Ann Gimpel is an avid backcountry hiker. She has scaled the majority of Colorado’s fourteeners, and tromped up and over 115 Sierra Nevada peaks.
That’s a lot of hiking time. Time when stories have whipped around in her head, especially on the long treks she and her husband Bob and their three wolf-hybrid dogs have taken throughout the West. But it wasn’t until 2008 that she wrote one down.
“Labor Day 2008 I climbed Bear Creek Spire, then afterwards, I did something different: I sat down at the computer and three and a half months later I had a 550-page novel.”
Since that time she’s written, and had published, nearly one million words. That enormous number breaks down into six urban fantasy novels and 12 paranormal romance novels, not to mention a slew of short stories.
Long days and nights spent in the silent wilderness would seem to be the perfect launching ground into paranormal land; indeed, Gimpel shares the backcountry with dragons and shape shifters in futuristic worlds and parallel universes.
She crafts her stories with deftness and speed, turning out words like a wood chipper. “I write a minimum of one chapter a day — 3000-3500 words,” she said. “That takes two hours, although I can write up to 6000 words in a day when I get lost in a story.” She can write a 50,000-word novel in just under three weeks, including two rounds of editing.
Her first novel was “Psyche’s Prophecy,” published in February 2011 by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. It is a futuristic urban fantasy that takes place in Seattle, Gimpel’s hometown, whose protagonist is a psychic psychologist. There followed two more books in the Transformation Series, “Psyche’s Search” (August 2011) and “Psyche’s Promise” (2012).
This trinity of books is about a woman’s true spirit when faced with disaster. Lara McInnis and her husband Trevor escape from a crumbling society in the near future to find themselves stranded in a land ruled by Sidhe magic (the Sidhe are immortals or full-sized fairies who live in Celtic mythology). The magic has a bite to it, though, just like the Sidhe who are nothing like what they seem, says the blurb on this book at Amazon.com.
Many of Gimpel’s stories involve a female protagonist who has not explored her magical powers and goes through many changes as she is pulled to explore her nature, whether the story takes place in the Bolivian Andes, the north fork of Big Pine Creek or Scotland. She is almost always a feisty, independent, gutsy dame who questions authority on all fronts, often to the point of extreme danger.
“No doormats,” Gimpel said. “I had to teach myself to write ‘larger than life.’ No one is interested in reading about ‘normal’ these days … and nice is overrated.”
Her biggest seller has been “A Time for Everything,” a paranormal romance in which a rich, spoiled and disgruntled heiress wanders into the past in Inverness, Scotland. There she and a strong, sexy Scottish lord are drawn together by a determined ghost whose love and magic reach beyond the grave.
When Mono County hired her in 2001, Ann Gimpel leaped at the opportunity to live in the mountains, closer to her passion for the outdoors.
“It was a lifestyle choice,” she said of the decision to leave a lucrative job in Sacramento and move to the Eastern Sierra. “I always had a rich life outside my work life — mountaineering, backpacking, skiing, hiking, baking and crafts.”
She retired from her government job in 2012, but it doesn’t look like she has slowed down at all.
“In a lot of ways,” she said in one of many online interviews she does to promote her books, “writing isn’t so different from being a psychologist.” Throughout her practice, both public and private, Gimpel has observed myriad shades of personalities. She uses that training to explore psychological idiosyncrasies through her characters.
According to the reviews of her books posted on Amazon.com and in the blogosphere, readers love three things about her books: that her characters feel incredibly real; that the settings are rich; and that the result of her world-building takes them someplace where they could actually see themselves.
Gimpel can tell a whale (or should I say dragon) of a story. The psychologist in her digs below the conscious mind, below the tip of the iceberg, because that’s where she finds all the interesting stuff. She writes the kinds of books that kick off galloping on page one and don’t slow down until they land, exhausted in a pile at the last page. Talk about page turners. With a skillful wand she mixes adventure, emotion, romance, and a measure of sex, so that the reader is breathless at the end, as well.
In a time when publishers are downright shy about committing to writers, Gimpel has been successful in finding publishers who like her work. In addition to Gypsy Shadow Publishing, her works have been delivered to the marketplace by Musa Press, Taliesin and Liquid Silver Books, publisher of her paranormal romances. Her most recent book, “To Love a Highland Dragon,” is a romantic romp with time travelers, dragons and handsome shifters. “Noreen’s Choice,” a paranormal romance set in 1936 Canada, will be published on Nov. 4. For more information, go to www.anngimpel.com