Interview with best selling author, Anne Gracie (part 2)

Q. What makes a writer great?

Anne's band, the Platform Souls
Anne’s band, the Platform Souls

A. I think unforgettable stories and characters. People talk about beautiful turns of phrases, and lovely writing is a joy to read, but unforgettable characters and wonderful stories makes a writer’s work live on. Dickens created some of the most unforgettable characters in literature, and some amazing stories and so his work lives on, even if people don’t read him — his characters and stories have entered popular culture so deeply that people who’ve never heard of Dickens know Scrooge and Miss Haversham and Fagin.

Q. and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like?

A. I think the important thing is to push on. Writers (IMO) tend to give up for two basic reasons — 1) they endlessly tweak and fiddle with the writing, and never get to finish the story. Perfectionism gets in the way. But the best piece of writing advice ever comes from Nora Roberts, also arguably the most prolific and successful writer of popular fiction in the world: “You can fix a bad page but you can’t fix a blank one.” So you need to push on and make yourself finish, even if you think it’s horrible. Then you can either fix it, or work out why it doesn’t work and learn from it. Writing, as with all things, takes practice. Not all the books you write will be publishable — some books have L-plates on them. But often the story idea is good and later, when you’re better at creating the architecture of a novel, you can revisit that early idea.
2) The second reason people don’t finish is…. that they run out of plot. Go back and look at the conflict inherent in the story — fiction is driven by conflict. Many beginner writers start with stories that lack conflict, problems that are too easily solved.

Anne.neckl._nOne night I was mulling over a knotty scene problem in the current manuscript and, as I often do, I turned to making something fiddly — for some reason it helps me to concentrate. Half an hour later and I’d sorted the scene problem and made this bracelet, which is what I call a result.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

A. Sometimes a character will appear in a scene that comes to me just as I’m drifting off to sleep, or just waking up. I’ll write down the scene, and then have to start digging around to find out who is this person and why are they doing what they’re doing.
At other times I’ll have an idea of who my character is, but when I start to write them, words will pop out of their mouths or they’ll do things that make me realize they’re not who I imagined/planned. I often struggle with characters and sometimes it takes me several chapters before I start to get a clear idea who they are, what their personality is like. It’s a kind of archaeology – as if the character is there and I have to discover them. Once I’ve found them I try to discover their backstory, the things that have made them who they are.

Q. What inspired your story/stories ?

Ann.WinterBridesmallA. Usually I start with a scene that I’ve dreamed up — if it’s a good one, it will keep nagging at me. Then I ask myself questions, such as Who is this person? Why are they doing that? What has brought them to this point. The scene isn’t always the beginning of the book – in my first book the first scene that came to me ended up as the black moment in the story, almost at the end.

Q. Have you? Or do you want to write in another genre`?

A. I started out writing a literary novel, but never finished it. It’s a bit gloomy, I think. I also wrote one contemporary romantic comedy, which I loved doing, and one day I’d like to write more. But historical romance is keeping me pretty busy and I love writing it, so . . . I wrote a “novelization” for the first The Tudors TV series, and that was fun and a learning experience, but I prefer writing my own stories, so I turned down the offer to do the other books in the series. I also love crime and fantasy. Really I’d love to write all sorts of things, and I would, if I had the time.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

A. I came to romance novels late in life, and having a literary background, had preconceived (and unflattering) notions about them, but once I started to read widely in the genre—because there’s a huge variety—I found a lot to love. For me, books are a kind of food, and variety is what keeps you happy and healthy. Not all books have to be “serious” or “worthy” or hard to digest — some are for fun and entertainment and just make you happy. So if you haven’t tried any good romances, give them a go.

Trivia about Anne and her dog/s that Trisha loved: 

This is the creek down the back of my place, about 10 minutes away, where I often walked my old dog, Bessie Anne.fp_creek— she died, alas, several years ago, aged 18. But now I have a new puppy, Chloé, to introduce to these lovely spots .


Anne's new puppy, Chloe
Anne’s new puppy, Chloe

Thank you.
Anne.                                             To read part 1 click here


In addition to my twice weekly blog I also feature an interview with another author once a month. So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!    Mike Wells will be my December author.

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