Interview with Anna Rowan Townsend

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the country on a dirt road close to a long, snakelike river in the plateaus of North Carolina. Life was simple, but family life was tumultuous, and by age eleven I was living instead with a set of grandparents and a recently-sober father in a budding college town in Alabama. So, I am a Southerner. Chickens were wrung by the neck and parboiled in vats out back for feather removal. I plucked wild blueberries off abundant shrubs, watching out for mama bears while doing so. Most of my family went through drunk and riotous phases, while the sober ones tried every trick possible to claim normalcy.

Then, we (my father and I) were suddenly suburbanites, and I was informed that I might be the only one that stood a chance at making it through college. I resisted most attempts of discipline throughout my childhood, although I never saw any formal trouble with The Law. By my teens I was on my own, in a college town, partying. I attended the university as a journalism major, but only wrote formally for the school paper four or five times. I did not graduate and decided instead to let a mediocre job and love win out. Now, in my mid-thirties, I have the time, gumption, and wherewithal to finally write the novel(s).
When did you first start writing?
I began journaling at age twelve. I took creative writing in high school and wrote a few blurbs for the yearbook.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It took over thirty years of real life, in all its abundance, this first story come full circle in my mind. This will be my first novel, and although the tension and plot elements have been the same for a decade, the characters have morphed a lot through the years.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I eschew all things traditional (except SEC football and all its trappings), and therefore feel indie is the way to go. I am also a jack of all trades/master of none. Perfect indie author, right?
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords provides the perfect platform for self-promotion and self-publishing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love the transformations--that a mustard seed of an idea can take root and bloom into a well-formed and beautiful thing for all.
What do your fans mean to you?
Even one fan would make the work worth it. Fans give novels liftoff. Fans have their own discreet interpretation of what a character looks like, talks like, loves like. That each fan will have a slightly different, and hopefully positive, experience with something created by me is rewarding.
What are you working on next?
A rough idea for my second novel involves a stalker who is being treated for a mild psychiatric disorder but is in fact sociopathic. The relationship between the psychiatrist and stalker will be deeply examined.
Who are your favorite authors?
The short list of my favorites include Zora Neale Hurston, Stephen King, Charles Dickens, Tom Robbins, and of course Hemingway and Faulkner.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee. And yes, the kids, husband and dog.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing I'm thinking about writing while also working on the kids, the husband, the dog, the knitting, or the things. All The Things. I'm not such a good multi-tasker though.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Through Kindle or iBooks. I also read Diary of an Oxygen Thief and investigated self-pub further at that point.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a horribly crappy sordid thing in my 10th grade creative writing class. I also wrote hate letters during my black hair and flannel phase that the principal told me should be filed in asbestos folders. He was of course trying to redirect my creative outlets.
What is your writing process?
Write. Step away. Take notes whenever I have the slightest inkling of an idea. Write some more. Step away. Repeat twelve times per day, four days a week. My other money-making job requires pinpoint precision and attention Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The real job sometimes provides fodder for novels.
Published 2015-11-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.