Hello all! This week I also interviewed Ana Spoke. She can be found here. She is the author of the very poplar novel Shizzle, Inc.
1. Who are you? Where are you located? What is you book title and what is it about?
I’m Ana Spoke and I live in Australia – but you can always find me on anaspoke.com! I’ve just released my first comedy novel Shizzle, Inc. It is about Isa Maxwell, your average blond chick, who embarks on a not-so-average adventure as billionaire’s protege. This novel started with a one-off joke spoof of the 50 Shades of Gray, although there’s no sex in it. There’s however, lots and lots of sexual tension – after getting dumped unceremoniously right before Valentine’s Day, Isa seems to get a lot of new love interest. Trouble is, Isa may be mistaken in how she interprets the world around her. One of those mistakes just might lead to a slow, torturous death at the hands of a maniacal beefcake…
2. Who are your biggest influences when it comes to writing and/or life?
I love comedy in all forms, and funny books have always been a big part of my life. My writing style is undoubtedly influenced by some of my early favorites – Russian Ilf and Petrov’s “Twelve Chairs” and “The Golden Calf”; Czech Jaroslav Hašek’s “The Good Soldier Švejk”; and O. Henry’s short stories. More recently, I’ve loved John Kennedy’s “A Confederacy of Dunces” and Jonas Jonasson’s “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”.
I’m equally drawn to stories of people who’ve overcome obstacles and achieved their dreams – ranging from famous motivational speakers to stories of people around me. They not only help me keep going, often they have an unexpected impact on the character arcs.
3. What is your writing ritual (if you have one)? Anything over the top or simple like your favorite playlist or your favorite flavored coffee?
I love writing in bed. I know, it’s bad for my posture and you’re not supposed to do any work in bed, otherwise you risk developing insomnia, but I just can’t help it. I cozy up with pillows and covers and just escape into a made-up world.
4. How much of Shizzle, Inc is based off real life? As writer’s we tend to base things off what has happened in our own life. For example, are you or have you worked in the corporate world? Or did you graduate from community college and is a self-proclaimed badass like Isa, your main character?
I’m not Isa, but I did base some of her experiences on my own – a natural step, at least for the first novel. I’ve never met a billionaire, and I actually have a Ph.D., but the feeling of getting your dream and then the terror of not coping with it is very real for me. When I myself was 20, I won a scholarship to study in the US – my life changed in a matter of weeks from gray, ordinary, and very sheltered to one full of color, noise, and fear. I could hardly understand what people around me were saying, and I had to participate in class and take exams!
I’m no badass, although occasionally I’ve played one in short films. I did, however, have military training as a 14-year old – it was part of the Soviet high school curriculum. It’s probably hard to believe now, but we had a gun shooting range in the basement of my high-school.
5. What is your favorite quote? It can be about writing or just your catchphrase!
I don’t have a catchphrase, per se, but oh, how I love to pump my fist when things are going well! I could offer my personal life philosophy – anything is possible if you know what you want, have a plan, and are willing to work hard on it every day. I’m sure one of the literary greats has said it much more eloquently.
6. How long did it take you to write this book? From the first words through editing to publication?
It took about six months from the first concept joke to the “let’s get serious” day. At that point I only had about 20,000 words and decided to throw out half of them. It took another three months to finish the first draft of 84,000 words. From there it was six months of editing and re-editing, losing about 5,000 words, followed by over a year of trying to pitch the novel to publishers and agents. After I’ve realised that I will never get anywhere trying to go the traditional route (except maybe to the mental facility), it took about three months to polish and publish on Kindle. I’m currently working on a print edition via CreateSpace. I’m sure there will be many blog posts on this particular bit of the process!
7. What is your spirit animal? During writing? During the rest of you day?
Never thought of this one! When I’m in the gym, I imagine myself as an antelope. On a good day at work, I’m a “future CEO”. On a good day of writing, I’m so lost in the story that I literally forget myself – it’s as if I watch a movie. I love days when I get into the flow, and the story unfolds in a direction I did not foresee, and the characters surprise me with their reactions and dialogue.
8. What is your favorite kind of format for books? Are you team hardcover, team paperback or team eBook?
I’m old school in that I prefer a printed version. Probably a paperback, so that I can afford more books 🙂
9. What does your family and friends think or you being a writer?
My family is cheering me on like mad. My sister was with me all the way, my mom is currently reading it and translating it the best she can to my Dad, and my fiancé is in awe. My friends are supportive of the idea, although most of them didn’t get the novel when I let them read the first draft. This is the most amazing thing about the Internet – I am more likely to find readers that “get” my work online, in the US, then I am in my circle here, in Australia. I feel like I’ve made real connections through my blog – I’m in touch with some of the followers more regularly than I am with my “real life” friends.
10. What was your schedule like while you worked on Shizzle, Inc? How did you balance writing/editing with work/ family/ life?
Balance? What balance? That’s not how I work – I just get obsessive and spend every waking moment writing or thinking about it. I’m consciously trying to be better at balancing now, but during the three months of the first draft, it was literally every waking moment. I got into a habit of walking home from work (about 40 minutes) and would fantasize whole scenes in my head, then write them down once I got home. I jotted ideas in my work notepad whenever they came to me (often in the middle of boring meetings), wrote on the tram in the mornings, and even had a notepad on my night table.
11. Any advice for fellow writers out there?
Persistence and hard work do pay off. I think that was the main message of Stephen King’s “On Writing”, and it’s the message I would like to pass on as well.
12. What do you have planned next for your readers?
I was so happy to see in the reviews that people wanted to read more of Isa’s adventures! I have started working on the second instalment of Isa Maxwell’s escapades, this one set in India. Poor Isa has no idea what’s in store for her…
13. Where can we find you on the web?
I just started a Goodreads Author page and would love to connect with readers on that platform. My Goodreads page can be found at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14260090.Ana_Spoke?from_search=true&search_version=service
Well, that is all for this week’s interview! If you would like to be interviewed or know someone who might want to, please fill out the form below! [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]
Until next time!