Welcome to #RavsWriters, an opportunity for you to get to know some of the outstanding human beings who fervently type to make Ravishly the awesome place it is.
Gemma Hartley — or as my dad likes to call me, Gemma Loueeeeeez (Louise is my middle name).
2. Tell us about your family, or your cats, or your elaborate paper napkin collection.
If we’re here to unload about our cats, can I just say how terrible mine is? He anger poops on furniture, has a thing for leaving half-eaten mice all around our yard, has an obnoxious cat friend who lives in our gutter, and he meows to be let in and out of the house at 3 a.m., pretty much every night. When you open the door to let him in? He runs away, then comes back once you’re comfortably in bed and ready to fall asleep. Free cat, anyone?
As for the rest of my family, I’ve got a mom, dad, little brother who is way cooler than me (he’s been a licensed pilot since he was 16), plus my own nuclear family of husband, 6-year-old, 4-year-old, 2-year-old, and 120 lb dog beast. I’m pretty fond of all of them, and it’s not lost on me how incredibly lucky that makes me.
3. When did you start writing? Why?
I think I was seven or eight. A newt peed on my grandma, and I decided this hilarious event needed to be immortalized in writing (with illustrations) and from there I proceeded to write a whole book about my adventures at my grandparents' ranch. I’ve been writing ever since (fiction, poetry, essay, you name it), and it continually blows me away that I actually get to be a writer as my grown-up job.
4. What do you like to do when you're not doing the thing you have to do?
The “thing I have to do” is usually parenting or writing, which are both jobs I’m very happy to have. When I’m not doing either of those things, I really enjoy reading. I try to make it a big priority to get through 4-6 books a month.
I like yoga and artfully planting succulents I know I’m going to kill. I bake wedding cakes from time to time. I also like sitting down with spreadsheets for freelancing, budgeting, meal planning — which is weird, I know, but I’m super into organizational work. Decluttering is another favorite. Meal prepping brings me joy. I’m a strange sort of homebody.
5. What music do you love? (Barry Manilow is an acceptable answer.)
OK, so I know this is akin to a cardinal sin, but I’m not that big into music. I have three kids. I enjoy the sound of silence. I like listening to podcasts in the car instead of CDs (are we still listening to CDs nowadays?). Whatever. I am who I am.
I will, however, drop some serious cash to go see the illustrious Britney Spears in Vegas this fall before her residency is over. I plan on wearing a crop top (stretch marks be damned), platform shoes, and SO MUCH BODY GLITTER.
6. Favorite pizza topping.
All the meats. If I’m only allowed one meat, it’d probably have to be pepperoni.
7. Favorite donut.
Chocolate Long John. I’m a woman of simple (and obviously good) tastes.
8. Last book you read.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith. When I realized she was 29 when she wrote it, I legitimately started crying, because I am 29 and OH GOD WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? I read Swing Time earlier this summer, and decided I needed to read everything she had previously published, because she is seriously masterful. If you don’t have some Zadie Smith in your life, go get some immediately.
9. What's your sign?
Cancer on the cusp of Leo. I have to meditate a lot.
10. One word to describe you.
Learning. I’m unsure any adjective will undeniably hold true for my personality 10, 20, 30 years down the line, but I know that no matter how old I get, I will always be learning, adjusting, improving. I owe a great deal of my growth and learning to the Rav family — both in what they’ve allowed me to discover about myself through my writing and how the amazing writers here have transformed the way I see and interact with the world through their diverse personal narratives. I’m a better person and writer thanks to their words.
We love you, Gemma! Want more Gemma? Check out her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and of course, writings on Ravishly!