Halo me lovelies! Welcome to Interview FoxSeat with author Anna Chastain
Anna Chastain is a born and raised California girl. She currently resides in central California with her husband and two daughters. She is addicted to books, music, and Greek yogurt; “Morning Star” is her first published novel, “The Good Side of Crazy,” her second, and “My Kind of Crazy,” her third. On an average day, you’ll catch her hanging with her kindergarteners singing songs about ABC’s and pizza, her kindle and iPod not far out of reach.
Book grabber: The Good Side of Crazy, contemporary romance:
Shae Martin has been called up for duty, guardian duty. When her dad and stepmother are killed in a car accident, Shae is called up as guardian of her 15-year-old sister, Sadie. It wasn’t that long ago that Shae, herself, was a teenager; but you’d think, based on her current relations with Sadie, that it had been a millennia. Shae struggles to balance being a “pseudo-mama” to a teenager, back to living in a small town, in her estranged father’s home, with dating and career and her sanity. Sadie’s assistant principal, Adam MacCallum, is entirely too delectable for Shae to pass up on, whether or not Sadie approves; and Sadie’s bad-boy, Cash, is the thorn in Shae’s side that just won’t go away. So the question is, can these women navigate the many facets of love in their lives, and resolve to settle their futures without killing/maiming/deleting, or becoming each other’s worst enemies in the process?
Why do you write? I write because I have to. I write because, for years, I have written stories and developed characters in my head and finally, I had to get them out.
When did you decide to become a writer? I always thought I’d be a writer. I wrote tons in high school, I was an English major in college; words have always been a huge part of my life. Deciding to write wasn’t hard, but actually doing it was. It took me years of adulthood to just do it, to be brave and put the words down on paper.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book? So far, since my first published book, I’ve published one a year. Writing out the actual story is the easy part, funny enough. It’s the editing, formatting, cover-creating, etc. that seem to take me the longest.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? Well, I turned 30 and realized I hadn’t done some of the things I thought I would have gotten to by then; at the top of the list was writing a book. So, I started typing and seven years later, I haven’t stopped. The first book I ever finished is still sitting unedited in a drawer at my house, in fact.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? My days are crazy! I teach kindergarten and am the mom to two busy girls, so my time is stretched thin. I usually reserve my Sundays for writing and have been known to sit at the table for eight straight hours typing away. Also, when we have breaks during the school year, I try really hard to spend extra time writing. I find that my most creative time of day is late at night, but I don’t function so well on minimal sleep, so I’ve had to make due with taking notes as I think of things and then trying to turn my brain off (which is not easy).
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I think the biggest evolution for me has been finding my voice in my writing and discovering how to create characters who are relatable and real. Also, I’m not so afraid anymore. There will always be a certain level of self-consciousness at putting my writing out there because it is a lot like giving pieces of yourself to people, but with each book I complete, I gain more confidence and pride in knowing at least I did it.
Do you listen to music or watch TV/movie while you write? TV, never. I’d get way too distracted. Music, often. Sometimes, I need it quiet so I can focus on what’s happening inside my head, but music is a huge part of my life always, and songs can create stories all by themselves.
What have you written? I have written three contemporary romance novels, all published on amazon and nook. Morning Star was my first, followed by The Good Side of Crazy, and My Kind of Crazy is my most recent book.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? I’m a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal, mostly. I will usually have the majority of the book plotted out in my head, and will have scenes written out of order sometimes; then I sit down and work to put it all together.
Do you design your own book covers or have someone else? If you use someone else would you tell us who/website? So far, I have designed my own book covers using stock photos.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Gah, no! The marketing side of self-publishing is a struggle for me. I enrolled my books in kindle unlimited on amazon, and that has helped with exposure, for sure, but as far as sales, I think it takes a blogger or bloggers to catch on and spread the word. It’s hard, for sure.
Any advice for aspiring authors? Just do it. Write the book. And also, read about other author’s experiences before publishing and decide what’s best for you, and reach out to the author community. They’re an awesome bunch and super willing to help with questions!
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? The main character in The Good Side of Crazy is Shae Martin. She is awesome because she is smart, independent, strong, and caring. She’s just cool and relatable and someone we’d all probably want to be friends with.
Where do your ideas come from? My ideas come from all over the place. I can hear a song that spurs an idea, or see someone out in public and create a story from there. I like to write stories based in real life, only with the power to make the character’s lives turn out however I’d like. 😉
What is the hardest thing about writing? For me, finding time is a challenge. In a dream world, I’d write when inspiration struck or, at least during regular business hours. So that’s a hard one, having to save my ideas and thoughts until I can spare a few minutes in front of the laptop. Writing, itself, is extremely cathartic; I love getting lost in my character’s lives. Also difficult is getting your work out there once it’s finished. It can be discouraging because you pour yourself into this work and you love it, but then no one sees it. So, yeah, it can be easy to feel bummed out and want to stop, but I can’t.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? With my last book, My Kind of Crazy, I got really stuck in the middle. I had to stop for a couple of weeks and let the story marinate in my mind before I figured out what needed to happen. That was a challenge.
What is your favorite movie or TV show? Hmm. My favorite TV show was The Office until that ended. L Now, I guess I’d have to say The Walking Dead and New Girl. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV. As for movies, it’s nearly impossible to pick one. I love The Princess Bride, Garden State, The Goonies, Grease, and anything Marvel.
Which writers inspire you? My most favorite of all time is Jane Austen; her female leads were so far ahead of their time. As far as modern authors, I’d say Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Christina Lauren, and Penny Reid are all authors whose writing I find inspiring.
What is the current book you are promoting? The Good Side of Crazy and My Kind of Crazy. My Kind of Crazy is my most recent release, but the characters originated in The Good Side of Crazy.
You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?
From The Good Side of Crazy: meet Adam and Shae
Hey, Mac, I’m a little freaked out over here…any chance you could offer a little distraction?
I lay back, my phone on my chest, and wait. Thankfully, I don’t have to wait long before my phone vibrates back at me.
You know I’d like to invite you over, but you’re so hot I’m afraid you’ll skyrocket my air-conditioning bill…
Um…what? I stare at my phone, confused. Before I can respond, my phone buzzes again.
Baby, you’re so fine I could put you on a plate and sop you up with a biscuit.
I bite my lip as a giggle escapes from between my lips.
I’m sorry, did I get the wrong number??? I respond.
Nope, it’s me, Mr. Right. Just who you’re looking for.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why? Hmm. I do love Adam from The Good Side of Crazy, like, loads; but I think I’m going to have to stick with my girl, Shae. She’s kind of the woman I hope to be. Strong, smart, kind and caring, but doesn’t take any shiz, either, you know?
Who is your least favorite character and why? Oh, that’s a toughie…I love my characters. I think in my first book, Morning Star, the character, Juliet, makes a lot of mistakes and choices I would never make, which was tough to write.
Do you have any formal education in creative writing? If not are you planning to go to school? I was an English major in college, and that involved creative writing courses. I still have some of my work from way back then!
Do you have any “how to write” type books/instructional you’d like to recommend? Unfortunately, no. I got great tips when I first started from Jamie McGuire’s website about self-publishing, also Colleen Hoover.
What is your next project? Well, I’ve started three different books (hello, scatterbrain) and am currently deciding which of those I will finish first. I’m leaning towards a series of contemporary romance books based on teachers. I’ve got the first book mostly mapped out in my brain already. 😉
Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Oh, that is so hard. The first one that comes to mind is Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, my all-time favorite book. She’s fierce and smart and stands up for herself, but is also able to admit when she’s wrong and ask for forgiveness.
Do you have any fur babies to brag about? Sadly, I lost my fur baby just two months ago…L
Who is your favorite author and which of their books is your favorite? I love Christina Lauren’s books because I think their character interactions are perfection. Beautiful Stranger is probably my favorite because Max Stella, sigh. Also, Penny Reid’s Beauty and the Mustache, because if I were asked to create a perfect male specimen, it would be Drew Runous. I love his and Ashley’s story. God, that poetry, though.
Do you or have you sat down and read your book fresh off the presses as if it wasn’t yours? And if you did, what was it like? I read my books sooo many times over the course of writing them, but when I got my first paperback copy of my own book, it was so unreal. Also, seeing my name on my kindle, gah! It was definitely a surreal type of experience.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Oh, I love so many books, I just wonder if I’d feel the same about them if I wrote them…I would like to be a writer like Penny Reid, though. She has such creative characters and they’re all so stinking smart! I always think she must do so much research in so many areas, I’m kind of amazed. Also, Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. I loved it so, so much. I love everything she writes.
Do have a favorite car or truck model? Anyone who’s read The Good Side of Crazy could guess I love cars. I love old cars, cars with engines that rattle your bones and go fast. I, myself, drive a mom SUV but in the garage, have a souped up 1964 VW Bug that I have to share with my husband (not exactly a muscle car, but it goes fast!).
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love/sex scenes? Every time I try to write a sex scene, I think Oh, God, my mom is going to read this, and then delete it.
Thanks much Anna for sharing! For more about Anna and her work follow the links below: