Please welcome Annabelle to this weeks author interview. You can find Anabelle on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Amazon especially her book pages Gateway to Magic and The Slapstyx. Without further ado, please welcome Annabelle.
What are you currently writing/working on?
I’ve recently published a humorous fantasy featuring a tribe of grubby goblins and a greedy businessman who can do black magic. I haven’t started work on a new story – I have a few ideas knocking around but they haven’t crystallized yet, so I’m using the time to focus on promotion.
When and how do your characters come to you? Is it in a moment of inspiration, an epiphany? Or do they grow in some murky recess of your mind?
Usually, the story comes to me first; two or more ideas come together in my mind to create a situation I want to write about, then I start to ‘see’ certain characters in that situation. It seems to happen in a moment of inspiration, but it’s probably been brewing in my subconscious for some time.
There’s an acceptance that authors often write in traits or characteristics of themselves into their work, is there any part of you in any of your characters?
I would say there are parts of me in all my characters, but I particularly enjoy writing villains. I was brought up to be ‘nice’ all the time, so it’s very therapeutic to channel my inner baddy – especially if I can bring some humour to the situation!
How do you develop your characters? Do you let them brew in your subconscious, use character interview sheets, or something completely different?
I begin by writing a short bio for each character. They tend to flesh out and take on colour as I get into the story. I know I’m onto a good thing when they develop a life of their own and I can ‘hear’ their voices in my head.
Are you a planner, or free writer?
Until recently, I would begin a story without much idea how it was going to end, and let the story write itself. With The Slapstyx, the outline for the whole story came to me at once. I felt more secure writing that way – in the past I’ve had stories run into the sand for lack of a definite plan. On the other hand, it can be exciting when a story takes over and writes itself.
Scraps of notes, in biro – each story has its accompanying wad of loose paper covered with scribbles and scrawls that only I can understand. The story often comes faster than I can write it, so I draw a timeline and jot down the ideas in note form. I also like to do cartoon drawings of the characters.
Has your technique changed over time?
I think I’m a bit more organized than I used to be. At one time I wouldn’t bother doing character sketches or timelines, I would just spew out the story in a great sprawl. Most of the stuff I wrote before Gateway to Magic is unpublishable, but I don’t consider it a waste of time – it was fun, and I was learning my craft.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you actively look for it?
Definitely not! The ideas won’t come if I sit staring at a blank page – it tends to happen of its own accord while I’m doing something else, something that doesn’t require much thought. I can get ideas while I’m walking the dogs, doing housework, watching people, or even just watching TV or listening to the radio. I get a lot of ideas from dreams.
What kind of an environment do you write in? Day/night/silence/music/desk/sofa etc
I used to write into the night, but now I need the time for sleep! Morning is best, really, before other things can get in the way. I like to have music in the background, but if I’m working on a tricky bit I need silence to concentrate. I use pen and paper for the first draft and write it sitting on the sofa. The computer side of things happens on a desk in the window so I can take breaks from the screen and look out at the garden.
Half way into writing my first novel, it’s taking over my brain! What advice can you give me on completing it? Or maybe an easier question. What do you wish you had known about writing a book before you started?
I would say let the story take over and have its way while you’re writing the first draft. No one’s going to see it, so don’t be critical and don’t edit as you go along. You may have to change things and cut a lot out afterwards, but that’s what revisions and rewrites are for.
The publishing industry is in decline across the board. Do you think things like the Kindle are bridging the gap, is there still the same love for the written word, or is it being diluted by the modern obsession with tech and gadgets?
I doubt if human beings will ever lose their love of a good story, and I like to think Kindle is bridging the gap by combining gadgets and the written word. However, many people – kids especially – are being diverted away from reading by the ready-made adventures in video games. A written story is more of a ‘self-assembly’ adventure – it takes the reader’s imagination to bring the story alive. I explored this theme in Gateway to Magic, where a gaming fanatic is stranded in a tech-free dimension and learns to influence events with his imagination alone. Children need to be encouraged to read, and to use their imaginations.
50 Shades of Grey author EL James was reported to make around £100k a day at the book’s height, and the upcoming film will make her millions. Do you find it a shame that the most lucrative and famous book franchise of the moment is one so widely derided for its lack of literary value? Or is it just good to have a book going mainstream?
Not having read the book or seen the film, I can’t comment on the writing, but I have to admire EL James’s business acumen. Sensing that most people are secretly curious about BDSM, she served it up in a digestible form for the masses and got them to fund her project, with spectacular results. I’m not sure how much of a good thing it is for literature, but it was an excellent business decision for her.
If a fascist regime was burning the worlds libraries, what books would you save?
A fascist regime would be hard to deal with, so I’d want to save books that have got me through hard times in the past. These include Don Quixote, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Ursula le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy, Stephen Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, The Stand by Stephen King, The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson and Weaveworld by Clive Barker. There are many more I’d want to save, but I wouldn’t be able to carry them all!
Which publishing route have you taken? Did you always know you were going to go down this route, and if so why?
I’ve gone the indie Kindle route – and no, I didn’t always know I would. Like many writers, I had big dreams of being taken on by a major publishing house. In these dreams, the publisher would do all the work of promoting me while I devoted myself to writing stories. I’ve since learned that even if you have a publisher, you still have to do a lot of the marketing yourself. The publishing process can take a long time, and if your book isn’t an instant success it goes out of print. With Kindle, you can publish your book as soon as it’s ready and it’s available for sale indefinitely – you don’t get the big hype at the beginning, but you do get time for word of mouth to take effect. You also get a bigger percentage of the royalties!
What do you wish you knew about the publishing process before you started?
With Kindle the publishing process is straightforward, but the marketing is a steep learning curve. I wish I’d known some of the tips and tricks I’ve since discovered on other writers’ sites. Saying that, if I’d known how much hard work was involved I might have given up before I started, so maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t know. Now I’ve begun this journey, I’m in it for the long haul.
What is the best advice you could give to aspiring novelists like me? Or what was the best advice you were ever given?
Enjoy the process of writing and don’t get too hung up on how successful you’re going to be. It’s good to be positive and set goals, but you don’t want to cramp your style by only writing what you think will please everybody else. Write what you love, and enjoy it – with any luck, other people will enjoy it too.
Is fanfic to be welcomed as it broadens interaction and the readers experience or a scourge that devalues the ability of an author?
I’ve never read any, so I can’t really say. If it’s any good, I guess it can add to the reader’s experience – and if the author enjoys writing it, then it’s worth doing.
I am finding more and more, that writers often have several creative outlets. Do you? Or is writing your one source?
I play piano and keyboards, and at one time I was considering a career in music. That didn’t pan out, so now I play the piano for relaxation. At least, that’s the idea – it’s not very relaxing when I keep hitting the wrong notes!
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A rock star!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I think I must have been about 6 years old. Shortly after I started reading by myself, I began to fill sketch pads with drawings and word balloons to make stories of my own. I would put a homemade price sticker on each story, then pile them up on the coffee table and ‘sell’ them to an imaginary queue of people. It was my ultimate dream job. Unfortunately, everyone else wanted me to be a doctor.
What authors do you admire, and why?
I admire authors with the talent to make magic and fantasy real and believable. Neil Gaiman, because he reminds the reader what it’s like to be a child. Stephen King, because even when he’s writing fantasy, he’s coming from a place of reality – his version of America feels more real to me than the Hollywood version. I love children’s author Andy Stanton, because he breaks all the rules and still makes it work. And Enid Blyton – people put her down, but I still enjoy her quirky humour.
To find out more about Annabelle read her author bio below
Annabelle Franklin is a children’s author living on Wales’s South Gower coast, in an area of outstanding natural beauty that could be a model for Fairyland. She has published two novels, Gateway to Magic and The Slapstyx. Her short story Mercy Dog appears in Unforgotten (Accent Press), an anthology themed around WW1. When not writing, Annabelle helps to rehome ex-racing Greyhounds.