Gwynne Forster

Gwynne Forster

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
April 24, 2005

Q.    How did you come about the idea to write a story about a woman who was raped when she was child and gave her daughter up for adoption?

A.    This question reflects a misunderstanding. Coreen was raped when she was a seventeen year old virgin, a graduating high school senior and an honor student heading for college on a scholarship. She was a victim of date rape, and she gave up her child for adoption, because she hated the father, hated the abominable conditions in which she was forced to exist while carrying the child.

I wanted to write a story that showed how the consequences of one person's dastardly act could adversely affect, if not ruin, the life of his victim. I have no idea how the idea of a rape victim occurred to me. It's that way with writers; our most prized possession is our imagination, and we don't know how or why we get some of our ideas.

Q.    Did you interview any women who has given a child up for adoption?

A.   My story is purely fiction. I have never met anyone who claimed to have given up a child for adoption. If I interviewed women and told or reflected their stories, a report on that would be a documentary, not fiction, and I have to affirm to my publisher that may novels come from my imagination only, and that all characters are purely fictional.

Q.    How did you come about the title If you Walked in My Shoes?

A.    Both of my lead characters suffered greatly, and each will be judged by the other. Each has done something the other considers wrong, yet each is "in her own way"”right. Therefore each can say to the other, "if you had walked in my shoes," then you could blame me for what I've done.

Q.    How did you come about Bates’ character?

A.    I don't know. But As I wrote, I saw how a man might react to Coreen, her personality, achievements and secrets. He developed as I wrote, and suddenly, I knew who he was and was able to round out his character.

Q.    Why didn’t you choose to have Coreen look for her Frieda instead of Frieda looking for Coreen?

A.    If Coreen had looked for Freda, I wouldn't have had a story. Coreen had no interest in finding Freda. She had gotten on with her life and had tried to forget she'd ever had a child. Why would she look for the child "she hadn't even allowed herself to know its gender" when her husband didn't know she had one? Freda looked for Corren out of vengeance. She wanted to punish her birth mother for giving her up for adoption and, in doing so, exposing her however unwittingly-- to the depravity of her unscrupulous stepfather. Freda had a reason for finding her birth mother

Q.    How did you come about the idea for Frieda and Glen to met?

A.    When I was writing that Glen was leaving his parents' home one Saturday morning after spending the weekend, Freda was parked across the street, spying on Coreen, and it occurred to me that the best way for Freda to punish Coreen was to develop a liaison with Glen, who Coreen loved dearly. But the Lord doesn't love ugly, so I published her for it. Laughter.

Q.    How long did it take you to write this novel?

A.    I don't know. I wrote it on planes, trains, in airports, train stations, at home, in my husband's hospital room and standing on the street. In terms of hours or days, I couldn't say. On the whole, I guess five or six months elapsed. Maybe more.

Q.    Are you currently working on another novel?

A.   Yes. I'm working on two, and this is the first time I've ever done this. I have always worked on one until I finished it and then started the next one. But the due dates for these two books became confused somehow. I'm writing Dances With the Devil, mainstream women's fiction for Kensington/Dafina Books and McNeil's Woman, a romance, for BET Books. The mainstream novel isn't due until the end of the year, so I put it aside to write the romance due July 30th. I've just finished a novella, The Journey, a novella about one of four quadruplet sisters separated at birth and who do not meet until they are 34 years old. The anthology also has novellas of the three other sisters written by Parry Brown, Donna Hill and Monica Jackson. It's called DESTINY'S DAUGHTERS. Kensington/Dafina will publish it in February 2006.

Q.    What message would you like readers to receive from If you Walked in My Shoes?

A.    Be careful how you judge others. When we mistreat others "as both Freda and Glen."