Anne K. Edwards enjoys reading as well as writing and would be hard put to choose one over the other since her love affair with the printed word started with reading at age six. When she found she could write stories as a third grader, she found a certain sense of self-fulfillment that lonely kids often miss. That love of words stayed with her and finally found satisfaction in her first publishing contract. Since then, each book or story she writes adds to that private happiness. It is only exceeded by having readers tell her they read and enjoyed one of her books. She’s here today to talk about her latest book, This and That—Collection of Light and Dark Tales.
Welcome to Blogger News, Anne. Do you have another job besides writing?
I’m retired now, but did work much of my life as a secretary. The pay wasn’t good and I changed jobs frequently for that reason. The work isn’t particularly fulfilling either, but the advent of the computer did make it somewhat easier. I usually looked forward to the end of the day when I could escape into the worlds I could create and live vicariously through my characters. The best thing that happened outside of writing was a move to a farm where we associated with horses and several cats. I’m still here.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
I was and still am an avid reader. As a child I always preferred books that were not on a reading list and ahead of my age group. I went through stages of westerns, romance, history and so forth. I love a good historical tale, fact or fiction, biography, some sciences like anthropology and others.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it.
This and That—Collection of Light and Dark Tales is an assortment of short stories written over a period of several years. They are varied in subject and genre. For instance, in this book, the reader would learn how the devil outsmarts himself when he leaves Hell, why Death had to hire a private detective, and what happens when the sun sends a ball of fire toward Earth. These tales were a pleasure to write and that is what inspired me to write them. I wrote them when I suffered writer’s block or was between projects. They filled what would have otherwise been wasted time.
Did your book require a lot of research?
No. I rarely do research these days because over the years when I did a log of non fiction reading, I managed to store information I could use as backdrops for books. For instance, I write mysteries, but I don’t spend time on dna and fingerprint evidence research as this is the sort of material mystery readers in general are familiar with. I don’t use a lot of scientific jargon or crime scene description, nor do I spend a lot of the readers time on things I believe they already have in their minds to help comprehend the basic mystery.
What was your goal when writing this book?
No specific goal was in mind as the stories were written for fun and one at a time with months in between. The goal for each story is to write a good story for the reader, one that I hope they enjoy as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
My best ideas come, like Christie and Spielberg, when my body is busy with one thing and this lets my mind range freely on other things. I used to get great ideas or solutions to problems with a book while I was cleaning out a stall, or weeding. Those times, the rote of the work let my mind work on writing related matters.
Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
My muse is a nutty critter called Swamp Thingy. We don’t get along for many reasons, such as he is a real complainer. Read his column One Muse’s Opinion on my website www.AnneKEdwards.com and you’ll see what I mean. He’s turned my mind into a bog and then whines it’s wet. There is no placating him. Yes, I know, muses are supposed to be female, but this one is a weird guy built like the blob. For some strange reason, he does give good ideas most of the time, but when he stalls and produces aome half baked idea, I could give him such a boot. If anyone out there knows where I can trade him in, please let me know.
What types of scenes give you the most trouble to write?
To this, I’d have to answer action scenes with several people in attendance. It is very difficult to keep track of say five or so characters at the same time during a conversation that includes all of them. One must include facial expressions, dialogue, body positions and changes, and perhaps the shifting background such as shadows or people in the background coming and going. Such scenes get a lot of information into a story at the same time so the author cannot concentrate on only one or two.
Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I edit over and over and over as I write. I learned to do this because by the end of the story, I only have to reread once for typos and other errors. I usually find editing as I write, the development of scenes, characters and dialogue feel more natural and that helps me write the next scene because I have a clear picture of what is the story’s past and can safely draw on it to push the tale forward.
As a writer, what scares you the most?
Not being able to write, no matter what the cause.
Do you have an agent?
I don’t have an agent. I admit to going through a short phase of wanting one to take me under their wing, but when they said they’d read the manuscript only to return it unread or half of the pages missing or not at all, I began to think this was not for me. About that time the Internet publishers began to accept submissions and I was off. I quit sending out manuscripts and the waiting of six to twelve months or more without word from the agent and I always queried before sending to them. I learned from this experience that agents would put your work in a slush pile and at some point take another job and leave behind that pile of manuscripts without returning them or letting the author know they were moving on and the work wouldn’t. No other agent in that agency would take on the work either, even if the prior agent had requested changes that had been done. The secret of my not wanting an agent any longer was I factored in all that wasted time when I could have been submitting it to online publishers. Perhaps these were new agents, editors changing jobs and the like, but they did keep me from submitting elsewhere. I came to believe ‘you got to have an agent’ is a myth spread by agents who fear losing control of the markets. I don’t know if that’s really possible, but for myself, I lost my acceptance of their mantra. I do know you don’t need an agent to be published online by a good publisher, but you do need to submit your best work.
What is your opinion about critique groups? What words of advice would you offer a novice writer who is joining one? Do you think the wrong critique group can ‘crush’ a fledgling writer?
I think a good critique group in which the author and their work fits, such a mystery writer into a mystery critique group, is a very good tool. You not only can learn the craft better from experienced or published members of the group, but you can hone your writing and your own critiquing skills. I would advise a novice writer to ask questions to find the right group and not to join the first group that appears. Some groups are headed by a founder who is on an ego trip and who will not allow other opinions than their own. Some groups don’t seem to have a goal such as helping other writers or sharing information. Some groups have members who only offer critiques in a very negative form and nothing a writer does will please them. Those are groups to stay out of. Ask other writers in your area where to start, or perhaps the local bookstores or libraries will know. And if you join a group that does not work out, do not apologize if you feel it best to drop out. After all, you are in the group to learn.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
A good author once gave me some very basic advice and I’ve found it to be true. Keep writing. Read, read, read, and study what you read. Pay attention to your own mistakes and those of other writers and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Learn to self edit your own work. Then keep writing.
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Yes, I do have a new mystery in the works, a second in a series starring Hannah Clare. I am also looking to finish some children’s books for publication. They may end up self published because I do not want to put in a lot of time trying to make them fit publishers specific guidelines by stretching the story or changing things to suit someone else. A publisher told me and I believe correctly in referring to a story, it is what it is, and she is so right. The children’s books are written to show kids can think and make decisions without adult input. They are really people, smaller perhaps than adults, but by the time they are seven or so, they already know things they can do and can’t, how to make some decisions, and right from wrong.
Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!