We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Gale and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kate, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When I was 18, I left the cult where I had grown up. I had two dollars, a sleeping bag, and a dog on a bailing twine string. That risk prepared me for a life where risk equalled great adventure as well as the possibility of being in the dark for a while. Starting a non profit literary press in Los Angeles at thirty when I was single with two kids, a boy friend who also had two kids and literally nothing was another risk. We lived on rice for years and went camping with our kids so the press could survive.

It was many years before anyone in the literary world noticed how hard we were working. Now we have been publishing for twenty-seven years and we are turning that risk taking into strategic planning, and that feels risky too. Like writing wedding vows. How do you make a plan for what was once magic in the sky? But it’s good to grow up and have structure. We have ten staff and we want the press to live beyond us, so we are shifting, but ah the risk was great. I dreamed for years of jumping off cliffs with no bottom.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a writer, and being a woman writer who runs a press is complicated. For one thing I don’t have many second readers, and they are so valuable for a writer. But I make it work.

I am very proud of the two projects I have now. Stoning Circle is coming out next spring from the University of New Mexico. It took me seven years to write, seven years of being down in the well of grief and then I emerged with these poems about shame and darkness, but I can’t wait to go on tour with them next year and spread kindness.

I am also finishing a memoir about the cult where I grew up called, ON THE EIGHTH DAY. The idea you carry away from reading this is that if there is someone in your life telling you that you’re nothing and that you should be ashamed of yourself, you can walk away from that voice, and be a hero in your own life. I did. Find your own new story and write it in the sky.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take my best friend to Zuma Beach first so we could see the ocean. We would spend the day there and come home and my husband and I would make them sushi at our house. Then I would take them to see fireworks and music at the Hollywood Bowl and we’d have a picnic there, maybe Nina Simone music. Then we would go to Book Soup and hang out at the bookstore for a while and then we would go to Venice Beach and walk around and get lunch. We would spend one day at the Huntington and look at the art and the gardens and one day at the Getty where we’d have lunch looking over the ocean. Then, we’d drive to San Francisco and we would go flying in my friend’s Cessna and we would go out on the boats at Golden Gate Park and go to the DeYoung Museum. While we were there, we’d go to Chinatown and have great Chinese food and go to North Beach for Italian food. Then home, and at the end of our week, we’d go to Los Toros for Mexican food. The whole week we’d be listening to P.J. Harvey and Lou Reed and Nick Cave in our car along with Tom Waits. It would be grunge cool. We would take my dog Finn to the ocean. He’d chase the ball and we’d feel like we were going to live forever.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I love this part because yes, we are all part of the dance, and I always encourage my maker/creative friends to have literary stakeholder in their lives, so here’s to the people who believe in me and the work I do in the world. Francesca Bell, you always believe I can be my best self and that my writing will find its home in the world. Thank you for holding out the jar of jam to me and saying, “Live your best life, put it on toast,” and encouraging me to walk with grace in the world. Peggy Shumaker, you have known me since I was in my twenties and you believed in me then as a poet and as a human being. I hope I’ve made you proud. Running a literary press in Los Angeles is really hard, and what has made it possible has been Tobi Harper, my daughter, the editor of Quill, a queer imprint of Red Hen. Tobi is always moving toward the light. My son Stephen has always believed in me and most of all, my husband Mark who puts up with the wild energy it takes to keep the writing and the press and the joy afloat. Mark, you deserve a shoutout and some champagne.

Website: www.redhen.org

Instagram: drkategale

Linkedin: Kate Gale

Facebook: Kate Gale

Other: kategale.com

Image Credits
Alfred Haymond

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