Episode #119: Bring Your Stories to Life with Tanya Gough

By Barbara Bray

Join Barbara Bray in conversations with awesome educators, leaders, and influencers as they talk about their passion and purpose for planting seeds for change. Each podcast has a link to a related blog post with more information and resources.

Tanya Gough has been an ESL teacher, a retail store owner, a corporate digital marketer, and a freelance content strategist, intelligence researcher, and web developer. Today, she is the founder of StoryBilder, a creative writing platform for new and aspiring writers. Tanya also writes middle-grade fantasy fiction and science-infused fantasy short stories for adults. 
Where did you grow up and what it was like when you were young?
I was born in Montreal in the early days of Quebec separatism when French activists were fighting for identity and political control of the province. We were anglophones in a French environment, and I attended kindergarten in English, first grade in French, and then was put back into English immersion classes for second grade because we knew we were moving to the US for my father’s work. I was eight when we moved to the NH seacoast. It wasn’t easy; I was Canadian, danced ballet, and listened to classical music at home, not exactly the model of all things cool by blue-collar NH standards those days. 
Beyond that, it was the latchkey era, which meant that most of my friends and I were left to our own devices. I went everywhere on my own, made up plays in our barn, and built treehouses in the woods. In high school, I discovered the drama department, and, finally, a place where I belonged. After high school, I attended university at McGill in Montreal and have lived in Canada or abroad since, except for a couple of years here and there. 
It must have been difficult moving to another country learning a new language and culture. What was it like for you as a student?
It wasn’t easy. First I had difficulties in Montreal adjusting to the whole English-French-English transition in school, and figuring out significant cultural differences between the two was always confusing. Then they dropped me in NH, which might as well have been the moon at that point, with a completely different set of social requirements that took me years to figure out.Eventually, I found by learning legs and developed a passion for reading and writing. In private school, I studied latin and published some stories in the middle school magazine. English was the one place I was allowed to thrive, for the most part. I also had an aptitude for math, particularly geometry, but the math teachers weren’t receptive to female students at that time. By the time I found one who was in senior year calculus, it was too late to regain my trust. Luckily, I had a series of English teachers, all the way through high school, university, and grad school, who supported me and gave me incredible opportunities to find my own way. 
Through your experiences at school, you can tell you are an independent thinker.  Were you always an entrepreneur and an “out of the box” thinker?
Yes, I’ve always been something of an overachiever, though I hate that expression. I guess I started working when I was 9, taking on babysitting jobs, more so when I was 10. I had my first paper route by 11 and did that until I was hired by the public library as a data processor at 14. 
I’ve been working or “doing something” for as long as I can remember. I think that growing up in constantly changing environments contributed by forcing me to find ways t…