Author Interview: Anne A. Wilson

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Author Interview: Anne A. Wilson

Clear To LiftI am very excited to share with you my interview with author Anne A. Wilson. If you are a regular visitor to my blog, then you might have picked up on my absolute adoration for Anne’s books. They are fantastic!!! So, it was wonderful when Anne graciously agreed to answer my questions about her own experience in the navy and her writing process.

Anne is the author of Hover, which was released in 2015 and Clear To Lift, which is due for release in July 2016. Both books are thrilling stories of action and romance, about strong, courageous women and their careers in the navy.

In Clear To Lift, Navy helicopter pilot Lieutenant Alison Malone has been assigned to the search and rescue team stationed in Sierra Nevada. Alison is strong, determined, a rule follower and feeling constrained after being deployed to an area she considers the end of her commander dreams. Her team plan to educate her in working outside the rules, while the ruggedly handsome Will Cavanaugh challenges her to evaluate her life and take risks. Romance, action, suspense and family secrets make this a wildly addictive story. 

You can find my full review of Clear To Lift here, and if you haven’t already read Hover, check out my review of it here.


anne-wilson-350Hi Anne. Welcome to my Library.

Thanks so much for answering my questions (and writing really fabulous books).

Firstly, describe Clear To Lift in five words or less.

Adventure, search and rescue, romance.

Both your books Hover and Clear To Lift come loosely from your own experiences in the navy. How much is fiction and what can you tell us about your own adventures in the Sierra Nevada?

In Clear to Lift, the plot and characters are fictional, but the aircraft maneuvers are pretty accurate. The last rescue scene was based on a rescue that I did during the “100-Year Flood” that affected Yosemite Valley, the city of Reno, Nevada, and surrounding areas. Hover had more scenes than Clear to Lift did that were “real.” I used the journals I kept while deployed at sea to write Hover, and pulled directly from those pages for several scenes. The Shellback ceremony in Hover is almost word-for-word from my journal.

Being stationed near the Sierra Nevada was a dream. Not only did we fly over the range routinely to do our rescue work, but my husband and I played there in our off time, too. We did backcountry skiing, where you hike a mountain and then ski down. Still do, in fact. I enjoy telemark skiing, which is a nice ski set-up to have in the backcountry since your heel is free in the binding, which allows you to hike up more easily. We also did a lot of rock climbing and my husband even trained as an assistant mountain guide. So we enjoyed plenty of adventures both on the ground and in the air while stationed there.

So that’s why the scenes in Clear To Lift, when Will is free climbing up huge cliff faces sound so realistic!!!

HoverWhat inspired you to join the navy?

I was in my high school counselor’s office and saw a catalog for the United States Naval Academy on the coffee table in the waiting room. I picked it up and was intrigued by the prospect of the travel and adventure that might accompany going to a university like this. When you go to the Naval Academy, the tuition is free and you receive a four-year degree just like any university. You pay back the cost of your schooling by giving years of active duty service to the navy, so I served for nine years flying helicopters after I graduated. The travel was as advertised, by the way. I was able to see and experience so much of the world that I otherwise would not have.

What did you prefer as a pilot, search and rescue or deployment at sea? Which did you prefer writing?

I preferred search and rescue. The high altitude flying and the rescue work we did—and the setting in which we did it—was just spectacular. And then, of course, the mission itself was extremely rewarding. We were helping people in need, which I loved. Plus, I was stationed inland, so when we weren’t flying, we were living a pretty normal life. Flying on deployment could be exciting, also, but in a different way. It just depended on the operation or the mission. Flying with the SEAL teams was always fun and doing vertical replenishment—transferring crates and pallets under the helicopter via a long pole and sling—was a great test of flying precision. But I would say there was a lot more monotony when flying on deployment. Most of the time, you were just flying ship to ship and looking at endless miles of ocean. There’s just no comparison between that and flying over snow-covered peaks at 12,000 feet.

Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada

Gosh, which did I prefer writing? That’s a tough one! They were both equally fun to write, I would say. I like writing action scenes and dialog, and both books had these in spades, so I was happy to be at my computer any time I was writing either book.

Where do you like to write? Do you have any writing habits or things that have to be just so before you start writing?

Continue reading

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Author Interview: Soraya Nicholas

Author Interview: Soraya Nicholas

Pony DetectivesI would like to welcome author Soraya Nicholas to my blog. Soraya is the author of the recently released children’s books Pony Detectives and Gymkhana Hijinks, the first two books in the new Starlight Stable series.

This is a wonderful series for young readers, particularly if they are horse crazy. Set in the Australian bush, this is a lovely addition to all those horse stories that young readers just love.

Poppy has always wanted her own pony, and her dream finally comes true when her aunt and uncle present her with the most gorgeous pony, Crystal. But joining Poppy at her aunt and uncle’s stables are two other girls who have also been gifted their own ponies. These girls form a wonderful friendship, take care of their ponies and even set out to solve the mystery of the horses that have disappeared from neighbouring properties.

You can find my full review of Pony Detectives here.


Soraya-Finn

Meet Soraya.

Soraya is pictured here with her own horse, Finn. 

I recently had the chance to meet and work with Soraya when she visited the school’s library and conducted a writing workshop with some lucky students. Soraya shared with us some of her writing tips, her inspiration for her stories and the publishing process. She has graciously offered to answer a few more of my questions so that I can share them with my readers here.     Continue reading

Author Interview: Jackie Lea Sommers

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Author Interview: Jackie Lea Sommers

TruestToday I have the very special privilege of sharing my interview with the one and only Jackie Lea Sommers. Jackie is the author of Truest, which is a fantastic young adult, contemporary novel set for release in September 2015.

Truest is an outstanding debut, charming, funny and unbelievable moving and a deep sort of soul searching. I absolutely loved it.

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

You can find my full review of Truest here.


Jackie_Lea_Sommers_headshot

Jackie Lea Sommers

Meet Jackie.

Hi Jackie. Welcome to my Library. Thanks so much for being willing to answer my questions.

Firstly, I love how you have described your main characters. Silas: Brilliant, strange, gorgeous, infuriating. So, what four adjectives best describe you?

Hmm…. I’d say rescued, creative, curious, compelled.

How long did it take you to write Truest?

I spent six months on the first draft and then put in about two years’ worth of revisions (one year before my book deal and one after!).

How did you find the process from first draft to publication? What was your greatest challenge? What was your greatest success? 

alacrity-truestThe entire process has been terrifying, and rewarding. When I finished my first draft of Truest, I had a feeling that this was going to be my debut novel. I had spent the four years prior writing a different story, but there was something very different about Truest.

To be honest, my greatest challenge of the process was combating self-doubt, which often resulted in anxiety and even outright panic. I had to learn to trust my editor, to realize that we were a team, as we worked through revisions. It’s one thing to write for fun and a very different thing when suddenly you’re being paid for it. I had to really battle through 2014. But I came out of it with a polished manuscript, a beautiful partnership with my editor, and a prescription for Ativan!

The greatest success—one of my favorite days of my entire life—was when I received a very special email from my editor saying that she thought Truest was going to change people. I have her words as my laptop background.

I couldn’t agree more! Truest certainly changed me. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

You’re so sweet. Thank you.

I love to spend time with friends and their kids (I’m an honorary auntie for a few families, and it brings me so much joy). I love to read. I love to learn. My family is hilarious and keeps me laughing. I’m a blogger (I know that’s writing, but it’s totally different from novel-writing!). I also work in advocacy for OCD awareness, as well as other brain disorders. I work full-time as a recruiter for a small university in Minnesota. Life is busy, full, and sweet.

Looking at your blog and website, OCD is something you’re obviously passionate about discussing. Could you tell us a little about why this is such an important topic for you?

I’ve lived with obsessive-compulsive disorder for 26 years and only found appropriate treatment in 2008. Living in slavery to a debilitating anxiety disorder—and then finding freedom from it after twenty years of anguish—has shaped my life tremendously. I’m very passionate about helping other OCD sufferers find the right treatment (exposure and response prevention therapy). I will be writing about OCD in my next novel. It’s exciting and overwhelming because it’s a topic so close to my heart.

Who is your ultimate book boyfriend?

Soooo hard to choose just one! My favorites are Augustus Waters, Jonah Griggs, Sean Kendrick—and, of course, Silas Hart!

Silas is certainly worthy of the book boyfriend title. Is Silas, or any of the characters, inspired by people you know?

Awww, I’m so glad you love him too! Silas is entirely of my own creation. My thought was to create my dream boy, were I still seventeen. I knew he would have to be funny and smart with a goofy, boyish heart. (On a side note, if anyone knows of a mid-30’s version of Silas, send him my way!)

Laurel, Silas’s twin sister, battles a unique mental disorder in the novel—and that is based on my own personal experience.

Is there anywhere readers can get more of Silas Hart? (Please?)
Yes! There are two scenes from Truest re-written from Silas’s point of view at www.truestnovel.tumblr.com. The password is the last word of Truest.

What have you recently read that you’ve loved?

So far, my favorite book of 2015 is The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh!

Oh, that one is on my to-read list. Might have to get to it!! Do you have a favourite passage in Truest?

I love your beautiful Australian “favourite”! (Here in the States, we drop that u.) My favourite passage in Truest is maybe a scene where West and Silas pretend to plan to run away together; they both know they are only joking around, that they’d never actually do it. It’s a very sweet, tender scene, and it very nearly wasn’t included in the novel! I wrote it for fun based on a song I was listening to at the time but never found a place for it in the novel until later, when my editor asked for “one more scene where everyone is happy before it all falls apart.” I told her I could do that, pulled my little “running-away-together” scene out of obscurity, and plugged it into the story. I’m so happy it’s there.

Ha! Yes. I guess you just can’t take the Aussie out of the girl. Poetry plays an important role in Truest. So, do you have a favorite poet or poem? 

Just like Silas, my favorite poet is Billy Collins! “Questions about Angels,” the first poem of Collins’ that West reads in the book, is one of my favorites. There is an E.E. Cummings poem that Silas says made him want to write, and that’s another favorite. I definitely stole all my personal preferences and gave them to my characters!

Do you have another writing project in the works? Any tantalising hints you can give us?

I do! My next novel will be published in 2017; it’s tentatively titled Mill City Heroes. It’s a story about Asa, a math prodigy, and his best friend Rowen, an artistic young woman; he’s in love with her and she’s in love with someone anonymous, and it’s all a giant mess. It takes place in Minneapolis, the city I’ve called home for about seven years now, and the story reminds me that there is magic in comfort and familiarity. While Silas Hart would be my dream boy were I a seventeen-year-old extrovert, Asa Bertrand would be my dream boy were I a seventeen-year-old introvert.

What is planned as part of Truest’s release? Are there any special ways you intend to celebrate?

I’ll be doing a ten-week countdown on my blog (which starts June 23rd!). I’m really excited for it—it’s going to include original doodles from Truest’s cover designer, an “intercepted” text conversation between Silas and West, and lots of other fun stuff! Then, on the publication day, I’m having a launch party at Addendum Bookstore in St. Paul, Minnesota. I’m so excited to celebrate with my friends and family and readers.

Thanks Jackie. It was awesome getting to know you a little better. If those of you reading this want to ask Jackie some more questions you can add to her question page here.

You can also find more information about Truest on Jackie’s website, and her blog is truly inspirational.