Authors In The Media With Gina DeMillo Wagner

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Authors In The Media Q&A With Gina DeMillo Wagner 

I recently did a Q&A with Gina DeMillo Wagner who is the author of the upcoming memoir Forces Of Nature coming out on May 14th. In this edition of Authors In The Media, we will go in more depth to discuss Gina’s journalism career. Gina’s work has appeared in many publications some of which are The New York Times, The Washington Post, Memoir Magazine, Modern Loss, Self, Outside, & CRAFT Literary. 

Q: Gina, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself & why you chose a career in journalism? How long have you been a journalist for? 

A: I’ve been a journalist for a little over 20 years. I started out as an undergrad studying wildlife biology, thinking I could find a job that would allow me to travel and work in nature. Writing was just a hobby. But then several of my professors commented on my writing abilities, and I started to wonder if I could make a career of it. I went back to school and earned a master’s in journalism and loved it. My first job was as an editor for Backpacker Magazine. So in the end, I found a way to combine two of my greatest passions – the outdoors and writing. 

Q: What is your favorite & least favorite part about being a journalist & why?

A: My favorite part is that it’s taught me to be curious and investigate things. I’m always searching for the question beneath the question. I love dissecting a topic or analyzing a phenomenon and talking with experts. And as I’ve branched out into personal essay and memoir writing, journalism also taught me to think critically and to interrogate myself. 

My least favorite part of being a journalist is watching trustworthy news outlets, especially local newspapers, shut down in recent years. Newspapers have traditionally been the watchdogs of society, and without them (and the rigorous reporting and fact-checking they provide), people are more susceptible to false news. Social media is not an adequate substitute for investigative journalism. 

Q: I know briefly in Forces Of Nature, you briefly mentioned that you spent some years at one college & then went to graduate school for your journalism degree. What was that like? 

A: I spent four years at college earning a bachelor’s degree and then I took a year to work, and then went back for my master’s in journalism. It was a great path, and I really loved it. I was fortunate to have scholarships for my undergraduate degree, which also made pursuing graduate school easier. I was able to work as a graduate assistant teaching a couple of classes, and I also freelanced as a newspaper reporter. So, I acquired all this real-world experience alongside my education and finished grad school with minimal student loans. 

Q:  When I asked you in the Q&A about anyone submitting their work to the publications you write for, your advice was to tailor their work to the publication they want to write for & to keep persisting & not letting rejection discourage them. If you were to submit this Q&A to a publication you write for, which one would you submit it to? 

A: I like that this Q&A is tailored for your audience, actually. Book blogs and book review sites and Substack publications are filling an important need right now – for book insights and recommendations, but also for connection. I love publications that connect readers to authors and inspire important conversations like this. I wouldn’t submit it anywhere else. 

Q: What important lessons do you hope aspiring journalists learn when pursuing their career?

A: There are many, many, many paths to success. It’s tempting to focus on a high GPA, attending a prestigious school, or landing a competitive internship. But the best journalists I’ve worked with don’t necessarily have those accolades. They’re smart and resourceful and persistent and just wonderful people to work with. I think your character and attitude are better predictors of success. The other lesson I’ve learned is to build meaningful relationships and support other journalists. It comes back around. 

Q: I know right now you are going to stick to writing nonfiction books, one of them being a series of nature essays and for fiction a touch of magical realism with loosely autobiographical bits. Would you ever someday write a memoir focusing on your journalism career?

A: That’s an interesting idea. Maybe. There are some unique stories to tell about working at magazines in the early aughts – especially outdoors and travel magazines, where I worked. There was a lot of excitement and big budgets to tell stories back then. People still lingered at newsstands, read cover lines, and subscribed to multiple magazines. I miss reading magazines on airplanes and often wonder what we’ve lost now that we consume most of our stories on a screen. 

Gina DeMillo Wagner is the author of FORCES OF NATURE, (May 14, 2024; Running Wild Press).Her writing has been featured in The New York TimesThe Washington PostMemoir Magazine, Modern Loss, SelfOutside, CRAFT Literary, and other publications. She has been honored with a 2024 Yaddo residency and is a winner of the CRAFT Creative Nonfiction Award, and her memoir was longlisted for the 2022 SFWP Literary prize. Gina has a master’s degree in journalism and is cofounder of Watershed creative writing and art workshops. She lives and works near Boulder, Colorado. You can visit her online at


Here is a link to a sample from the book

Gina De Millo Wagner’s brother Alan had a rare genetic disorder that caused him to veer from loving to violent. When Alan died suddenly, Gina was pulled away from the safety of her adult life and thrust back into a family she had been estranged from for nearly ten years. FORCES OF NATURE follows this rewinding of the past, exploring Gina’s caregiving journey and reckoning with complicated grief, plus Alan’s Christmas-themed funeral, and an investigation into his cause of death. It’s a personal story that asks universal questions: How much of ourselves should we sacrifice to those we love? And, what forces shape our sense of family and home?