After experiencing a few technical difficulties, here’s our next stop in the new-author blog hop: a visit with Annette Drake, a warm-hearted writer who has had the energy, the talent and the grit to tackle some tough topics in two very different novels – and already she’s tying up her third. Here’s her bio:
Annette Drake is a multi-genre author whose work is character-driven and celebrates the law of unintended consequences.
Her second novel, Bone Girl, was published in March by Baskethound Books. Celebration House, her debut novel, was published last August in e-book format for readers everywhere by Tirgearr Publishing. Meanwhile, she’s hard at work revising her contemporary romance, A Year with Geno, scheduled to be released on summer solstice, June 21st.
The mother of four children, Annette makes her home in eastern Washington. She is a member of the Inland Northwest Writers Guild and Spokane Authors & Self Publishers. Annette loves libraries, lame horses, basset hounds and bakeries. She does not camp.
1. How did you receive the first inspiration to write your books? Do you envision random scenes and work outwards in both directions, or do stories come to you chronologically?
I write all of my books scene by scene, then I piece them together. Undoubtedly, this is not the smartest way to write a novel, but it’s working for now. I cannot write linearly. I get stuck. Instead, I see a scene in my mind or the characters whisper in my ear, and then I let my fingers fly across the keyboard. Kind of sounds like mental illness, doesn’t it?
As for the first inspiration, I’ve been telling and listening to stories all of my life. I remember making up songs about the American Civil War when I was seven years old. When my first short story was published in my middle-school newspaper, I was famous. For all of 15 minutes. I’ve dreamed of writing novels ever since then, but making a living and raising four children permits procrastination.
Last year, I found myself suddenly unemployed, and so I focused on finishing Celebration House. Much to my joy, Tirgearr Publishing offered me a contract. I said yes, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since.
2. What role does research play in your writing? How did researching Celebration House differ from researching Bone Girl?
Yikes! They’re both such different books.
In Celebration House, I used a lot of my work experience as a registered nurse in a cath lab at a hospital in Seattle. In fact, that’s where the idea first originated. There was always down time between cases and while talking to an older gentleman, I was struck by how disabling his cardiac disease was. This patient told me that all he had the strength to do each day was take a shower. That was it. That was his day.
Growing up, I watched my parents and grandparents restore a house in my hometown of Brookfield, Missouri. Some of the scenes, including the wallpaper scraping, were a part of my childhood. Of course, it wasn’t as glamorous as I made it out to be in the book. I researched Greek Revival architecture, but the layout of Stratton House is basically the home my family restored.
I lived near Kansas City when I attended nursing school, so when I visited my family, I would take Hwy. 24 home. Every trip, I drove past this brick antebellum house and every year, I watched as it fell into greater disrepair. And I thought, how amazing would it be to restore that house and open it as a place for weddings or class reunions? These ideas collided, and after many years, Celebration House was built.
For Bone Girl, I wrote about things I had never experienced. I met with endurance riders and horse trainers. I read and reread the book, Endurance 101. I sat in on beginning band classes at my daughter’s middle school. I took any opportunity that came my way to dive into my subject matter. Also, I have some unique Google searches on my browser history. My favorite: what are the symptoms of a meth user? I didn’t know. I’ve never been in that situation.
For me, Bone Girl is all about the characters. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent talking and listening to the people who live in that book. They are real to me. And honestly, that connection with Josey and her father pushed me, drove me, to finish and self-publish this book. I think people need to hear Josey’s story. She is the most amazing protagonist. I took literally everything away from her, and still she triumphed. That’s a powerful lesson.
3. How did it happen that you found an overseas publisher? What insights can you share about helping a publisher to take favorable notice of one’s work?
I saw an article about Tirgearr Publishing on a website called SheWrites.com. They were one of several publishers I queried after finishing Celebration House, and I chose to accept their contract. That was a year ago this month.
Tirgearr Publishing gave life to my dream of selling my first book, and I’m grateful. They’ve been a voice of encouragement and continue to be so.
But I have since joined the ranks of indie authors. I think that’s a better fit for my personality, i.e. control freak and worrier. I want to choose the covers for my books. I want to know how well or not well my books are selling. For me, even if the financial rewards never come, self-publishing is the best path. It allows me to write the books I want or perhaps need to write.
A year ago, when a member of my critique group suggested I self-publish, I felt offended. I thought, doesn’t she think my writing is good enough? Now, having perused the blogs of Joe Konrath and Hugh Howey, I’m sold on self-publishing. I’ll never write another query letter again. But every author gets to choose, and that’s as it should be.
Thank you, Annette, for holding high the torch, and illuminating the path to becoming an author! We all wish you well, and look forward to filling our bookshelves with your works! ~ Christine Plouvier