G. G. Vandagriff
Gail Gibson Vandagriff is a Mormon author (a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) of both fiction and non-fiction works. Raised in Southern California, she now lives in Provo, Utah. She is married to David Vandagriff and has three grown children.
G.G. feels that she was born wired to be a writer. Even though she was educated in finance, and the history, politics, and economics of Eastern Europe at Stanford and George Washington University, she's been writing since she was a child. At age nine, she won a writing contest for her first short story. Dysfunction in her family life added to making her creative mind a retreat and a sanctuary. She studied writing in an advanced workshop when she was at Stanford, but still hadn't found her voice when she finished the course. Her study-abroad program in Austria was a turning point for G.G. She found the story she wanted to tell — the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its collapse into fascism. (She never for a moment thought that this might be a bit ambitious.) She began this project while commuting to and from her job in Los Angeles as an International Banker. Then, while teaching economics and waiting for her first child to be born, she continued the research she had begun as a student in Austria. By the time her three children were born, G.G. realized her book, on which she'd expended so many years of thought and effort, was shallow. She couldn't fathom the foreign culture, ideas, and motivations, nor the depth of suffering of the people.
Setting that work aside, G.G. began working on a modern story that was semi-autobiographical at that point. She was then living in Missouri with her family. For five years, she crafted the beginnings of what has now come to fruition as Pieces of Paris. This beginning was also too shallow, so G.G. turned to writing what she most commonly read — mysteries. She involved the heroines of her works in another of her passions, genealogy, and finally found the confidence to submit her work to potential publishers.
However, for fifteen years, G.G. had been the victim of bi-polar disorder, and after publishing three books, she became too ill to write. During that ten year struggle to survive, she grew to understand love and pain on a deeper level. Eventually, she was healthy and experienced enough to finish her Austrian historical novel, published as The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War. The book is an historical epic of Austria from 1913-1938. The Last Waltz won the 2009 Whitney Award for Best Historical Fiction. One critic had this to say about the book:
- "While the focus of The Last Waltz stays firmly on Amalia and her personal life, the two world wars have as searing an effect on her as they do on other Europeans of her time. The novel offers a perceptive and fascinating introduction to the politics of pre-WWII Austria, a setting that has been neglected amid the outpouring of novels about Nazi Germany. In many ways, the Austrian setting is far more interesting, as the artistic Viennese society gradually splinters into groups that cannot neatly be classified into pro-Nazi or anti-Nazi. The dissention within Austria paves the way for a German takeover and Amalia's dramatic, hair's-breadth escape attempt" (Reviewed by Margaret Donsbach, HistoricalNovelsInfo.com).
G.G. published two more mysteries, and then finally put the finishing touches on Pieces of Paris, released to the public in September, 2010. Now in her sixties, G.G. is a prolific writer, but she never forgets her long apprenticeship. She says, "I have found my Savior during this journey, and that alone makes it worthwhile."
G.G.'s genealogical mystery series includes Cankered Roots, Of Deadly Descent, Tangled Roots, Poisoned Pedigree, and Hidden Branch. The books comprise the continuing saga of Alexandra Campbell (Alex) and Brighamina Poulson (Briggie), two widows who set up a genealogy business, but end up getting mixed up in solving crimes, dodging danger, and finding romance. Another title, The Arthurian Omen, follows a hare-brained chase through Wales with many good and evil characters seeking the relic that could prove the identity of King Arthur. Among the characters is a psychopath who is secretly fomenting a Welsh revolution and sees the relic as a talisman that the "once and future king" has come to claim the rightful throne of England, Wales, and Scotland.
Two other non-fiction books, Voices in Your Blood (soon to be reissued as a Kindle Book), and Deliverance from Depression, have helped many people.
In 2010 G.G. had other works in progress: A four-book series called The Crazy Ladies of Oakwood (the tales of a therapy group in Florence, the Greek Isles, Provence, and the Scottish Highlands, which the author is bound to visit in the process of her research), also Foggy with A Chance of Murder which will come out in spring 2011.
In 2011 G.G. published the first novel in the "Crazy Ladies" series, to rave reviews (here's one). Called The Only Way to Paradise, the book is set in Florence, Italy.
On June 22, 2015, Vandagriff explained to her readers why she has ventured into writing Regency romances:
- In addition to my Regency series, I also write historical novels set during the 20th century. Epic history makes for epic love stories. The world-changing history of World Wars I and II is what I studied at Stanford and then at George Washington University for my master’s degree. It is the history that forged what we know as the 21st century. We cannot afford to get out of touch with it, for it holds key lessons and insights that are important to understand.
Her titles include Lord John's Dilemma, Lord Grenville's Choice, The Last Waltz, The Duke's Undoing, The Taming of Lady Kate, Miss Braithwaite's Secret, Rescuing Rosalind, Lord Trowbridge's Angel, and The Baron and the Bluestocking.
The two sequels to The Last Waltz are Exile and Defiance. In 2015 Vandagriff also published a new novella: Lord Basingstoke's Downfall (a Regency). She plans to continue to write both Regencies and her Waltz series, which is called The Saga of Love and War. It will have at least three more volumes.