Novelist Bio




Isaac Touch - gilded I   The Isaac Touch is a 70,000 word, contemporary fantasy for Young Adults with two POVs, a biracial female MC, and clue-seeking, romantic adventure through five countries.

Sixteen-year-old Isaac wears gloves, even in the sticky summer heat of Baltimore. He hates and fears his Midas touch — it’s chemical, unpredictable, and potentially very dangerous. Desperate for a cure, he delves into biology, mineralogy, alchemy — anything that will help him control the gilding.

And then Isaac meets Lee, a brilliant slacker with secrets of her own. Lee guides Isaac toward realizing that reality, myth, and science are melded together, along with power and desire. They begin to suspect there is a chemical formula hidden in history, a formula that may cure him.

They decipher clues in ancient artifacts, medieval manuscripts, and even old fairy tales, clues that send them around the world. But Isaac and Lee are not alone in their quest. A shadowy sophisticate — twisted by greed and unlimited wealth — will stop at nothing to possess Isaac’s newly acquired knowledge.

Isaac is terrified. Can he trust Lee and keep her safe? Can he trust himself not to touch her?


564984_10150805318501125_1476994878_n.jpg  Sometimes I can’t believe I got my Ph.D.

But I did and I’m pretty damn proud of it. (That’s me, pictured above with my two daughters, being very proud at the University of Washington.)

I’m enthralled by museums, art, archives, and symbolic decoding.

My art criticism for The Seattle Times and my job teaching art history at Cornish College of the Arts have bolstered my skills in conjuring mental imagery and communicating with different audiences, particularly of the new adult variety.


IMG_1666.JPG I cut my teeth on fairytales.

All through childhood, I devoured stories and forged some of my own. (Pictured above, my much-loved copy of the Grey Fairy Book).

My own story fabrication dropped away for a while although I’ve been writing non-fiction for years. I returned to writing fiction unexpectedly and almost obsessively. One day, while struggling to finish my dissertation, an idea for a novel lodged itself in my brain and wouldn’t let go. I had to write it out of my system.

And then I got another idea for another novel. And then a short story. And so it goes.

I’m drawn to YA because of my two (smart and funny) teenage daughters and the myriad of wonderful (and not so wonderful) YA books we’ve read together. Some of my favorites:

  • Chime by Franny Billingsley
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

In the realm of literary fiction for adults…

  •  The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood showed me how fantasy could feel so real.
  • A.S. Byatt and Umberto Eco helped me see how intellectual and creative pursuits could be interwoven.

As for my writing style? I flatter myself by thinking my book is close to what Maggie Stiefvater might have come up with if she’d taken a crack at The Da Vinci Code. With, you know, more fantasy and less conspiracy.


80db4f33a7960afcea175710ade1231d.jpg  Have I mentioned that I love medieval manuscripts?

Oh, and 19th century photographic equipment?

And then there’s all that TV to watch – mysteries, period dramas, and sci-fi/fantasy shows: Firefly, The Walking Dead, Jessica Jones, Ripper Street, Pretty Little Liars, Twin Peaks, Downton Abbey. I’ll take it all, thank you very much.

Last but absolutely not least: I’m all in for community-building!

See, for example, the lovely 14th century party pictured above. Doesn’t that look fun? No?(Manuscript illustration by Jehan de Grise via Oxford’s Bodleian Library)

I can be found in various on-line lands. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Twitter: @gayleclemans




Confession #1: I am a part-time writer.

I hate to admit it because it sounds like a downgrade. It took me so long to build up the confidence to call myself a writer in the first place and now I’m compelled to qualify that label? “Part-time writer” sounds like “Sunday painter.” A dilettante, a dabbler. But the reality is that I have a full-time job and a wonderful family and I have to squeeze my writing in around those commitments.

Resolution: Let go of the guilt. Guilt that I’m not working hard enough to be a “real writer,” whatever that is. Guilt that I’m working too hard at something that doesn’t bring any money in. This year, I will try to swap the guilt for pride, or something like it. Being a part-time writer has constraints and challenges. Maybe, just maybe, I can give myself credit for taking on those challenges and doing something that is creative, liberating, and scary.

Confession #2: I have become a feedback junkie.

My desire to be a “real writer” has led to the inevitable plan to increase my social media presence. And, much to my own surprise, I’ve enjoyed it. I love (virtually) meeting writers, learning tips, taking photos, smiling over shared struggles and triumphs. The downside? I have become mildly addicted to clicking and scrolling and levelling up. Ooh, is my Twitter notification bell ringing? Do I have new followers on Instagram?

Resolution: Re-commit to my writing schedule, a schedule that now includes a shiny slot for social media time. I’m a mom, dammit. I know how to limit screen time and offer carrots for tasks completed. I hereby resolve to reward myself with Twittertime only AFTER I have completed a solid chunk of writing.

Confession #3: I want it.

I want to be successful, to land a literary agent, to get my first novel published. This kind of honest ambition is hard for me to own. As a mother, I’ve adopted willing self-denial and a contented focus on my children. As a teacher, I’m also focused outward, on my students, on the content of each lesson. It’s different with writing. I’m putting my own creations out in the world, pieces of my imagination, refracted reflections of myself. To want success for myself feels egotistical and that makes me squirm.

Resolution: Figure out what I really want. I already know that writing fiction stimulates and satisfies me. It’s ego-nurturing, not egotistical. I don’t get paid for it and I have spent countless hours working hard at it. So, perhaps what I really seek is validation that this crazy adventure is worthwhile. Worth my time and maybe even somebody else’s time. Somebody out there might choose to pick up my stories and come away with the same kind of exhilaration that I feel when writing them. That’s exciting. That’s worth wanting.

Final thoughts: Here at the beginning of 2016, it’s easy to see potential. It’s harder to examine the realities of this part-time writing life (or #writerslife as we say on Twitter, ignoring the ironic error). This post is really a commitment to be candid about my writing journey, pitfalls and all. And to connect the pitfalls with bits of positive problem-solving. And so, I’m ready (sort of) for a new year filled with honesty and resolve.