We’ve had all kinds of authors on here over the last few weeks, from thriller novelists to horror. But none of those stories were based on someone’s real-life experiences, so you might notice that some of the questions are a bit different from usual.
Hi, Stacy. Welcome to Read A Lot.
Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?
A: It was never on my bucket list. I’m a technical writer by trade and I’ve pretty much always written, but not for creative purposes. However, since birthing Bonsai I find myself writing all the time. I feel another book coming—something on a completely different subject matter.
Q: What made you decide to write The Six Foot Bonsai? It’s based on your experiences, which can’t have been easy to relive.
A: About sixteen years ago I realized that I had lived a rather unusual life as the teen bride of a Japanese man and I thought I should write it down. I had no idea then, that what had occurred prior to that point was the tip of the iceberg. What had started as an effort to tell an interesting story, became, in the end, a mission to impart some very important lessons.
Q: Tell us a little about the book.
A: Bonsai is a tragic tale of what happens when you fight gravity. I tried too hard to be a good Japanese wife and it became my identity; one I was unwilling to give up despite warning signs that my husband had a serious problem which he dismissed as “normal” in the context of his culture. While there are dark scenes along the way, the ending is redemptive.
Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?
A: My full-time job was a big constraint on my time and still is. I have to get up in the middle of the night to write in order to have a home life. In a couple of years I plan to retire and write whenever I feel like it. What a blessing that will be.
Q: Was there any part of it you liked writing?
A: I liked writing about life on Sado Island. It is an exotic place and I was fortunate to live there. I hope my children get a positive image of their heritage from those sections of the book.
Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing your book when you wanted to give up?
A: A hundred times. It was a very difficult process for me. So much had occurred that I had issues with balance and timing. Finally, I hired a coach for professional advice. That made all the difference.
Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?
A: I’m not dyslexic but one might think I am! I have a tendency to skip words and over-revise. I would rather hire editors than do it on my own.
Q: How much had you planned out before you started to write?
A: Since I had written bits and pieces over many years there was little planning. As a result, what I ended up with was a crazy quilt of sorts. Seeing this my coach asked me to read a book about novel planning and structure. It helped me “regroup.” I recommend planning.
Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?
A: Don’t write for others. Write for yourself.
I find my best writing comes when I let my mind freely imagine a scene in all of its detail and describe how it makes me feel.
Q: Where can people learn more about your books?
Q: What have you learned since you started writing?
A: I’ve learned it is doggone hard. It’s like most things I do. I am never satisfied. That is why finally getting the book in print was a real leap for me. I had to let go despite feeling that I could do more to make it even better.
Such feelings are endless for me as a self-criticising perfectionist.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I have to support this book for a while. I have a tendency to move on to the next thing too quickly…driving everyone around me crazy in the process! My short term goal is to get reviewed by a few noteworthy publications. I’ve already been reviewed by the South China Post and that’s a nice start.
My dream is to start an indie author tiny library in front of my house—one that only keeps indie books and tracks their readership. I am amazed at the quality of indie writers and I want to support their efforts.
What’s at stake when a woman from Michigan—who’s always stood out at six feet tall—tries to fit in on a remote island in Japan?
Stacy Gleiss’s captivating memoir answers just that. After a childhood defined by a horrific car accident, Gleiss spends years trying to regain a sense of identity; eventually making her way across the globe where she falls in love with the enchanting culture of Japan. But as Gleiss becomes increasingly immersed in the Japanese way of life—first as a teenage bride and then as a mother—she discovers this faraway land isn’t as perfect as she first imagined.
The Six-Foot Bonsai goes behind closed doors in a traditional Japanese family during the 1980s and ’90s, uncovering harsh truths. Gleiss must learn how to transform herself into the ideal Japanese housewife in a culture that holds females to particularly high standards. At the same time, a shocking revelation about her husband tests everything Gleiss once thought she believed in.
A detailed look at the Japanese traditions of marriage, womanhood, and child exploitation, The Six-Foot Bonsai is an intimate account of what it’s like to discover a new place while also discovering yourself.