Today on Make-Believe Mondays our guest is Annie West.
Annie, first tell us a little bit about the manuscript you're working on now.
Annie: Hi, Debra, and thanks so much for having me on your Make-Believe Monday.
Debra: It's a pleasure to have you here.
Annie: I'm currently working on the story that I hope will be my seventh book for Harlequin Presents. No title as yet - it keeps changing! It's about a heroine who believes she will never earn the love of a good man and a hero who has loved and lost and never expects to find love again. Of course they're both wrong, as I insist on a happy ending! At the moment I'm immersed in their growing passion and confusion as they grapple with their preconceived ideas and face their feelings for each other.
Debra: This is the kind of love story most of us can relate to. It's wonderful to see that risk taking rewarded in the end.
Ray Bradbury said, "We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing when to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." How do you keep your creative cup filled?
Annie: I wish I knew for sure because I'd certainly do lots more of it! I'm only now beginning to get a feel for this and to realize how important it is to have time when I'm not focusing on the current or next book. I need time to allow my mind some freedom to enjoy what's going on around me. Things that I find help are reading (of course), simply relaxing in the sun, getting outside and active - like walking by the lake or the sea or tackling the garden, talking to friends or family, traveling, going somewhere different - to a play, a concert, a new place I've never visited or trying something entirely new!
Debra: Getting outside and away from the computer is vitally important.
Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?
Annie: There are several moments when this happens. Often I'll start a book and not know the story. I have a scene playing in my head and I have to get it down on paper. It's such fun. Even though I don't know the details of what will happen later, those characters are incredibly real to me. I may not know exactly why they react in certain ways, I'll often discover that over time, but I do know how they react, how they feel. It's a wonderful, fabulous and utterly inexplicable. I see and hear them right from the start. It's as if I've opened a door in my mind and there they are, real and fully formed.
Later on in the story, I get more details of their history and their futures and then I have a more complete understanding of them. It's fascinating as sometimes small points I've included in that first scene turn out to be integral to their story and I hadn't even known it!
Debra: Sometimes it's very much like meeting the new next door neighbor.
For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?
Annie: I can't remember ever dreaming about one of my books, but I do know there's something powerful about the subconscious working while I'm asleep. You know those niggling plot points that can cause so much trouble? Often you can resolve them by chatting with another writer friend and brainstorming ideas. Another way that has worked for me is to sleep on it. Literally. I spend time thinking about the issue and why I need a different solution and then put it aside. Often I'll wake in the morning with some new insight to the problem that allows me to go forward with the story. The results can be quite stunning.
Debra: Yes, the subconscious is incredibly wise. It's amazing.
Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?
Annie: I've always been a reader, an avid, totally-absorbed-in-the-story reader. It's one of the great joys of my life when I find a book - a new world - I can dive into and explore. I believe that imagination is as crucial to readers as to writers because we create this new reality of the book in our minds
My only message is to wave hello to fellow readers and to ask that you take time to think about how you might encourage other people, particularly younger ones, to discover the joy of great books too. It's a wonderful thing to share.
Annie, thank you for joining us here on this Make-Believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.
Annie: Debra, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you!
Debra: You're welcome. I'm so glad we finally connected.
Please pop over to visit Annie at her website to find out more about her stories and her life as a writer.