Friday, September 25, 2015

An Interview with Annie Hawthorne

Today I'm delighted to be interviewing fellow writer and blogger Annie Hawthorne!

Annie Hawthorne is a twenty-something young woman who has an avid love for her Saviour and for Story. She writes in multiple genres of fantasy, but particularly high fantasy, urban, and anthropomorphic. She indulges her fondness for speculative fiction and children's literature by scribbling in those genres also. She is pursuing a path of traditional publishing for her novel I am Juliette, a light sci-fi re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. Whimsy, vividry, and pathos are her trademark, and she longs to touch people's hearts and show them the deeper, more beautiful side of life. 

Annie reads books like they're going out of style. She adores the work of many authors, but her current absolute favorites are P.G. Wodehouse, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Mirriam Neal. When she's not reading or writing scenes that make her beta-readers cry, she can be found interacting with her family as one of its more lively members or discussing Important Subjects with enthusiasm and vehemence. People-watching, long road-trips, dissecting books and films, Doctor Who and LOTR marathons, wearing red heels, and collecting mugs are always on her To-Do list. She chases beauty, and is a Child of God. 

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1. (Heidi) Some differences and similarities you see between the three major forms of storytelling—literature, music, and film? 
(Annie) Oh, goodness, this question is fascinating and surprisingly difficult to answer. Some obvious similarities between film vrs. literature would be they both involve characters, emotion, and some semblance of a plot. But simultaneously they tell their stories in very different ways. 

A book drops you inside the minds and thoughts of its characters. Reading requires imagination and it fosters that imagination by teaching you to create worlds and people and lives from a simple page of text. Because books require so much thought over an extended period of time, and because those thoughts become engraved in our minds I think that is why -- for me, at least -- books have been more life-changing than movies. 

Unlike books, in film the story plays out in front of your eyes, instead of in your mind. A movie gives you a fly-on-the-wall perspective into someone's life, and because of that vivid immediacy it can be much easier for people to become attached to the characters and invested in the story. Humor and tragedy often translate better on-screen than in written form, which is why I cry more easily while watching a movie than when reading a book. Vice versus, I tend to love book charries longer and more deeply than movie characters -- because I have been them. That in itself is a major difference between literature and film. 

During a movie the characters become like our dear friends. 

During a book we become the characters. 

Music, on the other hand, conveys everything through emotion (I'm thinking instrumental here since I rarely listen to lyrical). I can hear a song and feel like spinning in wild circles or curling up to sleep purely based on the emotion it's infused with, ergo, why music is incredibly inspiring for Story. 

2. How have you seen those three mesh together in your own creative process? 
My stories play out in my mind like a film, complete with sweeping camera angles, lighting effects, etc. The trick then is to transfer that fluidly to paper so others can see it in their imaginations as vividly as I do. 

Music helps me tremendously. Sometimes if I'm on a deadline, I listen to a fast-paced playlist, and when I write scenes taut with emotion or fear or tragedy I pick specific movie scores to help create the mood. 

3. When and how did you first begin writing? 
Because my Mum read books like The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Anne of Green Gables to my siblings and I when we were tiny, I grew up with a love of literature ingrained in me. At a very young age I started a nightly routine of telling stories to my little sisters about mice and hedgehogs; also an anthropomorphic fanfiction of Star Wars. My ritual of bedtime stories morphed into writing bits and pieces of story here and there, and when I was about fourteen or fifteen I started to seriously write. I’ve always intended to be an authoress and, somehow I acquired the idea when I was little that writers were rare creatures nowadays. So I considered it a noble pursuit along the lines of reviving a lost art. As I grew older I realized how many of us there actually are, and I couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong. 

4. What are you currently working on? 
It's very hush-hush right now. But I'm writing a shortish piece of fantasy with a steampunk setting. It stars a snarky cat named Tarquin who's a bit full of it, and adorable as all get out (well, I think he is). He and his bird friend Prism get up to all sorts of dangerous shenanigans in the city they haunt, all while trying to keep a wild, little girl from being killed by a vengeful personage before she even has the chance to grow up. It's told in third person which I haven't done in awhile, so that's been fun. 

5. Particular author/s who have influenced you? 
A few from my earliest memory would be J.R.R. Tolkien, Beatrix Potter, and L.M. Montgomery. Tolkien taught me a love for fantasy, unlikely heros, and adorable charries. Potter gave me a love for anthropomorphic fantasy stories, and Montgomery taught me the importance of the simple things, the vividry of description, and unforgettable characters. Other inspirational authors are C.S. Lewis, Dickens, Kenneth Graham, Charlotte Brontë, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. More recently, Eric Nylund, Rachel Heffington, Rosemary Sutcliff, Harper Lee, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and Mirriam Neal. 

6. Is there a “non-writing” activity that shapes your writing? 
Everything I do shapes my writing in some way -- whether in gleaming inspiration or honing my knowledge of people and life, but one thing in particular would be, as Agatha Christie mentioned, the washing of dishes. I can't tell you how often the muse strikes when I'm doing the daily scrubbing up.

7. Your opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of digital books? 
Digital copies are wonderful for reading books at little cost if you don't mind not owning a tangible copy. They also make it simpler for anyone to read whatever they want -- both a good and a bad thing. I like the conveniences of one's kindle, and the fact that there are so many free classics available. 

But. Nothing, nothing ever, will compare with holding a crisp, shiny, new, gorgeous novel in your hands or cradling a well-worn tome, its pages soft and yellow with age. Tangible books don't hurt one's eyes like staring at a phone screen does, they don't lose their charge, and we're bookworms: we love our gloriously stacked bookshelves. 

8. Do you ever do graphic design to help with your writing? 
I love story collages with all the love. I create them for inspiration, or just because they're so pretty.

9. Do you outline? If so, in a general way or very detailed? 
I do. I'm a hybrid writer which means I'm neither a pantser or a plotser, but a conglomeration of the two (plantser). In a nutshell, I do a rough outline of the story with all the major plot points charted out. Then I trot merrily along from point to point and all sorts of delightful shenanigans happen along the way. But, inevitably, I end up stuck with no idea how to get to Point B. Then I outline scene by scene. So far this method works well for me. 

10. Do you work on multiple projects at once? 
I don't generally work on more than two at once. I like to edit one project whilst I write the other, which is what I'm doing with I am Juliette and my steampunk fantasy. 

11. Do you edit as you write? 
I used to edit intensively, so much so that I rarely wrote more than 500 words a day. July Camp NaNo 2015 broke me of that habit and I couldn't be happier. I would rather finish manuscripts faster and edit them more than take ages to write the first draft. I still edit slightly as I write, but not to the extent I used to. 

12. Certain themes you see surfacing and resurfacing in your work? 
My books tend to have generous servings of broken people finding hope and whole-ness,multiple charries stuck with each other (oh, the dynamics), adorable creatures, wry humor, assassins/clever people doing epic things whilst I gnaw my fingernails in worry, the themes of forgiveness and thankfulness, a focus on relationships between siblings/best friends,and bringing darkness into light which means testing characters' souls. 

13. A particular aspect of writing you struggle with or a challenge you’ve overcome? 
I struggle with writing strong description. I never used to, but within the last year that changed. No idea why. As for challenges I've overcome? Writing more than 1,000 words per day, and writing in 2nd person POV. 

14. How do you deal with feedback—particularly negative feedback? 
Positive feedback is a wonderful thing, and normally I can take it without letting it go to my head. I've never actually received out-right negative feedback on my work. With constructive criticism I bluster to myself and get any sting out of my system (which doesn't usually take too long) and then I look at the feedback objectively and see what can be learned from it. 

15. One thing you’ve learned from other writers? 
Give. Read their work. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Be honest. Remember what goes around, comes around. 

16. A helpful nonfiction book or website? 
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon is one of the most inspiring, encouraging books I've ever read. As for sites, here are a few of my favorites: 

17. What do you consider one of the single most important things to remember (i.e. an attitude or technique)? 
Don't quit. Don't ever, ever quit. Perseverance is vital (I'm planning a blog article about this). Also, adverbs? They can be used in moderation, not avoided like the plague. 

18. A word of encouragement for fellow writers? 
No one can write books exactly like you can. You are an unique human with an unique take on the world. Don't give up. It's hard, this writing thing, but everything worth having is hard in the getting. Keep going and hang onto everything that makes you love Story so much. 

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Note from Heidi: Thank you so much for visiting today, Annie -- I so enjoyed having you!
And everyone, be sure to visit Annie's brand new blog The Curious Wren!


  1. Fabulous interview! I am definitely a hybrid plantser too (and that is officially a great name for it). XD

    Tarquin sounds perfect! Love me a snarky character--and when it happens to be a cat, all the better.

    Loved the answers to the last two questions. Thank you for that encouragement, Annie. <3

    1. Thank you, Tracey! Oh, splendid. The more plantsers the merrier (one of my writing friends actually created that title, and it's perfect)

      All the warm fuzzies, right now. I love Tarquin so much, it makes me beyond happy to hear other people take an interest in him! And, yes, cats are the epitome of snark.

      You're most welcome, dear! I'm happy to help. <3

  2. Beautifully in-depth questions and answers - Annie, I am absolutely with you on your love for J.R.R. Tolkein (so many fond memories of reading and re-reading the Hobbit as a child!). And I love the term "plantser"; I think I may have to adopt that for myself, as I tend to have much the same writerly habits as you when it comes to pantsing vs. plotting. A happy medium is a lovely thing, I think! xx

  3. I so enjoyed your answers and I like your term "hybrid writer". Me, too! And we have a lot of favorite authors in common... Yes, household chores can be great story stimulators -- I find laundry folding often works well. :) And thank you for your great words of encouragement. They were very timely!

  4. I like your final bit of advice! Sometimes it gets discouraging to know there are so many writers who are so much better than I am. But you're right, no one else can write the exact same stories as me, and that's important. Thanks!

  5. This was such a fun interview! I really loved all of your answer to the first question, especially:
    "During a movie the characters become like our dear friends.
    During a book we become the characters."
    This is so true!
    Your collages are so pretty! I especially like the "well read woman"/""proud to lick cake bowls" one.
    Oh wow-your answer to number 9 accurately describes my method as well! For my current WIP, I outlined a general "this will happen sometime" chart but I just recently got stuck and had to outline in more detail the entire span of where I was to the ending. It did help a lot!


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