– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Small Forgotten Moments’ blogtour, organized by Zooloo’s Book Tours.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall, UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and canine writing partner, Artoo. She is the author of four short story collections, and two novels.
Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?
Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.
Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.
Haunting and melodic, fans of Daphne du Maurier and Daisy Johnson will adore this.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m a bit of a cliche in that I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’d sit for hours on my bed as a kid scribbling stories and frequenting stationery shops much more eagerly than toy shops. I wrote my first (absolutely terrible) novel when I was fourteen. It’s possible I still have a copy, but I’m definitely not going to look for it.
When I was sixteen or so I started writing short stories with a view to getting them published. I sent them to Just Seventeen and Jackie (UK), and my dad bought me a subscription to a writing magazine. That changed everything because I realised there were literary journals out there I’d never heard of (Granta, Ambit, New Fiction, Story Cellar) which meant I didn’t have to write to a specific ‘teen’ formula. My first short story was published when I was twenty. I’d like to say ‘and the rest is history…’ but there were many years of rejection, with just enough acceptances to keep me going.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I was quite a traditional reader when I was a child, I don’t remember having access to a lot of books. Early favourites include Heidi, the Famous Five and Mallory Towers series, and The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart. All of those I read many times. I’m a serial reader.
These days, I like Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, some Chuck Palahniuk, and I recently loved The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I tend to browse book shop shelves to find authors I’ve not heard of before – and I always choose books if they have an interesting title.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I’ve recently read a few novels by different authors which I couldn’t get into or didn’t understand. For example, Milkman by Anna Burns is on the side waiting to be donated. I knew it was going to be a challenging read and thought I was up to the task. I’d like to ask the author how she began writing something so unique, what kept her going, did anyone tell her she was too far out of the box, and how did she remain focused?
My novel-in-progress is quite challenging, so I think I’d be looking for reassurance.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Well, tea is a great choice, because I’m a little bit addicted and my characters are always putting on the kettle! I think Jo’s mum from my latest book is the character most in need of a cuppa and a chat. There’s so much going on in her head, so many conflicting emotions, I think she needs to pour it all out and have a big hug.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
Not really. The closest I have to a habit is writing my first drafts with my trusty fountain pen – ideas always flow better when it’s in my hand.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Haha, no, my friends and family are kept well away from my writing, on the whole. I suppose, I take their spirit and incorporate that into some of my characters, but only the good parts. My villainous characters are very much made up.
I scour newspaper articles for ideas – especially those tiny little snippets on page 9 which are almost an afterthought just to fill column space. I also just let myself daydream and see what my subconscious can conjure up. I’m a great fan of the question ‘what if?’.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m definitely a pantser and I’m growing to dislike it. Small Forgotten Moments, for example, began as a very different story. It had the same premise of a painting which haunted its creator, and Jo has always been the main character, but I took the story on a weird journey that just wasn’t working. If I’d thought about it for longer, I may have saved myself a lot of re-writing.
Having said that, I learn a lot about the characters when I let myself roam, and a lot of the time two or three separate ideas will merge to become one novel. It means I’m quite a slow writer, though – I can’t whip out several books a year.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
• Don’t fear rejection. It’s a great way for learning what works and what doesn’t, and for learning how not to take it personally. Because rejection really isn’t personal – it could just be an editor having a bad day, a similiar story already accepted, or not enough room in their schedule. If you believe in the story you’re telling, someone else will too.
• Learn the rules of writing. Then decide which ones you want to follow.
• Learn the rules of approaching editors and publishers, and always stick to them.
• Read everything! Honestly. Read outside your genre, the established greats within your genre, the classics as well as new books. If you’re stuck where to start, find a list of the 100 greatest books which come out every so often and work your way through. They won’t always be great, but your opinion will help to form some ideas of your own.
What are your futureplans as an author?
I’m half-way through my next novel – the challenging one I mentioned earlier – and I have the idea for another after that. I’m doing tentative research for that one. I have a character but not the story yet.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
This is from early on in the novel when Jo is at the opening of her exhibtion and thinking about the origins of her character Zenna, who features in much of her work:
Opposite me, Zenna in the Sea, the unanticipated centerpiece, is lit with soft spotlights so when people walk in, they’re drawn in her direction.
At first, she wasn’t in the sea at all. Without it, she was a woman gazing with glassy eyes into the real world—our world—detached and apathetic, as though studying us. Her head and shoulders filled the picture, there was little room for any background, any context. Yet, something was missing.
I left her on the easel and slept almost twenty-four hours, a black, dreamless sleep. When I woke, I was inspired. I grabbed all my blues and drew long, meandering strokes, a mélange of cobalt and cerulean and ultramarine. I swept watered-down acrylic across her pallid cheeks and chiseled eyes so she appeared submerged, and with a flick of my brush her hair floated under the water. Drowning but not; gazing into the room with fortitude and composure. Defying her own mortality.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Annalisa Crawford.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!