Friday, April 27, 2012
Special Q&A with...
I recently read my copy of A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan and immediately asked if she would be able to answer a few questions for me! I had a lovely time and hope you all enjoy this Q&A with Anna Sheehan, author of A Long Long Sleep.
*When did you first start writing?
I wrote my first novel at sixteen as a serial in a newsletter that a friend of mine called Charlie the Rat Man published. RATS the Newsletter for the Rodently Inclined. He asked for an article, and I sat down at the typewriter –I didn’t even own a computer in those days. My family’s always been behind the times, techno-wise. A few weeks later I came up for air with a six chapter children’s novel. My writing has been escaping from me ever since.
*Did you always know you wanted to be a published author?
I always read a lot. When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut. Mostly because I loved Sci-Fi. I wasn’t really mathematically inclined enough to pursue that career – though for everyone who ever says I get the science wrong in my books, I do copious amounts of research, and no, I didn’t. It’s more likely that the "popular" ideas of science are simply misinformation. Instead I write about space, and magic, and people. I always found people quite the enigma, and I use story to sort that out. I don’t really remember when I decided, "Yes! That’s what I want to do!" I was just sort of suddenly doing it. I knew by Highschool that I’d be writing. Whether it would ever, ever get published has always been a question it was never up to me to answer.
*What was your first job?
I love how everyone assumes that I had one. Because I’m erudite and intelligent, people assume a lot of things about me. I never went to college, either. It’s amazing how many lynchpins of society are considered to be completely useless by measurable standards. Actually, I wanted to be a writer, and I didn’t see accruing tens of thousands of dollars in college debt to be a great path in that direction, so I just bought the college books and read them on my own. However, I happened to live near the headquarters of the Pleasant Company, and I did work for short while in a doll hospital when I was nineteen. I always did a lot of volunteer work in that arena, as well. I do have a technical degree in commercial goldsmithing, but I’ve never had the opportunity to use those skills.
*What tips can you give to aspiring writers?
Well, two things. If you just want to write, I say, Write! It’s fun! It’s very cathartic, go on and enjoy. If you want to be a published author, I have completely different advice.
GIVE UP! Give up right now! It is so not worth it, it is a terrible career choice. It is not easy, it will not give you a living, it is not respected anywhere near as much one would think it is, and is probably one of the worst things one could pick to do. And you probably aren’t very good at it. Why subject yourself to be consigned to the ranks of forgotten mid-list authors whose names will never be quoted on NPR.
And you know why I say this to aspiring writers? Because the beginning stage of every writing career is – or should be, Stephanie Meyer’s relative in advertising notwithstanding – sending yourself out and asking to be rejected. Here I am – reject me. You need to develop a very thick skin. If you can’t weather a professional writer telling you – quite truthfully – that it is a terrible choice and you aren’t likely to be a bestseller, you cannot weather the publishing industry.
My common sense still tells me to give up every single day. Somehow, I’m still writing. I’m still not sure why. If you’re still writing even when you shouldn’t be, then you’re really a writer. But being a writer is easy. If you’re still sending stuff off even though everyone – including you – says that it’s terrible, only then do you have the makings of an "author."
*What writers do you most enjoy reading/aspire to?
My goddess is Diana Wynne Jones, and I’m becoming increasingly aware that she’s virtually unknown outside of Britain. She’s never been a bestseller, but her books are the reason I wanted to write. For a short while in the midst of a massive depression in middle school, her books were the reason I kept breathing in and out. Otherwise, it depends on what mood I’m in.
As for what I aspire to, I’d give my left foot up to the ankle for a chance to write a Doctor Who novel, but I don’t think they accept American authors. Star Wars and Star Trek novels are also on my list of aspirations, but it’s a trick getting into their stables.
*Is A Long Long Sleep a single novel or are you tempted to continue writing Rose's story?
Rose’s story is done, but that isn’t to say that everyone around Rose has told theirs, yet. Or that she might not have another one. I don’t really approve of novels which aren’t finished – you get to the end, and it’s clearly not a full story. While it makes for hooking an audience for your next book, it doesn’t give anyone a full reading experience. Usually, if I get to the end of a book and find out that I need to buy the next installment to see what happens, I tend to drop it in disgust, no matter how well written it was. If a story isn’t wrapped up in a single book, you’re not doing it right. That isn’t to say that you can’t have a conclusion that leads you to another story, but that should be a different story, not just more of the same.
*Are you working on any other novels right now?
Oh, always. I have a bunch finished, books I’ve written both before and after I wrote A Long Long Sleep. (I wrote that in 2008 – take that, everyone who says I stole the idea from Across the Universe.) Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to say much about any of them, because I don’t know what, if anything, will be published next, and I don’t have a lot of control over that. Suffice it to say, I write what is known as SF, which translates as Speculative Fiction, and includes sci-fi, fantasy and occasionally light horror. And I do a lot of research into social-psychology for character development. I mean a lot.
*If A Long Long Sleep was made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
I actually thought quite a bit about that when I landed a film-rights agent, mostly just as a thought exercise. I don’t follow pop culture, thus I don’t know a lot of actors. Also, it is never going to be my choice even if the book does pick up a greenlight, so it’s kind of an exercise in futility. But here goes.
I have no idea about Rose – frankly anorexic blonde actresses are ten a penny – but I’d like someone who has that ethereal haunted innocence which I tried to instil in Rose’s character. I actually thought Jaden Smith would make an ideal Bren, if they happened to catch the making of the movie when he was about sixteen. Otto is meant to be of South-Asian ancestry – mostly – so someone should scour Bollywood. He can’t talk, so an accent wouldn’t be an issue. As for Xavier – Liam Neeson for old Xavier. That’s the kind of face I was thinking. Young Xavier -- well, if they wanted to hire Tommy Knight, I’d probably swoon.
Thanks so much for giving me the chance to talk about myself! Always every author’s favorite subject, you know.
Thank you so much Anna, for answering my questions!
I hope you all enjoyed this Q&A!