Sunday, March 27, 2016

Interview with author Anne McAneny

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hmm, instead of the usual online bio, I’ll give your readers earth-shattering details they won’t find anywhere else: I squeeze in all sorts of strange exercises when my dog stops to sniff things, and when I’m drying my hair. I talk to myself non-stop in the grocery store. I lost a regional spelling bee on “petulance” in 7th grade, and I think it’s a sin not to finish an ice cream sundae.

Q ~ If you could have coffee (or tea) with any author, who would it be and what would you ask them? And what would you have?
Gillian Flynn! I would ask if the thoughts running through her head are as snarky as her protagonists’ interior monologues (and if she curses like a sailor in real life). As for what I’d order, probably hot tea and a scone—simple and not messy.

Q ~ How do you feel about self-publishing?
Love it! Without it, I might still exist as a writer, but I wouldn’t exist as a “writer who’s been read” by the many generous folks willing to give new authors a try.

Also, if I hadn’t self-published my Crime After Time Collection, Thomas & Mercer wouldn’t have seen SKEWED and picked it up for “republishing.” Self-publishing has opened lots of doors for many new and interesting writers.

Q ~ What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
When I was growing up, my mother threw lots of epigrams at me, so I have many, but my favorite is a portion of a long, lovely quote from Audrey Hepburn: “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness.”

It’s a wonderful life philosophy that would make the world a far kinder place if everyone followed it. Yes, that sounds like a pageant contest answer, but it’s true.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
I love to read mystery, historical fiction, and non-fiction (psychiatric or true crime). I enjoy writing mysteries and humor, although I really excel at notes to school offices about why my children are tardy.

Q ~ Are there any new (or new to you) Authors that have grasped your interest recently and why?
Liane Moriarty has a smooth, flowing style of writing, and her characters are great fun. On a completely separate note, I only recently discovered Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son), and I must say, he inherited his father’s skills, although he goes to the dark side pretty quickly.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
Years ago, my long-time friend called to say he’d left his corporate P.R. job to pursue screenwriting. I had just had my third child, and my mind had almost completed its transformation into a bowl of mush, so I said, “I’ve always wanted to write; I think I’ll give it a shot.” I bought a screenwriting book that day.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?
I love to start first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh, before I even get out of my pajamas. I just dive in like a madwoman. As for go-to snacks, I’d say nuts of any type, including chocolate-covered, of course J.

Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
I’m comfortable with both, although small towns seem to allow for more intimate, quirky stories, so my books tend toward small town settings.

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release and what inspired you to write it?
My latest release is CIRCLED, part of my Crime After Time Collection. It’s difficult to talk about the inspiration without giving away key points, but it included a particular Agatha Christie story, as well as many revenge tales I’ve enjoyed over the years.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
In CIRCLED, there is a scene between Rafe and Chloe. They’re in his elaborate home and haven’t figured out their dynamic yet. I wrote the scene quickly and just let it flow to reflect the mood of the fresco that’s on Rafe’s ceiling. When I went back and read it, I found it strange and haunting—and loved it. It creeps to the precipice of several strong emotions before pulling back. I also think the finale is rather exciting and different.

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about the process that went behind the cover artwork for this novel?
I was lamenting to my friend that the cover I had wasn’t hitting the mark. She said that her son, who has been an amazing artist since age two, had been teaching himself digital art, so I asked him to try a book cover. I provided a few sentences to describe what I wanted and was blown away by what he produced.

The cover encompasses a hoop snake, a bicycle, and a swamp—all crucial elements of the book—and it conveys an essential circus/carnival mood. Here’s the Flicker page of the artist: Tyler Anderson Flicker

Q ~ What is your process for choosing character names?
I steal! Names of friends and neighbors never fail me. Other times, I choose because of the story. Rafe Borose in CIRCLED is named for a specific reason that I can’t reveal without spoilers, and Janie and Jack Perkins in SKEWED have those names for a precise, somewhat morbid reason.

Q ~ What characters did you find yourself especially drawn to and why?
I’ve always liked Allison Fennimore in RAVELED. I appreciate her cynical but never-say-die attitude.

Q ~ What are you working on next?
I am almost done with an old-fashioned, straight-up mystery that has no jumps in time. It’s set in 1981 and features a humble, determined detective dealing with a good-hearted, unreliable witness. After I finish that one, I hope to write a sequel to SKEWED.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Find the process that works for you and stick to it. It might be to outline first and then write, or to dive in and then edit to death. It could be diagrams, stream of consciousness, or even alien inspiration, but once you find it, enact it. Also, don’t let fear keep you from putting down those first words. They don’t have to be perfect because you’ll change or delete them later, anyway. Just write and enjoy yourself!

About the author:

For many years, Anne sharpened her writing skills on screenplays that often became contest finalists.  After turning to novels, she penned two humorous women’s fiction books and four mysteries, the latter of which make up her Crime After Time Collection. She lives in Virginia with her husband and children, along with an adopted puggle and a formerly stray cat that sneaked into the basement years ago. She enjoys biking, hiking and all manner of activity, as long as it's balanced by plenty of chocolate and Belgian beer—or a tasty combination thereof. She loves to hear from readers, so please connect with her on her Facebook Fan Page (Books by Anne McAneny) or on Twitter (@AnneMcAneny).

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