Ann Mauren is always on the move between her three careers as a Marketing Coordinator for an American Foodservice corporation, ‘Director of Home and Childcare Management’ for her family, and Author of Romance and Suspense fiction for herself and like-minded readers.
TSR: Ann, A very warm welcome to you, and can I thank-you for taking time out of your schedule to talk to us today.
Thanks! I’m excited to join you.
TSR: For our International readers can I begin by asking what are your best memories from your childhood of growing up in Kentucky, and what do you like best about now living in Ohio?
Though it’s known as the “Bluegrass State” my memories of Kentucky are coloured in every shade of green. Gorgeous rolling hills, water ways and woods are broken up by farms, parks, and now, unfortunately, the odd but unstoppable scourge of strip malls. I’ve only lived in two places: Louisville, Kentucky growing up, and now Cincinnati, Ohio. They share the same river and most if not all of the same franchised restaurants and stores. Ohio is very much like Kentucky, but without the southern accent. Happily, both places still feel like home to me.
TSR: Do you think books that you read during your childhood may have influenced your current writing in any way?
I have such happy memories of my mother reading aloud to me. It was truly a performance as she always incorporated her unique mimicking abilities while reading works like ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ by Beatrix Potter with a British accent, or Ludwig Bemelman’s ‘Madeline’, in the most velvety French-kissed dialect imaginable. Selections from Dr. Suess featured voices that were as diverse and exotic as the odd little illustrated characters they portrayed. I pull right up with childish glee and enthusiasm whenever she ‘performs’ these classics for my little boys. It’s an incredibly pleasurable portal through time back to my own childhood. Without a doubt, all those beloved building block stories have formed the foundation of my own writing platform, with a special emphasis on unique characters and their humorous sensibilities.
TSR: Did you always want to become a writer?
The idea to write came to me only recently and as a result of unusual circumstances. While pregnant with my second child, health restrictions left me housebound and immobile and I did a great deal more pleasure reading than I had been used to prior to that time. A particularly commercially successful ‘saga’ was all the rage during that period, and I decided to investigate the uproar about it, interested in determining the key to its extreme popularity. At the same time I was trying to locate work I could perform from home and I kept coming back to jobs that required writing, though nothing that fit my particular needs turned up. Thinking back on how much I enjoyed reading for pleasure combined with a deep desire to find employment that allowed me to use my imagination and communication skills to the full, the notion that perhaps I could be a fiction writer sprouted and I’ve been slowly cultivating the idea ever since.
TSR: Do you have a set writing routine when you are working on a novel?
I began writing my first novel when my baby was just a few weeks old. Back then I did most of my writing at night and in the early morning. Even though I am most definitely not a night owl, it was and still is the best option for peace, quiet and convenience. With two very active and noisy boys rolling through the house, if I want to experience quiet, disruption-free stretches of time in which to think and write, I must 1) Leave the premises, 2) Disconnect my hearing and engage my cloaking device, or 3) Wait until everyone is asleep. Option three always wins because it doesn’t require the services of a babysitter or futuristic technology to achieve.
As any parent will tell you, life with children requires flexibility, so depending on what’s happening that day and how tired I am, I will try for some time after everybody is in bed, or set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. and try to get an early crack at my writing for the day. Somehow coffee manages to make itself taste better in the small hours before dawn.
TSR: Where do you write best?
I fantasise about having my own writing den or remote cabin to be alone with my stories, but that is not the reality I inhabit. Most of my writing sessions occur in the baby’s nursery in an upholstered glider with a TV tray pulled up on which to set my laptop and my drink. Notably, the door to this room has never locked successfully or kept short trespassers out with any degree of effectiveness. My only ally in the battle for private time is my housemates’ recurring need for sleep.
TSR: Can you tell us a bit about your book ‘In the Spotlight’?
‘In The Spotlight’ is the first in a collection titled “Mayne Attraction”, named for the series’ heroine, Ellery Mayne, a young woman who discovers that she is being shadowed and protected by a private security force. This instalment provides Ellery’s own narration of her efforts to uncover the secrets behind her mysterious guardians and the experiments she conducts to test the responses of highly trained professionals who think she is clueless about them.
Though they are extremely illusive, their protection and feelings for her become plain to see—especially those of the team’s youngest member, Ash Ryan, whom Ellery discovers after one of her ‘experiments’ sends him panicking in a call for reinforcements. Secretly observing him while he secretly observes her, she forms an attachment over time and eventually declares her feelings to Ash, who is blindsided with joy and a sweet romance unfolds. However, they must carefully hide their love because his team will lose its lucrative security contract if their mysterious employer learns of this secret relationship.
When her first love, Grayson Gregory, abruptly returns seeking to rekindle a relationship that she thought was over forever, she suspects she’s discovered the source of her security team’s employment. Deeply buried affections for Grayson resurface and battle with the love and loyalty she feels for Ash. Probing for the answers she needs and conscious that her actions will impact so many, this once shy and lonely girl finds that her life is ‘In The Spotlight’ and that she is the ‘Mayne Attraction.’ The series will be continued from the unique perspectives of both of Ellery’s suitors in the books ‘In the Smoke’ and ‘In the Shadow’.
TSR: What was your inspiration for the theme that you have followed within this story?
I was intrigued with the idea of what it would be like to have a security detail following my every move: how I would feel about it and how I would react. Imagining myself in Ellery’s position was great fun and the story began to write itself.
TSR: You have talked about writing other books telling this same story from the perspective of other characters from within this story. Are you still planning on doing this and if you are, why?
I have always been fascinated by the divergence that occurs when you compare one person’s account of a situation with that of another’s—especially when something very important to those involved is at stake. This series embraces those shades of gray in the overlap where stories coincide, intersect and ultimately depart. Though a few scenes overlap in each instalment, the majority of the two follow-up books present new passages, secondary character development and back story not considered by the other main characters in the love triangle at the heart of the tale. You will only have the full story once you’ve completed the series.
TSR: What genre would you say that your book fits into?
It is a Romance with elements of humour, suspense, and coming of age. (So does that make it a ‘Rom-Coming of Age’?)
TSR: Working and looking after a family and home can be very demanding, as is writing novels to publishing deadlines, do you have any hobbies or other interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from these regular full time demands?
Is Twitter considered a hobby? When my time is my own and I can do exactly what I want, it usually involves me and my Kindle...
TSR: Can you give any advice to new writers, as they struggle to try to achieve a work life balance when working, bringing up a family, writing and also possibly trying to promote their books as well?
The best words of encouragement I can think of weren’t really aimed at writers, but I like them all the same: “The fact that some achieve great success is proof that anyone can.” – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.
The recipe for success has room for all sorts of customizations, but making set times to write and paying it to yourself like bill instead of giving in to the temptation to put it on the back burner is the framework for writing success around which every other related task and additional responsibility in life must be built. And it’s okay to slow down if you need to, just don’t stop all together.
TSR: Ann, which do you prefer, Mac or PC?
I have Mac daydreams to pass the time while my PC reboots. My sage advice: Always save your work, folks, and in more than one place.
TSR: What is your favourite book and why?
Because I enjoy a deep love of nature, 'Americana', and laughing to the point of crying, Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk In The Woods’ is one of my all time favourite books. It chronicles his efforts to hike the Appalachian Trail as an out of shape, middle aged arctophobic (person with a fear of bears). Bryson has a way of simultaneously educating and entertaining with beautiful language and engaging perspectives that I’ve never encountered anywhere else. He has been described as one of the finest writers still living. (This probably gives him the creeps!) I actually got to meet him in the fall of 2010, and though the decade is still young, I’m quite certain that for me the encounter will remain as one of its brightest highlights.
TSR: Are you currently reading any books at the moment, and if so what are they?
I give priority to the works of my indie author friends. There is nothing quite so pleasurable and satisfying as enjoying the imagination and craftsmanship of personal acquaintances. Plus it more clearly illustrates and drives home the truthfulness of Mr. Lincoln’s sentiments as mentioned above. “The fact that some [of my amazing author friends] achieve great success is proof that any one [yes, even silly little me] can.
At this moment my Kindle features the books “THALO BLUE”, by Jason McIntyre, and “In Memory of Greed”, by Al Boudreau, two of my favourite authors on the indie scene.
TSR: From what you have shared with us today, it can be clearly seen that you are kept very busy within your life but enjoy it to the full! To conclude this interview can you finally tell us what simple things in life make you smile?
Being mimicked by my toddler, in both speech and actions. It’s a constant compliment and chagrin, a joy and a joke. It makes me smile more purely than almost anything else in life.
TSR: Ann, it has been a great honour for me to work with you on this interview for my literary site. I would like to thank-you once again for taking the time to speak to us today.
Thanks for picking me out of the amazingly colourful bouquet of literary talent you have to choose from these days. The pleasure and honour was all mine!
Readers can check out excerpts of Mayne Attraction as well as images and music that inspired the story by clicking on the direct web link below:
International Book Giveaway Draw!
Ann has very kindly provided a copy of her book 'In the Spotlight' for an International Book Giveaway Draw to go with this interview, here at 'The Secret Writer'!
It is very simple to participate in this draw . If you visit this blog and have joined as a 'Google Friend Connect' follower, leave a comment on this post telling me in a couple of lines where your dream place for a perfect summer holiday would be and why? (also include your e-mail address in your comment so I can contact you if you are a winner), you will be entered into a draw for a copy of Ann's novel 'In the Spotlight'!
There will be one winner of this draw. Each entrant to the draw will be allocated a sequential number. After the closing date for this draw (Monday 2nd May 2011 at 23.59GMT), The winning number for this draw will be chosen by random.org. This is an International Giveaway for all my GFC Followers! Thank-you Ann for providing this great prize for a draw!
Good Luck Everyone!