Author Interview #2 – Hope Ann

After a busy week of getting my foot in the door in my new position at work, it’s nice to be able to sit down and look over author profiles. I stumbled across Hope Ann on Twitter a few weeks back, and since I’m a lover of fairy re-tellings, I was happy to find her! I plan on downloading her book after this, and hope to be able to do a review (after I’m done with the five other books I’m reading right now *sigh*)

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Q. You have quite a few books under your belt, and it looks like you have a couple more in the makings. What are you currently working on and do you have a deadline for it to be done? 

A. I have three main projects in the works right now… I have a slight problem sticking with one thing at a time. The most important wip is my third Legends of Light novella, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. It’s progressing well and I hope to have it published in March 2017. The second major project is Fidelyon, which is a full-length fantasy novel and is in the editing stage. I’m hoping to have it read for submission to a traditional publishing house by the end of this year, or spring at the latest. The final project is Scarlet Rose, the first book of a futuristic trilogy. I’m hoping to complete a readable draft of that novel by the end of 2016.

Q. You’re very active with your caption challenges, flash fiction, and just generally being engaged with your readers/other writers. Which writing community games and challenges are your favorites?

A. My favorite challenge is the weekly six-word-story I do on my blog every week. I can’t enter them myself, but it’s so much fun to see all the different thoughts people can encase in just six words.

Q. In your book, Fidelyon, how are you most like your antagonist(s), and least like your protagonist(s)?

A. Ooo…let me think. I’m probably most like my antagonist in his stubbornness to get done what he’s determined to get done, no matter what. I am least like my protagonist in his insecurity and fear of failure.

Q. Which author, if any, inspired you to be a writer? 

A. It was more a lack of authors and books which inspired me to write than otherwise. I couldn’t find the kinds of books I wanted to read, so I slowly came to the realization that I’d need to write them. I have found more Christian fantasy in recent years, and draw inspiration from a number of favorite authors, like J. R. R. Tolkien and Gillian Bronte Adams. Now I write because I’ve so many story ideas in my head and they simply must be written.

51f90vdsxql-_sy346_Q. You’ve put out two books in your “Legends of Light” series, both retellings of fairy tales, with the first one free. What made you decide to take this route? 

A. The idea behind having my first novella free is that people can sample my writing with no risk to themselves. Then, if they like the novella, they can go on to buy my other works. I will also, eventually, be offering a free story at the beginning and end of my free novella to anyone who signs up for my email list, making it even more of a marketing tool than it now is. You can check out my free retelling of Beauty and the Beast here.

Q. I notice you’re very open about your religion. Do you find this is something that readers respond to, either positively and/or negatively?

A. I have got some positive feedback from other Christian readers and writers about my openness when it comes to my religion. So far, I’ve not got negative feedback, though I’m sure that will come eventually. But my religion is not part of my marketing. My reason for writing is to inspire others and so, while I at no time try to be pushy or preachy about Christianity, I am also very upfront about who I am and what I am offering in my stories and on my blog.

Q. You say on your blog that you like making movies. Would you be interested in doing screen plays in the future? 

A. Not really. It’s been fun to make some small movies with siblings, and I’d love for some of my own books to be made into movies, but at this point I’ve not much interest in trying to write a screen play.

Q. I’m a huge fan of learning about other writer’s “writing rituals”, little things you do before and during your writing process. Do you have a writing ritual, and if so, what’s the first thing you do before you sit down to write?

A. Put on music…either YouTube music on the computer, or other music in my headphones. I write better when there is some music going on, and it helps block out background noise from the house in general.

Q. You have eight siblings that you help home school. Do you find this cuts into your writing time, or do you think it helps come up with more ideas to write?

A. Homeschooling itself doesn’t cut into my writing, because I schedule it into my day. Have eight younger siblings who like to chatter or need help certainly does cut into ‘my’ time. Learning how to balance time spent writing and time spent with family is something I still struggle with, but I’d not trade them for a silent still house despite the frequent disruptions. And, occasionally, I do get some ideas from a few of my siblings which are then jotted down in my idea profiles.

 

Q. If Fidelyon were to be picked up as a movie, what country would you want it filmed in?

A. New Zealand! Especially if that meant I could go there and visit the sets.

Q. What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on so far? 

A. Scarlet Rose. Perhaps because the main character is quite a bit like me, or perhaps because many of the plot lines are closely connected with imagined scenes in my own head. Whatever the case, it has been so much fun to write.

Q. As with a lot of writers, family plays a part in their lives, for good and for bad. Who in your family has been the biggest influence in your writing life?

A. Probably my father, who has constantly encouraged me in my writing (even while occasionally pointing out that a certain scene is very ‘movie-like’ and not quite realistic). He reads all my writing when I get it in a readable enough condition to reveal it, and takes interest when I talk about plots even when he must have no idea about the half of what I’m saying.

Q. Octavia Butler once said that the most important trait to have as a writer is persistence. What keeps you going even when you feel like throwing in the towel?

A. I know the downs won’t last. There are always moments…sometimes many moments, when a work feels like it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done, and that I’ll never get it right. But I know the feeling won’t last. I know that the end result will be worth the work once I’ve muddled my way through my corrections. And so I keep on, no matter whether I feel like writing or not.

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Want to know more about Hope Ann? Check her out below! 

Pinterest: Writing in the Light Publishing
Twitter: Authorhopeann
Facebook: Hope Ann
Website: Writing in the Light Publishing
Blog: AuthorHopeAnn.com
Amazon: Hope Ann
Youtube: Hope Ann
Instagram: author.hope.ann

Original interview done in October 2016

Book Review – The Good Daughter

I’m going to be completely honest here. Women’s Fiction isn’t a genre I dive into very often, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve never read Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, or even Alexandra Burt’s first book Remember Mia

All that being said, I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed The Good Daughter.

 I’ll try to stay as spoiler free as possible, as each page turning chapter really should be left for the reader to enjoy

The Good Daughter takes you to the small town of Aurora, Texas, where Dahlia Whaler is on the hunt to discover who she is and what happened in her past. Right off the bat, I was captivated by Burt’s knowledge of Texas. She leaves you with the feeling of dust in your mouth and sun on your skin, where the summers are too hot for too long. It’s the perfect setting for missing women, murder, and a little bit of American folk magic.

It’s in Aurora that Dahlia tries to make sense of the images of her childhood. Pictures filled with a half mad mother, Memphis, stuffy cars, and run down “no-tell-motels”. With her mother’s mental health slipping, Dahlia’s starting to find cracks in her own foundation, leaving her to ask, is she going crazy, too? While she’s trying to come to terms with this possibility, there are point of view switches from her to Memphis, and two women from the past. Quinn, a woman in a loveless marriage, and Aella, someone who could easily be described as a back wood, Texas conjurer. 

Where I think the book really shined was during Aella’s story. Everything about this character left me wanting more, and I would love to read a book about just her. Burt knows her folklore and Aella’s, for lack of a better term, magic is dark, gritty and is reminiscent of what you’d find in a Southern Gothic horror.

The chapters with Aella and Quinn interacting were by far the most enjoyable and made Quinn the second most likely character to steal the show. Quinn’s desperation and Aella’s strong will made for well crafted scenes with dialogue that’ll make you question who really controls the world. Fate, God, or something darker?

I do wonder if Burt enjoyed writing her third person perspectives more so than Dahlia’s first person? Reading about Quinn’s life, Aella’s private workings, or even Memphis’ mental instabilities had smoother transitions and tended to read clearer. That being said, Dahlia’s unreliable narrative did keep me guessing for most of the book. 

The relationship between Memphis and Dahlia was another part of this book that I think a lot of readers will enjoy. Not every mother daughter relationship is sunshine and roses, and sometimes the child has to be more of the parent. Burt captures the strange dynamics between the two and anyone who’s been in Dahlia’s shoes will be able to relate.

I also appreciate the parallels between the drama in Dahlia’s life, and her hunt for who she is. Dahlia’s past is interwoven with a search for the identity of a Jane Doe, the struggle with a sad excuse for a dog, and an array of missing women that Dahlia finds herself in the middle of. Each side story and subplot ties into Dahlia’s life, and if you overlook them, you’ll be missing a major part of the book.

My only wish was that the ending hadn’t felt so rushed. Just as the book hit it’s climax, it ended. I was left with a “that’s it?” feeling, in spite of how much I liked how some of the characters’ stories were wrapped up. The suspense that held you throughout the novel slowly loses steam, and I wanted more. That being said, I’ll definitely be giving The Good Daughter another read, and have already shared my copy with a few other friends.

In the end, I loved The Good Daughter.  It made me rethink the Women’s Fiction/Suspense genre, and was enough to make me add similiar books to my reading pile. A must read for people who like stories about self discovery through a dark past. 

 17190721_833559936796557_3561210457375346851_n.jpgWant to get your hands on The Good Daughter

Buy it on Amazon today.

Get in touch with Alexandra Burt
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Author Interview #1 – Anna Kaling

The small town of Steilacoom is quiet as I sit in the appropriately named coffee shop, Espresso By The Bay, and look over Anna Kaling’s website. What first drew me to want to interview her was the phrase “big fan of the Loch Ness Monster” on her twitter page (@annakaling), and I found myself smiling as I read her site.

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From her relationship with her family, to herwriting, to book reviews, there was no shortage of information to look through to find questions to ask her that didn’t fit the “traditional author interview” box. Getting to chat with her was a real treat, and I hope you enjoy as well!

Q. So I took a peek around your blog, but for those who are new to you and your work, tell us a little bit about your first and second books, Untouchable and Unthinkable.

A. They’re both contemporary romances featuring a trio of best friends in their 20s: Rachel, Sam and Ally. They aren’t published yet, but watch this space!

Untouchable focuses on Rachel, who has a phobia of touch and is destined to be a spinster cat lady (even though she only has one cat so far) and Alex, who hasn’t let anybody into either of his double lives since his father was murdered. When he bats a cricket ball into Rachel’s ribs at ninety miles an hour and is responsible for getting her to hospital, both of them have to test their boundaries for the first time in years.

Unthinkable features Ally, an artist who works three part-time jobs and is terrified of swans. She burns through men like matchsticks, but she’s fiercely loyal to her friends and has never been tempted to lie to them… until she falls in love with her best friend Sam’s father. Marc’s 20 years older than her with a jealous ex-wife, and Sam would never forgive Ally for ruining any hope of a reconciliation between his parents… but Marc’s the only man she’s ever wanted for more than a fling.

Q. I see you’re already working on your third. What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve encountered?

A. Book #3 centers on a veterinary pathologist who’s sent to Loch Ness to study a parasite endangering the local animals, so the biggest challenge was getting the science right. I don’t go into much detail about the research because I realize not all readers are science geeks like me, but I did want the project to be scientifically accurate. I’m lucky enough to have a writer friend who’s also a vet (hi, Simon!) and he’s been an incredible help.

For writing in general, the hardest thing for me is trying to maintain a zen-like patience when publishing moves at the pace of an arthritic snail. I’m a 90’s child–I need instant gratification.

Q. You have such a wide writing background, from writing bids to a construction company, to blogging for a cow sanctuary. When did you know you wanted to turn your love of writing into novels?

A. It started how many great adventures do: I was bored. It was just after Christmas, I was off work waiting for the office to re-open in the new year, and I began writing down a story that’d be in my head for years. A few months later I had a novel on my hands–the first draft of Untouchable.

Q. What made you decide you wanted to write romance?

A. It wasn’t a conscious decision and, in fact, my big love as a reader is horror–the gorier the better–though I read and enjoy most genres. While I was writing Untouchable I realized I wanted to go somewhere with it rather then leave it languishing on my hard drive, so I researched the publishing process and looked up genres. I discovered I was writing a contemporary romance and then began my romance education (still in progress, so if anyone has recommendations for me please comment!).

I love love love writing romance and don’t see myself deviating any time soon, though I have a vague ambition to one day write a cozy mystery.

Q. If you could go back to when you first sat down to write your first book, what advice would you give to yourself?

A. Oh gosh, I could fill another book with the things I had to learn writing that first one. Honestly, I think it was a necessary (if painful) learning curve, so I’d let myself make the same mistakes all over again.

Or maybe it’d be, “Don’t tell your mother you’re doing this.” because she keeps bugging me to read my novels and I know she’ll give me 1* reviews because of the swearing and sex (“It’s just not necessary, Anna.”)

Loch Ness Monster

Q. I noticed you have a love of Nessie (something I have to say made me first excited to contact you). Have you been able to take a trip to Loch Ness?

A. At the moment I have to live vicariously through Google maps and YouTube videos. 😦 I’m planning a visit around Christmas to make sure I have the details right for my third book, and I’m VERY excited. I’m also confident I will see Nessie and I won’t let anybody convince me otherwise.

Q. Who’s inspired you the most on your journey as a writer?

 A. So many people. One of my favourite things about writing is the writing community, where other authors are so selfless with their time and advice.

Q. If you could give yourself a literary family tree, with authors you either admire, or consider yourself inspired by, who would be your parents and grandparents? 

A. Ooh, that’s tricky! I suppose grandparents should be the ones who inspired me in childhood–Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, Jacqueline Wilson and Noel Streafield. My family were ahead of the times with a same-sex marriage in there.

I think my mother will have to be Jennifer Crusie. Various readers have compared my writing to hers, which is a massive compliment, and when I began reading her books I fell in love with them. They gave me confidence that my kind of books have an audience.

I’m going to go all modern again and have a second mother instead of a father–Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre is probably the first romance I read, albeit literary romance, and I was blown away. If I can make just one person’s heart swell as much as mine did over Jane and Mr Rochester, I’ll be a happy author!

Q. I got a kick out of seeing your mother’s reaction to your writing (“too much sex and swearing, there’s no need for it” for those of you who haven’t checked out her blog yet). Does she play a part in your creative writing process at all?

A. Ha! She hasn’t read a single word of my writing and I don’t think she will, even when they’re officially published. For a start she almost exclusively reads crime / detective novels in the vein of Peter Robinson and Tess Gerritsen–two authors I also enjoy. She doesn’t even like kissing in novels, let alone full-blown (so to speak) sex scenes. And at least once a week she rants to me about a book she’s downloaded that was “spoiled” by all the “F-this and F-that.”

When I am published, if you see any 1* reviews complaining about swearing and sex, you know I caved and told her my pen name.

Q. What’s your favorite quality about your antagonist, and what’s your least favorite quality about your protagonist?

A. In Untouchable, I like that the antagonist is physically attractive whilst being a misogynistic cockwomble. Too often in fiction it seems that ugly equals bad, and life just doesn’t work that way.

The protagonist’s lack of confidence was often hard to write, and when I read it back I’m screaming, “DON’T PUT UP WITH THAT COCKWOMBLE!” at her. But that makes it all the more gratifying when she finally stands up to him.

Q. Tell me a little bit about your adorable cats! I love Sir Tedward McGinger’s name, by the way. Very cute.

 A. My protagonists are all very unlike me in various ways but one thing they all have in common is a love of animals. I just cannot relate to a person who doesn’t like animals, unless it’s centipedes. I don’t trust anything that thinks it needs that many legs.

Sir Ted was my soul mate in cat form, and although he passed away a few months ago he’ll always be my baby. He helped me write by plonking himself on the keyboard just as I was getting to the juicy bit of a scene. I’d often wake up to find him sleeping on my hip, or hear him in the garden yowling at the fence.

Now I have Pepper, a neurotic tortoiseshell who emits deadly silent farts and hides behind the sofa for no apparent reason, and Charlie, who manages to take up an entire king-sized bed all by himself and has the most pathetic meow in existence.

Q. What’s been the most exciting thing about the road to becoming published?

A. All the people I’m meeting along the way, from other authors to my lovely agents to the editor/s I’ll be working with. There’s something special about a community of people brought together by a love of books that outweighs a shared, introverted horror of human contact.

Q. I noticed you’re represented by someone in Inklings Agency. What made you decide to do that route vs. self publishing?

A. I’m lucky enough to have two agents from Inklings – Michelle Johnson and Amanda Jain. They both have incredible senses of humour and Amanda shares Loch Ness Monster news with me on Twitter.

For me, I think traditional publishing is the best way to get my books in front of readers. Besides that, writing can be a lonely thing and I love working with other people rather than doing it all by myself. And thirdly… if it was left up to me and my complete lack of design skill or taste, I’d probably end up on one of those “Worst Book Covers In The World” blogs being mocked mercilessly.

I do really enjoy talking to readers directly though, whether on my blog or Twitter.

Q. Let’s say your book gets picked up for a movie. Which actress/actor do you see playing your leads? 

Jennifer LawrenceA. This is easy because I always picture my characters as celebrities, or random people found on Google Images. I’m awful at visualizing new faces.

Untouchable – Rachel is a redheaded Jennifer Lawrence, and Alex is the model Isha Blaaker.

Unthinkable – Ally is Christina Aguilera in Burlesque (called Ali, funnily enough), and her love interest is Roy Thinnes circa 1980… though he’s nearly 80 now so we’d need a large plastic surgery budget.

For my current book, it’s Neha Sharma and Jessie Pavelka (who isn’t an actor but… we’ll convince him).

Q. John Barth once said, “Those rituals of getting ready to write produce a kind of trance state”. What is your “writing ritual”?

A. Boring answer, but I just sit down and write. Sometimes I turn the WiFi off first, which increases my word output by 3,000%.

Q. What are you working on right now, and do you have a deadline you’d like to have it done by?

A. I’m working on the Loch Ness book, which I hope to have ready for beta reading by 2 October. All going well, that should be finalized and on its way to my agents by the end of October. Then I plan to have a break from writing (during Nanowrimo, because I’m a rebel like that) before getting back to novel #4 in December. When I’m not writing, I’m usually beta reading for other people to build up my writer-karma bank. 🙂

Q. Anything else you’d like to share before we wrap up?

A. I’ve just been accepted as a #FicFest mentor for 2017 and I’d love to mention that so any aspiring writers reading the blog might enter. It’s a Twitter-based event where the mentors choose unagented and unpublished writers to mentor, and then help get their manuscripts and pitches ready for all the agents and small publishers taking part. I’m one of the 15 mentors in the adult category but there are also 15 for picture books, MG, YA and NA. We accept any genres and, of course, it’s absolutely free for everybody involved. All the info can be found here: http://www.tiffanyhofmannauthor.com/ficfest-writing-contest.html

If you’d like to find out more about Anna Kaling, here’s some ways of getting in touch with her!

Website: https://annakaling.com/
Blog: https://annakaling.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annakalingauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnaKaling

Want more author interviews? Check out the one she did for me!

Originally posted Sept. 2016. Reposted due to website change.