Ann and her wife, reviewer Salem West, live in central North Carolina with their three dogs, two cats, and an exhaustive supply of vacuum cleaner bags. In 2013 they co-authored Hoosier Daddy, a Lambda Finalist in the Lesbian Romance section, and Ann published the delightful Three which is a Goldie Finalist for Anthology/Collection (Fiction).
As they both deserve a blospot I asked them both your six questions… and now i am completely smitten as I am also a died in the wool Jane Austen fan.. bliss.
1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
So, I probably become the most boring person in the world at cocktail parties when I get asked this question. I’ll always reply, “Jane Austen,” and watch people yawn and try not to steal glances at their wristwatches. But it’s true. I love her. I read Pride and Prejudice once a year—usually at Christmastime. I love how Austen was able to write about incredibly small things—daily events with next to no action apart from walking or dining—and fill the internal lives of her characters with conflict and contradiction. I aspire to replicate that same thing…to write about simple, everyday people leading simple, everyday lives. I do so with less success, however, so that’s why I keep reading.
2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
For me, inspiration comes from odd and unlikely places. I’ll be standing in line behind someone at the post office (they really should serve appetizers and have a cash bar), and I’ll overhear some snippet of conversation that is just riveting…the kind of thing you just couldn’t ever make up. Then I’ll be off and running. Not from the post office, of course—those errands generally take four to six weeks. But my internal scribe will be busy jotting down notes and fitting the new tidbits together with the germ of an idea I already have. Another great place for raw, story material is the frozen food aisle of the grocery store. I love to watch shoppers engage in plenary sessions or breakout conferences as they try to decide which Lean Cuisines they want to buy. You see? Drama and mystery are all around us, all the time. We just need to pay attention. That’s what I always endeavor to do.
3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
I am blessed to be married to one of the best minds and sweetest dispositions in the business. Plus she has great legs, and that don’t hurt either. But, truthfully, Salem West is my still point of the turning w
orld. We share everything…although I do draw the line at the omnipresent Tabasco sauce she dumps in great quantities on virtually every food group. I also have great friends within the writing community who are always a constant source of quiet support—kind of like a self-styled twelve step group. But it’s odd…when I’m writing, I never feel alone. I guess you could say that I have voices in my head, and they keep me company—and I don’t let that worry me too much unless they start telling me to do things like overthrow the French government.
4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
I honestly think that anyone who says this doesn’t matter or mean anything is full of hooey. It means a lot. Now, having said that. Does it make your work better? Of course not. Or does not getting an award nod make your work less good? Absolutely not. Still. It does feel gratifying when it happens—like a warm hug from an old friend. You just have to go with it…let it feel nice for a little while, and then let it go, and get back to work. And it puts pressure on you to do better, to be better, and to keep striving for the next, best thing.
5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish?
I’d like to learn how to make perfect pie crust…like my grandmother’s. I mean…I think she used lard, so that’s kind of a non-starter—although, ironically, you can still get it at Whole Foods. But, still. If I had to choose between writing a perfect story, like Flannery O’Connor or Ernest Hemingway—or making a perfect cherry pie like my grandmother…I think the pie would win hands down. And sometimes, during those periods when I suffer from a complete lapse of rational thought, I think I’d like to accomplish both. I guess time will tell.
6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
I am working feverishly to finish my new novel, Backcast. This is my bass fishing tour de force, and it reunites the CLIT-Con 13 authors from my novella, Bottle Rocket. Think The Big Chill meets Fried Green Tomatoes by way of A River Runs Through It.
After that, Patriarch, the next installment in the Jericho series, takes center stage. Meanwhile, Salem, Jeanne Magill and I are working on a series of pulp fiction novels about a nurse iconoclast named June Magee, R.N. Oh, my…she’s going to get into all KINDS of mischief. I’d also like to find some time to sleep…
As always Ann entertains us.. many thanks for your insightful answers. Find out more about Ann – the Accidental Author – on the Ann McMan author page.