent claws while glowering menacingly at the dog.

10) What is some of the most unusual research you've done for your fiction?

For my nonfiction writing I've gone to some lengths, including becoming a regular at a Georgia strip club, but my fiction research has been far tamer. A lot of reading up on mythology from around the globe and using Google Earth, nothing too exciting or bizarre.

11) If you were deprived of your computer for a year and had no looming deadline, would you write your next book in longhand anyway or keep notes and wait until you had a computer again to finish it?

I tend to write a lot of my stories and ideas longhand now, so I'd definitely write longhand. I find it slows me down enough that I can really flesh out my characters as I'm writing. Now, when I'm really on a roll I prefer typing it out, but if I'm experiencing writer's block, writing longhand is one of the ways I get through it.

12) If you could have a little-known superpower, what one would you pick and why? What one would your friends and loved ones pick FOR you?

If I could have any little-known superpower, I'd choose Super Insomnia. I would be able to exist without ever sleeping (unless I chose to sleep) and would have no ill effects like sleep deprivation to cloud my judgment. Do you have any idea how much I could accomplish in a day if I didn't have to sleep? It would be wonderful. I'd call myself Productivity Gal.

When I asked my boyfriend this question, he said he'd choose flight. We like to travel, and if I could fly we'd get places more quickly. Of course, continuous motion tends to put me to sleep (which should further explain my desire for Super Insomnia), so he put in a stay awake while flying addendum to the power of flight.

13) Anything else you'd like to share with visitors to the Diner?

Hmm, I think the patrons are just going to have to stop by to know me better :)


Jody W. *


  1. Hi Gretchen & Jody: If I could choose to be dropped into one paranormal movie/book, I would probably choose Harry Potter also and would definitely want to be a wizard.

    Great interview.

  2. Wow, I want this Super Insomnia power too. :) Welcome to the diner. I'm the bus person so I imagine we'll get to know each other really well. I'm usually cat napping in the corner booth on slow nights, which why the super insomnia power would be so useful for me.

  3. Fun interview. Gretchen, I totally get the Harry Potter world being your choice. It's just so rich and three-dimensional and filled with possibilities, magical things everywhere you looked. I don't think it's juvenile. I think that appeals to us no matter how old we are.

  4. Great interview, Gretchen! I love who you are as writer and person. And also what you think paranormal adds to romance. I completely agree. As for the power of Super Insomnia, I already have it and I wouldn't wish it on anyone!!! In fact, I could use the power of sleep more often.

    But sleep or no, welcome to the diner, girl.

  5. Hi Gretchen! Glad to see you and Annie join the staff at the Diner!

    And gotta say, I also groove on vampire Eric Northman of True Blood. He's sooo who Sookie needs to be with. I mean, I like Bill and all, but Eric is just...yum.

  6. I could sure use some of that super insomnia, especially during this month of NaNoWriMo.

    Welcome to the diner!


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