Interview with Annelies Pool

"Free Love" is your most recent work and your first novel. What inspired you to write this?
Free Love is a story about a women recovering from alcoholism in Yellowknife (Northwest Territories, Canada) in the 1980s. I am a recovering person myself so, although all the characters and events are fictional, this story is very personal to me. It has taken me 10 years to write but I have been thinking about it for a lifetime.

Like many northern and isolated communities, Yellowknife is a party town and alcoholism is a huge and very visible problem here. What is not so visible is the recovery community which mostly operates under the radar.

I wanted to write about the recovery community, about how people are pulled out of despair and learn to lead responsible lives; about the love that develops as people help each other; the bonds people form across differences in culture, religion and status. I wanted to write a story of hope to offset the stories of despair that are so readily seen in the streets (of Yellowknife and communities everywhere), and while "Free Love" does not shy away from the tragedy of alcoholism, it is essentially a story of hope. This story of hope plays out not only in Yellowknife but in communities around the world.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
There are two things that give me great joy as a writer.

The first is that moment when I'm writing when everything falls into place. I am an intuitive writer, rather than someone who figures everything out at the beginning and then works from an outline. I start with a vague idea and my writing process usually involves periods of flailing when everything seems mundane, I have no idea where a story is going and I question my right to exist, not only as a writer but as a human being. Then everything falls into place and the story or chapter I'm working on comes into sharp focus. I know exactly what the story is and what's going to happen and the words flow through me like mercury. I love that stage. It is like being favoured by the gods.

The second is after I've published and somebody tells me that my writing gave them a laugh, a moment of joy or tears or changed their life in some small way. Then I understand why I'm doing what I'm doing.
What do your fans mean to you?
I prefer the term "readers" to "fans," because I have always associated the term "fan" with rock or movie stars. I am not a star but a working writer.

Readers are why I continue to write. While I have never been able to shake the writing bug, I have often gotten frustrated with witing. Things don't go well, the characters won't do what I want or the story won't come alive. Or I get tired of toiling away in a room by myself for practically no money, or I get one too many rejection. I start to wish that I could be the type of person who is content to stay in a job for 30 years and come out at the end of it with a fat pension. Then I get an email or I meet somebody on the street who tells me how much they enjoy my work and asks me when my next book is coming out. It only take one comment to turn my attitude around and remind me of why I continue to write.
How do you find inspiration?
In a million different ways: the quality of sunlight as it shines on a building; conversations I overhear in a restaurant; experiences that move me; characters and thoughts that leap into my head; strange things I see in shopping malls; things my friends say and do; the peace of the northern wilderness and the rush of the city. . . inspiration never stops.
What are you working on now?
My main goal at the moment is to promote my current book "Free Love." Self-promotion does not come naturally to me. In fact, I'd rather have a root canal. However, I do think "Free Love" is worth promoting so I soldier on. But I have these two characters, Marty and Jen, whom I absolutely love and haven't spent enough time with. I'm about 60 pages into writing their story. I am just getting back to this after a hiatus of several years. This book is tentatively called "All I wanted to do was write a love story" and it plays with reality a little. At least so far.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Read! Read! Read! Everything you can get your hands on. And write. Put words on the page and keep at it, day after day, week after week, month after month. No matter how you feel, keep writing. There's really no shortcut for this.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the first story I ever read but I do remember, as a very young child who didn't yet know who to read, watching my parents and older sister read books. They were always reading and I couldn't wait to do it too. My mother would plop me on her lap and read to me, but I wanted more than anything to read the words for myself. One day when I was kindergarten, the teacher told us that the next day we were going to start learning to read. I thought I would learn in one day. Excited, I ran home and told my Mom that by the next evening I would be able to sit and read along with everybody else in the family. I was hugely disappointed the next day when I learned only some letters and words. But I learned fast. In our town, kids could get library cards as soon as they could print their names. I practiced and practiced and my mother took me to sign up as soon as I could do it without help. Joining the library opened up the world for me. I took out books frequently and indiscriminately, picture books at first, but as my reading improved, I was attracted to more difficult books. I puzzled out the words I didn't know the best I could. We were allowed to take three books at a time and keep them for three weeks but I would read them quickly and often exchange books several times in a three-week period. Reading transported me into worlds I had never imagined. It was how I spend most of my childhood and it became one of greatest joys. Hardly surprising that I would grow up to become a writer.
Published 2016-09-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Free Love
Price: $9.98 USD. Words: 81,770. Language: English. Published: February 3, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
Set in Yelloknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, Free Love takes us into the heart of the AA recovering communty, as 30-year-old Marissa reaches for hope in a town that loves to party, where temptation and the beauty and danger of the northern wilderness is never far away.
Iceberg Tea
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 35,510. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir
Iceberg Tea, a collection of 50 personal stories about life in the Canadian North will touch your heart and make you laugh. Reading them is like sitting down with an old friend over a cup of tea.