Sunday, April 21, 2013

Author Interview: Bethany Aan

Today, I'm doing my first interview with Indie Author, Bethany Aan.  I'm currently enjoying her sci-fi romance, Hearts of Ishira.  I will post a review of it later this week, but I can tell you now:  I love her main character.

Describe your writing process. 

            I get an idea, sit down at the computer, and start writing. That’s the easy part. The hard part is making it into something cohesive. So I basically do a stream-of-consciousness writing session, where I’ll write feverishly for days or weeks on end, just getting the main story out. Once that’s out, I go back, add clarification, check for inconsistencies, put in additional scenes and transitions.
            After I have several chapters and a good idea where the story is going, I’ll send out some edited stuff to my beta readers, so they can let me know if the idea itself is working, if it’s too far-fetched, if I’ve got some glaring gaps in the story, or even if they just adore it and want more.
            When things are winding down and I don’t have the driving need to write, I’m still thinking about the story, still working things out in my head. Often, I’ll sit and either watch an old favorite movie or listen to Pandora on computer, and knit or crochet as I work on the story issues.
            Lather, rinse, repeat, for each story idea that comes up, then try to gel it all together. I’ve never been an ‘outline’ kind of girl. Even when I had to do such things in school, I’d write the paper first, then create the outline from it. I know, crazy, huh? I’m what they call a ‘Panster’, and most of the time I’m just fine with that.

What motivates you to sit down and write?

            The possibility of escape, the need to create a new world, a new situation, or just to get the movies out of my head and onto ‘paper’, so to speak. It’s not that I decided one day to be a writer. I started writing one day and have tried being everything else. Now that my health is bad enough to prevent my working outside the home, it seemed like the right time to take the writing seriously, actually get a book finished, and see what happened. Now I write because I want to see where the stories lead me, and because I have this looming fear that if I don’t get the sequel to Hearts of Ishira out, my fans are going to come mob me!

Where does your inspiration come from?

            Everywhere. Seriously, I can be watching TV and someone will say something on a show, and BAM! There’s an idea. My husband often sighs and shakes his head because he can tell when I just had an idea and NEED to write it down, right now.
Do you have any writers that you consider mentors?

            Not really. I mean, there are authors that I adore, people whose influence is definitely evident in my writing, I think. But as for other writers that guide me… I do have one friend that’s been there through it all, as a cheerleader and sometime-butt-kicker, so I guess she’d be the one. Angela Drake is her pen name.

What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

            The ability to make my readers feel what my characters are feeling, and the ability to bring a world to life. That’s the feedback I’ve been getting, anyhow.

What is your biggest challenge?

            Discipline. That’s it, in a nutshell. Forcing myself to turn off Facebook and actually focus on editing and rewrites is possibly the hardest thing I do.

Do you ever experience writer's block?  How do you get through it?

            I do, but I have so many other hobbies that I’ve learned just to pick up something else for a time, let the story issues work themselves out in the back of my mind, and when it’s ready to be written, it’ll let me know.

Name some authors who have influenced or inspired you?
            Anne McCaffrey, CS Lewis, Julia Quinn, Karen Marie Moning, Patricia C. Wrede, Alan Dean Foster, Johanna Lindsey, Catherine Anderson, Elizabeth Lowell… I read a LOT.

Tell a little about your most recent work.  Title, genre, and tag line.

            Hearts of Ishira is my first full-length novel. I consider it a sci-fi romantica, because it’s a bit too tame for most erotica, but the ménage aspect tends to put it into that category. However, the romance is primary, sci-fi is secondary, and the actual steamy bits are icing on the cake.
            I don’t really have a tag-line for it, but I suppose if I did, it would be ‘Two hearts are better than one’, since Ri ends up with two hunky warriors as her mates.

Tell us about your favorite character from the book. 

            My favorite character is Arianna. She’s always surprising me with her spunky wit, her enthusiasm, her compassion, and sometimes even her bad-assery. Even she doesn’t know yet what she’s capable of or why she was chosen for the role she’s only starting to discover. As more ‘coincidences’ crop up, she’ll get even more bad-ass… and conflicted. The role she’s been chosen for is not something that she wants, and that will become more apparent with each book.

Is/are there specific themes that you would like your reader to grasp while they're reading your novel?

            Acceptance, love without limits, thriving in a new environment, and making the most of second chances. I’ve had a lot of second chances in my life, and I’m grateful for every new opportunity to get things right.
            Oh, and never stop believing in magic.

What makes a good story?
            I think that’s a subjective question… for me, it’s good relationships between the characters, decent forward motion of the plot, and a good dose of HEA. There’s enough sadness and loss in the world. When I read, I want to come away with hope and the feeling that there’s still a chance for anyone to have a HEA.

How do you market your work?

·         I have a Facebook Author page-
·         a twitter account- @bethanyaan
·         a blog-
·         goodreads account- Bethany Aan
·         g-mail account where my readers can (and do!) write to me. I read everything myself at this point, and LOVE hearing from fans.

Do you have a current work in progress?  Can you tell a little bit about it?

            Yes, several, actually!
            I’m working on the sequel to Hearts of Ishira, which is the continuation of the first book, with the focus on Ri and Sean.
Hunter and Jace are still a big part of her life, but with so many new mouths to feed and take care of, they aren’t around as much as they’d like. That’s okay, because big brother Sean is there, healing from the blaster wound that he took to save Ri’s life in the first book, and Ri is a captive audience for his flirting and seduction. Of course, Ri being who she is, the seduction and flirting don’t go just one way. Her heart might firmly belong to Hunter and Jace, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have room for their long-lost brother, as well. After all… it’s the Thorsani way!

Tell us about yourself, outside of writing.

            There’s life outside of writing??
            Okay, seriously… My husband and I participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a not-for-profit educational group that focuses on life in the Middle Ages. My persona is a Danish Viking from the 10th century. I teach various fiber crafts… spinning, knitting, a method called sprang, weaving, and anything else that requires string. My husband thinks I’m part cat.
            I take long naps, decorate cakes, bake, knit, crochet, sew, quilt, bead, quill, and lots of other crafts. I also like gardening, though I haven’t been able to do so for a few years. I love hanging out with my geeky friends, watching sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies, and Big Bang Theory is the boxed set I’d want with me if I ever found myself stranded on a desert island with a solar powered DVD player.
            Sal and I have been together more than 16 years, 5+ of those married. He’s my best friend, instigator, enabler, and silliness partner. He’s my inspiration for most of my heroes. He’s about to graduate college (May 11th, 2013!) with degrees in math and education. At 42, we’ve both achieved our dreams: mine is being a published author, his is being a high school math teacher. We’ve been through so much together, and though our lives are about to get even more ‘interesting’, we’ll be making our next moves together, as it should be. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

            I know that some folks are bewildered by my style of writing, in that my heroes and heroines don’t fight a lot.
My experience with love has been that it shouldn’t be a constant battle, that it should be easy and just kind of happen. I find it much more intriguing watching committed couples (or in the case of most of my stories, groups of people), band together and fight against an outside force, instead of each other.
Love should be the glue that binds you, not the fight tearing you apart, and I hope that my stories convey that.

Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for other writers who are looking to publish?

            DO IT!!!! Don’t just think about it, don’t just dream. Sit down, make it happen, and do it. Best advice I can give is to cultivate a good batch of beta readers that love your work, and then treat them like gold. They’re going to read the same stuff over and over again with minor variations, so don’t ever take them for granted.

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