Monday, November 03, 2008

Make-Believe Mondays With JoAnn Smith Ainsworth

Today on Make-Believe Mondays my guest is JoAnn Smith Ainsworth.

JoAnn, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

JoAnn: I’m writing book two of a three-book, plot-driven, paranormal suspense series. Five psychics assigned to the U.S. Navy) hunt WWII Nazi spies on the East Coast. The hero is the skeptical Navy commander in charge of setting up the project and the heroine is the clairvoyant WAVE assigned to oversee the business office. Each psychic has a unique skill to bring to the mix (clairvoyant, medium, crystal ball reader, laying-on-of-hands healer, and seer of ghosts).
In the first book, they use their psychic skills to uncover two spies. As the book develops, they get to know one another enough to accept that each will watch the other's ‘psychic’ back.

The second book brings in black magick, Pennsylvania Dutch hex spells and pow wowing. The psychics must reach beyond their individual skills and unite as a group to fight and uncover a baffling barrage of occult magick. The reader learns that the heroine is a direct descendent to a Black Dutch ancestor from Bavaria, Germany, who has a powerful book of counter spells to drive back the evil directed at the U.S. Navy psychics by Hitler's occult group.

In book three, the hero and heroine travel to wore-torn London to retrieve the book of counter spells, which was smuggled out of Bavaria as Hitler was increasing his control on the country. What they don't know is that their supposed friend who accompanies them to England is working for Germany. He has orders to kill them if they get too close to Hitler's secrets or find the book of spells.

A romance between the heroine and the hero develops slowly over the course of the three novels.

Debra: Over the course of three novels? How very interesting. Keeping that suspense going as well.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

JoAnn: My ‘creative cup’ comes with the editing of the manuscript. That’s the time when I cut away the excess and choose the right word to convey the emotion of the character.

I write for ear and eye and feeling. The words have to look good on the page. The ear has to enjoy the way the words sound when combined. I need to feel the action’s drama. When I accomplish this, I have a big smile and my ‘creative cup’ is satisfied.

I’m a pragmatic person and never worry about keeping my ‘creative cup’ filled. I also never worry about writer’s block. If it happens, it’s like the 24-hr. flu. I put the manuscript away for a day or two. When I look at it with fresh eyes, I know what to do – especially because I have all plot points, character development, and an outline of the novel finished before I ever write a word on the story.

Debra: Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

JoAnn: I started my career as an author by writing romances, which are character-driven stories. My H/H characters have to come alive for me before I can write their story.

‘Coming alive’ happens at different times for my characters. Secondary characters sometimes come alive because of their interactions with the plot. With my heroine and hero, I think about and research their time period (I write historicals) until they become three-dimensional in their settings. Then I start writing, and not before.

Debra: I am beginning to think every character is different in the way that they come alive. Those secondary characters can be just as vivid.

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?

JoAnn: I’m an example of never giving up on your dream. I’m a senior citizen who plans to write novels for the next 15-20 years. When I decided I wanted to use my education to become an author to supplement my social security and keep me active and alive after retiring as a database administrator, I had a ten-year plan. My employer unexpectedly went out of business in 2003 in the aftermath of the bust. I suddenly found myself without a job and in early retirement. I could have decided that my world had fallen apart and why bother, but I stuck to my dream and accelerated my writing process.

Uncannily, it ended up being the ten years of writing that I envisioned. I sold OUT OF THE DARK and MATILDA’S SONG last year to Samhain Publishing, Ltd. These novels are e-released and will be in print in bookstores in 2009.

My most recent excitement as an author was to find I am being sold in Britain by Libresco (iliad e-book reader) for ₤2.25, and by Amazon-UK and I wonder what the British will have to say about an American writing novels set in 1120 A.D. England!

To read reviews for OUT OF THE DARK and MATILDA’S SONG, please go to

Debra: JoAnn, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Debra's News/Debra is watching:

Today was my turn to blog over on Title Wave Changes are coming there. Keep watching. ;-)

This week I am working on galleys for A Desperate Journey, which are due this Friday. Once that is done, I'll be back to working on my the new western.

One of my friends from RT, Andrei Claude, has started a new blog.
in-a-mans-world This is one I won't want to miss. Check it out!


Diane Craver said...

Great interview!

Good luck with your galleys, Debra.

Btw, check out my blog: I gave you an "award".

Debra Parmley said...

Thank you Diane. I am happy to report that as of Friday they are done and in on time.

What a nice surprise to learn I have an award! Thank you so much! I shall pop over an check it out.