Welcome to the four hundred and seventy-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with YA author and guest blogger Anna White. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Anna.
Anna: Hi Morgen. Thanks for the opportunity for this interview.
Morgen: You’re so welcome, great to have you back. Please tell us something about yourself, and how you came to be a writer.
Anna: I’m a counselor and former reading teacher, and I live in the United States with my husband and my daughters. I always wrote a lot as a kid, and as an adult it was always on my to do list, but I never actually wrote anything. When my second child was six weeks old, I realized life was never going to get an easier, so I decided to stop procrastinating!
Morgen: Children will do that (although I only have a dog). What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Anna: I write YA fiction. My current novel is a paranormal romance, but I am outlining a more contemporary novel. I love to read YA, and I think it’s what I’ll always write. I think that age is incredibly exciting. It’s a time when there’s so much growth and change, and that’s very interesting to write about.
Morgen: How lovely. You’re clearly very passionate. What have you had published to-date?
Anna: My current novel is ‘The Light and Fallen’. It is the first in the Chronicles of the Nephilim series.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Anna: I have had many rejections! I did receive some feedback from agents that YA paranormal was softening and that there are a lot of book about angels on the market now. Actually when I started planning this novel there were very few, so it’s amazing how quickly things change! I try not to take rejections personally. I know that a no isn’t necessarily about the quality of my work, but about what an agent thinks that they can sell at any given moment. I try not to worry about the trends. I write about what is interesting and compelling to me.
Morgen: And that’s what you should do. I’d heard that angels were going to take over vampires but it doesn’t feel as if there are too many. Again, it probably just feels different here in the UK. Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Anna: ‘The Light and Fallen’ is available on Amazon. I’ve always been paper all the way, but I got an ipad for Christmas and it has changed my mind. I love ebooks now, and I especially love the fact that they can be lended and checked out through the local library. Being able to carry hundreds of books in my purse is amazing!
Morgen: Ah, we don’t have that yet (not in my local libraries anyway) but they’re certainly talking about it. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Anna: I try to market my book as assertively as possible. I think there’s an expectation that all authors, whether they are traditionally published or an indie, will develop a platform. I am on facebook, twitter, and goodreads, and I also blog. I try to seek out blogs that do author interviews like this one and participate in guest posts, and I sent my book to bloggers for review. I also sent out press releases, and of course told everyone I know. Building a platform isn’t easy, but there are so many benefits and relationships to be gained in the process.
Morgen: It isn’t and we’re all still learning. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Anna: At the moment I am working on Divide the Darkness, the next book in the Chronicles of the Nephilim series. It gives more insight into Jack, the antagonist of the first book. I love writing about bad boys!
Morgen: Oh me too… and we all love reading about them. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Anna: I try to write every day, but with a full time job and two kids it’s hard. I never stop trying though, and when I make it back my characters are always waiting for me! I wouldn’t say I have writer’s block – I have procrastination. Somehow the idea of sitting and writing just seems impossible, but once I force myself into the room and sit down at the computer it flows.
Morgen: I found the same until I started Story a Day May this year and didn’t want to stop when it stopped so I started 5pm fiction and today’s will be the 85th piece. There’s nothing quite like knowing I have to put a story online c.5pm to get pen to paper (usually while walking the dog at 6am). Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Anna: I am a plotter. I actually plotted the entire Chronicles of the Nephilim series before I started the first book. I refused to start until I knew the end. I wish I could run with an idea, in my mind that’s what “real” writers do, but I think I’d end up in a dead end.
Morgen: I’d say the majority (over 50% of authors anyway) have said they’re ‘pantsers’ – myself included – although we do have an idea of where we’re going but I’m sure even strict plotters find that some of it goes off tangent as the characters take over (one of my favourite aspects). Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Anna: Names are very hard for me. I like them to be simple, but memorable. I usually play around with names for a while before I settle on one. I do detailed character sketches for almost every character in my books. I want to know what motivates them, what they’re afraid of, how they’ll change. I think every character should be a mix of good and bad, strength and weakness, and that’s what keeps them believable.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Anna: I do a ridiculous amount of editing. I think I did ten drafts with this one. I am very pleased with the outcome, I truly feel it’s the best I could do, but I hope the next time I can cut it down. In ‘On Writing’ Stephen King suggests two drafts. I’m thinking eventually I can get down to three.
Morgen: I usually do four or five. You have to be happy with what you submit. There’s no point skimping if you know there are errors as the readers will be only too happy to point them out as if you book is hard copy it’s too late. What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Anna: I have three main characters and I wanted to be able to share the thoughts and perspectives of each of them so I used a very close third person. I hope this gives the reader a feel of the intimacy of first person, while giving me the freedom to follow the different characters.
Morgen: Third person is the most popular and as you say it allows you to get into every characters’ heads. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Anna: To write as much as possible, to get a day job, to be persistent, to not take rejection personally.
Morgen: Ah. I left my day job in March. I don’t regret it though (she says drinking her tap water, and eating her stale bread). Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Anna: Love Wins.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Anna: No party tricks! I like to craft and scrapbook and go to the park with my kids. I also really love to read YA books! (Does that go without saying?)
Morgen: It does, although you did mention it earlier (and I’m so glad you did). Are there any writing-related books that you find useful?
Anna: I really like the books ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King and ‘Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott.
Morgen: I have both but haven’t read either yet <slaps wrist> although I have only had Anne’s book about a month. And websites?
Anna: Here’s some websites I have in my favorites; http://beccafitzpatrick.com/tips.html, http://queryshark.blogspot.com, http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com, and http://m-stiefvater.livejournal.com.
Morgen: New websites on me, thank you for those. I’ve added them to my blog’s Links page. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Anna: I think there are definitely more opportunities to find an audience now than ever before, but I also think writers have to develop additional organizational and marketing skills to reach that audience. I think the day of hermit writers might be over.
Morgen: Unless they can get away with doing all their marketing online. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Anna: On twitter @annawhitewrites, at www.facebook.com/annawhitewrites, on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/625812.Anna_White, or on my Amazon Author’s page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007P7BEQK.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Anna: I’m donating 100% of the proceeds from ‘The Light and Fallen’ to The Water Project. This is a nonprofit that builds wells in Africa. My goal is to raise $5,000 to fund a complete project. Donations can be made directly by visiting their web site: http://thewaterproject.org/community/profile/anna-white.
Morgen: That’s very generous of you, Anna, I hope it’s really successful. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Anna: What is your favorite book right now?
Morgen: I’ve just finished one of the Penguin 70 series, Nick Hornby’s Otherwise Pandemonium which was really funny. I’m working through my collection of thin novellas as I love reading a story in one go and don’t have a lot of time at the moment (nothing new there) although I do have some short stories I want to review for my Short Story Saturdays slot and shorts are my first love. Sorry, that doesn’t really answer your question, does it. A couple of books by my bed are Val McDermid’s ‘Booked for Murder’ and L.C. Tyler’s ‘The Herring Seller’s Apprentice’. I met Val and L.C. at last weekend’s St Hilda’s, Oxford Crime and Humour Writers’ Conference (which I’ll be doing a write-up about this weekend and will hopefully be interviewing both authors in the not too distant future) and they’re both novels featuring writers which I love so I’m looking to reading those. Thank you, Anna.
I then invited Anna to include a synopsis of her book…
Lucian isn’t sure what to expect when he steps over the banister separating Heaven from Earth. He opens his eyes in a new body, one with no wings, no knowledge of the future, and no special powers. All he remembers is his mission: to find a mysterious key. When he meets a human girl that he can’t ignore he is forced, for the first time in eternity, to choose between duty and the pull of his heart.
Anna is an author and counselor. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and two daughters, and can usually be found reading or writing something with a cup of tea nearby. She is currently at work on Divide the Darkness, the next book in the Chronicles of the Nephilim series.
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