Welcome to the one hundred and sixty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. You can also read Anne’s author spotlight here.
Morgen: Hello again, Anne. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Anne: I’ve taught high school art, sold display advertising for a small town weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now write full time. I married my high school sweetheart who is also my best friend. If I could afford it, I’d travel and live out of a suitcase. I suspect I may have been a nomad in a former life!
Morgen: My brother’s the traveller (he lives in Switzerland) – I don’t think I was a nomad in any life. 🙂
Anne: As to how I became a writer, I’ve always admired authors who knew from an early age they would write.
Morgen: A surprising (well, to me anyway) number of my interviewees have said that.
Anne: That was never my reality. I was of the belief writers were from another planet, and certainly not ordinary folk like me. Then, in the late 80s, in the production room of that small town weekly newspaper I mentioned, I heard the click, click, click of fingertips on computer keyboards. It was music to my ears, and still one of my favourite sounds. Believe it or not, that’s what inspired me to write. I wanted to make my own music!
Morgen: I do. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Anne: I devoured Nancy Drew, Hardy Boy, and Trixie Belden books as a child. Then, I discovered Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner as a teen. It’s seems a given I’d write romantic suspense and mystery. Nothing appeals to me more than a puzzle or murder to solve.
Morgen: It’s a popular genre. What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Anne: Defending Glory, book one of the Piedmont Island Trilogy series, was my debut release in September 2010. Frank, Incense and Muriel, first of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries, was released two months later. Like most authors, seeing my work on actual bookshelves is no longer the norm. But finding them on Amazon, well, that’s a rush!
Morgen: Mine are due there shortly… I can’t wait. And I love your ‘Frank, Incense and Muriel’ title by the way, I love play on words. 🙂 How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Anne: Like the majority of authors these days I do a great deal of the self-promotion and online marketing. In the beginning I loathed it. Now, I love it–mainly because of the wonderful people I would not have ‘met’ otherwise.
Morgen: Absolutely, that’s why I’m here. 🙂 Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Anne: I’m a huge fan of writing contests. I’ve received writing tips from published authors who did not know me from Adam. Their constructive criticism pointed me in the right direction, and enabled me to persevere over the years until I got “the call”. I began entering writing contests shortly after I joined Romance Writers of America in 1995. I submitted my first manuscript to a contest assuming I’d win. Imagine my surprise when I finished 98th out of 100 entrants!
Anne: I buckled down and focused on learning how to write. By 2008 I was winning contests. Those awards helped me get a publishing contract. Now, I’m still a fan of writing competitions. I’m very proud that Frank, Incense and Muriel is the recipient of the 2011 Holt Medallion Award of Merit for a Novel with Strong Romantic Elements.
Morgen: Oh yay, well done you. 🙂
Anne: Competing against multi-published authors is both intimidating and exciting. My editor did the happy dance when the announcement was made. She produced this video.
Morgen: …and then you did the happy dance. 🙂 Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Anne: Yes, I do write under a pen name. My aka is literally AKA. Anne K. Albert is a combination of my daughter’s, mine, and husband’s middle names. That it just happens to spell AKA makes me giggle. I love a play on words! I’m uncertain if it makes a difference to an author’s profile, but it makes all the difference to me. Without an AKA, I doubt I’d be published. Let me explain. I’m an intensely private person. I rarely share my deepest, darkest thoughts with anyone, even my husband or daughter. I’ve always strove to stay under the radar. (And no, I am not a criminal or in the Witness Protection Program! I just prefer to stay out of the limelight.) As years passed and the rejections piled up, I realized I could not entirely blame agents, editors or publishers for my lack of success. I was equally responsible because I did not pursue publication as ardently as I might have. I took a step back, did a little soul searching, and realized the prospect of seeing my real name on the cover of a book terrified me. I have no idea why, but it does! Seeing Anne K. Albert on a book jacket, however, fills me with great pride. For whatever reason that one degree of separation allows me to be me in my private life, and ‘the writer’ elsewhere. Quirky perhaps, but hey, that’s me!
Morgen: It’s funny that a name should make difference but that’s exactly how I feel. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Anne: I’m very much a seat of the pants writer. I’ve tried to change my habits and plot out a book, but the story never gets written. I came to the realization I write to find out what happens. I’m my first reader!
Morgen: Ah well, that answers that question. 🙂 Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Anne: Up until I was published I always wrote at a computer. Now, I can’t seem to tear myself away from online chats, email, social networking, etc. I opted to write book two of the Piedmont Island Trilogy longhand. I had to. I was behind deadline! It worked great as far as actually getting something written, until I had to transcribe it. What torture! I’ve vowed not do this again. I’ll have to devise another method. Perhaps two computers, one without Internet capabilities will work!
Morgen: Or go somewhere with no internet. 🙂 Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Anne: Again, this is changing. I used to demand complete silence. Now, background noise disappears when I’m ‘there’ with my characters. I’m kind of like a fly on the wall, and I tune everything else out as there’s no way I want to miss what they’re saying or thinking.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Anne: Getting started on a new story is always the hardest part for me. I’ll often write up to twenty first scenes of the same story before I’m able to continue. The beginning’s not necessarily my least favourite, it’s just frustrating – especially when I’m so anxious to get on with it. The process is two steps forward and one back, but I’ve learned it’s important to get it just right because that’s my process.
Morgen: There’s nothing wrong with being thorough as long as you can move on. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Anne: I love the final revision stage, which is surprising because when I first began writing I had zero idea on how to revise. However, as the manuscripts piled up, so did my ability to look at them from a reader’s point of view. Making sure I’ve tied up all the loose ends is especially gratifying.
Morgen: You love revision? Really? Can you do mine for me? 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Anne: Believe in your ability. Write what you want to write, and never, ever give up.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Anne: Please visit my website: http://www.AnneKAlbert.com. There is lots of info and news on my blogs: http://anne-k-albert.blogspot.com, http://piedmont-island-trilogy.blogspot.com, http://muriel-reeves-mysteries.blogspot.com, Plus I’m on Facebook and Twitter.
Morgen: As busy a lady as I am by the looks of it. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Anne: Thanks for featuring me, Morgen! It’s been such fun!
Morgen: You’re very welcome, and thank you for saying “yes” twice. 🙂
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
- Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group (http://novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/508696639153189)
- Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group (http://poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/388850977875934)
- Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group (http://scriptwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/319941328108017)
- Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group (http://shortstorywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/544072635605445)
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