Q: Anne…what made you become a writer?
A: It began with a love of language, and the power of words to make me feel something. I was pretty young then, maybe six or seven. Soon, though, I transferred that passion over to music when my father bought a baby grand piano. He’d studied a lot in his youth and was considered a prodigy. Hearing him play was very inspiring, and I decided I wanted to be able to do the same thing. Then years passed when I worked at the keyboard hour after hour. I gave up in high school, when family pressures at home made it one burden too many. In college I found myself very interested in writing papers…organizing a narrative. It didn’t really sink in until I’d earned a graduate degree in business that I was on the wrong track. I picked up a pen at age twenty-seven and wrote a story. I’ve been writing ever since.
Q: What is your typical writing day like?
A: That depends on if I go the gym or not. I’m something of gym rat, so I do go most days. If I don’t, I dig in early, around and go as long as I can. I get to it later on gym days, around . And, of course, a lot depends on what I’m working on at the time. I spend more time editing for other people and reading story submissions than I did in my early years, which is fine, because my own work doesn’t take it out of me the way it used to.
Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?
A: I never outline. I’m not sure why. I [love] being with an idea and just seeing where it goes. I do a lot of pulling the text apart, however, getting down to the subtext. That all has to line up—story, novel, it makes no difference.
Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?
A: A lot. Structural revisions, for the most part; moving big sections around…altering the time line. Sometimes I need to flesh out a certain character, give her more back copy than I’d originally thought.
Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?
A: Have someone else do it for you. It’s really hard to do this yourself. Keep in mind that editing is different from proofreading. Think of proofreading as finding typing and spelling errors. Editing is vetting a piece for language use, consistency, flow, and asking questions the author may have overlooked.
Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?
A: Being persistent and ruthless in my self-appraisal. Listening to what people say about my work, looking for commonality in the feedback I get, imitating my favorite authors.
Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?
A: Sometimes I don’t feel very inspired. [Sometimes I don’t feel] like moving ahead with a big project, like a novel. So I start a short story, or an article. Having more than one project going at a time keeps me fresh, not bogged down.
Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?
A: I grew up reading literary fiction, and that’s pretty much all I read.
Q: Do you utilize beta readers?
A: Not really. I have one good friend who has read my stuff for years. She serves as my proofreader. Otherwise, I let the literary journal editors who publish my stories, or the people on staff at She Writes Press, weigh in.
Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?
A: In Chapter Two, the main protagonist’s mother shows up for a surprise visit. She’s not welcome in the first place—and that she’s really drunk doesn’t help. I love socially awkward scenes. My protag, Freddie, lies to her new husband when he comes home from work, saying her mother is really just a stranger who’s trying to find the people who used to live there. Later, she comes clean.
Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?
A: I have a number of main characters, because this is a saga of four generations. However, the one I just referred to, Freddie, frames the novel. I like her because she’s plain on the outside, and anything but on the inside. She also has conversations with her dead husband, which I really enjoyed writing.
Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?
A: Get comfortable using social media, especially Twitter. Also, set a hefty publicity budget so you can pay for a publicist to get news of your book in good mass media publications, if possible.
Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?
A: Grumble, then forget about them.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: I’d say having relatively more control of my book than I might otherwise have.
Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?
A: Having to pay for publicity myself. It’s expensive!
Q: What is your current writing project?
A: The Magdalene Tapestry – a novel.
Q: What are three of your favorite novels?
A: Light in August, Mrs. Dalloway, and Home.
Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?
A: William Faulkner. I’d like a spirited discussion of surviving the vicissitudes of the book business.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?
A: Don’t give up. Get good, honest feedback. Imitate your favorite writers. Learn how to self-edit.
Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: “I write to discover what I know.” – Flannery O’Connor.