Monday, September 2, 2013

My sit down with Anne Eliot, author of Almost, and Unmaking Hunter Kennedy + Giveaway!

I had a major fangirl moment when Anne agreed to let me interview her, I just finished her book Almost about a week or so ago. (Find my review HERE.) It's been a pleasure to get to know her, and I would love for all of you to get to know her as well. So without further ado here's my interview: (Be sure to read it through, it has great points, and even advice for writers. You don't want to miss out, and at the end there is a giveaway for her debut novel, Almost!

Why did you decide to write this kind of story, what was the inspiration?
Almost is a very personal story to my heart because back when I was a HS Senior, my best friend was raped at a party by the brother of a friend of ours and she and I never told anyone about it. My sweet friend was all of 100 pounds soaking wet, and I was taller and stronger and always felt like I could have told or helped or...something but I wasn't there, and she and were very young and innocent and back in the late eighties, rapes were even less reported because the blame would fall to the girl.

I began writing Almost as a way to explore my own ongoing sadness about this time in my life. If it changed me so much, I can only imagine how it changed my friend forever too. I've always had a never-ending stream of "WHAT IF's" around that situation. At first I tried to write a story about a girl who'd been raped, but the subject was too sad. Also because I am a slow writer, I did not think I could write the flashback scene all the way through because writing in first person is a bit like being a character actor. You really have to walk in different shoes and stay in someone's head for a long long time until you get the pages right. I did not think I could walk with Jess Jordan all the way, so I decided to make Gray Porter, a brave freshman boy, who stood up against a kid way bigger and more popular than him, who stopped the rape. 

As it was, writing the 'Almost' rape nearly destroyed my heart, as did the research on this topic because there are so many 'Almost' rapes and full rapes in the teen world. The majority are unreported and in countries outside the USA, these attacks are so undocumented and not prosecuted that the numbers are staggering and the acquaintance rapes are more common that stranger rapes. This is a tragic topic that I'm now vowed to be involved in educating people about for the rest of my life. As is the topic of rape related PTSD. In doing my research, I found that 40% of girls/women have PTSD after an unwanted attack whether the rape was completed or not. This PTSD can be severe, and will alter the girl's future in major and minor ways for the rest of their lives.

Gray Porter is so swoon worthy, how did you come up with his character? Was he inspired by anyone?
Thanks for saying he's swoon-worthy. Gray is 'good guy' to be sure. I came up with the character because my friends have sons who've been raised to be honorable, and good and fair and to love women and respect them. Two boys who would never dream of hurting a woman and who would step up and help if needed. One played hockey/lacrosse and the other one of the two even saved a guy from drowning while he and his family were on vacation. Both of these boys were also scrawny, skinny legged and undersized freshman when they were starting high school. They also had to sit back and watch the girls they had crushes on smile at the seniors. 

So, yeah, Gray is a compilation of those two teens. They would definitely step up and stop a rape from happening if they knew something was going down at a party like what happened with Jess. I've learned, since writing Almost, if every sister, cousin, mom, aunt, etc. would stop, and take the time, and ask the men and boys in their lives what they would do if they came across a girl in trouble at a party, and then ask them to 'PROMISE' to help, these men and boys will always remember this promise and they wills step up. If they have not had this conversation, they might not. Not because they are bad guys, but more because they are afraid or unsure. The promise makes them sure. So please try to do this and spread the word if you can. 

What made you want to become a writer? Was it something you’ve always wanted to do? Do you have any suggestions for anyone who may want to become a writer? 
I've always wanted to be a writer but was discouraged by my parents who would always say, 'you will make no money' or 'it's a bad job' or 'it's impossible'. My advice to people who want to be writers is to do it anyway. Don't wait. Just write. It took me 20 years to get my family's voice out of my head. Also my whole family is part of a population that bashes romance as 'inferior literature' which it is not. So I always hid my romance reading and writing habit. This is because if I showed up with a romance book, they would bash it and me for not reading 'real books'. I had to grow some backbone to stand up to them on this topic also. I'm not a naturally brave person so it took awhile to face my real dream and go after it with pride. 

My advice to writers is that while you are writing, read books like The Writer's Journey, study story structure, join Romance Writer's of America. (If you want to do romance). There's SCBWI for children's writers, SCI FI /Fantasy has it's own groups as well. These are national organizations made up of supportive, generous and wonderful writers that will soon be your friends. You will learn craft (either online or at a local chapter meeting), you will learn how to pitch, and sell and market and how to navigate the greater industry that is publishing today. This is an industry that changes every six months right now. With indies and traditional published people and hybrids, I think these national writers groups are really important.

I also suggest Digital Book World's daily/weekly emails as well as reading Galley Cat, Publisher's Weekly and publications within your genre to see who's publishing what. For romance, everyone reads Romantic Times. Writers should look at attending any and all local writer's conferences you can afford to attend. Many of these conferences will let you volunteer so your fees will be lower. At these conferences you can learn if you want an agent or not and just how amazing some agents are these days and what they can do for you. I love my agent, and am so grateful to have such a knowledgable person watching my back as I grow my career. You can learn about the different publishing houses and what they are looking for in submissions. 

I guess my biggest advice is keep on writing and revising. Write the best work you can, put it aside, don't get antsy and in a hurry, be patient with yourself and with the work. After you've let it sit, go back to it in a couple of weeks and take the time to revise and edit it until it's done right. In the meantime go to the conferences, learn what you want for your work and make educated decisions on how you visualize being published. Be proud of your genre and go after it. Stephen King's book, titled: On Writing, is about his journey as a writer, a husband and overcoming being an alcoholic and drug addict all while he wrote his horror books is full of some very inspiring advice as well. 

I know that the books you’ve written have romantic themes, why’d you choose romance?

I love love. I love first love. I love butterflies, and I adore that very first kiss. Romance is just my bliss. Watching a couple learn to let down their guards and hand over something as breakable as a heart for someone else to hold just blows me away every single time. I can't get enough of other people's romance stories. I'm an avid reader, film goer, song lyric lover, dusty-books collector...the theme of all of it has always been romance and butterflies and that twisty stomach feeling and sighs. 

What do you want people to take away from the book?
From Almost, I want readers young and older to leave with a few butterflies about first love. I want people to realize no matter what 'unchangeable thing' a person has, like living with PTSD forever or carrying a past/family/situations that can't be forgotten or are ongoing, that they still can look themselves in the mirror and love the beauty that is there.

I want them to know that they deserve--and will fall in love--with the right person someday. Even if that day feels like it's far away, patience and self love and acceptance of the cards you were dealt is the most important thing. Those cards don't have to own you--and maybe they've hurt you--but they don't make you who you are, only you can create that. The world might push in, but everyone has the power to push back. 

I want people to believe and keep looking for heroes like Gray Porter and to wait for them because they, like the two boys who I based the character on, are out there. We can't go back and fix/change the past, and we can't jump to the future no matter how big our dreams and potential is. 

We can only take the one step that is in front of us. That's it. But so many people look back and look forward, but they don't remember to come back to today and actually dive in. Don't wait. This one moment is the most important because it's the only thing you have control over in your life. Once Jess started understanding that, she could face anything in the book and I hope others get this message as well.

And lastly, What can we expect from you in the future, are you out there creating more fictional men to steal our hearts?

Aww. Thanks for asking. There is always the sexy boy band guy, Hunter Kennedy, who's forced to move to a small town to fall in love with. He's also swoon worthy, and because he's got a bit more experience I'm told, his first kiss has been voted one of the best. Because I wrote it, I know this first kiss does last three chapters, and took months and months to write so I really hope you all will check that out. 

This fall, I'm working on two other swoon-worthy guys who are almost ready to be revealed to the world with covers and blurbs but I've still got to wait on that info. Just know they are there and they are in high school still, and they are sweet and wounded and kind and it's still all about the first loves. Jazmen (that's me...*fangirling*) will be the first one besides my pal Judith at to have the preview of what and who is next. 

Now for the giveaway: (For those of you unfamiliar with the book, check out the blurb HERE.)
For additional works from Anne visit Goodreads, or find out more on her website. You can also find her on twitter at: @yaromance

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  1. Hi I love your blog. I've begun to follow you on Twitter, GFC etc. My blog is would you consider following me back?

  2. This book sounds really interesting!