What inspired you to write your first book?
Reading. I truly believe that my love for escaping to worlds within the pages of a book was with me long before I was born. Always, even at an early age, when I read a story that let me daydream long after I’d turned the last page, I would think, One day, I want to do this. I want to write stories that will take people to other places and leave them there for a while.
How did you come up with the title?
Lost Girl. Yes, I know about the television series, although I’ve never watched it, and there are other books with the same title. But for me, there was no alternative that would portray the theme of the story. Lost Girl is the first in The Lost Trilogy – Paranormal Mysteries. The titles for the second- and third book, Lost Souls and Lost Time, are also a strong mirror into the themes of those stories.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
Lost Girl is my first published novel and is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist in Paranormal Fiction. I’ve written just one novel prior to that, Welcome to Storyville. Little more to say about the first attempt, other than it wasn’t fit for publication! First books rarely are. I’m very proud, though, that my second was an award finalist!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. But if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you. Just kidding . . .
Seriously? I know that other readers have come away with the same message that hit home for me. That said, I think the conclusion a reader finds at the end of a story depends on where he or she is emotionally at that particular time of life. It’s all about personal connections. So I’d rather not give any preconceived notions here.
How much of the book is realistic?
Hmm . . .
To tell, or not to tell. That is the question.
Well. I came out of what I call the “paranormal closet” a while back, so I guess I can spill the beans here, too.
My mother was a strong psychic, mostly precognition and visions. I’m not sure from what side of her family she inherited those abilities, because she never shared. She grew up in a time when you just didn’t talk openly about “those things.”
So you’re probably wondering how I know my mother was psychic, if she never breathed a word of it, at least to me. The answer is that I was born with similar abilities. I have vivid memories of a time when, even before I could walk or speak anything other than gibberish, what I suppose you’d call the pre-toddler stage, I would look at my mother and just know the gist of what was on her mind. And she knew that I knew.
Sometimes this knowing about certain things hits me from out of the blue. By the way, that knowing once saved me from having what probably would have been a nasty accident. Other times, the visions come. I suppose the best way to describe those are to say that it’s something akin to having a scene flash before my eyes, followed by the understanding of what it is I just witnessed, even though that particular event probably hasn’t happened yet.
Then there are the ghosts. Yes, I believe in ghosts, because I’ve seen them, heard them, and have shared a house with them.
If you’re curious about any of my personal, paranormal experiences, I talk about some of them here with Real Paranormal Activity – The Podcast:
Much thanks to Mandy for letting me ramble. Now I’ll get back to her question that asks how much of my book is realistic. Without giving away any spoilers, I can say that in Lost Girl, there is a plausible, horrendous crime. Into that mystery, I weave paranormal occurrences based on my own experiences. There is a psychic whose visions help us follow the decades-old, twisted trail of that crime. And ghosts. There are always ghosts . . .
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I see a bit of myself in each of my characters, even the males, or the bad guys. If a writer is doing her job, she can’t avoid that, because to create realistic emotions and mannerisms, we have to delve deep into what and who we are as a person, and as a race.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Without a doubt, my favorite is Toni Harper, a reporter for the Dawson Times. She’s intuitive and overly curious—traits you’d expect from someone in her profession—with a sarcastic humor that pops in at the oddest times and keeps me snickering at the keyboard.
Toni is conflicted, though. She doesn’t like emotional roller coasters so insists on steering clear of a love relationship with the local sheriff. The problem there is that she can’t quite give him up. It’s an ongoing battle with her.
Maybe I should explain a bit about the “roller coaster.” The sheriff deals in facts, physical evidence. He doesn’t believe in the so-called paranormal garbage that stalks Toni like the plague. Toni thinks he’s a mule in sheriff’s clothing. He never takes the blinders off to see past his tidy black-and-white world.
Are you getting the pattern here? It’s called mile-wide stubborn streak. For both of them.
Toni isn’t sure whether fate or just plain, bad luck is the culprit behind tossing the otherworldly business across her path. Although, one thing she can always count on is the deadly intent attached to said “business.”
Her method for staying alive? Simple. She never backs down.
That’s my kind of character!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
In Lost Girl, no. Due to an unavoidable family crisis that took precedence over my writing, Lost Souls, the second in the trilogy, has been overlong in the making. That’s about the only thing I’d change, if I could—the time between releases.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thanks so much for your patience and your continued enthusiasm in my writing. The worlds I create are nothing without you.
At the time of this writing, most who follow my work know that I’ll be announcing a publication date for Lost Souls soon, along with offering an added bonus. If I’m a new author for you, please join me on my Facebook author page and personal timeline.
I’d also like to mention that I’m super excited about my updated website that’s coming down the pike, probably about the time this interview posts to Ms. Barnett’s blog. The new site will be my special paranormal corner of the Net. There will be a page dedicated to paranormal investigations, along with some interesting features for both readers and writers. Just look me up at www.annefrancisscott.com. Hope to see you there!
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Escaping into a world that I create, the challenge of reaching deep enough into myself to make the stories and characters as real as they can possibly be, and then having the story take off in its own direction. Good times for me are when things get spooky. I love going down the woo-woo trail!
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
As soon as I learned to spell and could pick up a pencil. Some of my earliest work found its way into homemade Fathers Day cards. Quirky crayon drawings on a folded sheet of paper, with funny poems inside that I wrote especially for my dad. They always made him smile.
What is your favorite part/chapter of your book/project?
In Lost Girl, I’m partial to the scene where my lead character, Allison Weathers, reaches a pivotal point in her life by realizing that she can see and talk to the dead. This from a woman who doesn’t believe in ghosts. Talk about a revelation!
In Lost Souls, one scene that I particularly enjoyed writing is when Toni Harper (yep, my favorite character, who holds the lead in this story!) begins to experience latent psychic abilities. This gift—or curse, as she views it—is brought on by the head trauma she suffers in an accident that nearly claims her life. The simple act of touching a photograph spirals Toni into a vision, whisking her back to the place where we first see her as the story begins.
If you’d like to read this scene, I posted it here on Facebook: Lost Souls Excerpt
What is your favourite theme/genre to write?
I’m open to any genre that catches my interest, as long as I can weave in the paranormal.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I don’t think so. I like to keep an open mind. Otherwise, I might not catch the ideas that are floating around out there in the ether and waiting for me to snatch them.
What book are you reading now?
I just finished “The Last Town,” book three of The Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch. I’ve been a Crouch fan for a while now. Some elements of his storytelling remind me of earlier works by Stephen King, and I think everyone can appreciate the special way King has of letting his characters spin the story.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
April White and E.E. Holmes, both YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. These ladies are extremely talented. Their characters and plots are highly developed, stories adults will also appreciate. I look forward to reading more of their work!
Recently, I’ve stepped outside the paranormal genre to experience other authors. Here are some I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order: Max Power, Rhoda D’Ettore, Tom Benson, Silas Payton, and Lesley Hayes.
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I worked for years in others industries—financial, music recording and production. I’ve even owned a small ceramic manufacturing business that supplied finished products to stores in the malls. Guess you could say I ran the gamut. Now it’s time for me to insist on doing what I love for a living.
I’m hoping the angel on my shoulder agrees!
Do you have any odd habits or childhood stories?
Not really. I talked about my “special gift” in answer to a previous question here: How much of the book is realistic?
Some may think that qualifies as “odd,” but for me, it’s normal.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Dreaming up new stories and writing. Maybe on the deck of a lake house somewhere in the mountains. That would be nice!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The halfway point in a story. For whatever reason, I always hit a slump there and have to battle my way through the lag. Another challenge is portraying the scenes in a way that lets the words flow, making the writing seem effortless to the reader. If the story reads smoothly, you can bet it was hard work!
Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Never. Writing is a learning experience, always evolving, always improving. I can only grow as an author if I learn from what came before.
What book do you wish you had written?
Too many to name here, but I’ll list a few.
Any one of the Harry Potter novels, the entire series would be even better. Love, love the fantasy world created there by J.K. Rowling.
Another coveted story is Salem’s Lot by the infamous Stephen King. The man knows his spooky business!
Then I have to add the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning—dark urban fantasy that will set your teeth on edge.
What is your best marketing tip?
Marketing . . . Ah, yes. Most authors will tell you they’d rather be writing. Promotion is a necessary evil, though. I’d like to share a quote here that I keep in the back of my head. When I first read this, I laughed, even as I saw the truth behind the words.
“He who has a thing to sell and goes and whispers in a well is not as apt to get the dollars as he who climbs a tree and hollers.” – Anonymous
I’ve seen the best results from word of mouth, along with having professional book covers that strongly reflect the stories and the genre. I’m also a firm believer in networking with other authors, to discover what works for them and to offer my own ideas.
What genre is your next project? What is it about?
After Lost Souls, I’ll be working on a short story contribution for a charity driven anthology. I have just the draft of an idea there but can assure you that the paranormal will make an appearance. Then it’s on to completing Lost Time. From there, I’m treading into dark urban fantasy, where I’m betting the otherworldly and some romance elements will sneak in!
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Lost Souls, the second in The Lost Trilogy. To avoid any spoilers, here’s a teaser I wrote that I think sums the lead character’s dilemma:
What will you do if—
Shadows begin following you.
A dark, evil thing develops a taste for you.
The reality you think you know is skipping into the Twilight Zone.
And your only hope of survival rests with the ghost of a long-dead witch.
Rule #1: Never—NEVER—leave your mind unguarded.
Sleep is no cure for a nightmare . . .
How do we find your books, blog and bio?
Just click on any link below to visit me!