Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Author Spotlight: Anna Sheehan author of A Long, Long Sleep

To tell of myself:

As Walt Whitman said, "I am large, I contain multitudes!" The epigraph of every writer, really.

I was conceived in northern Alaska, and was born to a bohemian veterinarian mother in a hospital on the shores of Lake Michigan. I endured numerous hellish years of school, and I can say with reasonable veracity that I have forgiven all my teachers and even the poor children who had to figure out how to deal with me.

Instead of a social life, I swam in books. I became a devoted follower of Diana Wynne Jones and Douglas Adams. I studied acting and Shakespeare with the Young Shakespeare Players of Madison, Wisconsin, and it deeply impacted my direction in life... CONTINUE READING

First off, Thank you for stopping by The Crazy Bookworm!

Thank you for giving me this chance to talk about myself.

What inspired you to write A Long, Long Sleep?

Two things inspired me on this novel. The first was the story of Sleeping Beauty itself. It was a story that always seemed to stop just when things got interesting. She wakes up, her life starts, and then what happens? Happily ever after? What’s that supposed to mean! When her world, her kingdom and her life were put on pause, and the rest of the world turned without her? She would have to come to terms with what she missed while she slept. The other thing was my two-year old daughter, and don’t tell me there isn’t a parent in the world who hasn’t had the thought, "Oh, if I could just put you on pause!" I’d never do it. But there are people – not nice people – who would, and I wondered what that would do to someone. Those two thoughts combined to inspire A Long, Long Sleep.

What came first: The Characters or the idea for the story?

Once I had the premise, the characters grew from that. I tried to think about what a futuristic princess would be like. My first vision of Rose was someone haughty and unpleasant, but that changed even before I started writing, as I realized the sheer level of emotional trauma being put on "pause" all the time would cause. I used another model of abuse victim, and she became one of the nicest characters I’ve ever written. Xavier follows the pattern of the friend of the victim, not quite sure how involved he should get, not sure whether what he’s seeing is normal or not. Bren is just a boy dropped into a situation and making the best of it. Otto surprised me. He was not in the premise or the outline, and showed up without warning as I was writing, and then took over. People tell you not to let minor characters do that. I tell them, let them. Maybe they know what you’re doing better than you do.

What is 'A Day in the life of Anna Sheehan' like?

Typically, I’ll get up about six in the morning to get my daughter ready for school. We live far away from the city, so it takes me an hour to drive her in. I listen to NPR as I’m driving. I drop her off and head to my favorite bookstore, a small independent in Eugene. They’re very nice about letting me hang out and write, and even offer free tea. If I’m writing well, I’ll stay all day. If I’m having difficulties, some time around noon I’ll fold up my laptop and head off to the movie theater. I watch a lot of movies, even outside my chosen genre, because it’s a useful and very fast way to absorb storyline, dialogue and characterization. Once I pick my daughter up and take her home, I tend to spend the afternoon working on a hand project – sewing or canning or something else, if I’m not catching up on sleep. Often I’ll be watching something while I’m working – Doctor Who and Masterpiece Theater are my favorites. After dinner I put my daughter to bed, and then I usually watch Daily Show and Colbert Report before I head out to milk the cow. I’m often plagued with insomnia, so I’ll usually write until about two, pass out for four hours, and start again. (I catch up on sleep on the weekends.)

Finish this sentence "I can't live without..."

My family. I discovered the hard way how painful it is to lose someone when you weren’t expecting it, and now I’m very careful about cherishing everyone I love.

A Long, Long Sleep is your debut novel. What was the best and hardest part of writing it?

You know, it wasn’t the first novel I’ve written. I wrote my first novel at sixteen – a children’s story about a pet rat, aimed about middle-grade. I don’t clearly remember what it was like to write "my first novel," though I do recall having a hard time making people believe I would finish what I started. When it came to A Long, Long Sleep, this was one of those books that was astoundingly easy to write. It sort of fell out of me in about thirty days. That was probably the best thing about it; how easy it was. The hardest part was actually the waiting game. It takes years in the publishing business to get a book through agent, editor and publisher. (I swear, I wrote Otto LONG before Avatar came out, and everyone who says I took the blue skin and yellow eyes from that has NO idea how annoyed I was to find the color scheme usurped!) I still find the length of the process frustrating, and probably always will.

Did you come across any challenges during the writing process?

Not for A Long, Long Sleep, but believe me, they don’t all come so easy. Usually my challenges involve: losing the thread of a narrative; placing scenes that don’t actually fit in the natural flow of the story; making villains believable, but at the same time not so sympathetic that you start rooting for them; trying not to be self-indulgent in my dialogue (I fail at this time and time again); research issues; action scenes; toning down overly dramatic situations; making setting as much a character as the characters without being boring about it; and in general, most of the rest of the book.

Are you working on anything now? If so, can you share a little about it?

I’m always working on something, even if only in my head. There was enough interest in a sequel to A Long, Long Sleep that I eventually wrote one. But of course, because I don’t believe in writing the same thing only different, it isn’t exactly what my editor expected, so like all books, it needs heavy editing, and I’m trying to wrap my head around that. There’s another book on the burner, another vision of the Sleeping Beauty story, this time a fantasy involving a more traditional faerie tale Beauty, and her daughter, but my agent is waiting for me to finish the edit on the sequel before we try and sell it. (That waiting game again!) I just abandoned a fantasy story set in 16th century Germany when I realized I did not have the research I needed to write it, so I might start that again once I find the right reference materials. As for what I’ll be starting this fall... probably another sci-fi. I miss being able to use things like phones and the word "okay" in my novels if I stick with historical/fantasy settings for too long, so I like to alter between fantasy and contemporary or sci-fi.

What books are on your 'To Read' pile this fall?

Ooh, I don’t dare keep one. I can’t afford it. I’m an impoverished author living in a garret. I buy books when I see them, and I read them, in that order. As I said, I don’t like the waiting game. I think I ought to try Across the Universe, just because so many people keep comparing it to A Long, Long Sleep, but otherwise, I have nothing planned.

Thank you, Anna. It is a pleasure having you!

Thank you for letting me drone on and on. I love interacting with fans – or potential fans. On that note, find me at annasheehan.com, and on Facebook.

About the Book:

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.

Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose -- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire -- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.

Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existance, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes -- or be left without any future at all.  Buy the Book
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