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Sherri Rosen Interviews Author, Gretchen Astro Turner, and The Value of Art

Interview with Gretchen Astro Turner

Sherri: Hey Gretchen! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Let’s jump right in. What inspired you to write But I Digretch – Quirky Short Stories?

Gretchen: Thanks for having me! The inspiration for “But I Digretch” came to me from a line in the movie “The Lion in Winter” when Peter O’toole’s character says, “My life will read better than it was lived.” That really struck a chord with me. Also, I often think about the difference between scientists and poets. They both want to tell the truth, but a poet wants to tell it beautifully.

Sherri: That is a beautiful perspective on the power of storytelling, Now, delving a bit deeper, what drove you to write “But I Digretch”?

Gretchen: Whenever I reflect on a cherished song, album, movie, book, TV show, or piece of visual art, I’m reminded of the moments in my life when that art saved me or brought about transformation. Art has a remarkable way of finding me precisely when I need it most, revitalizing the beauty of life. It can reignite a passion for living, or offer solace during times of torment, reminding me profoundly that I’m not alone. It brings hope and provides comfort, often serving as a companion who truly understands. Nothing else quite compares. Imagining my life without art is unfathomable. As I am proudly one of my own favorite writers, I aspire for my book to offer that same solace and inspiration to others.

Sherri: Your dedication to inspiring others through your book is admirable. Could you share with us what your journey as a writer has been like?

Gretchen: My journey as a writer began in high school, after my first true love, Baxter, wrote me many indescribably beautiful love poems. He was gifted with a quill and was a “hopeless romantic” like I am. All of a sudden, I knew it was what I needed to be, and writing poetry, and then short stories, started to become as natural as letting air back out of my lungs every time I breathed it in. But my writing has almost always been contingent on a muse. I first and foremost am a love poet, and wanted to seduce and impress each of the people I either dated or fell in love with, so I gave them my heart in the form of countless words on a page. Sometimes they turned out to be short stories!

Sherri: Your journey as a writer is quite fascinating! What aspect of writing brings you the most joy?

Gretchen: For me, writing has always been as instinctive as breathing. As an old friend and fellow writer once said, we revel in “stopping the world to think of the perfect word.” Life, I’ve found, has the potential for perfection. Even amidst the shared sorrows we all experience, there’s a beauty and resilience that emerges. While we may not have total control over life’s twists and turns, we do have absolute control over how we respond to them. My best friend, Ed, often reminds me, “Life is what you make it. Why not make it a masterpiece?” It’s a sentiment that resonates deeply. After all, when we tap into our imaginations, anything becomes possible.

Sherri: Your friend’s reminder to make life a masterpiece is great advice. If you could offer advice to young or aspiring writers, what would it be?

Gretchen: For young or aspiring writers, I would offer the same advice a mentor once gave me when I was fretting over my senior thesis. “Just write. Don’t judge it. Just put words on a page and let them come. It can be complete crap –  it won’t be – but in permitting yourself that it’s allowed to be, the floodgates will open.”

Sherri: That’s fantastic advice! Now, shifting gears a bit, what’s your take on rough drafts and the editing process?

Gretchen: My approach aligns greatly with the Buddhist rule of thumb: “First thought, best thought.” I realize this might make me seem like a renegade, as it’s not the most popular viewpoint in writing circles. However, I’ve found that 75% of the time, I prefer my initial drafts over the revised versions. One notable exception is my short story “The Scissors.” Originally, it was a standalone narrative without integrated academic research. During my time at Columbia University for graduate school, I realized it could serve as an ideal template for a final paper in a class on Adolescent Psychology.

Similarly, my short story “Aeternum” saw improvements when I added vivid psychological depth, characterization, and internal landscape details to the protagonist.

Sherri: That’s a refreshing perspective on writing. Can you share who your favorite writer is, what your favorite book is, and why it holds significance for you?

Gretchen: When it comes to favorite writers and books, a few immediately come to mind. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger struck a chord with me in high school; I related to Holden’s struggle against the phoniness of society and the importance of self-awareness. Additionally, O. Henry’s short story “The Last Leaf” and Spike Jonze’s short film “I’m Here” both inspired me with their storytelling styles. After watching “I’m Here,” my initial thought was, “Why didn’t I think of and write that first?!”

Sherri: I can relate to that sentiment of reading something and feeling inspired by it. Is there a quote or saying that particularly resonates with you?

Gretchen: A quote that truly resonates with me is “Our only work is to love ourselves, so we can be love in action” by Anita Moorjani. Additionally, I find inspiration in my own poetry, such as the line, “A line is just a series of points… who thought they were alone…”

Sherri: Your poetic lines are truly captivating. Thanks for sharing. How would you define the significance of writing in your life?

Gretchen: To me, writing transcends mere words. As Rumi beautifully expressed, “Words are pretext; what draws people are the bonds between hearts… Truth/God is silence; everything else is poor translation.”

Reflecting on my past relationship with my former girlfriend, a master engineer, I realize how vastly different we are in terms of our cerebral inclinations. She’s a mathematician and scientist, and I’m drawn to the abstract world of words and storytelling. However, despite these differences, our love was profound and intense. At the core of our souls, we shared a common passion: the desire to build worlds. While she constructed them with material objects and tools, I crafted them through the medium of words. It’s akin to how a bird needs to fly or a fish needs to swim – an innate urge ingrained in our beings.

Sherri: Your insights into the power of writing are truly thought-provoking. Now, onto a more lighthearted note: If you could possess any superpower, what would it be?

Gretchen: My favorite superpower would have to be unconditional love, although technically if it’s genuine love, it’s always unconditional. Kindness also holds immense power for me, echoing the words of the Dalai Lama: “Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible.”

Sherri: You really took my silly question to heart! Now, as we come to the end here, got any juicy details about a new book on the horizon?

Gretchen: Hells bells yes! The manuscript of my forthcoming poetry collection is titled: “God’s a Good Kisser – Reflections, Confessions, and Genufl(er)ections of a Surrealist, Transcendental Love Poet”. If you’re eager for a sneak peek, the back cover of “But I Digretch” features a synopsis including two short passages from the collection.

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 19th, 2024 at 5:06 pm and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Sherri Rosen Interviews Author, Gretchen Astro Turner, and The Value of Art”

  1. Gretchen Astro Turner Says:

    I am absolutely over the moon with how you masterfully conveyed this, Sherri!

    Thank you with all my heart,
    Gretchen Astro ?????????

  2. Gretchen Astro Turner Says:

    hahaha from my iPhone, the response I entered – I now see after I’ve submitted it – ends with several question marks after I sign my name, but those were emojis (evidently not translatable between our devices/platforms). 🙂

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