NYBF: What’s harder, acting, music or writing?
MDG: I guess writing is the hardest for various reasons. It’s the one that I enjoy the most, whether it’s lyrics or a narrative. I think that I have that writing gene in me that is stronger than the other ones. Writing is hard because it’s hard to find the psychological space when you have all these things pushing and pulling at you. My problem has never been what to write about – I have so many ideas – but the hardest thing is finding the time. So that’s a big struggle for me. I wish I was one of those writers who sit down every day at the same time. But every time that I block out, I have an audition for something, and so I go, okay, I gotta go deal with that. That’s the nuts of bolts of paying my mortgage.
NYBF: How long was the idea for your novel germinating?
MDG: I’ve been writing since I was in grade school. I never thought of myself as a writer, because my brother was always the writer. He’s a brilliant academic, a 16th century poetry professor in Stanford. I always felt that writing was what Roland does, and I don’t do that. Looking back, I was always writing stories and one-act plays and screenplays or short stories. I just never claimed that title for myself.
NYBF: What finally motivated you to attempt a novel?
MDG: I just had this idea for this book. I was intimidated to write a novel, because I thought, “How would I put that story together? Isn’t that hard? How will I string a narrative?” Then my manager had a meeting with a book agent and said, “I have a client who has an interesting idea,” and the agent said, “I can sell that.” So you have to write three chapters and a proposal, and so I sat down and started doing it. Once I started, I loved it and it was not as hard as I thought it would be. The actual writing didn’t take as long as it could have. I’ve had the idea for about three and a half years. The great thing about writing is that once you get in the groove, the story is all you’re thinking about. I realize that moment in chapter six should be this, instead of that.
When I finished it, I remember standing in my house, saying, “I’ve written a book!”
NYBF: What lessons have your other careers in acting and music taught you about writing?
MDG: Not to wait for things to happen, to seize the reins. For the music thing – they’re a small label and function like a label, and I was so thrilled to be signed to him. But their marketing plan was really ineffective. And I was scared to leave, because I felt that I need a label. But the universe was testing me to see how (I) believed and how committed I was to the project. Are you willing to go it alone? When you give people a forum to tell their story their way without having these controls and firewalls, I think that people are incredibly empowered and can tell stories that are visceral and provocative and can see different points of view. As an artist, you have to walk a fine line and strike a balance. We can all be incredible artists in our bedrooms, but when we want to go out in the world, there are certain things you have to bow and make concessions to. When you go the indie route, you do fewer of them.
NYBF: How does it feel to be considered a novelist?
MDG: My bar is pretty high, so I don’t necessarily think of myself as a novelist. I think I’m a good writer and I have other ideas about adult fiction novels. But I don’t think of myself in that rarified way. I’m just happy and proud that I did it.