Kathleen Glassburn is the author three novels, all part of the Santa Fe Trilogy: A New Plateau, Ridin’ High and Going Back Home. Her work has been published in Amarillo Bay, Blue Lake Review, Cactus Heart Press, Cadillac Cicatrix, Cairn, Crucible, Epiphany Magazine, Imitation Fruit, Lullwater Review, Marco Polo Quarterly, Rio Grande Review, RiverSedge, SLAB, The Talon Mag, Wild Violet, and several other journals. Her story, Picnics, was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s Best Start contest. She is Managing Editor of The Writer’s Workshop Review. Kathleen graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in English, and went on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She currently resides in Edmonds, Washington with her husband, three dogs, two cats, and a 45-year-old turtle. When not writing or reading, she likes to play the piano and horseback ride. Her latest novel is titled Making It Work. For more information, please visit www.kathleenglassburn.com.
What do I do best?
Communicate (verbally as well as in writing). Words are my gift. Because I'm a good listener, too, I have lots of friends.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Focus and tenacity. A sense of purpose. Knowing what's the right thing for me to do even if it's not a popular stance. When I don't follow my instincts it always ends up in a mistake.
What are my aspirations?
To take my writing as far as possible (as in publication and audience). Help others with my words. I'm always taking classes and reading books about writing books for continual growth and development. I have a husband, two grown children and three grandchildren. My relationships with them are a main priority. In addition, I'm the loving owner of three dogs, a horse, and a 50-year-old turtle. My cat recently died, so I'll be looking at kittens soon. I find that spending time with my animals is relaxing and fun. They're so nonjudgmental. I do like being around people, but sometimes it's best to just hang out with my critters.
My Biggest Success?
My son and daughter. It sure wasn't easy at times, but my husband and I worked together trying to build a supportive, nurturing environment for the kids. Maybe they'd be great people no matter who had raised them, but I have to think we had something to do with it. From the time they were eighteen and went off to college they have lived independent of us. This is important to me, as well as my husband. We gave them our all for eighteen years, gave them fine educations, and now, unless some huge problem enters their lives, we expect and enjoy that they are living according to their own values and goals. Both our son and our daughter have been married for several years. They have stable relationships that we hope will weather whatever comes their way. Of course, the future is unknown. Still, if they need advice or help we will give it -- if asked. They have three children between them and are loving parents who also have expectations for their kids. Best of all, we like each other.
My Most Challenging Moment?
So many. A divorce in my twenties threw me for a loop. No one had ever divorced in my family. Health problems in my forties made me question my identity. Fortunately, after three long years, it was diagnosed and was not life threatening. I received proper treatment and my life resumed in its normal way, but those three years were probably the hardest I ever experienced. Whenever anything difficult comes along I tell myself, "You got through those dark years, you can get through this."
Slow and steady wins the race. And, What is is. What isn't isn't. What's next? And, by extension -- What could be?
My Favorite People/Role Models?
Richard Russo (I love all of his work and now his new book of essays, The Destiny Thief). I like the idea of destiny (it's part of what keeps me trying with my writing and with all my other efforts). Still, as Russo's essay of this title shows, life can have unexpected twists and turns.
Russo comes from a very common background in an Upstate New York mill town. I come from a very common background in Minneapolis (my father was a printer). I have to laugh at some of Russo's lines -- they remind me of my father. An example is: "...one of my father's favorite expressions [was] shoveling shit against the tide" (Pg. 55 of The Destiny Thief). My father said this and other similar comments. William Trevor (may his soul rest in peace). I love his short stories and his Irish background. I think of him as my literary father. Alice Munro (I'm sorry that she has retired). Her short stories set in Canada, with a humble family background, resonate with me Anne Tyler. I read everything by her. I love the quirky characters and the family problems. Anne Tyler has such a warm heart.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Ireland -- I've only been there twice. Driving on the opposite side of the road with two teenagers in my car on the first trip was a challenging experience. My son, as the navigator, hollered at me the first couple days -- things like, "Watch out! You're going the wrong way!" I developed a migraine and he bought an Enya tape to relax me -- we listened to it for 1000 miles. I told him, "I can't do this if you keep yelling at me," so he finally shut up. Meanwhile, my daughter was quietly in the backseat, probably praying to live through this. After those first days, the trip proved to be wonderful. Some of my ancestors came from Ireland during the Potato Famine and I feel a kinship to this place. I walk around, looking at familiar-appearing faces, and think "My people." The Washington coast is another favorite place. Every winter we take our dogs there for a vacation of their own. Walking the mostly deserted beach with them gaily circling us is a real pleasure. And the Colorado mountains are a favorite. My husband's father built a cabin on a picturesque river many decades ago. There is a bathroom and shower, but no telephone service, no television, no computers! When I'm feeling overextended I think of this restful spot.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My piano. The pieces I choose to play reflect and sometimes alter my mood. When I'm sad or melancholy or wistful I play something like Moonlight Sonata. When I feel great or want to feel great I play something like The Wabash Cannon Ball as fast as I possibly can.
My Current Passions?
My eleven-yar-old horse, Irish. He's a hunter who loves to jump. I've owned him for almost two years, but our connection was far from automatic. He's a burly beast who one of the trainers at my barn referred to as a "bully." Stanley, the horse I had for many years took a lot of leg. By age twenty-three he was tired and ready for retirement. In order to be successful with Irish, I had to learn to back off. I knew if I could figure him out we would work well together. At first I was wary as he'd do a U-turn and go off in the way he wanted to go. Slowly, and with great patience, I learned the proper aids and attitude to use with this particular horse. He requires confidence, authority, and, surprisingly, a gentle touch. He has become my main therapy. All my problems are forgotten when I'm with him. And he, in turn, waits with anticipation when he hears my voice as I come down the aisleway toward his stall.