Love/Hate/Doubt/Confidence/Love/Hate: A Shmooze With Author Angella Graff
I was very fortunate to touch base with many different authors and bloggers during the six months prior to the release of Shattered Illusions. Angella was one of those lovely authors (and bloggers). Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce Angella Graff:
How old were you when you discovered your passion for writing?
Oh I was about six, I think, haha! Honestly, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I learned to read very young, and once I discovered that I could create my own stories, I was hooked. But it didn’t become a tangible reality until about two years ago. My whole life people told me if I wanted to be a writer, I’d have to work another job because writing doesn’t pay. Which, on some levels is true, but no one bothered to urge me to stay in the field of writing, which is a shame. Now I edit for my day job, and writing on the side, and it’s the best of both worlds!
How do you handle negative feedback about your work?
Truthfully, it always always stings, but without criticism, I have no idea how to move forward with myself. Critique and negative feedback are the best ways which you can improve. A lot of times they are mean and harsh, and as writers, we tend to think of our books as extensions of who we are as a person. But that’s not true. Writing is a skill, one that has to be honed and trained. So even the cruelest feedback has something I can take away from it to make my next book even better. Now, if the feedback is something pointless like, “You suck and I hope you die,” I just ignore it. There are people who exist just to be nasty, without offering any sort of help or bothering to point out what they didn’t like. Honestly I don’t even think about those reviews after I read them.
What is the best part about being a published author?
Oh so many things, I don’t think there is a “best” thing. There’s nothing like seeing your name in print, or being able to do the thing you love most as your job. I love seeing people excited about where I’m taking a book idea, or a character arc. I love being able to put my second passion (history of theology) to use in my novels. It’s really just fantastic.
How do you feel that this form of expression has shaped you as a person?
I’ve always been the kind of person with a huge lexicon and desire to express myself, but my brain moves too fast for my mouth. I get hung up on words when I’m speaking, so writing helps me unleash floods upon floods of thoughts, emotions and ideas without feeling like I’m stuttering or getting stuck. So being able to do that, to express myself like that, has made me a more open and expressive person. When I was young I was very quiet and introverted simply because I had trouble when I’d try and voice what I was thinking. Now I can just take to my book or my blog and say what I feel.
If there was one thing you could change about any of your written works, what would it be and why?
Well I chose indie publishing, but I think that I’d probably take more time before deciding on that route and explore traditional and literary agencies. I’m not completely unhappy about my choice, but I feel like I didn’t take enough time to research both sides of the fence and I do regret that. I’d also make my first book a bit shorter, which I’m considering doing anyway.
Do you ever doubt yourself or your ability? How do you get out of it?
All the time. My writing cycle is like a merry-go-round of love/hate/doubt/confidence/hate/love/doubt. I think it’s the curse of all writers to have over-confidence, and then suddenly sink into massive self-doubt. But honestly I just push forward, and push through it. And if there’s something I’m feeling really unhappy about, I explore that idea, I get advice from my critique groups and beta readers, and then decide if my doubt is something based in reality or if it’s just me being paranoid that what I’m writing isn’t any good.
What is your daily writing routine like?
It depends on the day. Technically since I’m the work-from-home parent my day revolves around getting everyone to and from school, and errands done. Because I edit, as long as I get my required hours per work done, I can set my own schedule. So normally I take the kids to their schools (I have one in middle school and two in elementary) and then I either head home to get started on work, or I pop by the gym for a work out. I usually spend equal amounts of time writing and editing, though I do most of my writing while the kids are at school, and most of my editing in the evenings after my husband gets home from work and takes over kid-duty. I try and take weekends off, because the job IS very consuming and I like to have family time when everyone is at home.
How has writing affected other areas of your life (home, work if writing is not your full time career, relationships, etc)?
Sometimes it makes me very moody. When I’m reaching the end of a book, I’m usually very on edge and anxious as I wrap the book up. Also during re-writes. That’s a tough time. My husband tends to take it all in stride, he’s very patient with me, just sort of throws chocolate and runs when I’m in a serious mood haha! But he’s great about managing the kids during crunch time, and sort of takes the burden of chores when I’m swamped. So honestly no, I mean, as long as I communicate where I’m at with my work-load, things tend to flow pretty normally at home.
What is your cure for writers block?
I almost never get full-on writer’s block, in the sense that I always have some idea in my head I’d like to write about. I like writing short stories when I’m stuck on my book, to keep the writing juices flowing. Sometimes I’ll skip ahead to a scene that I want to write, and come back to the rest later when I’m back in the mood. Honestly though, sometimes it’s good to just step away and do something else, and not push yourself. My biggest muse is reading non-fiction theology theory books (it’s what I have my degree in and I’ve never stopped gathering more info and theories). Usually reading one of those books floods me with inspiration. Especially ones centered around historical events.
Who are your favorite writers? Is your writing style similar to theirs?
My favorite writers are all non-fiction, to be honest. Raza Aslan and Elaine Pagels, always my go to.
As for fiction, it’s more about the books than the writers themselves. The Mummy by Anne Rice, loved that one, and read it over and over. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I was told my prose was a lot like Anne Rice when I was younger, so I made a conscious effort to lessen the purple in my prose haha!
What kind of advice would you give your own child if they told you that they wanted to become an author?
One of my kids, my ten year old, does want to be a writer, actually. I just typed up this little short story she wrote on my blog and it was pretty good! But I tell them, education is everything. Learn your craft. Take writing classes and English classes. Join critique groups. Know how to edit your own work, become a master of grammar as best you can. Be patient and take your time. The longer you take, the better quality your work will be. And above all, research. Research everything you’re going to write. Even if it’s fantasy, do as much research as you can. The readers will appreciate it.
And if anyone wants to see her cute little zombie story, it’s here. And she will love comments, so don’t hesitate!
How do you see the future of the written word, considering the type of technology we have available today?
Well I’m of two minds. I love to death having print books, I really do. But honestly it’s a waste of paper, and rarely are things printed on recycled materials. Ebooks are definitely the future of literary technology. Being able to carry around your entire library on one small device is really fantastic and super helpful. Also, saving on college text books is a huge plus when I have three kids to send to school, haha! But again, I cherish the print books I have, because they probably won’t be around forever.
Are there any project you’re currently working on? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I’m working on a few. I’m finishing up the second to last book in my Judas Curse series, and the print date on that is late September. I’m also finishing up my second book of my Alexandra Fry, Private Eye series, due out right around Halloween of this year. That one is a young adult, paranormal series about a young girl who solves mysteries FOR ghosts. That’s right, not about them, but for them. The proceeds of the first book are being donated 100% to the Tucson Autism Alliance, which was an organization I worked with very closely when my son, who is Autistic, was younger. They were amazing. The remaining books in the series will have 20% of the proceeds donated from each sale, so I hope to get a decent amount over to them. I’ll also be with them at their booth during the Tucson Festival of Books in March of 2014 so anyone local can check them out then!
Lastly I’m starting a new dark satire series about Hell. Actual Hell. The son of the Devil is in Law School, training to take over as head Attorney at Hell’s law offices. But he’s half human, and very unsure he wants to take on the job. The devil himself is putting hell through a reform, going more PC and modern. Torture is out, skilled labor is in! But not everyone is happy with this change.
I have no release date set for the first in that series, but my website will be updated with info as I go.