Sunday, June 17, 2007

Annette Smith

I take great pleasure in introducing you readers to Annette Smith and her book A Bigger Life.

Thank you for meeting with us, Annette. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

It depends on the book. I always draw on my personal experiences. In A Bigger Life, there are four primary female characters. I’d say there’s a bit of me in three of the four.

The great thing about writing fiction is that I get to live vicariously through my characters. They are often more daring than me. They take more risks. They love with great intensity and live with great passion. What’s wonderful is that in the end, they, not I, are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of their choices. What a deal!

I know what you mean. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I went parasailing. Me, wearing Old Blackie, my full-coverage, middle-aged mom swimsuit, stood in line behind bikini-clad teenagers and twenty-somethings for the chance. It was glorious. And terrifying. Something I’m glad I experienced but that I’ll never do again.

I've often thought about trying it, but I probably won't this late in life. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I’ve always loved to write. I was one of those weird kids who loved creative writing assignments in school. I even enjoyed research papers. But it wasn’t until I became an adult that I even thought about writing books. To me, writers were like rock stars or fashion models. There was no way that a normal person like me could become one. It was meeting my first real writer, Becky Freeman Johnson, that set me on the path to writing my first book. She encouraged me and showed me that normal people actually do write books.

I’ve since changed my views just a bit. I’ve yet to meet a normal writer. We all lean a bit to the left of center.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I love literary fiction. I especially love poignant, even dark stories, ones that niggle at my brain long after I’ve laid them down.

Yes, I love a book that stays with you. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

A Bigger Life
is my eleventh book, my fourth novel. My last series of novels was the Coming Home to Ruby Prairie series. My best selling book is my first, The Whispers of Angels, a book of scenes and situations gleaned from my work as a registered nurse.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I require lots of alone time. When I don’t get enough I get cranky and out of sorts. I fill my soul with music. It affects my mood like nothing else. I have those certain CD’s that get me going, certain other ones that ease me down. I live in a beautiful part of Texas, right in the trees. The scenery outside my window calms and inspires me.

I also have an assortment of dear friends. Spending time with them reminds me of what’s important, people, not things. Being friends with a writer is not an easy thing. When I’m in the middle of a project, I’m pretty much unavailable. I’m more blessed by the grace they give me than they’ll ever know.

My best friend is like that, so when I'm finished with a hard deadline, we always go out together. How do you choose your characters’ names?

They just come to me. Very easily. I read the obituaries every day. I suppose that creates a storehouse of names that my subconscious draws from. Occasionally I’ll realize halfway through a project that a character’s name doesn’t fit. When that happens, I’m truly thankful for the Find and Replace feature in Word.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

My family. I’ve been married to my husband Randy for twenty-seven years. We have two fabulous adult children. I’m also extremely proud of my work as a hospice nurse.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A dog. What a life. Eat. Nap. Get scratches and strokes from people who love you. Take another nap. I can’t think of much else needed for contentment.

What is your favorite food?

Anything ethnic and spicy. The hotter the better.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

The roadblock is still there. I just drive around it. Sometimes I plow over it. Occasionally I get stuck on high center. The truth is I struggle constantly with self doubt about my abilities. I fear folks will discover that I don’t write right. Writing is rewarding work, but it is excruciatingly difficult for me. I can’t say I enjoy the process, but I adore the results. No pleasure compares to hearing from a reader that my words touched their heart.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Two years ago, prompted by my daughter’s insistence that I do something about my hair, I met Paul C. He was a straight hair stylist, the twenty-seven-year-old, single father of a three-year-old little boy whose mother had died only weeks before. While he did my hair, Paul shared bits and pieces of his difficult journey with me. During that two hours, in that unexpected setting, the two of us connected in a deep way. I left the salon that day so moved by his honest, poignant story I could not get home fast enough to put his voice to paper.

Since that time, Paul, with his shaved head and tattoos and I, a middle-aged, middle class, mainstream mom, have become friends. We communicate regularly. A Bigger Life is a novel inspired by him. While the book is fiction and in no way resembles actual events in his life, written in the first person male voice, the tone, spirit, and emotions are Paul’s.

A Bigger life is an unconventional story about imperfect people, about those who believe and those who doubt. It is an unflinching tale about terrible choices, devastating consequences and the amazing power of unconditional love. My hope is that readers of this book will be inspired to love with greater passion, to give mercy and grace more freely, and to see those around them with new eyes.

Sounds like a must-read to me. Readers, if you want to find out more about Annette and her books, go to www.annettesmithbooks.com .

And be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy. Also leave a comment on Donn Taylor's and Robin Lee Hatcher's interviews.

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7 comments:

Emma said...

I enjoyed the interview with Annette Smith. I loved the excerpt from A Bigger Life and I can't wait to read the book. A Bigger Life sounds like a really wonderful book.

Sheryl said...

No need to enter me in the contest for the book, Lena, since I was blessed to be able to read & review it for TitleTrakk when it first came out. :-)

Annette is a wonderful,amazing writer and I so enjoyed her honesty and transparency in this interview. I, too, am someone who gets "cranky" without enough alone time. :-)

Thanks, Lena, for all the great interviews and info you post on your blog. It's a blessing!

Cherie J said...

Great interview! Sounds like a wonderful book!

ChristyJan said...

What a fun interview ~ I've never heard of an author getting the names of their characters from the obituaries. lol
I look forward to reading your books.

Alexis Jacobs said...

I own and love this book. (Don't enter me in the contest) Very well written and a must read. Thanks for the interview!

Kathleen Morphy said...

I'm always curious about books written by women but in the male POV. It amazes me how well some do it.

Norma said...

Please enter me to win this book - I would love to read it!