An Interview with Mignon Fogarty

Hello and welcome to the next author interview of 2021! This is the third year for the Five Question Interview series here on (to read past interviews, click here). Today’s spotlight is on author and Grammar Girl herself, Mignon Fogarty! Let’s dive in.

When did you become interested in writing nonfiction? And, of course, when did the concept for #GrammarGirl came about?

I got into journalism in high school and was the editor-in-chief of my high school paper. I then went on to work at college newspapers and at my hometown newspaper, so I’ve been writing to convey information for a long time. I got back into it after getting a graduate degree in biology and joining internet startups during the dotcom days to run content at health sites, and I eventually ended up as a freelance science and technology writer and editor before becoming Grammar Girl.

When you’re on any form of social media, do you have trouble “turning the grammar off?” Do you always want to correct, say, people’s Tweets or Facebook posts?

Not at all!

If you had time to write anything other than non-fiction, what genre would that be? What are your favorite genres to read?

I’d love to write stories that take place in libraries and involve secrets in old books. The genre isn’t as important. It could be fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, or thriller. I enjoy all those genres. Just make it about libraries and books! (But I guess if I were actually going to do it, I’d have to decide.)

What books on craft do you recommend to beginner writers?

It depends on what kind of advice they need. I often recommended Zachary Petit’s book “The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing” to graduate students when I taught journalism during a stint as a professor. For fiction writers, I recommend anything by Lisa Cron. “Wired for Story” is a good place to start.

Now here’s a question that could possibly cause a rumble: do you believe in “writer’s block?” Do you think it’s actually “a thing” or merely a figment?

Writers definitely experience times when it’s harder to write, but I’m not sure I’d call it “writer’s block.” For me, at least, it’s called “lack of sufficient motivation.” I can’t write anything without a deadline.

And now for a bit of fun! Answer with the first thing that comes to mind with these Either/Or questions:

Sunrise or Golden Hour: Golden Hour
Romance or Anime: Romance
Bubble Tea or Milk Tea: Bubble Tea
Hot Tub or Jacuzzi: Hot Tub
Snow or Sand: Sand
Post-It Notes or Index Cards: Post-It Notes
Wide-Ruled or College-Ruled: Wide-Ruled
Tech Grammar or Novel Grammar: Novel Grammar
Breakfast or Dinner: Breakfast
Organization or Organized Chaos: Organized Chaos

Many thanks once again to Mignon Fogarty for her Five Question Interview! I’m really looking forward to meeting more of you through Spring 2021. Check back next week, Wednesday, April 28th to meet author Jack Barnett.

Photo Credit: David Calvert

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ABOUT Mignon

Mignon Fogarty is better known as Grammar Girl — five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards, an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network.

She is the author of seven books about language, including the New York Times bestseller, Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. She has been featured in the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, and more, and has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.