Good morning, Annabel and welcome to Coffee Time Romance. Please grab a seat in our cozy recliner, and be sure to get some delicious baked treats off the table. They are all calorie free. Karenne made sure to take all the fattening stuff out. Oh, and be sure to slip on the relaxing fuzzy pink slippers. The readers are very eager to learn more about talented author Annabel Aidan, so why not get started.
I wanted to begin by saying you are a very busy lady. Your life sounds exciting and you are most accomplished in all the things you have done.
Annabel, why not tell us what your day is like once you wake, and start your busy schedule?
I do my best work in the morning, before I’m “tainted by the day”. I get up early, have my morning yoga and meditation practice, then put on the coffee and feed the cats. I do my first 1K of the day before anything else, on a work-in-progress. After at least 1K – and, if the writing is going well, I do more – I shower, eat breakfast, blog, and get started on deadlined, contracted projects. Because writing is my business, not my hobby (although it is my passion), I have to juggle multiple projects across a wide variety of arenas and stay on top of deadlines to keep a roof over my head.
The schedule’s a little different this summer, because I have a garden and I go to yoga on the beach twice a week. On regular days, I do the morning watering while the coffee brews, and on yoga mornings, I get to my desk at 5 AM to do the first 1K before I have to leave for yoga at 6:30.
Anyway, once I blog and check email and things like that, I can see what’s due when and what has to be prioritized. A Daily To Do list makes me feel too restricted. I keep an eye on deadlines, but am flexible within my work day. The whole point of being a freelancer is to be able to structure one’s time.
I usually write in the mornings. Sometimes I’ll have lunch with friends or go to a lecture or an event at lunchtime. In the afternoons, I’m usually editing, revising, teaching, or reading for research or review. If I’m on a tight deadline, I might have another writing session in the evening. If I’m not writing in the evening, I may go out with friends. I’m also volunteering with several organizations in the community, including the National Marine Life Center, and we’re doing a Mermaid Ball in August to raise funds to finish the marine life hospital. That’s kind of busy.
If I’m trying to turn around edits or final galleys for my editor, I adjust the day and give that priority. But I always try to get in that first 1K of the day early on. That way, no matter what happens, I’m still 1K ahead of where I was the day before.
The readers would love to hear about your book Assumption of Right. I love that title. Would you please share some insight to this book for us?
The bulk of the book’s action takes place backstage on a Broadway show. Since I worked backstage on Broadway for many years and loved it, and since backstage life is rarely portrayed as anything except ridiculous and cliched, I wanted to portray the hard work, the cameraderie, the focus, the skills, and how different people with very different points of view find a way to co-exist in order to keep a hit show running. I mixed in ghost stories based on some of the legends I heard while working backstage, added the Secret Service Agent as part of the central pair of protagonists, and off we went!
What is the one thing that intrigues you most about your characters?
They are very much their own people. I may know people who do what they do, but they evolved into distinct individuals. This is not a roman a clef, simply because it’s in an environment with which I am intimately familiar. They are very much themselves; which is how it should be, when a writer does the job properly.
How long does it normally take you to finish a book?
Depends on the book. The first draft of ASSUMPTION was my second year of Nano, but I revised the book for five years before it was in any shape to be submitted. Too many writers at the start of their careers thinks “revisions” and “edits” mean running the book through spell check. Uh, no. It means tearing the book apart completely and rebuilding it into something much stronger than anything you could envision. I was very lucky – Champagne Books, my publisher, gave me an awesome editor.
First drafts take the least time, especially working at 1K/day. It’s the edits and revisions, where you “re-envision” the book and really build it into something exciting for readers that can take months or years.
Once I’m on a regular contract schedule, though, I have to compress my process to meet deadlines.
What would you say is important to you, characters, plot, or intimacy?
The characters dictate the plot. They (meaning my subconscious) know much more than I do. If I trust my characters, they lead me true, at least through the first draft. Then, I put it away for a few months so I can approach edits with fresh eyes, reading it as though someone else wrote it. I can rearrange and reform the plot around characters and their growth.
If you try to start from intimacy, you wind up with cliché. Characters have the capacity or not to be intimate on various levels. As they grow and change during the course of the story, the levels of intimacy can be developed. If you start there, you have ciphers, not people, and wind up with a badly written book.
I believe you are already working on another book. Can you tell us a bit about this one?
The next book to come out under the Annabel Aidan byline is called THE SPIRIT REPOSITORY, and I’m behind where I’d like to be on it. Bonnie, a secondary character in ASSUMPTION, is the primary protagonist of the second book. She falls for a guy who owns a used bookstore haunted by the ghosts of his ancestors, some of them from as early as when New York was New Amsterdam. And someone is stripping away these ghosts he knows and loves. His family is being torn away.
I also have another book in edits that has to get out the door this summer, and I’m working on the third Jain Lazarus Adventure, CRAVE THE HUNT, under the Devon Ellington name. I’m in the process of moving that series to a different publisher, so there are all sorts of things to be worked out.
Do you have a certain ritual that gets you in the mood for writing your terrific books?
I sit my butt in the seat and do the work. I don’t write, I don’t eat and can’t pay the rent. It’s very simple. No excuses. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do, and I do it by choice, but writer’s block is the luxury of the un-or-under-published.
Can you describe your writing place to us?
I moved last fall to a wonderful house on Cape Cod. I have a bright, sunny writing room with my desk, my cats, plants, walls of bookcases, a reading chair, etc. I look out over my front yard with its oak trees and flower beds and bushel of heather and urn of petunias and coleus. I live on a quiet street with only seven houses, which works wonderfully for me, especially considering I used to live over a strip club, one block from Times Square in NYC!
Name three things you look for in a companion or friend.
Loyalty, compassion, humor.
If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?
I’m pretty happy with the way things are. I’m working to be the change I want to see in the world, while doing the work I love and need to do.
Congratulations, you have won a vacation to an exciting island of your choice and you can take three people with you. What island would you choose and who are you taking with you?
I’ve never been to Hawaii, so I think I’d go there. I’d take my mom, so she could see it, too, and my close friends Gayle and Lori, who work hard and deserve the break. My other very close friend Artie, who regularly visits me on the Cape, has been there, which is how I know I want to go! ;)
Since you grow your own herbs, what kind of delicious recipe would you cook up for your company, using some of your home grown herbs?
Lots of different fish dishes, each with wonderful herbs and wine; pasta sauces with a lot of rosemary and oregano;
Homemade avocado with cilantro fresh from the garden.
Finish the sentence: Life is short, so…?
Well, the first thing I thought of was that you always hear “life is short, so buy the shoes”, but I usually live by “life is short, so buy the books!” But, a more realistic is “life is short so enjoy every moment.”
Is there anything you would like to tell your readers?
I hope they will continue with me on my journey of writing, gardening, yoga, and life under all the various names and on the blog under the Devon Ellington name, Ink in My Coffee: http://devonellington.wordpress.com.
Thanks for talking to me!
Thank you Annabel for being with us today. I look forward to reading more of your stories and wish you the best always.