Author Interview: Anni Oldham + Giveaway
Tell us about how you started and what inspired you to be a writer?
I have always loved to read. I read Walter Farley and Nancy Drew and The Baby-sitter’s Club growing up. I think, though, what really inspired my craving for a really good story was Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. I found those on my mom’s bookshelf and couldn’t get enough. I fell in love with fantasy while reading those. I always created silly stories and loved to write, but I didn’t attempt my first novel until I had just graduated from college. And that first novel was terrible and has never seen the light of day, so don’t even ask! But it was great practice on starting to craft a story and to prove to myself I could actually write a long piece of fiction.
In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing and being an author?
The self-doubt. Sure, there’s writer’s block and plots that get stuck and manuscripts that you get half-way through before saying, “This is really, really bad,” but all those things can be worked through or scrapped and become inspiration for something else. It’s the self-doubt that always nags me and says, “Why would anyone in their right mind want to read this?” I work past it by saying, “I would want to read it,” and that’s why I’m writing–because it’s something I love.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. The Burn started as a dystopian retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s A Little Mermaid. Original fairy tales are so much darker (and frankly real and interesting) than our more modern versions. I had read the fairy tale and wondered how it could be retold in a completely modern setting and with a girl, not a mermaid. So I created the underwater colonies and the United States decimated by world war. It was a great experience using the bones of that story and then fleshing it out with my own creations. I hadn’t intended to continue Terra’s story beyond just one book, but once I finished, there was more that needed to be told, and so Infraction was born.
What is one genre that you wouldn’t read and/or write and why?
Erotica. No question. Doesn’t interest me and I don’t want to read it. I know there’s people who like it, but for me it’s way inappropriate.
How did becoming a writer impact your life and how do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I spent quite a few years tweaking manuscripts and sending out query letters. I received several nice, personalized rejection letters. But let’s face it–rejection letters are still rejections, no matter how nice they are! I wondered if my books would ever have someone to read them and had almost consigned myself to the fact that maybe my daughters would read them when they were old enough. Then I started reading more and more about self-publishing and I though, “Huh. I could do that.” So I tweaked some more and published. So the biggest impact? People are actually reading my books! And they like them! How about that? In 5 to 10 years, I hope I’m still writing and trying new things. Each of my books has been different from the last, and it’s fun being able to write whatever I’d like.
Is it hard to write while being a full time mom?
Yup I wish I had more time to write, but it is what it is and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Especially when my oldest girlie gets excited when she sees my book cover or she can tell someone that I’m an author. My girls are my first priority right now. I want my home to be a safe haven from all the ugliness in the world and I need to protect it. Writing comes second. Even though I find my mind wandering throughout the day about writerly things!
In your opinion, how big an impact do a cover has on a novel?
A cover is a book’s first impression. If covers didn’t matter, book bloggers wouldn’t post cover reveals and we wouldn’t swoon over pretty covers. After I received the cover art for Dragon Sister, I tried doing the typography by myself. Huge disaster. That’s when I decided that paying for professional-looking covers was a no-brainer. There are so many books out there that I’ve passed on because the cover screams amateur! Sad, but true.
Are you planning on writing another book? If so, can you share something for our readers.
Of course While Infraction was with my beta readers and then my editor, I started working on a contemporary paranormal manuscript. Completely different from what I’ve done so far, and I had lots of fun with it. And of course I’ve toyed with an outline for another book in The Burn series.
It’s hard to make a decision on what to pick of all the YA Dystopian in the market. Tell us what makes Infraction different and why we should read it.
Because Terra’s not out to change the world. That’s one of the things that I don’t like about a lot of dystopian books–the main character has to bring down the corrupt system, but in the real world it can be hard for one person to take on such a monumental task. That’s not what Terra’s all about. She’s quietly making a difference, and that’s something I think we can all relate to.
Thank you! Where can the readers find you?
My pleasure! You can find me on my web site, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. I’d love for you to stop by
Violent nomads. The coming winter. Jack’s unspoken feelings. Leaving the relative peace of the settlement is more difficult than Terra ever imagined. But what she should fear most is the government that professes to protect its citizens. Imprisoned in a labor camp, Terra learns just how much the corrupt regime wants absolute control. Never has she felt more powerless to act. But there’s always the call of the ocean, and her captors just might underestimate how powerful that call can be.
“What’s your name?”
I study him, study his fingers hovering over the notepad screen. I grab his hand. He tenses a moment and pulls back, but I look at him insistently and he relaxes.
Aren’t you going to give me a number?
He smiles sadly. “No, I want to call you by your name.”
I watch him carefully, searching his eyes. They’re black, almost as black as my hair—or what used to be my hair. I self-consciously run my palm over the stubble on my head. I can’t read anything in his eyes. Jack’s eyes are hazel, but deep in their colors and emotion. Dr. Benedict’s are reflective, bouncing my face back at me. I don’t want to trust him, but he’s the first kind person I’ve come across here. Should that make me trust him even less?
“I like that.”
I drop his hand.
“Now I just need to see your arm and get your tracker number.”
I go rigid, all of me freezing to the exam table. He must see the panic in my eyes because his lips turn down and several creases appear between his brows. He tugs on his ear absently.
“This is standard procedure, Terra. We just need to record who comes through here, give trackers to those who have chosen to, um, remove them. Or make sure there aren’t any phony trackers.”
My fingers curl around the edge of the table, and I can’t release them. I can’t even blink.
“It’ll just take a moment.”
He doesn’t understand my paralysis. How could he? Those who have cut out their trackers are
pretty common, especially among the nomads. But those who never had one?
Dr. Benedict steps forward slowly, as one might approach a frightened animal. He lifts a hand, his palm up. He looks submissive even. I watch as his fingers inch toward mine. They brush the skin, and his hand is warm. He gently pries my fingers from the table, and then gradually runs his fingertips up to my wrist and turns my arm over. His eyebrows raise.
“You’ve never had a tracker?”
I feel the color drain from my face, and I shake my head.
“Were you born in a city, Terra?”
I shake my head again and pull the towel closer around me, wanting to hide from him and the other questions that will surely follow, but he surprises me.
“I think that’s everything we need for this exam.” He writes down a few more notes. “But you’re not quite done here. You’ll need to go through that door.” He nods to the right. “They’ll inject a tracker.”
I’m to be branded. I’ll never escape them now.
Annie Oldham adores writing and reading YA novels. She grew up in a house full of books and developed an insatiable desire to read, which led to the insatiable desire to write. Away from her writing, she’s the mother of the three most adorable girls in the world, has the best husband in the world, and lives in the hottest place in the world (not really, but Phoenix sure feels like it). She loves to cook, sing, and play the piano. She is the author of Infraction, The Burn, Bound, and Dragon Sister.