04 July 2006

Author Answers with Anne McAllister

Romance writer Anne McAllister is this week's featured author. She's written more than 50 books. Her most recent novel, "The Antonides Marriage Deal," was released in April by Harlequin Presents.

For more about her, check out her website or her blog.

WN: Place you do most of your writing:
MCALLISTER: In my office if I'm behaving properly -- but on my bed with my laptop if I'm in for the long haul. It's easier on my back, but the desktop is easier on the eyes.
WN: What's your writing process like from when you get an idea to when it gets published?
MCALLISTER: Usually I mull over the initial starting point and see who the people are, get a feel for them and think about them at odd moments while I'm finishing another book. They are always much more appealing than whatever I'm working on now. And then it's their turn. And as soon as it is, they clam up. They take vows of silence. Getting words out of them is almost always a challenge. But at some point one of them says something that resonates and I get a second wind, or I know them better or something. I usually call it the 'grope method' of plotting because it's rarely straight-forward. No two books ever seem to behave the same way, so I have learned to just let them be themselves and not try to force them into a particular shape. When it's written I send it in and start on the next one, which has, I hope, been germinating and the process begins again -- though always with variations.
WN: Why did you decide to become a writer?
MCALLISTER: I wrote from the time I was a kid. I like words. I like people. I like relationships. Putting the people in stories and using words to tell about their relationships was always fun. And I like being my own boss and setting my own hours, so it has worked out well.
WN: How long did you have to work to get published and what made you keep working at it until your name was on the cover of a book?
MCALLISTER: I wrote my first book while my youngest son was napping. It took me a year. I sent it off to the publisher I had in mind and immediately started another one. I had finished three total and they were all at the same publisher when the publisher must have decided I wasn't going to go away -- so they bought first the second book for a particular romance line, then the other two for different lines.
WN: You've been writing romance novels for more than 20 years, how has the genre changed in that time?
MCALLISTER: The genre is constantly evolving and growing in a variety of ways. It's a genre that is both author led and at times reader led. But always the relationship is the focus. It doesn't matter how many other facets change.
WN: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?
MCALLISTER: It's hard to pick just one book. There have been so many. Of the series romance books that made me want to do that -- I would say an early Jane Donnelly book called Behind A Closed Door was immensely appealing. I like almost everything Jane Donnelly ever wrote. In more general fiction, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice were influential. So was a children's book called The 13th Is Magic and one for young adults called Pennington's Last Term. So was John Irving's The Water-Method Man. As far as books about writing go, Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey revealed to me a lot of what I didn't know I was doing. It made "the process" more understandable, and while it didn't make it easier, it make me more aware.
WN: If you had to live the life of one of your characters, who would you pick and why?
MCALLISTER: Oh, it's hard to say. I think maybe Felicity who married Taggart Jones at the end of The Cowboy And the Kid. I could identify with her. She was a teacher and she fell in love with an ex-rodeo cowboy turned bull-riding instructor, and I had so much fun researching the book -- and going to bull-riding school! -- that I have always thought it would be fun to be Felicity.
WN: What piece of advice helped you out the most as a writer?
MCALLISTER: It's your book so write the story you want to tell. Don't change things to make your mother, your husband, or your critique group happy -- unless you are sure it's what you are comfortable with and believe is right for your characters and their story.

1 comment:

anne frasier said...

ah, anne mcallister, one of my favorite people. you always have such good advice.

i find it interesting and weirdly comforting that after writing over 50 books the process can still be a struggle.

yikes. i think i just said i'm glad you suffer for your craft. :O selfish me.