About Glenn Vanstrum



man bites book

music news



what's new
 GV at Haleiwa; H. P., photo.

Glenn Vanstrum's fiction has been published in LITnIMAGE, the Bellevue Literary Review, and THEMA. His book of nature writing, The Saltwater Wilderness (Oxford), won a San Diego Book Award. Essays of his have appeared in Sierra, California Wild, and the Los Angeles Times.

A Minnesotan by birth, Vanstrum majored in music at Grinnell College in Iowa and attended U.C.S.D. medical school. He has spent most of his life in California, where he practiced anesthesiology for decades. He now devotes himself to writing full-time. Spear-heading his own San Diego workshop, he has also attended numerous fiction workshops in Iowa City and in Brooklyn.

A professional nature photographer, he has published images in numerous venues worldwide. Magazine credits include Audubon, Sierra, Terre Sauvage, National Geographic Traveler, National Wildlife, and Discover. The photographic stock agencies Animals Animals/Earth Scenes and Custom Medical Stock Photography represent his photographs.

Vanstrum, a pianist from age five, still practices daily and performs works from the classical, romantic, and modern repertoire on a regular basis. A student of Cecil Lytle and the late Nathan Schwartz, he plays both solo and chamber pieces. His concerts are temporarily on hold due to COVID.

Vanstrum has written ten novels and three story collections. Setting plays a major role in his character-driven fiction, work that often uses nature, music, or medical themes. His novels range from drama (LET FALL THY BLADE; CERTAIN STARS SHOT MADLY) to historical fiction (YELLOWSTONE; NORTHERN LIBERTIES) to satire (S.I.C. MEMORIAL). His novel, HUMBOLDT, a story set among the Northern California redwoods, is part roman noir, part satire, and part thriller.

Currently he is polishing the novel OPUS BROOKLYN, also adapted to screenplay format with co-writer, Larry Pollack. It is the story of a young psychiatrist, who, ignoring her lecherous director, brings three musician/patients together to learn that the deeper the madness, the sweeter the melody.

The world of classical music also plays a key role in another novel in the works, OCEAN ORCHESTRA. The winner of an international piano competion agrees to perform as soloist with an orchestra crossing the Atlantic on a cruise ship packed with music lovers, but murder and espionage lead to a stormy finale.

Other novels in production include AT THE TALKING CORPSE, a sci-fi farce, and STAR MAESTRO, a space opera based on a rock 'n roll band that adds Procyon percussion to create a galactic sensibility.

The author, a lifelong surfer, has ridden waves in Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Bali. Still riding a shortboard, he wipes out with great regularity.

GSV, Vava'u, Tonga, photo: G. Ochocki


"Glenn Vanstrum is a force of nature. In addition to being a published author (The Saltwater Wilderness, Oxford University Press, 2003), he is a concert pianist (and regularly performs complex pieces by Beethoven and Mozart in public venues near his home in San Diego), a highly regarded medical doctor, an accomplished surfer, an underwater photographer who has worked around the world, and a dedicated husband and father. Somehow, in this incredibly busy life, he continually produces exemplary works of fiction and non-fiction.

I've known Glenn for fifteen years. In that time, I had read every single one of his books, and they are uniformly excellent. His fiction is distinguished by fast-paced plots, fascinating characters, amazingly realistic dialogue, and passages of great strength and beauty. His innovative treatment (in Northern Liberties) of Thomas Eakins' painting 'The Gross Clinic' was absolutely brilliant, and his collection of animal stories is par excellence - certainly in the league with such notables as Roger Caras and Ernest Thompson Seton...Glenn Vanstrum is a powerful, disciplined master of the idiom.

His non-fiction, best exemplified in the essays of The Saltwater Wilderness, reflects his love for the sea and dedication to the conservation of oceanic resources. In summary, any book by Glenn Vanstrum is worth reading and owning, and I enthusiastically encourage all those who value contemporary literature to explore the corpus - now available on-line in e-books - of this gifted American author. "

--John A. Murray, senior editor, The Bloomsbury Review (1987-present); founding editor, the Sierra Club American Nature Writing annual (1994-2005); former director, graduate program in professional writing, University of Alaska; author of 42 books; recipient of Southwest Book Award and Colorado Book Award.