Friday, November 25, 2011

G. G. Vandergriff Gala Book Tour - Guest Post & Giveaway!

About the Author:

I realize that I am one of those rare people in the world who gets to live a life full of passion, suspense, angst, fulfillment, humor, and mystery. I am a writer. Everyday when I sit down to my computer, I enter into world of my own making. I am in the head of a panoply of characters ranging from a nineteen year-old Austrian debutante (The Last Waltz) to a raging psychopath (The Arthurian Omen) and four women at once in The Only Way to Paradise.

How did this come about? I think I was wired to be a writer when I was born. Even though my formal career was in finance, writing was all I really wanted to do. There were a lot of things about my surroundings that I couldn’t control during my growing up years, so I retreated to whatever alternate existence I was creating. The habit stuck, and now my family finds themselves living in my current reality during dinnertime as I overflow with enthusiasm about Wales or Italy.

I studied writing in an advanced workshop when I was at Stanford, but was discouraged because everyone but me wanted to be J.D. Salinger. I hadn’t yet found my writing voice. But with my study abroad in Austria, I finally found the story I wanted to tell–the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its collapse into fascism. (I never for a moment thought that this might be a bit ambitious.) I eventually began this project while commuting to and from my job in Los Angeles as an International Banker. I had an outline. My studies abroad had given me the historical background. Using that, I created characters as prototypes of the ideas that existed in Austria in 1913. Then, while teaching economics and waiting for my first child to be born, I read all of Churchill’s books on World War One, and everything I could get my hands on that would give me the zeitgeist (literally “time spirit”) of the age.

By the time my three children were born, I had a draft, but I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. It was too superficial. I didn’t understand the European mind. I couldn’t convey the degree of suffering they had endured, nor the trauma the Austrians experienced at the collapse of their empire.

I turned to writing a more modern story that was semi-autobiographical at that point. I was living in the Ozarks, full of conflicted feelings that I worked out over the course of five years in the novel that has now become Pieces of Paris. However, I knew also that that project had not yet lived up to its potential. Discouraged, I turned to writing what I read–light mysteries. For color I imparted to my heroines another passion of mine–genealogy. Finally, I felt significantly secure to submit something and I was published.

However, for fifteen years, I had been the victim of bi-polar disorder (a common ailment among writers), and after publishing three books, I became too ill to write. During that ten year struggle to survive, I learned enough about overcoming pain, and about life and love to be able to complete my Austrian project. That became The Last Waltz. After two more mysteries, I was able to complete Pieces of Paris.

I am, at this writing, 63 years old, and for the last eighteen months I have turned my eyes toward Italy. My new book “The Only Way to Paradise” is the result of intense immersion in the Florentine and Tuscan culture, and most of it was written there. Of course, the art and landscape are spectacular, but what makes my heart sing are the people. I think that they are born with a genetic tendency to agape (unconditional love). I have experienced so many kind and loving experiences at their hands, most of which are chronicled fictitiously in my book. I plan at least two more in the same setting–a mystery and a time travel.

I do genre-hop a lot, but I firmly believe that any endeavor that enables us to further understand ourselves, our world, and our loved ones is never wasted. I have chronicled much of what I have learned about PTSD from “Pieces” and “Paradise” on my new website I welcome comments.

Voices In My Blood

By G.G. Vandagriff

Back in the days before the Wall fell in Berlin, I was at George Washington University studying for my master's degree in Eastern European Studies. I had no idea why. I was inexplicably captivated by everything in that part of the world-politics, economics, but mostly history.

My advisor was an escapee from Siberia, where he had been sent for his political beliefs. He still loved his country, however, as most Russians do. During our seminars we gradually picked up his world view. I had read all of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and some Gogol. The only book I had read from the Soviet years was Doctor Zhivago, but now I started reading Russian poets, playwrights, and other modern Russian novelists. Why? Because Dr. Petrov had explained that the best way to get a flavor for a period in history is to read a really excellent novel set in that age. I was passionate about Russia, for a reason I couldn't explain. All the writings of the Russians seemed to call to something in my blood, though my ancestry was German-Russian's greatest enemy!

In a like manner, I was fascinated by Poland, which I had visited as an undergraduate. The people there wore their national identity with great pride, though they were subject to the Soviets. They clung stubbornly to their religion-Roman Catholicism-though it was forbidden by their rulers. It was no surprise to me when Lech Walenza began Solidarite, the first union in the Soviet Bloc.

Shortly after completing my studies, I began digging around in my own family history. I had a very poor opinion of the Germans, though I was half German. I had lived in Austria, and much preferred that country to Germany. Then I found out something truly extraordinary! My mother's Germans had lived in Russia for 140 years! This was imparted to me by my grandfather's stepmother, who was still living at age 104, and had lived there herself. My grandfather was actually born there, a fact that was kept from him. My Russian fascination was a voice in my blood.

And what about Poland? As I studied my father's Germans, I traced them back to Ratzebuhr, a town which was in the part of Germany that is now Poland. They had intermarried with Polenkas there, which seems to me to be a very Polish name. The Polenskas were wealthy aristocracy, back in their day.

Then I happened upon an essay in “Lives of a Cell” by Lewis Thomas that introduced me to mitochondria—tiny organism that serve the function of helping our souls to breath.  These mitochondria are not produced by our own bodies.  They actually are a physical part of our ancestors that are passed down to us in the ovum of our mothers.  So part of me struggled up the river bank, a pole across my shoulders carrying buckets of water.  Another part of me crossed the plains with eleven teams of oxen carrying all her worldly goods to the seventh settlement (this one in Colorado) she and her husband had founded.  She made that journey alone nine times.  Both these great-grandmothers imparted to me of the steel in their spines.  I have faced many difficulties in my life, and I know that their strength is within me, and has been before I even knew they existed.  That is the joy of discovering who you are.


Throughout the book tour all G. G. Vandagriff's e-books have been reduced to $3.99!! 
Make sure to pick up one of these four amazing books.

Books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

One lucky commenter is going to win an e-book copy of Cankered Roots!  It's a great read - I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Check back for my review later today!

This is open to everyone (International)

All you have to do to enter is comment on this blog post!

Make sure to leave your email address so you can be connected if you win!  example:  aislynnt(at)gmail(dot)com

Giveaway is open until Wednesday November 30th.  Winner will announced on December 1st and will have 48 hours to claim their prize!


  1. Great guest post! Thanks for sharing!

    I'm not entering the giveaway but I have looked into my family roots. I love learning about my family genealogy.

  2. Cankered Roots sounds like a really good, yet a little bit different, to read, hmmm you have me interested! lol


  3. G.G. Vandagriff is a new author to me so thank you for the chance to read Cankered Roots which sounds like an intriguing read.


  4. i love the cover - it's beautiful. so i hope the book is really good ^^

    witchvela at web dot de