For our interview today, we welcome Anne Parent.
Good morning, Anne.
RWF: Would you say you write women’s fiction or romantic women’s fiction?
AP: Women’s fiction with romantic elements and contemporary romantic fiction.
RWF: Do you write in other genres?
AP: Not currently, but I hope to write an early 20th century historical. In addition, I have an idea for a late 19th century romance.
RWF: Want to tell us what you’re working on?
AP: I’m working on the story of a divorced professional woman who is willing to do anything to have a child of her own, including making a deal with a man for his sperm. She has to face the complications of her first pregnancy, which ended in miscarriage and guilt. This leads her to break the agreement with the man who provided the sperm, creating chaos in both of their lives.
RWF: What are your favorite books to read?
AP: I read a wide variety of books: women’s fiction, contemporary romance, craft books, mysteries, and classics.
RWF: When writing do you read in genre your writing in or something else?
AP: I prefer to read in other genres while I’m plotting, but I read in my genre once I’m well into the book to see how other authors have dealt with specific situations. I read craft books for inspiration and to learn new techniques all through my writing process.
RWF: Do you have a running theme for your books?
AP: I always include a social issue to add depth to my books.
RWF: Do you read non-fiction? What kinds?
AP: I read a wide variety of craft books, as well as books on subjects that interest me: gardening, knitting, travel, and photography. I was an essayist prior to writing fiction, so I enjoy reading well-written essays.
RWF: Which do you feel you learn more from – an online class, local workshop, or writer’s craft book?
AP: This actually depends on what I’m looking for. When I first began this journey, I took online classes for everything. Now, I limit my online classes. I’m willing to pay more for a class that pushes me, such as Mary Buckham’s power plotting webinar. I love conferences, but this year I’m devoting my time to finishing this book. I’m a sucker for craft books. I have a library to rival the bookstores. They are my go to inspiration, as well as problem solving resource. I have bookmarks (my book darts) and notes throughout many of them. People have asked if I’d read all of the books in my library. My answer: bits and pieces of all of them, and cover to cover for quite a few of them.
RWF: Where do you find inspiration?
AP: For my current book, the inspiration came from my daughter, who discovered a health condition which caused her miscarriage. Thanks to insightful doctors, she now has two beautiful children. My book is my way of giving back. Other inspiration comes from things I read which interest me, as well as daily living. I had a college professor who told me inspiration is all around us and writers are observers of life. This was the best writing advice I ever received.
RWF: Do you have a job outside your writing?
AP: I am fortunate to be able to give my time to my writing. I had to retire early due to an illness, which was actually a gift to my muse.
RWF: How do you fit writing into your life?
AP: For the past two years, I let my writing become secondary to building a house and moving in. Prior to that I was actively involved in my local RWA chapter, which allowed me to use it as an excuse not to write. However, I now have a commitment to my writing I’ve never had before. I use a Franklin planner and record my writing time, as well as distraction time. When I see my writing time is slipping, I set it as my priority. This is helping me stay on track.
RWF: How do you fit editing into your writing life and the one you actually live in?
AP: Ah, editing! I love making my writing stronger, but I have to have complete silence with no distractions when I edit. When my office door is closed, my husband knows not to enter unless it’s an emergency. I can write with distractions around me because I’m putting the story together, but editing requires my full attention.
RWF: Are you a plotter, pantser, or combination of both?
AP: I’m both plotter and panster; however, on the continuum between the two, I definitely lean in the direction of plotter. I like to know the key points I’m writing toward. I’m willing to let my characters lead me in some instances, but it usually ends up down a path with a dead end. Thus, the struggle with my current WIP. I let the panster take over and I’m now re-writing the last third of this book.
RWF: Do you plan your writing time? Or do you go with the flow of family to-do’s and work out your writing in between?
AP: I tried going with the flow when I lived in Wisconsin because I helped my daughter a lot. Since my husband’s retirement to Tennessee, I’ve found I’m much more productive planning my time. Distractions still arise, but I can limit them more here. I have trouble saying no to family. Although I try to keep my mornings free Monday through Friday, things still creep into my time if I’m not diligent.
RWF: Are the stories you write based more on the woman’s journey or more on the romance?
AP: I like to have a strong romantic element, but I focus my writing on the woman’s journey.
RWF: Do you prefer to write at home or go somewhere to write?
AP: I prefer to sit at my desk and write; however, if I’m stuck I may go to a park or coffee house to clear my head. Sometimes it helps, but not always. I’m fortunate to live on six wooded acres which allow me to find various spots to set my muse free, so I take my laptop and walk until I find a place of inspiration.
RWF: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo?
AP: I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, but I’m a slow and deliberate writer. I find it pushes me to put words, not clarity on the page. It has been counterproductive to me and my writing style.
RWF: Do you first come up with a setting or character for your story idea?
AP: This is a difficult question for me. Setting plays an important role in my writing and becomes a character to some degree. I usually start with a question and let the setting and character lead me to see if there is substance to it.
Thank you, Anne, for sharing a little bit of your writing world with us.
Anne Parent married her soul mate and they raised three glorious children. She now has six phenomenal grandchildren. She comes from a background of vital women, including a beloved grandmother, the last of the true Southern ladies. She has always stayed in touch with her Southern roots through her best friend Wanda, who happens to be the daughter of her mother’s best friend and the sister of her brother’s best friend.
She began her journey into higher education at the age of 18 at the University of South Carolina (nursing, math, and journalism) before finally deciding she needed life lessons in order to decide on a career. She pursued engineering at Greenville Technical College, before figuring out this wasn’t the direction either, and studied at Butler University (couldn’t decide between English and journalism). She took some time to build more life lessons in raising children before deciding on her final path, a degree in English from Indiana University – Indianapolis with a minor in American Studies, at the age of 45. A true late bloomer!
Anne now lives in Tennessee where she writes romantic women’s fiction set in Southern towns, both imaginary and real. She adds a contemporary social issue to her books as part of the woman’s journey. Her hope is that her characters will take her readers away from reality and they will come away feeling ready to tackle whatever they find holding them back in their own lives.