Author Questions with Ann Marie Stewart

Since time is a factor when recording either voice or video, we didn’t get to ask Ann all of the questions we wanted to, so … we present, the exhaustive list. Enjoy getting to know Ann better.

About Ann…

  1. What should a reader know about you that isn’t in your bio? What would surprise them? I won a GRAMMY!  (Along with 159 other singers in the Washington Chorus). I walk 8 miles a day so that if I ever have grandkids, I’ll be healthy for them! I slalom waterski.
  2. Mountain retreat, beach cottage, or quaint coffee shop? Which is your dream writing spot? Or do you have another place of inspiration, and where is it? I can write anywhere if I HAVE inspiration!  I appreciate a place with reduced internet (when I’m NOT researching) and little distraction. Priest Lake, Idaho is a great place……
  3. What did you want to be when you grew up? Newscaster, newspaper reporter, architect.
  4. When did you discover you wanted to be a writer? I always considered myself a writer, even when writing “The Life of Bonded Lead” a first person account of a pencil. I think more people SHOULD consider themselves writers. There are lots of stories to tell.
  5. Did you have a favorite book as a child, teen, young adult?To Kill a Mockingbird. I also loved reading Maya Angelou’s memoirs.
  6. Which of your characters is most like you? Least like you? The child narrative in STARS IN THE GRASS is mistaken for me perhaps because it’s a girl who grew up at the same time as I did (1960’s) and had many of the same experiences.  OUT OF THE WATER has a variety of female characters and I think I’m a mix of Siobhan and Erin.
  7. What’s your celebration meal? Activity? Ethiopian food. Thai. Watch NCAA basketball. March Madness….ahhhhh. 

About your writing…

  • How long does it take you to write a book? That’s easy:  between one and forty years.
  • Do you have a writing schedule? No. I love to write so it’s not hard to get going. It’s hard to pull away. During Q. it was near full-time so I’ve learned to be fairly disciplined in research and writing. I sit down and go. One tip for writers:  write but don’t look for the answer. When you stumble into a deep question, highlight that sentence in yellow and move forward. LATER research the answer.  Separate your researching from your writing and you won’t get as distracted with rabbit holes.
  • How do you balance home/work life with writing? Hmmm, not sure I do. The house DOES get messy but with Q. we have fewer invites so I don’t keep it as clean. Perhaps reduced expectations and fewer obligations. My children are grown so that also reduces certain commitments. I have an active life but I prioritize and say no when something isn’t right.
  • What keeps you motivated to write, edit, revise, etc.? The story must make it onto the page. Someone said sculpting was actually removing something until the figure comes out — well, I’m trying to find the figure and sculpting the words to show that statue come to life. The research and adding the research in is the most tedious. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE editing and revising and moving the entire book around.
  • Where do you do most of the actual work of writing? Office, backyard studio, other? I made a nice office in the room above the garage, a huge guest bedroom so nice that my husband stole it and now I made an office out of my daughter’s bedroom which I love even more.
  • Do you have an inspirational quote, verse, or photo that you return to for motivation when you want to quit? In said office, I have this verse done in art:   Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or IMAGINE according to his power that is at work within us to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Ephesians 3:20.  I find it inspiring because when I can’t imagine or write anything, HE can do immeasurably MORE than all I can IMAGINE and I hope it brings GLORY to him and that the words can go forward for generations.
  1. What’s the oddest piece of information that you discovered in your research? Were you able to use it in a book? Writing about a prison town in Montana is quirky enough. But when the grand theatre in the Yard at that prison connects to UVA law school and another character in the book —- that blew me away. OUT OF THE WATER takes place in a variety of locations and years. I chose UVA because both daughters graduated from there recently. One character also graduated UVA and I toured the prison complex which has the remnants of a fantastic theatre. Funds were donated by the same man who donated funds for the library at UVA Law School.  From Virginia to Montana……. The quirky things about the prison are true — read the book for more obscure facts.
  2. Have you ever been surprised by where you got a book idea? STARS came about by writing about my greatest fear:  losing a child. But I wasn’t even married at the time. OUT OF THE WATER was prompted by my agent’s question about what I would write next. I HAD NO IDEA.  Adoption fascinated me and so that story unraveled and snaked in all sorts of directions surprising me at every turn. “I had NO IDEA THAT CHARACTER WAS HER MOTHER!” I’d realize as I was writing. One as of yet unwritten book:  STAGE LEFT will be a humorous novel closer to truth and my experiences in directing theatre.  The beauty of writing is that it is ALL a surprise. As soon as I placed OUT in 1981, then everything that happened then, has to be considered. Diana’s wedding FIT IN PERFECTLY. 
  3. Do you have ideas you haven’t had time to write yet? Why not? Any sneak previews? Or, what’s the next project you’re working on?

A Capital Mary Kris Smith – humorous Christmas novel ala Hallmark —- I LOVE This one — just need to find a home for it!  Done.

All is Calm, All is Bright – coming out summer 2022 — devotional for Christmas

REMNANT – memoir about my grandparents’ escape from Russia in 1929 in which they have to leave their three-year-old son behind. FINISHED but doing editing and revising.

STAGE LEFT:  Upon the death of her husband (ALS) a former leading lady discovers he has left her with the rental of a theatre, the purchase of rights and rentals to three specific productions in the upcoming year. She left the stage for family and doesn’t want to return to theatre and directing but loses the investment if she turns away from it. The next year puts community into her community theatre and brings her to life.

  1. Have you ever considered an alternate ending? What made you land on the one you chose? What did you do with the option you discarded?Out of the Water had a less happy ending and had an even happier one. I settled for a realistic and satisfying midpoint!
  2. Do your life experiences make their way into your books? How? If I haven’t been somewhere I find it challenging to write about. Writing from my time periods is much more authentic and easy to research. I snag phrases and ideas and people and names from everything I do.  I have a sign:  Please do not annoy the writer or she may put you in a book and kill you.  Well, people end up in my novels.  Though I rarely kill them.
  3. Compare your writing to a piece of music. What type would it be? Country, rock, opera, lullaby…? Ballad from a musical. Very lyrical with a definite story arc.
  4. Tell us about your latest book. Any behind the scenes information you could share about the plot, setting, and/or characters? By latest, it’s hard to say which one to speak of……I have a few spinning around at the same time…… OUT OF THE WATER is the latest published. PEOPLE— I love these characters. Strong feisty women who go for what they want. Mothers who sacrifice for their children. The plot became increasingly more involved as it took in Ireland, Boston 1918 and writing about a Pandemic when I suddenly landed in the middle of one.  (Ours was less gory). The novel took me to France in WW1 and to my beloved summer vacation spot:  Priest Lake, Idaho.  I went to Boston to do the research for that location and IT MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE. I wish I could go to Crimea and Moscow for REMNANT, but that isn’t going to happen anytime soon or I could be researching war instead of a pandemic and I don’t want to be in the middle of that. 
  5. How do you name your characters? I used to sit in church and create families with all the names I liked. Now I get to put names I like (and don’t like) in my books. Names and their meanings have a big role in both of the novels as characters and readers discover. I pull from people I know, too! 
  6. How does faith play a role in your characters’ lives? A novel without the RE’s is a waste of my time. Redemption. Rebecca (just kidding), restoration, Reconciliation. There will be no religious conversion at the end of Act 2, but characters will change, grow, and model what happens in a world of faith. In STARS, the characters’ faith is challenged. In OUT OF THE WATER, it is a sort of story of MOSES — though lightly handled.
  • Do you invent a setting or use actual places? Bethel, Springs, Ohio was a fictional town in Ohio. Funny thing? A small town in Ohio is where my publishing house is situated. OUT OF THE WATER is partially situated in Idaho. That’s where the publishing house is located.  I guess I might have to go to Russia for REMNANT…..

About writing and reading in general…

  • Writing is a solitary process. How do you engage in community? FB communities that answer questions about places. I have a Bible Study, go to lunch with friends, and interview people about various topics.
  • Do you have a favorite author? Kristin Hannah, Geraldine Brooks, Adriana Trigiani, and Jodi Picoult WHEN they don’t get programmatic or liberal preachy…
  • What’s the best thing about writing fiction? The worst? Blank slate. Blank slate.
  • What encouragement would you offer up-and-coming writers? Writers conferences. Networking. Writers groups. Classes with other writers. Forming a community of writers.

Pop (soda) or water? Flavored water

Coffee or tea?  Coffee if it has LOTS of nummy stuff in it. Otherwise, tea.

Mountains or beach?  BEACH

Morning person or night owl?  BOTH

Read to the end of the chapter or stop in the middle? END OF THE CHAPTER and then keep going….

Finish most books you start or stop after a couple chapters if they haven’t caught your attention?  IF THEY haven’t caught my attention, they’re goners unless someone told me I had to get beyond page_______

Preferred flavor of ice cream?  Wilcoxen’s Salted Caramel Truffle (Montana) or Cappucino Chip (the kind in Seattle that is no longer made)

Traveler or homebody?  Homebody with a little travel Favorite movie? TV show? Music?  THIS IS US. ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, AVETT BROTHERS, JEAN de FLORETTE, and MANON de la SOURCE.

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Review #2: The Debutante’s Code by Erica Vetsch

Genre: Historical Regency Mystery

Published: December 2021

Interview #2: With Erica Vetsch Coming April 20th

Review #1: Out of the Water by Ann Marie Stewart

Genre: Historical Fiction (1919-1980s) with elements of Time Slip and Family Saga Published: October 2021

Interview #1: With Ann Marie Stewart, author of Out of the Water

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