MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Catherine Gilbert Murdock biography

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Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Photo: Greg Martin

Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Catherine Gilbert Murdock Biography

I grew up in small-town Connecticut, on a tiny farm with honeybees, two friendly goats, and a mess of Christmas trees. My sister claims we didn’t have a television, but we did – only it was ancient, received exactly two channels, and had to be turned off after forty-five minutes to cool down or else the screen would go all fuzzy. Watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds was quite the experience, because it’s hard to tell vicious crows from a field of static; this might be why I still can’t stand horror movies to this day. 

My sister Liz, who is now a Very Famous Writer and the author of Eat, Pray, Love & many other great books, was my primary companion, even though she wouldn’t even try to jump off the garage roof no matter how much I taunted her. Now she travels all over the world collecting stories and diseases, while I stay at home scowling over paint chips and trying to keep my kids off our garage. So the cycle continues. 

For the record, I did not play football or basketball in high school. I ran cross-country and track, badly, but I have absolutely no skill whatsoever with ball sports. Nor did I write much – Liz was the anointed writer – but I read my little eyeballs out. I was the empress of our library’s four-shelf YA section. I still read YA and middle-grade fiction far more than any other genre. When someone recommends a book, I immediately ask, "Is it for grownups? Because I don't read those." Followed by "Does it have dragons?"

Dairy Queen was my first stab at creative writing since high school, not counting several years as a struggling screenwriter (which followed several years as a struggling scholar). I unabashedly recommend screenwriting for mastering the art of storytelling; just don’t pin any hopes on seeing your work on the big screen. But you’ll learn so much in the process that this won’t matter. I also recommend, you know, living. I've been passionate about food pretty much my whole life – first eating it, now preparing and then eating it. And so it plays a pretty big role in my writing, and adds so much flavor . . . not literally, of course, but the more you can add that's true, whether it's emotion or geography or gardening, then the stronger that story is.

Reproduced from the author's website with permission of the author.

Catherine Gilbert Murdock's website

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Interview

Catherine Murdock discusses Dairy Queen, her first novel for teens about a football-loving 15-year-old who takes over running her family's small Wisconsin dairy farm when her dad is injured.

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

It always sounds goofy, but I really did have a dream about a girl playing college football against a boy she loves passionately. When I woke up, my first thought was "What an amazing premise for a story!" Followed by "Babe, you don't know one thing about football." But that kernel stayed with me, just kept growing in me for days, as I thought about it and worked it — dream or no, the story idea was just a lump, and I had to do a lot of shaping. I immediately tossed the college notion — that was ridiculous — and I spent hours trying to figure out where to place the story: Texas was out of the question because football is so important there, D.J. might get killed. I toyed with western Pennsylvania and California and then finally came up with Wisconsin. I say finally because I have family in Wisconsin — I have cousins who played football there, in schools about the size of D.J.'s. So I was leery at first of writing about Wisconsin self-consciousness combined with obstinacy — but I'm so pleased now. Then of course I had to develop the characters . . . The heart of the story, its essential moment, if you will, ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Catherine Gilbert Murdock at BookBrowse
Front and Center jacket Princess Ben jacket The Off Season jacket Dairy Queen jacket
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