Monday, August 27, 2018

Gina Wohlsdorf Author Interview

Photo Credit: Rachel Sundheim

Gina Wohlsdorf was born and raised in Bismarck, North Dakota. She graduated from Tulane University, taught English in the south of France, sold books in four states, and earned an MFA at the University of Virginia. She currently lives in Colorado.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I can sing. I trained in opera and jazz during my teens.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
Age 27. I let Blood Highway sit for five years after I finished the first draft (at age 22). I got my first apartment and had some free time, so I opened the draft and reread it. And I decided to fix it.

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
I realized that pretty young. I wrote a poem when I was, I think, sixteen. It was good enough to go beyond hobby, but i didn’t take it there for another decade.

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?
Well, I am Takako Chigusa in Battle Royale. But as to who I want to be? Shinji Mimura, also in Battle Royale. He’s good at everything — sports, tech, sex, friendship, nearly escaping impossible Hunger Games-type situations. Except he’s never really loved anyone. Win some, lose some.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing BLOOD HIGHWAY?
Rainy, by far. Once I took it to first person, she stole the show. It was a blast to watch.

What part of Rainy did you enjoy writing the most?
Her estimations (one could say decimations) of other people. Her clarity’s so enviable and at the same time, so not.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
That I felt bad for Sam. For Harmony, too. That was very freeing. I loathed those two for a long time.

Can you tell us when you started BLOOD HIGHWAY, how that came about?
I graduated high school in 1999, college in 2003, and in those intervening four years, the American collective consciousness suffered grave wounds. September 11th happened. The economy tanked. Employment options for college graduates became barista or telemarketer. Or both, because we owed five figures in loans for our degrees.

I triple majored at the Harvard of the South and had the 30k in debt to show for it. I went back to Bismarck, North Dakota and got a job at Cracker Barrel. And at a Best Western hotel, and at Barnes and Noble Booksellers. I had three jobs, no health insurance, and I slept on an air mattress in a 400-square-foot studio apartment.

I’d finish my twelve- or fourteen-hour workday by closing the bookstore, and I’d get in my sad, ancient car to drive home. One night, I wondered what would happen if I kept right on driving. Just left it all behind, changed my name, started over. And that made me think of this story I’d written. More of a sketch, really, when I was still in high school. A girl named Rainy - rootless, aimless, and miserable.

I drove and drove in circles around Bismarck that night. When the sun came up, I knew I had to try and put it on paper. I didn’t own a computer and couldn’t afford to buy one, so I wrote the first draft at the library in Bismarck, on one of their public PC’s. I cried my eyes out as I finished the last page. I was 22.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
To question all advice, since creating an objective ethics from subjective experience has the dangerous potential of excluding viewpoints that would directly contradict truisms you consider unassailable.

Also, take care of your teeth. Floss and oil pull. You’ll look ten years younger, trust me.

Have you ever been really really freaked out by something on the internet? If so, what?
EVERYTHING!! I’m a Luddite, what can I say?

The person you would never want to meet?
Jack the Ripper. I’m not his type, but still.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
“Could be worse.” — I’ve got a cold, and I thought the red, scalloped patches under my nose would be far grosser than they turned out to be.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
No, I’m too shy for that. I can think of many occasions where I consoled the person afterward, though. Usually customer service personnel — waiters, baristas, etc.

If you could live in any period in history, where would it be and why?
A safe distance from Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Or what the hell, stick me right in there. I would’ve loved to see that thing blow.

If you wrote a journal entry today, what would it say?
I’d probably whine about my cold. I hate being sick. More than most people hate it, I hate it. Kills my productivity.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
The sixties. Free love, good drugs, great music. Biiiig drawback: Vietnam.

10. People wax poetic about how a dead body looks so different from a live one, how a spark is missing. I disagreed. She just looked bored.

9. The closer he got to me, the more I could tell my appearance had conferred its usual set of advantages and disadvantages: adult male meets adolescent girl with big lips and a lot of hair and is titillated, so he’ll be nice out of shame but he’ll also fight a flare of anger, sweetmeat he knows he won’t get to taste.

8. Rationality couldn’t catch me. Logic ate my snow-dust. I was so fast and so free . . .

7. Johnny didn’t scream, but his expression did. “Run,” he said.

6. If you’re lucky, your childhood makes sense. If you’re not, you do your best to impose sense on it, heat it like a red-hot piece of iron and slam it with a hammer until it’s a shape that at the very least jibes with the future you want.

5. Other girls probably giggled, asked his name. I considered playing the part to find out how much of his concern was concern and how much was that brand of perviness unique to horrid old men. So self-awarely unfuckable that they crank their charm dials to eleven to see if this naïf will chortle and coo.

4. You tell yourself it isn’t complicated. But family is. It’s limitless love. It’s godlike power attached to someone human.

3. “Look, if all you’re saying is, ‘Well, who the fuck’re you?’ then you win, I’m nobody. But you’re winning cheap. That’s all anyone has to say is, ‘Who are you?’ And it’s over?”

2. Don’t look back, they say. What you survive stays behind you, forget it, move on. But that never works. Pretending it does just keeps the damage sitting on your shoulder, until inevitably, you become your damage.

1. If you say you love me, I’m gonna punch you in your fucking dick, I swear to God.

A gripping, surprising, and sexy thriller with a big, pounding heart, Blood Highway takes a seventeen-year-old girl on a brutal journey into adulthood on a road trip that threatens to kill her before she reaches the end.

Rainy Cain, a tough, troubled high school senior, desperately wants to escape the confines of her life in Minneapolis. When her increasingly unstable mother suddenly commits suicide, Rainy thinks she has found her chance. Instead, her father, Sam—who she had always believed died before she was born—escapes from prison and abducts her, taking her on a cross-country trek in pursuit of millions of dollars that he believes her mother had kept from a botched robbery years earlier. On their heels the whole way is a young Minneapolis detective intent on bringing Rainy safely home. It is an odyssey that will test Rainy’s considerable instincts about sanity and madness, and keep readers turning pages till the twisty end.


“A sensational hard-boiled thriller as tough and uncompromising as its main character, Rainy Cain. Don’t miss this.” —Lee Child, bestselling author of The Midnight Line

“A powerful thriller . . . This intense story can be painful to read, but it’s more than worth the ride.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“I may never be as casually badass as Gina Wohlsdorf is, but I can dream. Her prose is dazzling; her narrator—Rainy, a Minnesota high schooler—is grittier than hard-boiled true-crime-recounting cops, but also funny, and incredibly hard yet incredibly human, and still a plausible high schooler. Some readers will claim they ‘fell in love’ with her. Rainy would kick those readers in the balls.”  —Edgar Cantero, bestselling author of Meddling Kids

“Rainy’s complicated survival mechanisms, the deep schism between who she is and what people see, and the profound strangeness and violence of life with her mother make her a uniquely compelling character. She has a distinct voice and a dark, dry humor that brings much-needed relief to the extended nightmare she endures . . . The fast-paced novel maintains its intensity until the end. A memorable young protagonist already accustomed to lies and chaos finds new depths to both.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Wohlsdorf follows up her conceptually complex debut, Security, with the opposite, a minimalist thriller with a story line that is simplicity itself: a girl on the run with some bad guys . . . Impressively upsetting.” —Booklist

You can purchase Blood Highway at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you GINA WOHLSDORF for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Blood Highway by Gina Wohlsdorf.


  1. My skin looks great! This isn't always the case so it's a bit exciting. To be fair, my hair did not look great. Lol!

  2. I'm so puffy, I think i'm allergic to my cats. They sleep on my bed.

  3. "When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?" "I'm so tired!, I'm so tired!"

  4. There you are and the chin hairs are growing.