Q&A with Gail MacMillan

Thanks for being here today, Gail. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?

I’m the author of twenty-three published books (two of which are award winners). I’ve also written a variety of short stories and articles that have been published in magazines in Canada, the USA, the UK, and Europe. I write both fiction and non-fiction books. In the fiction category, I enjoy writing historical romances and romantic comedy. I love animals and usually include dogs and horses as characters in my stories. I live in New Brunswick, Canada, with my husband and three dogs.

Q Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?

A Most definitely both. When a story requires interviews, I have to summon all my courage to approach people. Only my desire to get the facts enables me to make that initial phone call. And even after I’ve made contact and found (in every case so far) that the subject is a highly approachable and fascinating person, I’m still a ball of nervous energy, struggling to ask the right questions and not offend.

As for being introverted, I think that’s why, since childhood, many of my best friends have been dogs and horses. I enjoy their quiet, non-judgmental company, their absolute acceptance, their eternal optimism.

Q Has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career in any way?

A I spend too much time psyching myself for interviews and personal appearances. Book signings and speaking engagements at first were big stumbling blocks but I’ve managed to overcome most of my stage fright and am actually beginning to enjoy them.

Q In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?

A As an introvert, I’m comfortable spending time alone with my thoughts. Some of my best story ideas have arrived during long, solitary walks with my dogs. Being shy can also be a plus. It allows me to sit back and observe. I don’t feel I have to be the life of the party or the centre of conversation; therefore, I’m free to absorb the mannerisms and conversations, both of which can come in handy when writing future stories.

Q What’s the hardest part of this business for you?

A The hardest part is the non-writing component. Dealing with marketing, contracts, taxes, book promotion, and, of course, keeping up with technology. Some days I hear a little voice in my head shouting, “But I just want to write!”

Q Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life.

A There have been quite a few but one that is especially memorable is the launch of one of my non-fiction books in a city several hundred miles away from my own. I’d never personally met any of the people I’d written about in the book but had shared long telephone interviews and e-mails with every one of them. I didn’t know how they’d feel about someone who’d never visited their city writing about it and their beloved dogs but my publisher had insisted the launch be on their home turf. I’d been warned by one local that there might not be more than three or four people show up. But the gods smiled that day. Over three hundred did come, bringing their dogs and cheering me on! They bought hundreds of books. Stepping outside my comfort zone on that occasion was okay!

Q What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you?

A I don’t know if this is a tip or a trick. When I discovered that writing books would involve personal promotional appearances, I didn’t think I could do it. Then an idea hit. If Gail MacMillan was a shy introvert, her alter ego just might not be. So I’d pretend I was someone else (I never named her), someone clever and beautiful and charming. I avoided mirrors to keep the charade going. This other Gail was able to deal with any situation even if she felt limp as a rag when she vanished from public view.

Q Where can my readers find you on the web?
A My web site is http://www.gailmacmillan.com/

Thanks so much for being here today, Gail! Continued success to you!!!


  1. First, what a fabulous theme for a blog, Rebecca! So many of us have a hard time stepping in front of the public. I much prefer to do it electronically!

    Second, great interview, Gail! I enjoyed reading your answers. Will have to try your alter ego solution for personal interactions. ,-)

  2. Gail, thanks so much for coming on here today. I am just like you when it comes to making phone calls. I totally have to psyche myself up first.

    Norah--thanks so much for the compliment.

  3. I just posted a comment? Don't know where it went. I commented on the fact that a good number of authors are introverts. It's funny that we'd be driven to write when it makes us have to interact with the public. I guess, in the long run, it's good for us, though.
    Good blog, Gail. Lovely picture and great covers.

  4. Awesome blog, Rebecca, and great interview Gail.

    "I just want to write," you say?

    I'm glad I'm not the only one hearing this little voice. There are days when there's so much happening, that all I want to do is get away from it all and write.



  5. What a wonderful interview, Gail! I am not an introvert, but I always suggest when someone is to do exactly what you have done: create an alter ego. It can be fun and liberating. :) I always enjoy finding out more about our authors.


  6. Charlene writer and best friendApril 15, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    Terrific interview. Gail happens to be my best friend. She truly does love to write and I look forward to each of her books. She really can weave a wonderful story. As for her dogs, they are the luckiest animals I know to have Gail as their owner.