In this version of twenty questions, I send a list of questions to a willing
victim author and they choose their own interview by choosing the which questions, and how many questions they want to answer! Earlier this year, I read and loved Enclave, by Ann Aguirre and asked if she would play along. She did, and answered six questions. Here is what Ann had to say about reading, writing and having a book a month come out for the rest of the year (wow!).
Would you give us a bit of introduction and let my readers know who you are, how you got started writing, and what kind of books you like to write?
My name is Ann Aguirre, and I’m a writer. I live in Mexico now with my family. I was raised in the Midwest. I graduated from Ball State University in the early 90s.
My road to becoming a published author was long. Ever so long. It started well enough. When I was eight, I wrote a story for a school writing competition called The Mystery of the Gold Doubloon. This seminal, self-illustrated work was about two best friends who went to Florida on vacation and busted an illegal treasure hunting ring. I won the contest. I went to the state finals and met Shel Silverstein, who read to a bunch of us from Where the Sidewalk Ends. In that moment, sitting on my square of carpet, I thought, they pay him for his words. this is what I want to do. Later that same year, my teacher told me writing wasn’t a real job and I should pick something else. As it turns out, I am stubborn beyond the point of common sense, as I never did choose another career.
I wrote my first novel at fifteen. I sent it to NY. At sixteen I got my first rejection. This pattern continued at nineteen, and again at twenty-one, although I did interest an agent that early. Unfortunately, the historical romance I had written was too dark for the market, though the editors all agreed I could write and that I had talent. I wrote more. In the meantime I got married and had some babies. I kept writing. More rejections. I hit my thirties, signed with an agent, and got more rejections. By this point, I had, oh, eight books that had been rejected. In utter despair, I wrote a SF novel. I decided, you know, if I’m never going to sell, then I am going to write the novel I want to read. I’m going to write for myself, for fun, for pleasure, and without regard for market. The result was Grimspace. Unfortunately, my agent at the time thought it sounded unsellable. I had to choose between my book and my agent. It was a terrible decision, but I believe so strongly in that project that I gave notice. I went back to cold querying. I was 36 by this point. My current agent pulled me out of the slush pile–and that was the start of a really magical career.
Laura Bradford is a romance specialist. (I thought I’d written a romance with futuristic elements. Turns out, no.) But she loved Grimspace so much, she learned the market, just for me. She said, “I’ve never sold SF but I want the challenge, so if you’re okay with that, I’m offering you representation at this time.” I chose passion and enthusiasm over experience. I signed with her on March 31, 2007. We pitched Grimspace on April 11, my husband’s birthday. Within a couple of weeks, we had a nibble. An editor loved it and was taking it to acquisitions. She updated the rest of the editors, who were then motivated to read faster. Before we heard from the first editor, we had an offer from Anne Sowards. Since she’s my dream editor–she edits so many people I’ve read and admired–I cried in excitement and disbelief. This sale was over twenty years in the making, closer to thirty if you count the story I wrote when I was eight. We accepted the offer at once, and since then, we’ve sold over twenty projects together in the last four years. It’s been a long time since I had a day job, and it’s my plan to write for the rest of my life. Believe me, I know how lucky I am to be living my dream at long last.
I write urban fantasy, romantic science fiction and several types of romance. I also write YA. I love all genres equally because I love (and require) the variety.)
I am often struck by the different ways writers respond to the process of writing a book. Linus’s Blanket refers to my use of reading and other activities as a means of escape and comfort, can you share with us any routines, food or recipes, or favorite books or rituals that help you through the writing process?
For me, word count is my security blanket. As long as I keep moving, I don’t fixate on how well I’m writing or the quality of my product. The discovery draft isn’t about perfection; it’s about getting the bones of the story in place. I make it pretty later in multiple revision passes. As long as I can keep adding words, I don’t fret over my deadlines, and that is freeing.
What are you reading now? What are some of your favorite books and authors? Has writing your own book changed the way that you read?
As a young kid, I read classics. The bigger the book, the better I liked it. From eight to nine, I read Don Quixote, Count of Monte Cristo, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Three Muskateers, David Copperfield and Great Expectations. Dickens was too wordy for me, and I wound up wandering into Tolkien. That sparked a life-long love affair with fantasy novels, and I found much to love in Madeline L’Engle. To this day, A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorite books (along with its lovely sequels). From there, I got hooked on Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and various Judy Blume. Around this time, I discovered romance novels, which I thought were awesome. How cool is it to know going in that everything will work out and that a giant rock doesn’t fall, killing everyone, the end? I found this particularly through my teenage years, where I read equal measures of fantasy and romance. Finally, in college, I discovered romance and fantasy could work together when I read Sharon Shinn for the first time. I spent my grocery money on her book, The Shapechanger’s Wife, and it had a tremendous impact on me.
Are you able to read when you’re writing and if so what books inspire you when you’re working your own book(s)?
I do read, but I don’t read in the genre I’m writing. In fact, I go even further than that. If I’m writing dystopian or SF, then I don’t read in that genre at all. I need to be sure that any similarity of ideas, treatment or theme spring from a collective zeitgeist. So I just read an epic fantasy by Douglas Hulick called Among Thieves. I’m reading a lot of YA paranormal. Jessica Verday and Rachel Hawkins are new favorites for me. I’ll always love romance, and since my next two books to write on contract are UF and SF respectively, you know what I won’t be reading. *g*
Where do you most love to write? Are there places where it comes to you easier than others?
Home. I write on my patio swing, love seat or in bed. Those are the best places for me.
I have books coming out practically everything month for the rest of the year. For a complete list, see my website: Ann Aguirre.
About: Ann Aguirre is a national bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, two cats, and one very lazy dog. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Dr. Who. She writes urban fantasy (the Corine Solomon series), romantic science fiction (the Jax series), apocalyptic paranormal romance (the Ellen Connor books with Carrie Lofty), paranormal romantic suspense (as Ava Gray), and post-apocalyptic dystopian young adult fiction.