A Heart in Sun and Shadow, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about A Heart in Sun and Shadow?
ANNIE BELLET: A Heart in Sun and Shadow is my first fantasy novel. I wrote it because I wanted to make use of all the things I'd studied in college (Medieval history, culture, Welsh, etc) and because I absolutely adore the works of authors like Robin McKinley and Juliet Marillier.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
ANNIE BELLET: My characters come into my head with their own unique desires and voices. I also study how other writers put together characters and try to emulate the techniques that I see when reading. I often know when a character works for what I want because they will start "talking" to me and making things clear in a very organic fashion. Often my stories grow out of the wants and needs of the characters.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
ANNIE BELLET: Someone who loves my work? Okay, maybe that's a given. I read Stephen King's On Writing and in it he talks about how he writes for one person (his wife, I believe). I, also, write for one person. My husband. He gets first look at anything I write and I try to picture his desires as a reader. It's easier that way, because I'm familiar with him and what he likes to read. Basically though, my ideal reader is someone who loves stories.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
ANNIE BELLET: I wrote my first fiction story (about Paul Revere's horse...) when I was eight. I've been writing ever since. I was in an MFA program for a while, but I realized that I wasn't going to learn how to write really good fiction from the program. It seemed more geared toward teaching people how to teach and talk about writing. I dropped out, quit my job, and started writing full time. I submitted my first story in February of 2009, sold my first one to a magazine in December 2009, and haven't looked back. I'm still submitting stories and novels the traditional route, as well as dipping my toes into e-publishing. I think this is a great time to be a writer and that we have avenues to reach readers like never before.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
ANNIE BELLET: I have a ton of ideas. I let them percolate until something seems ready and then I outline and start writing. I'm big on outlines. They usually change over the course of a book as the story develops and I find out new things (thanks to those pesky characters). For each novel, I often do four or five outlines over the course of writing. I haven't tried writing a novel without an outline yet. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to do that.
The other part of my process is to just write. A lot. As much as I can. I think writing is like any other craft and that you have to practice to improve. My goal as a writer is to write books that people don't want to put down. That's my Carnegie Hall and the way to it is "practice, practice, practice."
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
ANNIE BELLET: Stephen King, Robin Mckinley, Elizabeth Moon, Morgan Llywelyn, George RR Martin, Elizabeth Bear, Juliet Marillier, and countless others. I love reading even more than I love writing.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
ANNIE BELLET: I'm not sure I can answer this. It isn't that I wish I'd written anything someone else wrote, but there are so many authors who I wish I were as good as. I guess if I had to choose something, I'd pick a short story. It's by George RR Martin and called "With Morning Comes Mistfall." It's brilliant. He uses setting as a character and the story is poignant and perfect.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
ANNIE BELLET: I haven't really. I don't want to shove my work in people's faces. I've contacted a few blogs (like this one!) and sent out some copies for review. I also have a facebook page and twitter, but I use those mostly to interact with people. I think the best way to market a book is word of mouth and to write more books. I appreciate bloggers and readers and will hopefully do some things on my blog to return the favor in the future.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
ANNIE BELLET: I have a Kindle. I love my Kindle. I used to be one of those "from my cold, dead fingers" people when it came to paper books. It seemed a natural choice to publish on Kindle. As for e-publishing in general, it seems like it is an obvious thing to try. It's a great way to reach readers.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
ANNIE BELLET: Get a good cover. Write a good description (one of the hardest things to do). And keep your chin up if you aren't selling tons of copies instantly. A reader base is built over time.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She has sold fiction to AlienSkin Magazine, Contrary Magazine, and Daily Science Fiction Magazine. She's also collected a healthy stack of Honorable Mentions and placed as Semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest.
Her interests besides writing include rock climbing, reading, horse-back riding, video games, comic books, table-top RPGs, and many other nerdy pursuits.
She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a very demanding Bengal cat.
Visit her website and read her blog.
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