I've learned some things about Ann that we have in common. We both live in Kentucky, but on different ends of the state. We're both farm girls. We both do or have lived on our family farms. I still own part of mine in Tennessee, and I was the fifth generation to own the farm.
I know you don't want to hear about me, so we'll talk more to Ann.
1. How much time does it usually take you to write a book?
My best schedule would be a year. That’s a good rhythm for me. I like having plenty of time for research and pre-writing to allow my characters to come to life and also time at the end of writing to polish and pare to make my story the best I can make it before anybody reads it. However, I have written books in six months when I had deadlines pushing me.
2. What do you find is the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part is getting the story out of my head down on paper or computer screen. Especially when I hit those doldrums I talked about earlier. That nearly always happens at some point in every story. But then the hardest part is also the best part – spilling out the story and having my characters leap to life in my mind.
3. If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
Definitely Kate Merritt in Angel Sister. That would be like going back in time and walking in my mother’s shoes for a while. Kate’s not Mom, but she lived in Mom’s world.
4. Who is your favorite hero that you've written? Why?
That is such a difficult question to answer. I get close to each of my heroes while I’m telling his story, so it’s sort of like this one now and that one then. I did like Victor in Angel Sister because he loved Nadine so much and yet he stumbled in trying to be the husband he thought she needed. I suppose I identified with his desire to be better than he was able to be. And I really like Blake Garrett in Words Spoken True. He is such a strong character he practically leaps off the page. He’s a man who has a lot of confidence in who he is and what he’s doing and yet he’s vulnerable when it comes to love. He’s also very handsome. Then there’s Ethan in The Believer. I open that story with Ethan as a little boy so very young and innocent. His world is turned upside down after a series of events lands him in the Shaker village and then again years later when he meets Elizabeth.
5. What do you think makes a good hero?
I suppose when I’m reading about that hero, I want one who makes me smile. And that’s not a bad thing when I’m writing about a hero too. But I also want my heroes to be strong characters who are willing to fight for what they believe. At the same time I want them to be vulnerable in some way and to need to love and be loved.
6. What do you enjoy reading?
I read all kinds of books. I like mysteries, historical stories, character stories, really all kinds of fiction. I also enjoy first person historical accounts when I’m researching an era. I feel blessed when I run across a journal or diary of someone who lived through whatever historical event I want to include in my book. I also like inspirational reading. You know what? I’m the type of person who reads cereal boxes or whatever is handy that has print on it. Words pull at me and I always want to know what they going to tell me.
7. What is the one question you never get asked at interviews, but wish you did?
How are those grandchildren? Just kidding. I might have to write a book to tell you about all nine of them.
How does it feel to have your book on the New York Times bestseller list? Oops, I guess that might be a nice dream, but not a question I could answer – yet. (She added with a large measure of hope.)
How about those Cats? I’m a huge University of Kentucky basketball fan, but I know not everybody is. (Sigh)
Think writing related questions, Ann.
Okay, this is the question I’m picking. Seriously. What are the two most important things a person can do to continue to improve as a writer?
Oh, I suppose you want me to answer it too. All right. My answer is to keep writing and keep reading.
Thanks Ann, we look forward to hearing more on Friday. Be sure to leave your comments by noon CST, Monday, February 13.