#Spotlight & #Interview - Ann Snizek
Originally from Vermont, Ann now lives in Virginia with her husband. Ann spent much of her childhood moving from place to place. Now settled, she enjoys exploring nature and the freedom to pursue the dreams of her imagination through writing.
Ann's love of books from childhood continues today -- always looking to stimulate the imagination. She knows the thrill of triumphing over adversities, pulling from life's experiences, both hers and others, for inspiration... always sharing, growing, and learning.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure… I’m a quirky, corny person. I’m a bit of a nerd and proud of it. I’m also very eclectic and my tastes sometimes surprise people.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Boring things usually, like: work, sleeping, housework, shopping.
Do you have a day job as well?
For now I do. I’m hoping to expand my writing projects enough to sustain a decent income on its own.
What was your favourite book as a child?
That depends on how old of a child. I love books. Some of my favourite children’s books are: Great Day for UP by Dr. Seuss; A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle; The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends both by Shel Silverstein. I also like the Francis series by Russell Hoban and the Berenstain Bears books by Stan & Jan Barenstain. I could name many more, but I’ll stop there for the sake of time.
When was that point in your life that you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?
That actually occurred last year. I published my first book in 2012, but it was still just a dream and hobby to me. Last year I reached the point where I decided to make it a career reality.
What book do you wish you had written?
Harry Potter. Hehehe.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In a nice, cozy, sunny spot where I relax and write another amazing story that my agent will be bugging me for because the movie company wants the manuscript…. J. J. Abrams, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Steven Spielberg are all on speed dial.
When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing before I started school. People who knew me in Elementary school still remember me as the girl who sat under the playground with paper and pencil in hand, writing during recess. As for the first book I published, I wrote it as a NaNoWriMo project – my first one. I finished the first draft of about 75k words in the first 3 weeks of that November.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I write what I love to read. That’s usually something with sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal elements. If I don’t want to read it, how can I expect anyone else to want it?
Where do you get your ideas?
From everywhere and everything.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Of course, but I just roll with it and move on to something else usually. Sometimes I have to do non-writing activities to get my imagination kick-started again.
Are you a planner or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I plan very, very little. It is more like aiming than planning. The story tells me where it wants to go and how it will get there. I am usually just along for the ride.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I love Anne McCaffrey. Everything she wrote is amazing. Madeleine L’Engle was a big influence too. As a child, my school librarian read it aloud to us and it came to life. That was the first book I felt a part of.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I self-published. I didn’t have the patience to hunt for an agent. (Now I lack the time) Research was still important, however. I needed to find the right source and follow all the guidelines. Cover art was also a challenge. I didn’t have a budget and I didn’t have much in the way of graphics programs. I did my best with what I had. Marketing is still a struggle for me.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Part of me wants to say yes… that I’d have forced myself to look for an agent when I could.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I have. I’m waiting on illustrations for it. I have a vision. I just have to wait for the right illustrations.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I’m much better at marketing in person, one-on-one (or small groups). Online marketing is difficult for me. I have a hard time compressing my stories to one or two lined promotions. I’m getting better though and it seems that Twitter is actually starting to show some interest as well as my Facebook pages. I also have a blog and a few interconnected websites.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The next book on deck is ‘For: Giva de Vine (Payton Chronicles 2).’ The story picks up basically where we left off in ‘To Eris – Human’ (Payton Chronicles 1), but it feels a lot more active than the first. In book 2, Eris heads out to find her sister, Giva. So much happens to her along the way and there are even points where her hope plunges into dispair. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m extremely excited about how it’s looking. I’ve finished the first draft and I’m working on the first rounds of edits to send it out to my small group of beta readers. I’m hoping to release it the summer of 2017!
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
This series is completely from my imagination. I may have taken hints of personalities and general experiences from life (mine or others), but it really isn’t based on anything specific in our world.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I love several sections. I don’t think I could pick just one.
How did you come up with the title?
The titles for this series have been a play on words taken from a famous phrase. “To err is human; to forgive is divine.” This easily translated to the titles for books 1 & 2 as “To Eris – Human” and “For: Giva de Vine”
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
There are a few characters that I’m considering for more depth. I don’t want to give away too much though.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Just keep writing and have fun. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing it will reflect in your work.
What does your protagonist think about you?
Wow! What a question. She doesn’t think of me much. I’m just an adult that she can talk to without fear of judgement or repercussions. There are too many other priorities in her life for her to give me much thought.
Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author and creator?
She wouldn’t mind, but I wouldn’t necessarily be her best friend.
What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?
I think the toughest part is when I don’t get a ‘why’ to a person’s opinion. However, the most upset I’ve been over a review was when I felt the comparison given in the review gave me the impression that the reviewer either didn’t read my story completely or had a preconceived idea of what they wanted it to be and didn’t really pay attention to what I wrote.
What has been the best compliment?
I’ve had people tell me they stayed up until 4am to read even though they had a long day ahead of them the next morning. Another person told me how much she connected with my character and actually felt the range of emotions expressed by the character while reading.
Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamour to be heard over the others?
For this series, Eris is definitely loud and clear. Occasionally some of the others shout out and some are growing louder as I read over book 2 and edit. These will absolutely be following us into book 3.
What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee or some complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
None. They’d get sodas or hot cocoa. I, personally, don’t like Starbuck’s coffee and would applaud them for refusing it. lol
What sort of writing environment do you create? I.e. music or not? Pen and paper or laptop/PC?
I love writing with music if it fits the mood I’m trying to write. If I’m stuck, I’ll often make a playlist just to help me through. I usually use my laptop as it makes it easier to edit and format. However, I sometimes write notes on paper when I can’ get to my laptop. In those cases, I write on and with anything I can.
Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than other? Racy? Love? Action?
I have the most difficulty with fight scenes, whether this is between people or other creatures. I don’t want to describe unbelievable scenes. So, I slow down and sometimes even do more research for them.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
HI! I’d love to hear from you! Thank you so much for following me and reading my books. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.
Is there one subject you would never write about? What is it?
I don’t know. Even distasteful and disgusting topics could be touched upon if written in a way to show a character’s depravity or struggles.
Do you have any strange writing habits? Like writing in the shower?
Not that I’m aware of, but when I get on a roll or in a crunch I sometimes forget to eat.
If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation – who would you choose for which character?
I’d want unknown actors for this series, I think, at least for the main characters. Perhaps some of the supporting actors could be known, but I haven’t done any searching into specific actors.
How important are the names in your book?
The names aren’t so much of a focus in this series. I do have another series where the names are extremely important.
Did you choose them based on how they sounded or looked, or was it completely random?
With this series only Eris and Giva have names that were predetermined. The other names were chosen on how they felt and how I think they fit the characters.
Do you have any name choosing resources you would recommend?
I keep a baby name book. It’s almost as vital to me as a thesaurus and dictionary. I’ve had a couple fall apart from use.
Do you read your reviews?
Yes! Absolutely. I love hearing what people feel and think about my books.
Do you respond to them, good or bad?
It depends on the format, where it’s posted. If I can, I will.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I look at ‘bad’ reviews as a clue of how/where I can improve. Don’t take it as a personal attack (unless the reviewer is simply irrational and attacking). If they just don’t like it, that’s fine. You can’t please everyone. I try to find the good in it and get better in my next project.
What is your best marketing tip?
Do more! Get your books visible and don’t be afraid to be creative.
What is your least favourite part of the writing or publishing process?
Online Marketing. lol