Here’s another lovely author for you all to meet. She’s been published by small press and self-published so she’s quite familiar with the whole random interview full of random question scenario. I have the pleasure of hanging out with Anna through a few social media networks and she is, in general, just a kind woman to know. So, now I get to share this kind woman with you!
Meet Anna Buttimore
Anna was born and brought up in the South-East of England, but moved to Wales for University and ended up living there for seventeen years – just long enough to learn the language. Anna is now living in the village where she grew up with her husband, Roderic, and three daughters. Anna works part-time for a legal charity, and loves science fiction, cross-stitch and swimming.
When did you first tell a story?
When I was very small, about 7 or 8 I think.
What was it about?
It was about squirrels, and it was called “The Battle of Red and Grey.”
Did you ever make up imaginary friends or beings for the sake of boredom or general mischievousness?
No, I don’t think so, but I don’t remember my childhood much.
Who influenced you the most as a writer?
I read a lot of Enid Blyton as a child, much as I’m embarrassed to admit it having since learned more about her, but it was probably reading those books which made me want to be a writer. Having said that, I don’t write for children, so maybe my biggest influences have been other writers. Kerry Blair in particular was wonderfully encouraging when I was starting out.
Favorite book, ever. Yes, I am limiting you to one.
Gosh, tricky. I always used to say Vanity Fair or Pride and Prejudice. I recently read Wool and was blown away by it, and for a couple of decades I’d have said The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, which is just stunning and terrifying. But you know what? I have to say Twilight. Sorry, but I love it. After scripture it’s the book which has had the biggest impact on my life.
Easiest part of writing for you would be….?
Coming up with lines, scenes, descriptions or dialogue. Hardest part is doing that while I’m actually sitting at my computer, as opposed to driving or in the swimming pool.
What is your most dreaded, please-don’t-make-me part of writing?
Writing query letters and submissions. I have a hard time selling my own work.
If you could have dinner (and dessert) with any fictional character who would it be and why?
I’d say Edward Cullen, except that he doesn’t eat. If I can include TV fictional characters, then I’d like Jack O’Neill from Stargate SG-1 because it would be hilarious.
Any sage advice you can pass on to fellow writers that you wish someone had told you sooner?
Don’t expect to make a living from it. In fact, don’t expect to make any money at all. I’m still bitter that I’ve written six novels – two of them bestsellers in their market – and barely made a bean.
Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals? How do you write?
Only that I write at odd times and in odd places. I have a very busy life (a job, three children, and I teach seminary) so I tend to grab an hour whenever I can. That means I am often to be found setting up my laptop in a classroom at church while my children are at a youth activity, or tapping away on my phone as I sit in a waiting room somewhere.
What is the color of your editing pen? Yes, I’m serious.
Red, naturally. I’m not scared of red. I believe in being ruthless and merciless when editing.
Of the senses (all six), what is your favorite sense to write?
Vision, because it’s easiest. I’ve been told that my writing is very visually descriptive. I recently wrote a short story about a girl with a very developed sense of smell, and that was really difficult, coming up with adjectives to describe smells.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block? If so, how do you break through it?
I do, and I experience it often. My trick is to have several things on the go at once. If I get stuck on one, I move to another project and come back to it later. When I was writing my fourth book, Honeymoon Heist, I got stuck at the scene where my hero and heroine were hiding on a beach. I just couldn’t figure out how they could escape. So I moved on to other books and eventually returned to Honeymoon Heist having left poor Claire and Rodney on that beach for over ten years.
There’s all the hoopla over being a Pantser or a Plotter – which team are you a part of or are you somewhere in between?
Definitely a pantser. Mostly I have no clue how a novel is going to develop.
About Anna’s Work
Tell me about your upcoming book.
My latest traditionally published release is called No Escape and it’s a romantic thriller set in rural north Wales. I also recently self-published a controversial novel, jointly written with Hellen Riebold, called The Saved Saint about a Mormon missionary who becomes an evangelical Christian. However, the book I am currently hawking round agents and publishers (so not sure yet whether it is upcoming or not) is called Emon and the Emperor and it’s about an ordinary guy who discovers that he has been genetically engineered to serve in an idyllic utopia which isn’t what it seems.
What makes your book different from all the rest?? What genre would you put it in?
Officially I’m calling Emon and the Emperor a YA/Crossover sci-fi/fantasy, but when it opens it’s set in Basildon, so not very sci-fi at all. It’s different because we see it from Emon’s perspective and he never really understands what’s going on. The reader can put the pieces together but Emon isn’t that bright.
Who was your favorite character to create?
Emon is a lovely guy at heart and I did warm to him. But I particularly like feisty and fiery Emara who has an amazing back story and is the most honourable and strong woman you can imagine. I actually dreamed her: I woke up one morning with her entire character, name and look in my mind, and knew she was going to have some great adventures if I could just figure out which book she belonged to.
What is the hardest part about writing this book?
The idea behind the book was given to me by a friend (Ryan Tench) because I am terrible at coming up with inspiration for novels. Most of my books, in fact, were suggested to me by others. Ryan came up with Emon’s name and abilities, the geography of the Empire, and Emon’s best friend. Another friend, Phil Edey, then weighed in and came up with some of the plot, some monsters for Emon to fight, and the political issues in the Empire. So the hardest part was trying to tie all the ideas together. Often one of them would phone me and propose a new development and I would have to say “No” because I just couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it.
What is the easiest part about writing this book?
I love it, I really do. The characters are a joy to work with and I am such a sci-fi fan anyway that it’s been so much fun to finally have my own created world to play with.
Have you always loved and written in this genre or was another your first love?
This is the first time I have written in this genre, but I have always loved it. I wrote in other genres previously because I was contracted to a publisher, and that was what they wanted.
Do you have any genre-specific tips?
It has to be consistent. That really is the most important thing. By all means create a world, technology, future, whatever, but it has to abide by its own rules to be believable. For example, I have said that Emon’s abilities are greater when he eats a diet rich in a certain nutrient found in eggs, so when he’s trekking through the wilderness, starving and surviving on whatever Emara can kill for him, his abilities have to wane. I can’t have him suddenly able to kill a big monster.
Also, don’t create anything so complex or different that it needs page upon page of explanation. Readers switch off if they have to learn too much about how stuff works, and it detracts from the story. I created a complex political setup for the Empire, but I didn’t put it in the book because it was boring. It’s only to give me a framework in which to work, and I’m the only person who needs to know it. If the book is a success and people later ask “How do the councils operate each sector of the Empire” I can tell them, but right now it’s not relevant.
Do you have any other projects that you’re working on?
Many! I have just put together a collection of my short stories, fan fiction and a handful of poems. I’m calling it Random Ramblings and I’m going to put it out myself as a free ebook at some point. I’m also working on my first chick-lit novel, Finders Keepers. I’m dusting off a fantasy novel I started In my teens but never completed, and my 2012 NaNoWriMo project has potential so I’m thinking about what to do with that too.