Interview with Anna Scott Graham

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was completely captivated by Jean de Brunhoff's Babar the Elephant, from his green suit to how he could drive a car. The book was printed in cursive writing, which also seemed magical. Of all the storybooks from my childhood, Babar has never left my imagination, stoking it to the present day (although I have never written about an elephant in a green suit).
When did you first start writing?
In 2006, my oldest child mentioned National Novel Writing Month, and that I might enjoy it. Funny how one's offspring can sense even the deepest desires, perhaps it was all the time spent together homeschooling. But that wasn't when I actually began writing. Like many authors, I always hoped to pen The Great American Novel.

The moment that I realized telling stories was imperative to my well-being came in 1992, watching Callie Khouri accept the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Thelma and Louise. From that day, ideas flew thick and fast, but as the mum of three small children, there seemed no time to scribble much more than a grocery list. I did manage a screenplay based on my tenure at beauty college, but scripts weren't my calling. It took over a decade to find the time, and impetus, to write a novel, but in the interim I scratched out countless journal entries, a few poems, and of course more grocery lists. But my daughter seemed to note my love for writing, and when she mentioned NaNoWriMo, I had found the outlet for all those authorial dreams. And maybe having just turned forty might have had something to do with it too.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Northern California, and while that heritage colours my work, the biggest influence was the eleven years I resided in Yorkshire, England. It was there I participated in my first NaNoWriMo, my arm only slightly twisted by my then seventeen-year-old eldest daughter. Somehow, all my fictional dreams coalesced in Great Britain, where my first published novel was written and set. Moving back to California six months later, I finished that story, and the rest of the writing snowballed from there. England remains special in my heart for many reasons, but especially in finally freeing that long-held dream of becoming a writer.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I have more plots than sense, so writing keeps me sane. But that's not the only thrill (and blessing); when I write, I'm exploring a previously unconsidered idea. I'm liberating characters that tend to spill over into my life. (How many times do I find myself mumbling story lines while in the shower or driving?) Everyone has a calling, and from the time I realized it would take way too long to become an obstetrician (not to mention I'm very squeamish), I wanted to write. Medicine and literature aren't mutually exclusive, but I tend to write about families, so maybe there is a correlation. Or perhaps it's birthing so many characters; I love creating lives, then tangling them into other existences. My writing is character-based, heavy with melodrama, and it's better to expend all that angst on hapless casts than within my own day-to-day.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Love stories and family sagas are my stock and trade, but as I don't write the typical romance novel, and I include faith and social issues, my stories don't fit into easily marketable slots. When a good friend, and fellow indie author, chose that path, I investigated, and found independent publishing was the best way to release my books. There is no one looking over my shoulder (other than necessary and beloved crit partners), I was able to maintain control of my copyrights, and I can distribute my tales as I please. All of my novels are free, which would not be the case had I chosen a publisher. I have never regretted this decision, and am thankful to Smashwords for providing an outlet to share my stories with anyone interested.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The knowledge that my husband needs his daily PBJ-fix for work, and that afterwards I can leisurely drink several cups of hot and milky English tea.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I garden, watch baseball and American football, crochet and cross-stitch, and listen to a vast array of musical artists from head-bangers to the smoothest jazz instrumentalists. And I love to stroll along the beach, especially at The Hook, in Capitola, California.
Who are your favorite authors?
I was initially influenced by poet and author Richard Brautigan, also by John Irving, Amy Tan, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Joseph Girzone, and Brennan Manning. Indie authors like Dianne Gray, Julie K. Rose, Heather Domin, Gary Weston, Suzy Stewart Dubot, David H. Keith, Elizabeth Rowan Keith, and Barnaby Wilde capture my attention with their wit, grace, and entertaining styles.
What are your favorite books, and why?
This list includes fiction and non-fiction.

1. In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan, is a brief but poetic journey in an unnamed land where watermelons are a different colour every day. A shocking occurrence leads to tragedy amid the smallest rivers and the gaze of a wise old trout. Brautigan is at his finest in this beautiful novella that I have read and reread since I was in high school.

2. The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien, caught me by surprise, a novel read for research's sake. It has become one of my favourite books, a glimpse into a psyche scarred by war. I don't try to separate the truth from fiction, but I suppose it could fall under non-fiction just as easily.

3. The Islandman, by Tomas O'Crohan, transported me from my Silicon Valley kitchen to Blasket Island off the coast of Ireland every time I sat to read. I was lost in another time and place until I closed up that book for the beautiful language employed, and the touching display of life from over one hundred years ago. Not a story I will ever forget.

4. Haywire, by Brooke Hayward, is a memoir devoted to the highs, and many lows, of one 1930s and '40s Hollywood family. Hayward juxtaposes her magical childhood against the prices paid by all she loves with wit and honesty, and some names being dropped that now are legends in the film industry, providing an intriguing view of stardom within that era.

5. Birthday Letters, by Ted Hughes, is a collection by Britain's one-time poet laureate about the author's experience with his late wife, Sylvia Plath. As poems note when the couple met to after her death, Birthday Letters reads like a novel, precious love twisted with torturous angst. In verse, a poignant yet helpless despair weaves throughout, as Hughes admits how little of his wife's depression he realized, and the horror thrust upon him after her death. Stunning in its honesty, this collection sums up more than a marriage, but all that Plath and Hughes meant to each together, and apart. Mesmerizing from beginning to end.
Why are your books free?
I write because I have no choice in the matter. Consequently, to charge readers for something I love to do seems opportunistic. I feel blessed to have this outlet, not to mention that Smashwords asks for no up-front fees, so I have no cost to pass along to readers. If the day ever comes that I am homeless and starving, maybe I'll change my mind. For now, I am graced with a roof over my head, food on the table, and petrol in my car. Free ebooks are the least I can do to reciprocate what treasures, tangible and not so obvious, I have been given.
Published 2013-10-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

A Quilt For Dietrich Bonhoeffer
By
Price: Free! Words: 8,340. Language: English. Published: May 13, 2014. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
This volume was written during National Poetry Writing Month, 2014. It chronicles this author’s foray into quilting while studying Dietrich Bonhoeffer throughout Lent and Easter. Other themes such as aging, chemotherapy, and wayward novels find their way into the verses, alongside music, baseball, old photographs, and laundry.
Chips Off The Block
By
Price: Free! Words: 43,710. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, and a poem or three round out this author’s tenure in the Top Writers Block cooperative. Themes range from loneliness and poverty to out of the ashes and meringue. Yes meringue, along with stitches, pumpkins, trash day, fools rush in and why me? Comedy and romance interweave with tragedy, sometimes within the same tale.
The Pancake That Saved Silicon Valley and other NaPoWriMo Poems 2013
By
Price: Free! Words: 9,480. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2013. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
This collection of poems was written for 2013's National Poetry Writing Month, which concluded on April 30th. It includes verses about pancakes and Silicon Valley, ninja hats, roses, love, music, British and California rain, and more than a few nods to writing novels.
50 Years Waiting
By
Price: Free! Words: 11,650. Language: English. Published: March 8, 2013. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Celebrating her birthday, seventy-two-year-old Andrea Falstaff receives an unexpected visitor, her first lover from five decades ago. Yet Thom Sugerman is still thirty-two years old, the same age as when Andrea last saw him. Andrea struggles in accepting the love Thom still carries for her, while her family wonders just who this man is to their matriarch.
Alvin's Farm Book 6: The Timeless Nature of Patience
By
Series: Alvin's Farm, Book 6. Price: Free! Words: 124,570. Language: American English. Published: December 24, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Eric grapples with tragedy on the scale of his parents’ losses, but someone arrives in the Willamette Valley to ease his sorrow. Yet, not one Cassel or Smith is prepared when Tanner falls back into murderous hands. Can family wrench Tanner from the brink, or will chaos once again engulf the residents of Arkendale, Oregon?
Alvin's Farm Book 5: An Innate Sense of Recognition
By
Series: Alvin's Farm, Book 5. Price: Free! Words: 75,640. Language: American English. Published: October 31, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
As Chelsea plans her wedding, missing family members cast shadows. Eric’s unstable girlfriend Dana causes distress for Jenny and Sam, but while Jenny battles her marijuana usage, Sam realizes the best place for their youngest is the farm. Dana’s anguish threatens to overwhelm, but other sinister forces bear down on all in the Willamette Valley.
Alvin's Farm Book 4: The Farm at Sam & Jenny's
By
Series: Alvin's Farm, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 79,000. Language: American English. Published: September 14, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Drama
Chelsea’s an accountant, Will pitches for the San Francisco Giants. Sam and Jenny’s offspring aren’t kids anymore, but something is wrong with Jenny’s hip. In 2004, a car accident foreshadows more serious ailments for Arkendale’s residents. While Chelsea pines for Oregon, her younger cousin Tanner falls deeper into drugs, which Jenny chooses not to use for her increasing aches.
For God and Country
By
Price: Free! Words: 79,230. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
When missing actor and tortured dissident Cade Walton appears on Dr. Drew Clemmons’ ward, the tormented physician spirits both to another universe where liberty seems an elusive notion. New relationships emerge, but the fallout of short and long-term persecutions hinders the men’s adjustments, leaving their partners uncertain if the past can be left behind.
September Story
By
Price: Free! Words: 81,240. Language: English. Published: April 15, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
As a child, Jo Adams witnessed her father’s death. When she falls for British actor Jeremy Stewart, old memories drive her from a man equally haunted by loss. Three generations of African American women bear racism’s burdens as Jeremy fights for his sanity, not only the woman he loves.
Alvin's Farm Book 3: Memories of Home
By
Series: Alvin's Farm, Book 3. Price: Free! Words: 84,530. Language: English. Published: February 29, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
In 1979, American hostages mirror Sam Cassel’s paternal anxieties, but six months later a volcanic eruption triggers Jenny’s deepest fear. All of Arkendale, Oregon weathers clouds of ash as memories threaten Jenny’s fragile peace. Her devastated childhood is to blame, but without Alvin’s assistance, can Sam and Tommie relieve ancient scars without causing further damage?
Alvin's Farm Book 2: The Thorn And The Rose
By
Series: Alvin's Farm, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 82,410. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2012. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
In 1970s Oregon, Jenny Cope has made a family with Alvin Harris, but their love has faded. Sam Cassel can no longer love Jenny from afar, but when tragedy strikes, Jenny suffers most of all. Can she recover from another destructive loss, or as others founder, will she also succumb to abject disaster?
Alvin's Farm Book 1: Alvin's Farm
By
Series: Alvin's Farm, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 89,700. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
In 1970s Oregon, Jenny Cope’s cloistered ways are tested by a challenged man. Alvin Harris’ simple manners thaw her frozen heart, but horrific childhood memories threaten their happiness. Alvin eases Jenny through her deepest fears as Sam Cassel waits, in love with a woman altering all she meets.
A Slider, Tumbling
By
Price: Free! Words: 81,250. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
During the 2009 World Series, Summer Caravella mourns her late ex-husband, their youngsters still reeling from his death. When Summer invites old flame Dan Bailey for game two, more than baseball is shared. Summer’s kids respond favorably, but not all the dead man’s friends appreciate the last man to see Jody Sims alive.
A Right Turn At Jesus
By
Price: Free! Words: 85,360. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2011. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Rock singer Rose Burnett isn’t at all sure about husband Gray’s wishes for another child. As the couple considers adding to their family, Rose battles the gnawing sense a relative is in trouble, alongside an insidious threat neither husband nor wife could imagine.
The War On Emily Dickinson
By
Price: Free! Words: 79,090. Language: English. Published: July 16, 2011. Category: Fiction » Literature » Literary
As mysterious ailments evolve into an insidious scourge, friendship ignites into passion between AIDS nurse Marthe Souza and her bisexual boyfriend, author Kell Vander Kellen. Infidelities sabotage their relationship, but when Kell returns to her realm HIV-positive, he wishes to record their history alongside that of the pandemic, intolerance and fear amid steadfast devotion.