Author Annika Perry Chats About Inspiration for Writing

I consider myself lucky to have known Christy Birmingham since my early days on WordPress and have followed her blog ‘When Women Inspire’ with keen interest. As the title suggests, Christy’s aim of her blog is ‘to showcasing the efforts of women around the world to change the world in positive ways’. Wow!! She succeeds brilliantly and her posts are always inspiring, informative and thought-provoking.

Imagine then my delight to be invited to write a guest post about the inspiration behind my book ‘The Storyteller Speaks’! I’d hardly emailed her my enthusiastic yes and thank you before I started to write the post…read on to find out more.

For this time I’ve turned off comments here and look forward to continuing the chat over on Christy’s blog.

When Women Inspire

Please join me in welcoming author Annika Perry to the blog today. I have known her for years now and always enjoy her uplifting blog posts. Now she has published a collection of poems, short stories, and flash fiction pieces into “The Storyteller Speaks: Powerful Stories to Win Your Heart”!

Upon hearing this news, I immediately asked Annika to come over to chat about the inspiration behind writing this book. She kindly accepted. And, you know what? Her taking the step to publish her writing has helped inspire me to keep going with my own short story collection. What a wonderful boomerang effect! Now, without further ado, here is Annika Perry on being inspired to write.

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THE WRITER Q & A TAG

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With less than a week to Bloggers Bash in  London I thought this was a perfect time to introduce myself a little bit more through this Writer Q & A tag. Many thanks to Marje at K Y R O S M A G I C A for nominating me. She has a lovely varied blog and it’s always a delight to read her posts. Do pop over and have a look for yourselves.  Now to the Q & A Tag:

  1. If you met a sexy vampire what would you do? Hook up, get the garlic and crosses out or run a mile?

nosefratuBlimey, what a corker of a first question! Can vampires be sexy? The only time they’ve crossed my path is seeing Count Orlak in the 1920s film Nosferatu – definitely not sexy, just creepy so guess I’d…ruuuuunnnn!

2. What’s your favourite genre of book and why?

sisterGlancing at my bookshelves I must admit to a predominance of what is called ‘romantic fiction’. However in that case I feel the likes of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult bring that genre up a notch. Overall I read a lot of literary fiction, also some fantasy, YA books as well as humour books for light entertainment. Recently Nick Spalding’s books have been perfect for a good laugh wrapped around an easy going story.  Books I will not touch are horror – reading Cujo as a teenager was bad enough!

3. Who is/are your favourite author (s) , poet (s)? What is it about them that inspires you?

This is an impossible question! I like so many authors for various reasons…

4. If you had to control a classroom of year 6 kids would you bail, or enjoy the challenge? Would you be (a.)  too undisciplined to do so, you’d just join in the general mayhem, (b.) enjoy bossy them around, or (c.) pray in a corner for the bell to sound.

teacherI can be a bit  bossy, so would probably be (b.)  but with fun, laughter and silliness thrown in. I spent time helping in my son’s classroom from time to time and luckily never had to supervise more than ten at a time.

5. What made you become a writer/blogger? Do your family support you or do they think you’re crazy, bored,  attention seeking, or all of these? Tell us a bit about your current WIP and/or books…

blog2Like so many I started the blog as I’d read you need a ‘platform’ as a writer. Very quickly and to my joy I discovered it was so much more – the interaction with other bloggers is wonderful and the epitome of blogging.

Luckily my family are cheering me along all the way…although it’s my son who now reminds me of the no-devices-at-the-table rule! Abashed I will switch off and place it out reach. Blogging is strangely addictive.

Earlier this year I was overjoyed to have completed my first/second draft of my first novel. Island Girl is about a girl, Anna, growing up on an island off the coast of Sweden. Initially this is a paradise for her but as she matures the very island she loves, threatens to become her prison.

6. What is the most awful job and/or experience you’ve ever done/had?

I just realised that I have been very fortunate and actually enjoyed most of the jobs I’ve had. The toughest was a summer job spent baby-sitting for a couple’s two young children. I loved the job itself but it became increasingly stressful and tricky as the extremely naughty five-year-old boy was allowed to boss and hurt his three-year-old sister with impunity. Whenever I tried to put a stop to it I was reprimanded! My heart went out to the poor girl and I do wonder what the future held for her.

7. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Does this spill out onto other parts of your life? Are you generally organised/disorganised?

virgoI’m not sure if it’s to do with being a Virgo but I am known for being very organised in my life. Around the home, planning trips, dealing with finances and always at work. Beware anyone who dared touch or alter my working system.

first-draftWith this in mind it was a surprise to myself that although my novel was sketched in my mind I started writing without a written plan. Early on though I realised this was not the best way to go – my timeline was all over the place, I kept forgetting names, events and so quickly I developed a quasi plotter/panster method using Scrivener which worked well for me! I do use their cork boards and don’t know if I could have finished without them!

8. Do you believe in Ghosts? Fate? Love at First Sight? Fairies? Psychic happenings?Numerology, Mermaids, The Loch Ness Monster, Demons…etc…

bullarI definitely believe in elements beyond our very limited realm and have had many experiences of ‘something’. In one of the houses I grew up, the lovely smell of home-baking would fill the dining room -although no one was even in the kitchen. Also a warm draft of air would pleasantly waft across my legs. Talking to older neighbours we learnt that the original house’s kitchen and oven were exactly in the place these incidents took place. Spooky but a gentle genial ghost I felt…

9. What is the worst haircut/clothes/hats you’ve ever had/worn? Photos please, or describe in vivid detail…

chick.jogMy worst hat incident occurred after I won the best made Christmas hat competition whilst at primary school. I learnt a valuable lesson that Easter – never set the bar too high at the start!  My concept was brilliant – I glowed with expectation. My hat, at first just a cardboard frame, would become the Easter chick of all Easter hats. I painted – yellow. I glued on feathers like a demon. The more I glued, the worst it looked. By then it was too late and taking it in to school (in a carrier bag!) the teacher encouraged me to place the hat on my head. I wish I could have put the bag over my head instead! The whole class, including the teacher burst into laughter. I doubt I’ve offered so much hilarity to anyone since. As tears ran down my friends cheeks I put the offending hat back into the bag. But no, it had to go on the display table…

10. Please finish this sentence with more than three extra words: Life is one foot in and one foot out, you ….

often trip up. The key is to get up, stumble along and hopefully soon enough you’ll be navigating this life safety, with joy, excitement and contentment.

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MY ‘INTIMIDATING TBR’ TAG

Lovely  Eve Messenger  tagged us all for this more unusual book tag – ‘My Intimidating TBR’ Tag. I do like completing the tags occasionally and couldn’t resist giving this one a go. Like Eve, I’m encouraging everyone to join the fun and consider themselves tagged.

  1. What book have you been unable to finish?

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‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is a book I was so excited to read, keen doesn’t cover it. I have read two thirds of it; found it inspiring, funny and wise at times. Then I will find a section which for me is annoying, cliche, blasé and undeserving of a such a good writer. For this reason alone I still have not got round to finishing this book.

Here is a taster: 

‘The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one…when courage dies, creativity dies with it.’

‘The writer Rebecca Solnit puts is well: “So many of us believe in perfection, which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible, and the fun.” Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes – but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work.’

(PS. I recently finished her brilliant ‘The Signature of All Things’ and can highly recommend this book.)

2. What book have you yet to read because you just haven’t had the time?

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‘Birds Without Wings’ by Louis de Bernieres

A while ago I read an interview with Louis de Bernieres of ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ fame. Whilst he appreciates the fame and success the book and later the film brought him, he considers his more recent novel, ‘Birds Without Wings’, the true classic and worthier novel. At 625 pages of intense and literary writing this is a book that deserves time and concentration so I’m still waiting for that perfect (many long) moments! This brief outline explains the scope and setting: 

‘Set against the backdrop of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, the Gallipoli campaign and the subsequent bitter struggle between Greeks and Turks, Birds Without Wings traces the fortunes of one small community in south-west Anatolia – a town in which Christian and Muslim lives and traditions have co-existed peacefully for centuries.’

3. Which book have you yet to read because it is a sequel?

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‘Our Own Country: A Novel (The Midwife Series)’ by Jodi Daynard

In March 2015 I reviewed ‘The Midwife’s Revolt’ and when I came across the next book in the series I could not pass up the opportunity to see whether Jodi Daynard keeps up the pace and emotion in her latest novel.  I hope it does not cover too much of the same ground however.

‘In 1770s Boston, a prosperous merchant’s daughter, Eliza Boylston, lives a charmed life—until war breaches the walls of the family estate and forces her to live in a world in which wealth can no longer protect her.’

4. What book have you yet to read because it is a new release?

small-great-things

‘small great things’ by Jodi Picoult

As a great fan of Jodi Picoult I always keep an eye out for her latest book. Her current novel-in-progress, ‘small great things’, is due out on 8th November 2016 and along with her fans around the world I’m looking forward to this latest sure-to-be bestseller. As usual she doesn’t shy away from controversial weighty topics; this time it’s race. 

‘Ruth, an African-American nurse, has worked at a CT hospital for nearly twenty years as a labor and delivery nurse. So when a young couple, Turk and Brittany, come into the hospital to have their baby, it is business as usual — until Turk calls in Ruth’s white supervisor after the birth. He says, “I don’t want her or anyone like her to touch my boy,” and pulls up his sleeve to reveal a Confederate flag tattoo: he and his wife are Skinheads.’

5. What book have you yet to read because you read a book by the same author and didn’t like it?

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‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tart

It wasn’t that I didn’t like ‘The Goldfinch’; at times I adored it, wallowing in the long descriptive passages, caught up in the general premise. However, it was just TOO long and verbose. I’m tempted though to try and read another one of her books, particularly ‘The Secret History’. Once again the description is enticing but I’m torn. 

‘Under the influence of their charismatic Classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality, their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.’

What do you think? Has anyone read this? Should I give it a go? 

6. What book have you yet to read because you aren’t in the mood?

the girl

‘The Girl with all the Gifts’ by M. R. Carey

This book was a Christmas present and one I do want to read, that I keep meaning to read but somehow the moment is never quite right. Not one for night times, not one for sunny happy days, not one for low depressed days. Hmm…still I’m intrigued though. 

‘Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.’

7. What book have you yet to read because it is humongous?

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‘The Penguin Book of the British Short Story. Volume 1’ edited by Philip Hensher.

Having seen the editor of this short story collection talk in November 2015 at the Royal Society of Literature I truly meant to have read this earlier. Again it was a present and I can’t wait to read the stories contained within but its size has caused certain reservations within me. Not the 702 pages, rather its actual tome and tomb-like weight – having been spoilt with the light weight of a kindle and paperbacks it will be annoying to not be able to hold it with one hand, not to be able to snuggle up and be cosy to read in the evenings. However, I will tackle this soon…I mean it. Then there is always volume two to put on my Christmas list. I had to laugh when reading Philip Hensher’s comment in the General Introduction when he writes that: ‘This anthology could easily have become twice as long as it is’. Was that a threat?!

8. What book have you yet to read because it was a cover buy with bad reviews?

None!

9. Which book on your TBR is the most intimidating to you?

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‘Mason & Dixon’ by Thomas Pynchon

This book has been on my TBR since forever, quietly disappearing to the bookcase before finding its way back onto my bedside table. The book is the most intimidating I’ve ever come across. I just about get the first few pages but its style is so dense and complex; yet I feel I should be better than this. I read ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Pynchon as a student and was hooked. I want to do this one justice and might persevere – or maybe not. 

Here’s a taster for you of the first sentence:

‘Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starr’d the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins, carried Hats away into the brisk Wind off Delaware,— the Sleds are brought in and their Runners carefully dried and greased, shoes deposited in the back Hall, a stocking’d-foot Descent made upon the great Kitchen, in a purposeful Dither since Morning, punctuated by the ringing Lids of various Boilers and Stewing-Pots, fragrant with Pie-Spices, peel’d Fruits, Suet, heated Sugar,— the Children, having all upon the Fly, among rhythmic slaps of Batter and Spoon, coax’d and stolen what they might, proceed, as upon each afternoon all this snowy Advent, to a comfortable Room at the rear of the House, years since given over to their carefree Assaults.’

I hope you’ve enjoyed this selection; as always I would love to hear from you about some of these selections or about some of your own Intimidating TBRs. If you’re tempted, please do the Tag!

THE AUTUMN BOOK TAG

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I was recently nominated by Charley at the wonderful booksandbakes1 for The Autumn Book Tag. How could I refuse! As always a delight and matter of indulgence!

  1. What’s your favourite thing about Autumn?    

I  love the feeling of promise that Autumn brings with it as the cold cracks the morning awake and the summer finally slips away. As with New Year,  Autumn comes with the tension and excitement of new beginnings, where anything is possible.

Also in Autumn the big kid in me is unleashed and I’m incapable of walking past a pile of russet leaves on the ground. Instead I will rush in and kick them around with abandon. The sound, the scent, the scrunchy feeling underfoot – what is there not to like?  

2. What Book reminds you of your school days?

copper

In my last year of primary school we read a book that resulted in a large display of copper items in the reading area. I nagged my mother until all her precious copper pots and pans made up most of the display. It took me years to find the book that so inspired me and this wonderful coppery show. It was the ’The King of Copper Mountain’ by Paul Biegel and I reread it recently, this time falling for the warmth of my childhood memories stored within the tale. 

3. What book cover reminds you of Autumn?

queenieThe hues of deep russet to light orange brilliantly reflect the colours of Autumn as the leaves dazzle us with their extravaganza. The lighter yellow is the cooler sunlight that shines through the leaves, the shell a hint of beach walks in the crisp chilly winds, the deeper orange a reminder of the warmth of the fire in front of which one sits, nursing a hot chocolate and marshmallows. Subtle, striking cover and perfect for Autumn beauty.

4. What is your favourite horror or Halloween book? 

cujoI’m not into horror books, frightened easily by the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’.  However, many years ago I read Stephen King’s ‘Cujo’. Once started, I was incapable of stopping but I remember reading it in terror followed by sleepless nights. It was simply one of those books I had to finish. Relentless.

5. Which is your favourite horror or Halloween film?

weeping:jpgI have managed to go through life without watching a single horror film and intend to keep it that way. The weeping angles in Doctor Who are scary enough and have me hiding behind a cushion! I know, I’m a real wimp!

6. What Fall book are you most looking forward to?

shopholicYou can’t go wrong this time of year with a feel-good book and not many do this better than Sophie Kinsella and her shopaholic series. The latest one is released next Thursday 22nd  October so I’m look forward to curling up on a sofa and reading ‘Shopaholic to the Rescue’.

7. What Autumn movie release are you most looking forward to?

It’s strange isn’t it? As a student I seemed to live in the cinema, then with a young child, we all adored the children films. Now with a teenager I feel the film years returning as my son is busy with his friends. I saw great reviews for Suffragette (a topic I wrote a thesis on) with Meryl Streep and Helen Bonham Carter and I’m tempted to go on a ‘date’ with my husband to see this.

8.  What are three books you are planning to read this Autumn?

On top of the one mentioned, I have three kindle books I bought with my birthday money and look forward to reading in the coming weeks.

I hope you enjoyed reading these and are also planning your Autumn reading. If you have a chance I would enjoy to read some of your own Autumn Book tags. 

For now, have that blanket at the ready, book handy, candles alight. Right,  time to snuggle and read…see you soon…

‘Draw your chair up close to the edge of the precipice and I’ll tell you a story.’

F. Scott Fitzgerald