Spotlight on Marie Gilbert

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I recently had the pleasure of interviewing South Jersey author Marie Gilbert. A steampunk and zombie enthusiast, Marie has written a book called Roof Oasis.

 Loretta:  You have a blog with quite a following. How did you get started blogging?

 Marie:  While working at the Academy of Natural Sciences, I had never blogged, but I was following blogs. After I joined the South Jersey Writers’ Group, Amy Hollinger, president of the group, and Krista Magrowski, vice president of the group had suggested that I put all my funny family stories on a blog. Amy helped me set it up and over time, Glenn Walker, helped me maneuver my way through all the blog functions on blogspot.com.  I began to write about my road trips with family and friends, about attending Steampunk events, and of course, my ghost investigations.

I learned through the comments that were posted on my blog that people were very interested in what I was doing on these weekly adventures. I had people following me from England, China and Canada following some of my blogs depending on what my posts covered in that particular blog.

When I began to blog about my becoming a member of the Zombie Squad, I think I really hit on something that was important to people; zombies and survival. I noticed that the posts where I talked about my love for Steampunk and ghost investigations brought in the most visitors to my site. But, it wasn’t until I began my weekly episodes of Life with Fred & Lucy that the number of followers to my site grew the most. I try to do a bit of everything on my blog including interviews of local entrepreneurs and Independent Film directors, producers and actors. I love interviewing people. You can learn so much about a person and their dreams by just asking, “Tell me a little bit about you and what you do.”

I have made many good friends over the years through my blogs and I hope to make many more.

 Loretta: Your many interests include steampunk and zombies. How did that come about?

 Marie: My love of Steampunk was due to my granddaughter Allie Gilbert. She was attending Moore College of Art and Design at the same time that I was working at the Academy of Natural Sciences. One day after work, she asked me to accompany her to a big event in Center City. She dressed me up in one of her Victorian outfits and off we went to Dorian’s Parlor with me looking like Jane Eyre. It was love at first sight. I loved the people, the outfits, the entertainment that Dorian’s offered and I was hooked. This blog post for Biff Bam Pop, explains it best. http://biffbampop.com/2013/01/01/enter-2013-with-biff-bam-pops-steampunk-granny/

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As for zombies, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the shuffling dead ever since I watched “Night of the Living Dead” at a drive-in theatre in 1968. I, the lover of everything horror, was hooked. Scared to death, but hooked into learning everything I could about the walking dead. I posted how I became a member of the Zombie Squad for Biff Bam Pop http://biffbampop.com/2012/12/17/be-prepared-marie-g-on-zombies-and-the-zombie-squad/  and this leads to your next question.

 Loretta:  What inspired you to write Roof Oasis?

Marie:  Roof Oasis happened because of events that were and or going on now. I mentioned this on Kevin’s interview but I’ll share it here, too. There are things being put in our food and no one is stopping this. We don’t know the long term damages that hormones, antibiotics and the use of GMO’s have on us. There is an old saying, “You are what you eat.” I believe in this. We are only as healthy as the food we eat.  What also bothered me was how easily people are willing to let others think for them. They believe what the news tells them even when they know it’s a lie. We should do our own investigation of stories to make sure we’re not being fed an unhealthy dose of bullshit. Excuse my language. So that was my mind set a few months after retiring. I began working on and completed a novel called Beware the Harvesters, but something happened on the way to getting this novel published. The secondary characters began to take over the story, fighting for their rightful place in my imagination and on the page. Roof Oasis was my way of satisfying one of my character’s demands to tell her story her way. Alas, this character still holds reign over my story. Book two of my apocalyptic series, Saving Solanda, will be out this summer, followed by two more books.

 Loretta: What can we look forward to from Marie Gilbert in the future?

Marie:  What are my plans for the future? Well, I’ve been sending NASA notes telling them that I would like to volunteer for the first manned mission to mars, but they haven’t replied as of yet. I hope to have book two of the Roof Oasis series done this summer. My editor, Patti O’Brien loved the first part that I had sent her. I’ll be working on book three after Saving Solanda is published. I have my Life with Fred & Lucy that I hope to also get published the next year. Right now, I’m doing something brand new and that is screen writing. I was asked by an Independent Film Director, Christopher Eilenstine, to be one of his writers for a new film called Shadows of the Forest. You can find the information here: https://www.facebook.com/shadowsoftheforest/info?tab=page_info

I’m also looking forward to doing more private ghost investigations, so if anyone out there thinks they have a ghost, contact me. http://gilbertcuriosities.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html

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First and most important, I’m a grandmother to nine talented and amazing grandchildren. I want to spend my life taking them on all kinds of adventures. I’m very proud of all of them and I’d like to think I’ve influenced them somewhat. My advice to them has always been: think outside the box, live your dream, be a person of honor, and last but most important, don’t ever let anyone clip your wings. I guess this advice would also be useful for any upcoming authors out there.

 Loretta: Thank you, Marie, for taking the time to chat.

You can follow Marie’s adventures on her blog Gilbert Curiosities

For more interviews with Marie Gilbert, please see:

Marvelous Marie Gilbert by Dawn Byrne

In the Hot Seat:  Marie Gilbert by Kevin Stephany

Who’s That Girl? It’s Madonna

My first concert was not my first rock concert. Before I listened to rock/metal and watched Headbangers Ball, there was Madonna. She was shiny and new when she writhed her way onto the music scene in the early 80’s. She was something never before seen, always unique, and sometimes controversial. I loved her and so did plenty of girls my age. Parents were horrified, but just like parental advisory stickers on albums, that just added to her appeal.

My big brother surprised me with the greatest gift ever for my Madonna-esque wardrobe. I received a replica of the iconic jacket worn by both Madonna and Rosanna Arquette in 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan. Do you remember this movie? Of course not. No one does. My jacket wasn’t sparkly black/gold/green, but it was black with gold and black trim and, like the original, it rocked the giant pyramid on the back. In hindsight it was hideous, but I loved it.

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My brother would score another hit with his little sister when he took me to my very first concert at age 13. He was taking his then girlfriend to see Madonna and I got to tag along.

It was July 11, 1987 at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was Madonna’s second tour, but her first world tour. It was the Who’s That Girl World Tour, referring to a box office bomb no one saw.

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Veteran’s Stadium seemed gigantic to me. We had nosebleed seats, and the people on the floor looked like ants. I remember my brother pointing out the stumbling drunk people so I could have a laugh. The passage of time has eroded most of my concert memories. I’m sure I loved the show as much as my pyramid jacket. I may have bought a tour book and/or tee shirt.

One thing I do remember is the opening act. It was Level 42, a British group. The singer had a leg cast and was sitting during their set.

My infatuation with Madonna ended with her True Blue album. I discovered I preferred long-haired men in spandex singing about things dark and disturbing over a scantily-clad pop princess. Although I have been to several hard rock and heavy metal shows over the years, I still have a soft spot for my first concert with Madonna.

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Nativity in Black (Clouds)

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It was June 9, 1989 when I saw Black Sabbath at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. This was the Headless Cross tour, the group consisting of Tony Iommi (the only original member), Tony Martin, Neil Murray, Cozy Powell, and Geoff Nichols. The opening bands were Silent Rage and Kingdom Come, who were given the unflattering moniker of Kingdom Clone because music fans thought their sound resembled Led Zeppelin a little too much.

I was 15 years old and accompanied by my big brother who would have been 27. The group had trouble with their sound system, and the weather outside could be heard over everything. The show continued with no power outages and I experienced my first rock concert. I was also treated to my first bad case of what I call concert ear, where everything sounds underwater when you leave the event. I became a huge fan of ear plugs after a handful of loud shows.

The following day’s newspaper confirmed what we had seen but not mentioned. On the way to the venue, the sky filled with ominous black clouds, we spotted a funnel cloud. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the car who saw it, but no one acknowledged it. It didn’t seem real. A rare tornado touched down in nearby Camden County, contributing to the faulty sound system the night before. My brother and I would see the original Black Sabbath lineup in 1999, but that time we were free from tornadoes.

What was your first rock concert?

Krampuslauf Philadelphia 2014

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I attended my first Krampuslauf in December of last year. I discovered the event through a link on krampus.com when I was researching more about the character.

So, who or what is Krampus? If Santa brings presents to the nice kids, what happens to the naughty kids? That’s where Krampus comes in. He accompanies Santa to swat the bad kids with branches and chains before shoving them into his basket and taking them away. Consider him the Christmas devil, as that is how he is depicted.

Krampus

Krampus

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Liberty Lands Park in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. Some people were plainly-dressed spectators, while others wore elaborate costumes. There were several variations of Krampus, not to mention creatures you might find in a mythical land. A bonfire was lit to warm the crowd before the parade commenced. After a short invocation and carol, the crowd assembled into a line and left the park.

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The parade was open to anyone who wished to participate. Even though I was only there to watch, I fell in line to experience the parade. It was quite a spectacle, as onlookers gawked at the scene through store windows. One establishment handed cups of hot cider to grateful participants along the parade route.

Moon Lantern

Moon Lantern

After our short walk, we returned to the park to enjoy bread and more apple cider by the fire. Everyone I met was warm, inviting, and happy to have their picture taken. I plan to participate next year, except I will be better dressed for the occasion. I already have sleigh bells to shake in 2015’s parade.

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