A little bit about Ane...
While a floppy straw hat is her favorite, novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many including pro-family lobbyist, drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane writes her Southern-fried fiction in Sugar Hill, GA, where she resides with her artist husband, chef son, and a dog of Biblical proportion.
Connect with Ane...
Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/anemulligan
Get to know Ane...
You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about you and writing...
How did you start writing?
My pastor loved to use a dramatic sketch to illustrate his sermons. I was the director of the drama ministry so he asked me to write some, and my journey began. In 2003, I expanded my writing to include novels.
What has kept you writing?
I’ve always had stories swirling in my head. When driving around, I’ll see something and immediately a story starts to form. Sometimes, I call a friend and give her or him the idea. Usually, it’s a characterization thing. But if I didn’t write, what would I do with all those story ideas? My head would explode if I couldn’t get them out.
What or who is the biggest influence in your writing?
My faith in Jesus is the biggest influence in my stories. I don’t write beat-you-over-the-head-with-a-Bible type stories. But my faith affects my worldview and my characters.
Why do you write?
Since I was old enough to sit on Mama’s lap and hold a book, we read. She instilled a love of story in me at a very early age. And now, I love to make people laugh. I’ve always believed that when people let down their guard when they think they’re being entertained. Then when they least expect it, the story can reach out and touch their hearts, and perhaps change them. When I get a note from a reader telling me a story I wrote helped them, it makes it all worth the effort.
Emilie here: Ane, you are one of the funniest people I know (um, I mean that in the BEST way of course). I just remember meeting you at the first ACFW Conference and you were such a joy. I can imagine your humor radiate from your books!
Let's talk about your books...
Why did you write them?
When I finished Chapel Springs Survival, I asked God, “What’s next?” He said, “Write your story.” Home to Chapel Springs is that story. It’s also the of my heart. You see, I found my birth sisters in 2009. You can read the whole story on my website under My Adoption Story.
Emilie here: I love this - it gives me goosebumps!
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
God is faithful with your dreams. (tweet this) When I had no way to find my sisters, I gave it to Him and tried to forget about it. But it never left my heart. It took 10 years and then one day, out of the blue as they say, I got a phone call that changed my life.
What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
The timing! This was the first book for which I ever had a deadline. My others were written before I got a contract. With Home to Chapel Springs, I only had a little over 3 months to write, edit and get it to my critique partners. So I laid out the word count, and figured out how many words I had to write 5 days a week to get it done. I learned I could do it. It was only 1500 words a day. That was doable. What was difficult was to know if I had a cohesive story. But my critique partners are the best. They kept my feet to the fire, hollered if I had any plot holes, and I handed that book in on time.
Is there a funny story associated with writing the book?
Not so much funny as interesting. And it wasn’t the writing but the cover. Most authors don’t have much say in their covers. They can give some input, but it’s normally up to the publisher. My husband is an artist. When my publisher found out, he asked if I wanted Hubs to do the artwork for my cover. Naturally, I said yes. That was a good thing and a bad thing, because after the first book, he had to keep going. On Home to Chapel Springs, I had more of the ambiance of the house rather than its image in my mind. I couldn’t give him a style other than an old farmhouse. He kept pulling up photos of old houses online, and I’d tell him to use the windows. Or use that chimney, or the porch. Finally, he had a composite that looked close enough to what I had in mind. Poor guy. I don’t think he’s looking forward to the next one.
Emilie here: Oh wow! That's great - I didn't realize your husband had done the covers. But I bet that was tough for him haha!
Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
Yes. It’s Deut. 31:6. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid … for the Lord goes with you. He will never leave or forsake you.” The character Carin Jardine had many people in her life leave her. It colors her relationships.
Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
I delved into birth order traits for this book. That’s fascinating material and it served me well. I’m going to keep it in my character worksheets for the future.
We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
I do extensive character interviews before I begin a book. I spend a month or so on my characters, getting to know them so well, I can tell how they will respond to any given event. And still, they manage to surprise me now and again.
What made you choose the setting for the book?
I love a mountain lake. I also love the sound of the ocean. I tried to write a beach book. In fact, I tried to place this book on Dauphin Island. I had planned a research trip there with a friend. Her husband was hospitalized. I planned to take another friend. She broke her arm. Hubs bought a motorhome so we could go. It turned out to be a lemon and we didn’t sign the final papers. Are you beginning to see a pattern? As soon as I placed it back in the north Georgia Mountains, everything calmed down.
What was one thing (or character) that surprised you while writing this book?
A character Claire meets in jail near the end of Chapel Springs Survival (book 2 in the series) comes back in Home to Chapel Springs. I hadn’t planned that, but Claire announces she hired Mel (Melanie). She ended up playing a fairly major part in the book.
What’s your favorite snack while writing? Goldfish and M&Ms.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
How long did you write before you got published?
I started writing novels in January 2003. My first book was released September 2014. That was almost 12 years.
What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
God has a time and place for each of us. I had some strange things happen along the way until I finally saw it was God saying, “Not here. Not yet.” So enjoy the journey. (tweet this) Have fun networking, growing in the craft, and making friends. And factor God’s timing into your journey.
How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Holy moly! I’ve got enough to wallpaper my office.
Are you a Panster or Plotter?
I’m a Planster. I storyboard for the major plot points. Then I let my characters take over. It’s like going on a trip without a map. I need to know what cities I need to visit to get to my destination. But I love to take side roads, too, as long as they bring me back to the main highway. My storyboard keeps me on track if my characters stray too far afield. In one book, I had a secondary character who was there to provide something for the main character. But suddenly she was in a budding romance. I let her go and followed her. It worked out great.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
Getting to know my characters and editing are my favorite parts. That’s where the magic happens! The first draft is the worst part for me.
*Join the fun: What's your favorite or least favorite part of writing? Answer on Twitter! Click here and add your reply.
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?
From life! In Chapel Springs Revival, the “what if” came from an overheard conversation. Yes, I eavesdrop. I’m a writer. What can I say? In Chapel Springs Survival, our eldest son’s story was the inspiration. He got himself a 21st Century mail order bride. Yes he did. And he didn’t tell me for a year. For that, I told him it was going in a book. And it did.
Do you listen to music when you write?
If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share? Normally, I write to barking. I have an English mastiff that barks at squirrels, leaves blowing, and unseen things. He’s a mess. But if I have music playing, I can’t ignore it. I start to sing. Then I find myself typing the lyrics. So I write to woofs.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing? Motivation is the key to good characters and great plots.
Are there any books or resources you could recommend to younger writers looking to grow in their craft?
The Flip Dictionary. I’ve been through two of them. The first fell apart from use. I love it. It’s better than any other thesaurus out there.
How do you grow in your writing craft?
My ACFW chapter has teaching each month. I attend a writers conferences every year, and I read voraciously.
How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share?
You have to choose. I’m blessed that I didn’t start writing until my kids were grown and I don’t have a 9-5 job elsewhere. Besides my writing, Hubs and I are involved in Community Theater. I’m president and hubs is on the board of the one in our town, Players Guild@Sugar Hill. We also sing in a community choir that travels around north Georgia. Besides my writing, those are my passions. Fortunately, Hubs and I do them together. But I have to say no to other things I’d like to do.
Emilie here: What is this "no" word you speak of? Hehe. Unfortunately that's the hardest part for me--saying no!
What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
Reading with her as a little girl. She made books magical. Together, we'd travel to worlds otherwise unknown to us.
If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
Sushi. Yeah, I know, I’m weird.
What are you currently reading?
I try to read in both the CBA and the ABA. I just finished Cynthia Ruchti’s Song of Silence. And I’m waiting for Barbara Davis’s new book Love, Alice.
Emilie here: Thanks for being my guest Ane! I love your sense of humor and your wonderful words here!