Podcast Interview: Movie Critic Gilbert Mansergh’s Marvelous Tribute to His Marvelous Mom

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Virginia Pettingill Reading

In anticipation of the official launch of Gil Mansergh’s novel, The Marvelous Journals of Miss Virginia Pettingill, on October 11th, the tables were turned on this month’s Sonoma County NPR station, KRCB-FM Word By Word: Conversations With Writers show. The host of the show is Gil himself, but this time, I was honored that he took the “writer’s chair” for questions from me about his newly released novel.

Based on stories Gil’s mother told of her childhood, The Marvelous Journals of Miss Virginia Pettingill (Harper Davis Publishers, August 2012) features the private writings of a short, bespeckled, precocious 11-year-old girl “cursed” with the ability of Sight which she must keep secret from everyone except her best friend, Tibby Bloomberg. Encouraged to be talented and “ladylike” by her suffragist mother, and a tomboy by her sportsman doctor father in 1921 Gloucester, Massachusetts, Virginia recruits Tibby and the boys from the neighborhood baseball team to use creativity, skill, determination, friendship and guts to change the things for the better in America’s busiest fishing port.

Prolific author and editor, Deborah Grabien has this to say about Miss Virginia, “This book is like stepping into a classic Saturday Evening Post cover, or a painting by Andrew Wyeth: a lost America brought to breathing life with a loving and assured hand. It’s a rare novel that manages to combine a vivid world view, an exquisite glimpse into an earlier time, and a narrative voice that’s as clear and consistent as it is engaging.”

The marvelous thing to me about “The Marvelous Journals” is that they are written by a sixty- year-old modern day male who pulls off the voice of an 11-year-old, 1920s female. In this interview from KRCB, Gil and I talk about how he managed to accomplish that.


 Gilbert Mansergh is the psychological educator internationally acclaimed for utilizing Hollywood movie clips as teaching tools. Though Miss Virginia is his debut novel, he’s also the author of over sixty non-fiction books, two syndicated film columns, and a movie blog.  I’m also proud to say that Gil is on staff for the 2013 Women’s PowerStrategy Conference. For more about Gil (and to see more photos of the original Miss Virginia and her hometown) visit his website: www.gilmansergh.com

Harlots Sauce Radio listeners in the Bay Area of San Francisco can hear Gil read from his novel, along with fellow authors Amanda McTigue ( reading from Going to Solace) Jeb Harrison (reading from HackCathy Edgett and Jane Flint (reading from Breast Strokes: Two Friends Journal Through the Unexpected Gifts of Cancer) and Susanna Solomon reading from her upcoming collection of short stories, “The Sheriff’s Calls in the Point Reyes Light” at Book Passage in Corte Madera on November 10 from 1-4 p.m. I will also be on hand to answer questions about the new world of publishing at this event, which will hopefully be helpful to fellow writers who will be on hand.  Come “meet’ Miss Virginia Pettingill, share some of her favorite tea and blueberry cake and also sample other delightful readings and treats in this day of Sojourns and Compendiums: Travel Through Literature.  Ten free copies of each title will be given away at this mini-literary festival. Hope to see you there!

Note: Many thanks to North Bay Public Media, KRCB-FM, for MP3 file of Word by Word broadcast

Virginia Pettingill 

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