Kristine Gasbarre, DuBois native and New York Times best-selling writer and ghostwriter, released her most recent co-written book “A Little Piece of Light” this past June, and is currently working on several new writing projects, while also focusing on integrating herself into the local community.
According to Gasbarre, “A Little Piece of Light” was both the most intense project she has worked on and also one of the most rewarding projects of her career, and one she considers a privilege to have been involved with.
“A Little Piece of Light” was co-authored with criminal justice advocate Donna Hylton about a childhood of abuse that indirectly led to her getting involved in a murder and kidnapping.
Hylton’s 27 years in the nation’s only maximum-security prison for women made for an intense storyline, one which Gasbarre tackled eagerly, because it allowed her to add to the current conversation about violence against women.
“We’re finally at a moment in the history of our society where that’s becoming … a very clear conversation that we’re having every day, and it’s just been so interesting to me very personally as a female to see for how long,” Gasbarre shares.
“… You know, we are looked at by so many other cultures as being a lot more advanced societally and yet there was this whole pervasive issue of how there were still many, many women being abused in ways that no one was talking about. It’s like we were just expected to accept that this was, you know, a part of our culture.”
As an author with over a decade of experience, Gasbarre was able to challenge herself and to also have her work informed by the world around her, taking on a project that would be a challenge for any writer, and serving as an “emotional surrogate,” to her co-author.
“It was a heavy project,” she shares, “but very rewarding to have been a part of work that goes out in the world and is part of this really important conversation for us women.”
With a diverse background and strong publishing skill set, Gasbarre could have chosen many different career paths.
She feels that the combination of being raised in the local rural community and also having lived in different cities across the world has given her a unique perspective.
She says it allows her to connect to the global climate and tell stories with an understanding of diverse groups, and that this background has led her where she is today.
According to Gasbarre, she has lived in cities for 15-17 years and even spent a year abroad, seeing more ethnic and economic disparities than she had seen in our local rural community, which has influenced her writing and goals.
“In this more rural environment where, for the most part, there aren’t great ethnic disparities between most of us, there aren’t huge economical disparities between most of us … we’re all pretty middle class.”
Gasbarre is aware that there is some local poverty, which she says she “never wants to minimize,” but feels that the situation is quite different from what she’s seen elsewhere.
“Even though we’re kind of on the same point on the socioeconomic spectrum, you can still look around and see that there are folks who are struggling more than others and there are some who are business leaders who are trying to help the people who are struggling ….”
She says that having lived in these different communities has been critical in developing her writing style.
“Being out in the world in much different markets really gave me an appreciation for the spectrum of human experience … and I guess what it tends to always come down to … I think the central focus of my work is our experiences as women.”
Keeping those social happenings in mind, Gasbarre is working on several new projects, including helping to tell the stories of two recognizable actresses who “have powerful personal stories” to share, and another project related to immigration, which she says already has Hollywood producer interest.
She also has ideas for personal books to come but is prioritizing projects for the time being.
“As long as a project is meaningful, I am so happy to collaborate, and sort of be the vessel, for these folks who are just not professional writers themselves, so I love partnering with them on these projects.”
Gasbarre also says she loves being back in her home community and is also looking for ways to be involved and collaborate with organizations that are helping to create community growth, and is open to bringing her perspective to the right organization or opportunity.
“There are so many extremely talented young professionals in this area, and I’m just hoping that together as a community we can harness that and make this community stronger for the future and that this region can continue to be a leader in the commonwealth.”
Gasbarre graduated from DuBois Central Catholic and maintains contact with the school, and has even had a DCC student work with her as an employee.
Because she feels fortunate to have had the opportunities she has had in the publishing industry, she tries to mentor students and young professionals, and exchanges a lot of ideas with friends who are entrepreneurs.
For those not lucky enough to have Gasbarre in their personal network, she offers up some advice.
“I would suggest for young professionals two things: I think you’re never going to be satisfied unless you are really fully challenged.
“So, embrace whatever those opportunities are. Don’t just take the job you think you can do … if it’s going to stress you a little bit and force you to grow, take advantage of it that and be willing to invest.
“If you have to work late hours or spend a little bit of extra time with your manager to really perform effectively and impressively, take advantage of those opportunities …”
She feels like working in a bigger market and taking challenging roles are the two most important things, which can be applied to professionals of any age. She attributes a big part of her success to these two ideas.
“I think that’s such a big part of why I have had some success in my career is because I forced myself to learn in a really tough environment.”
Gasbarre says even if individuals are unable to move to a big city like New York City, trying other career markets like State College, Clarion or Pittsburgh can help professionals boost their skills and gain a competitive edge.
While she definitely feels that there are extremely qualified people living locally and also returning to the area, and she is excited about the potential growth of the community, she is aware that choosing to work in a creative field in this area is not always easy.
“I never could have anticipated how much I would be sacrificing in the way of career opportunities.”
Gasbarre moved from a more competitive market to be closer to family and to find a more affordable home, and feels that there are many others doing the same.
“I did buy a home here at the lake and I love this little house so much. I just like have to hug myself every day … it’s so cozy and sweet …”
Fans of Gasbarre know from “How to Love an American Man,” that family is a huge part of her life, but what they may not know is that she may have found that one special person, and he’s even local.
“I have met a wonderful, wonderful partner this year and someone who I just respect on every level and … both in the heart and in the head, we’re totally on the same page.”
For Gasbarre, past relationships have not been easy, so she is quite happy. She’s also happy to finally have something to share with readers.
“When (How to Love an American Man) came out, I felt like I was letting readers down because I wrote that book in my late twenties, early thirties, I still hadn’t met the right person yet …”
She says as she moves into the final year of her thirties, she may be on to something.
“Only time will tell what’s around the corner with this current relationship, but I can say that relationships just get better as we mature, and that it has totally been absolutely, without a doubt, worth waiting for.”
According to Gasbarre, it was frustrating for many years, and she was unsure if she’d find someone, but she definitely encourages women to remain hopeful.
“It’s been a lot of fun … I never thought that I would meet someone local, so I want to encourage women to just continue to make the moves that your heart is telling you to make … and just take the next right step for you, and I can honestly say now that he’s out there.”
While the number one question asked of Gasbarre may be about her love life, she says she gets a ton of questions about writing, especially at this time of year, perhaps due to new year excitement.
For aspiring authors, she has two tips, get started and establish a writing routine, and find an agent.
“Sit down and start writing and know that the first work you’re going to start … it’s probably not going to be the book that ultimately you’re going to publish, but you have to start somewhere.
“People’s biggest enemy is the fact (that) it’s tough to carve out time in life to write a book, but you just have to sort of establish a period of time when you’re going to devote focus to that every single day.”
Aside from routine, she says establishing how to get a literary agent is also important, and she advises people to be aware of the publishing industry and to write a book that fits in with what is selling at the current moment.
“The advice that a lot of writers give is to read a lot of books and yes it‘s important to read because you want to develop a schema for the craft, but you should also know what’s selling in the industry.
“Your book should fit into any one of those genres or themes, that’s what published writers know that amateur writers don’t know … is that in some way their book has to be responding to what’s going on societally. It has to fit in somewhere with some major cultural trend.”