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Interview with Anne K. Edwards author of 'Changing Places' and other books for children.

Interview: Children’s Author Anne K. Edwards

Anne K. Edwards loves the adventures created by words and the imagination. She writes in several genres, each story with a hopefully different plot. She has been in love with books since she learned to read, with the exception of those few dull books school approved for children’s reading. Luckily, they also approved books where she could enter that world and live the adventure. This is where she developed an early desire to write stories too. 

Encouraged by her mother and favorite teachers, Anne wrote many stories, a process that taught her to edit and rewrite. To this day, she rereads her work several times before considering it finished. She considers rejection and reworking plots and all that applies to writing as part of learning the craft. Writing for children is the latest step in her education and she loves it.

Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Changing Places. When did you start writing and what got you into children’s books?

This is a question I could write pages about since I enjoy talking about writing in general, but I’ll stick to the basics. I began trying to write in my early years and never gave a thought to the quality or rules of writing. I thought one just told a story on paper and that was that. Boy, did I have a lot to learn.  And I’m still learning. I began with short stories and westerns back then as I was also madly in love with horses. Blame that on Walter Farley and his Black Stallion series. 

That love has stuck with me even though I have progressed into mysteries, supernatural, and the other genres, including nonfiction.  Finally, I came to writing for children. This genre hooked me when I got to wondering if a child of seven or so could solve problems they’d encounter in life without an adult telling them what to think or do. This question led me to write Dominick and the Dragon to be followed by a tale written for mainly entertainment but based on the question “What would happen if…”. 

So a cat that meets a homeless snake by falling on him decides they ought to talk it over. The lure of such questions is ever-present with a lot of writers like myself and leads us to try finding answers for them. Another reason for writing for children is that I enjoy finding out how a story will work out.

What is your book about? 

Changing Places tells the story of a cat named Whiskers that rolled off the porch one summer day and landed on a large black snake sunning itself in the flower bed below. The snake’s homeless situation leads them into changing places for a day. Things don’t quite work out as planned however.

Do you plot in advance or do you write by the seat of your pants?

The seat of the pants is the only way to write. That way the author gets as much fun out of the story as the characters and, hopefully, the readers. I love the way things happen and am often taken by surprise as the story develops. I usually have the ending and title before I start a new story but that can change as a story unfolds. I particularly love a story where the characters take over and make the story move in what seems right for them. After all, it is their world and I’m just a visitor.

How do you define success?

I consider success in several ways, but the one part of being a published author that spells success for this author is the way the book turns out. If it is well written with characters that come alive on the page, that is real success. I particularly enjoy creating living and breathing people who can walk up to a reader and say “Welcome to my world. Enjoy the adventure with us.” They invite the reader to be one of them, instead of standing outside the story, looking in.

I feel this aspect of writing gives the reader the most satisfaction and that, in turn, is success. To have someone say they enjoyed the story, that they’d like to read more tales with these characters, even if you have no plans to do so is success. And, yes, it is nice to sell a lot of copies, but the readership buying the book should be people who really like to read, not family, friends and coworkers buying copies as a favor. Those are some of the aspects of writing I consider as success, but in the end, it is pleasing the reader that counts the most. Deliver what they want in a book and they will look for others by a happy author who is then a success also.

Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?

Yes, my website is Anne K Edwards. Visitors can meet my muse, Swamp Thingy, on its pages and find out what he thinks of working with me. There are covers of my other books there also. 

Where is your book available?

All of my books are available on Amazon. Most are published by Twilight Times Books. Three are published on the Indie route and one by First Realm Books.

What is your advice for aspiring children’s authors?

Go for it. The world of children is expanding every day due to new technology that can be used in the stories. Use your own childhood in stories if there’s some fun thing that happened to you. Read the type of books you want to write, but don’t duplicate style or what you read. Learn from them and create your own style and method of storytelling.

Mostly, I suggest you enjoy writing for children or you are in the wrong job. While I don’t follow guidelines of publishers or agents, that does not mean you shouldn’t. I am happy to indie publish my tales that are shorter than what is required by publishers and agents, but you stand a better chance if your well written story meets the standards they set for submissions. So, saying that, I mean any aspiring children’s author should be willing to study, learn, write, rewrite, edit, take criticism with an open mind and find pleasure in the writing of those stories.

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

As a reader, you may also decide to try your hand at becoming a writer. Be sure you have learned as much about the craft as possible and then plan on learning more as you progress in your career. It is a demanding profession in many ways so you must be dedicated to it, ready to spend long periods alone, able to accept honest criticism, able to spell and know the meanings of words, such as knowing the difference between pique, peak and peek and use each word correctly.

If you write a book; self publish it and do your own promotion, be sure the book is the best you can make it. Read and reread it. Be your own best critic and rewrite as much as needed. Be honest with yourself if you find what you have written doesn’t work. Be honest with the readers you hope to attract. And as a reader, study the books you read. Whether or not, you want to write, that can be a learning experience too. And above all, enjoy the books you read. That’s the best reward you can give the author for the time they spent in writing the book.

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

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