Welcome to the six hundred and fifty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with YA mystery-suspense novelist and non-fiction author Ann Goldfarb. 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, Ann. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Ann: I’m originally from New York State, USA, where I taught for over 14 years before becoming a school principal. I’ve always written reports, evaluations and grants as part of my job, not to mention the numerous letters to parents regarding student grades and behaviour; but writing fiction has been a passion for me. When I retired in 2008 and moved to Arizona, I finally had the time to write my first young adult mystery-suspense novel, The Face Out of Time. And when it won a 2011 award from the Arizona Authors Association, I felt as if I was on my way to fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Morgen: How lovely. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Ann: I write YA mystery-suspense fiction. Having worked in a school setting for most of my life, I’m familiar with that age group and their idiosyncrasies. Regarding other genre, I have written non-fiction for trade magazines, specifically “Teddy Bear” magazines. I just happened to “fall into” that role at the “Teddy Bear Artist Invitational” in New York and enjoyed the opportunity for writing.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Ann: I have published the following novels: The Face Out of Time, Ripple Rider: An Anguillan Adventure in Time, The Last Tag, Light Riders and the Morenci Mine Murder. I write under my own name, Ann I. Goldfarb. Books can be found with or without my middle initial.
Morgen: You’ve self-published – what lead to you going your own way?
Ann: The traditional publishing process became so cumbersome and unwieldy that self-publishing seemed to be a viable option. Of course it meant finding my own editors and formatter as well as establishing a marketing plan.
Morgen: You’ve obviously thought it out well. Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Ann: All of my books are available on Amazon Kindle as well as paperback. I, personally, prefer paper. I like to turn back pages, see how far along I’ve gone, and roll a paperback book in my hand. If I own the book, I like to make reference notes from time to time. Can’t do that with ebooks. However, my ebook sales are going better than my paperback. The 99 cent cost for my last two novels helps.
Morgen: It certainly has become a benchmark. My debut novel is $2.99 but it’s 101,000 words. My others (around the 50,000 word mark) will be $0.99. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Ann: Oh my gosh, yes. I absolutely fell in love with EB Lyner from The Last Tag. He’s the quintessential disgruntled teen who takes his anger out by scrawling graffiti tags on utility boxes and walls, not to mention the occasional breaking and entering into foreclosed houses in the Phoenix area. But EB’s essentially a good kid. And when he discovers the remnants of a murder in one of those houses and hears a voice asking him to “find her killer,” he takes all sorts of risks to do just that. Deep down, his values are decent.
Morgen: That is important, especially in children’s books. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Ann: I designed my first two covers, and then had someone design the other two. I think covers are extremely important as they attract interest from the start and help to generate an audience.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Ann: I’m working on the second novel in my “Light Rider” series. My protagonists, Ryn and Aeden, were 13 and 12 respectively when they were thrown back in time and had to solve the Morenci Mine murder in 1930 Arizona. Now they are 14 and 15 and must solve the “Fleur-de-lis Murder” in 18th century Paris.
Morgen: What fun, and I bet you have fun writing it. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Ann: I try my best to write every day and if I don’t get the chance, I feel simply “out of sorts.” As far as writer’s block is concerned, I have too many ideas and dialogues bouncing around in my brain. I sometimes suffer from “writer’s ability to organize!”
Morgen: <laughs> Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Ann: I’m definitely a “pantser,” that is to say, I write from the seat of my pants. I’ll plot the basic idea but then adapt as I go. And, as my characters develop, things change.
Morgen: Most authors I’ve spoken to have been ‘pantsers’ too, and it’s how I work. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Ann: My characters are all composites of the students I’ve taught, and my ten nieces and nephews.
Morgen: Ten? Wow. Plenty of first readers. 🙂 Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Ann: I edit and edit and still miss things! I also have a professional editor in New York, and editors in Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona, not to mention a wonderful editor in Brisbane, Australia. I could not manage without them.
Morgen: Me neither (my editor / first readers). Do you have to do much research?
Ann: Yes! Tons of research. Since my novels are time travel mysteries, they are essentially historical fiction with a twist. But, the history has to be correct.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Ann: I write primarily in first person and alter the point of view so my novels are told through different characters. I do use third person from time to time for background and “side story.” Unless I was writing a cook book (and I can barely find my way around the kitchen), I wouldn’t use second person.
Morgen: That’s a shame but it doesn’t suit everyone… many people actually and although I’m a champion of the viewpoint (meaning I champion it, not that I’m the world’s expert!) I only use it in short pieces. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Ann: Yes, I’ve written a musical without the music and a fictional adolescent diary.
Morgen: They sound like they could have an audience. And you have more experience with your other writing to know where you can strengthen them, assuming that’s all they need. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Ann: I’ve had rejections when trying to find an agent. I deal with it by taking control and publishing my own novels.
Morgen: 🙂 Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Ann: Yes. I entered the Arizona Authors Association writing competition in 2011 and won an award. I’ve entered it again for 2012 as well as the Southwest Writers Competition.
Morgen: Congratulations. So you’ve not secured an agent yet…?
Ann: Only in my dreams!
Morgen: 🙂 How much marketing do you do?
Ann: I’ve got to do a tremendous amount of marketing. It’s my least favourite part of the process. I’d rather be writing. I work with a web designer and my website, www.timetravelmysteries.com is now something that I am really proud of! In addition, I am “Timetravelgal” on Twitter and “Time Travel Mysteries” is on Facebook and would appreciate a “LIKE.” I’m on “LinkedIn” as well as “Your Book Launch,” “Goodreads” and “ManicReader”.
I post a blog on my website at least once a week and conduct writing workshops at schools, libraries and any venue that will welcome me. I give my business cards to everyone and anyone!
Morgen: You mentioned the least favourite aspect of your writing life (most feel the same, by the way – a “necessary evil” some have said. :)). What’s your favourite?
Ann: My favourite aspect of writing is developing my characters and then listening to them speak in my head.
Morgen: I love it when they do that. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Ann: Don’t get discouraged. Keep writing. Accept helpful criticism from other writers. Join a writers group! Help others!
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Ann: Alfred Hitchcock – Would love to speak with him about the elements of suspense. I wouldn’t serve anything that required ketchup since I read it was the only thing that scared him.
Physicist Brian Greene – Would want to discuss all aspects of time travel. I imagine he eats most anything so takeaway would be fine.
Mildred Benson, the original ghost-writer for the Nancy Drew mysteries. How did she ever develop those plots?
I would serve salad.
Morgen: That’s nice and quick so you can chat for longer. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Ann: My characters have some specific phrases they use, but I try to keep it clean.
Morgen: <laughs> Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Ann: Yes, I teach writing classes in Sun City West, Arizona.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Ann: I try to keep cool. It gets to be 113 degrees here in the summer so swimming is a must. In winter when it’s 60 – 70 degrees, I like to hike on the White Tank Mountains and frequent the neat coffee shops in this area.
Morgen: 60 / 70 is often a summer day in the UK. That said I like warm but 113 sounds too hot, but then we’re not used to heat here. 🙂 Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Ann: I network with Facebook and LinkedIn. Great outreach!
Morgen: Aren’t they great. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Ann: I think the future will be ebooks and publish on demand. The whole industry is changing.
Morgen: It is, and I feel, as an author, for the better. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Thank you, Ann.
I then invited Ann to include a synopsis of her books and this is for The Last Tag…
EB Lyner has been lucky so far, considering that neither of his parents wants custody of him. Miraculously, he hasn’t been caught tagging utility boxes or breaking into foreclosed houses in his Phoenix neighborhood. But things are about to change when he decides to trespass and enters a multi-million dollar home in nearby Scottsdale. What he doesn’t know is that the remnants of a murder are hidden in this house. Its victim is trapped in time and can only rest if EB agrees to find her killer in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum, 78 A.D.
Haunted by a voice that keeps repeating “Expiscor quisnam iuguolo mihi” (Find out who killed me), EB agrees to let her guide him back in time.
His Latin stinks and his detective skills are even worse, but he has nothing to lose; that is of course, if he can solve this murder before Mt. Vesuvius erupts on August 24, 79 A.D. With limited time and next to no resources, EB Lyner is left doing the only thing he knows how – tag the city until he gets an answer. But will it be too late?
New York native and Arizona author, Ann I. Goldfarb, spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing has always been an integral part of her world. Her freelance non-fiction can be found in trade magazines for Madavor Media/Jones Publications; but her real passion is writing mystery-suspense for young adult audiences. Time travel is the vehicle she has chosen to embrace.
Her first novel, The Face Out of Time, received an award from the Arizona Authors Association in 2011. She has published four novels, one of which just received a stellar KIRKUS REVIEW. She is currently working on her fifth mystery.
Ann has conducted a number of writing workshops for students and adults in New York, Pennsylvania and Arizona. She welcomes visitors to her website at www.timetravelmysteries.com and her Facebook Fan Page at “Time Travel Mysteries.” If you follow Twitter, she’s “Timetravelgal”.
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