Thursday, March 7, 2013

Author Insides - Annalisa Crawford

Annalisa Crawford lives and writes in Cornwall, with a good supply of beaches and moorland to keep her inspired. After winning several competitions with her short stories, she’s made a move into longer length work. She finds endless possibilities in the relationships between people. Annalisa blogs at Wake up, eat, write, sleep —

Her novella, Cat and the Dreamer, is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t have a collection of notebooks that I’d scribble in and hide from my parents. When I was about 15 or 16, my dad bought me a subscription to Writing Magazine which listed places I could submit my work, as well as articles on how to write. And away I went!

Why do you write?

I honestly don’t know what I do instead. When I was young, I’d have vivid day dreams about my family, imagining them in perilous situations to understand how I’d feel. They regularly got kidnapped, moved to Africa without me, sent me off to boarding school. In my four year old mind, I was convinced the things I thought would come true, so I wrote them down instead and subjected fictional people to these horrors.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

I still have a vision of sitting in a coffee shop with my muse, or sitting in the fields near me house and staring out over the river. The closest I’ve come to this idyll is sitting in a beautiful old library frantically trying to get the blurb for Cat and the Dreamer right.

What do you think makes a good story?

I want the characters to develop, and to understand something more about themselves by the end of the story. I love stories where you can’t work out where the author is going to take the story.

What's your favorite genre to read?

I think I’d have to say Literary. I know that term means a lot of different things, but for me it means the author is free to write genre – romance, crime, thriller etc – but without the chains and formula of writing in the genre. When I read crime, sometimes, I’m not bothered if the villain gets away. In thriller, I don’t need the ending to be all sewn up.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

Margaret Atwood. She embodies what I’ve said above. She’s written softened versions of so many genres, and her readers never know what kind of book will come next. She definitely influenced my love of short stories.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

Because I generally write short stories, and fear a full-length, 90,000 word novel is beyond me, I like to look in bookshops for short books. Snake by Kate Jennings was a great find – a novella, but the writing is so rich and full, you feel like you’ve read a novel by the end. She’s a poet, and that shows through in her prose.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

Ooh, that’s difficult to answer. I read a lot of Enid Blyton when I was younger, maybe I’ve been influenced by her. I remember reading a story about two children who wanted to stay up later than their parents because they thought something amazing happened. Nothing happened apart from the kids were scared, and never wanted to stay up late again. I was always happy to go to bed.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

The news, snippets of conversation, my own day-dreams which are still very vivid. My mantra is ‘What if…?’ so I take an idea and just run through so many possibilities. Usually, a scene appears fully-formed and the rest just falls into place.

What does your family think of your writing?

My husband has been very supportive. He’s always known me as someone who writes, so it’s been a natural part of our lives. I’ve already mentioned the Writing Magazine my dad bought for me, so he’s probably the person who I should really thank for getting me started.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I wish I had a schedule. I’m an all or nothing writer. When the ideas are flowing I’ll be working until midnight, waking up to jot down ideas overnight, and back on my lap-top with my first cup of tea in the morning. When I’m finished, I’m completely empty and need time to recharge my imagination – that’s when I’ve got time for walks with my kids, day-trips, lunch with friends and housework.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

Apart from constant cups of tea, I write my first drafts with a beautiful fountain pen that I received for my 21st birthday. I’m convinced the words I write with that pen are of a higher quality than the words I write with other pens.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Probably knowing when to stop editing, but that’s getting easier. I used to edit purely to add words, to unearth that elusive novel-length book, but I now write the story I want to tell, and not worry about the length.

What are your current projects?

I’ve got a trilogy of novellas that I’m just polishing. There are set in the same town, and some of the characters flow from one to the next, but they are stand alone. And one of them features my favourite ever characters.

What are you planning for future projects?

I’ve got a first draft for a novel, but the direction of that could go a number of ways. I’m also considering looking back at some older projects, but that’s a long way off.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Apart from the obvious, read – which is too obvious to mention, these days – be interested in people. Look at how they connect and react to each other. I love sitting in coffee shops and just watching people – I try to figure out their stories, which gives me ideas. You can tell a lot about what’s going on without hearing a word.

Where else can we find your work?

For the past few years, I’ve been hooked on competitions. I came third in the Words with Jam competition last Christmas with a story called Omelette

My earlier stories were in magazines that are sadly defunct now.

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