LITERARY LOCAL | Author Inspired by Her Grandmother, a Switchboard Operator In the 40s

Updated: Apr 4

GRETCHEN BERG, THE OPERATOR Chicago area author, Gretchen Berg’s maternal grandmother was a switchboard operator in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, back when it was possible for an operator to listen in on all your calls, and according to Gretchen’s mom, she did just that. “I was working in the field of Genealogy, compiling narratives for clients,” says Gretchen. “It was while researching my own family history that I was inspired to write The Operator.” The Operator is the story of Vivian Dalton, a small-town operator in 1950’s America who relishes listening into her neighbors’ phone conversations until one day when she overhears an exceptionally shocking secret – and it’s about her. As secrets are unearthed about her family she is catapulted through a maze of unexpected twists.

“I had to do a lot of research for the time period,” says Gretchen. “It was important for me to get all the details right.” Along with general research, she spent many hours watching television programs and movies from those times and was thankful to have Turner Classic Movies available for an enjoyable variety. The Operator was published by William Morrow/Harper Collins last month and can be found online and in bookstores now with an audio version coming soon.-Mindy Kyle

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