Thursday, December 20, 2012

Interview with historical novelist Anne Sweazy Kulju

Today's guest of honor is historical paranormal fiction author Anne Sweazy Kulju. She's sharing quite a bit about her novel The Thing with Feathers.

At the end of the virtual book tour, Anne is giving away a Nook Book Glowlight to a lucky winner, and another winner will be able to choose a character name for one of Anne's upcoming books. The form to enter is below the interview. And if you'd like more chances to win, follow her tour and visit other blog stops.

Anne Sweazy Kulju, her husband, and daughter transplanted from Southern California to the Oregon Coast in 1990. They landed in the coastal hamlet of Cloverdale where they completed restoration-slash-conversion of their 1906 Victorian farmhouse into a Bed & Breakfast Inn. Ms. Kulju published a recipe book for the Inn that also provided local history, stories and facts. Later on she contributed a series of articles about the area to a regional travel magazine. This earned her the award for Best Editorial Contribution. Her two short stories, “Not Quite Dead,” and, “A Party Favor,” were published and later earned inclusion in the anthology for horror fiction, Agony in Black. Recently, Ms. Kulju took honors in a flash fiction contest held by The Source Magazine, for her short story, “The Dog Sniffer-er“. Ms. Kulju and her husband of twenty-four years, live in Pacific City, Oregon.

Welcome, Anne. Please tell us about your current release.
The Thing with Feathers is historical fiction that pulls double-duty as a Saga--that’s the genre my publisher landed on. It’s also a little bit Greek Tragedy (the hero must undergo a great transformation), and there are liberal dashes of adventure, throughout. I also included a bittersweet love triangle, and a Christian theme.

The hero of the story, Blair Bowman, is a young girl just sixteen years old, in 1927. She’s growing up without a mother on the wild and sparsely-populated coast of Oregon…and she’s pregnant. Imagine you’re Blair, and your father is the town’s fire-and-brimstone Baptist preacher. And then imagine he is the rapist. Oh, and he’s crazier than pig knuckles, too.

Blair survives her desperate circumstances with the unexpected help from a wealthy dairy farmer’s youngest son, and some strangely comforting words from a favorite teacher. Ironically, the preacher just isn’t the forgiving sort. He’s not happy when Sean Marshall interferes in his and his child-wife’s affairs. Bowman sets his sights on the Marshall family, and everyone else who might oppose him. Fortunately, evil doesn’t always win. It has a sweet (maybe bittersweet) ending.

What inspired you to write this book?
We were restoring a 1906 Victorian farmhouse and converting it to a Bed & Breakfast Inn (the house became the setting for the book), and we found an old photograph, circa 1920s, in the attic. It was of a young girl standing on a rock near the river‘s edge. She was smiling, but she just seemed so sad, to me. It was heartbreaking. I thought about that girl for days before I finally told my husband I was going to write a story about her. I don’t think he expected a full-length novel, but once I started writing it just took off.

Blair smiled, “You’re asking if an Oregon girl knows how to shoot?”
            “Dear me, what was I thinking?” he asked facetiously.
            “That is what they call a ‘Derringer’, isn‘t it? I almost bought one for myself years ago, when I dated that gangster who worked for Capone. What does it shoot?”
            “This is new. It’s called the Lady Derringer. The whole length isn’t even five inches, so it is easy for a small woman to conceal. Later, when you have a chance to look it over, I hope you will like the scrimshaw work performed on the ivory grip--I had it done special for you. But to answer your question, it is single action and it holds just two rounds. They are 32 magnum--I chose that because it is easy to shoot but it still has reasonable stopping power. It can put a man down.
            “Hope, alone, is not a plan, Blair. You can not hope your enemy will act in a particular way; you can’t simply hope that help arrives in time; you just can’t plan your survival based on hope. You need to keep Hope alive; you need to keep it in your heart. But, you also need to keep that gun close. Please, promise me you will use it if you need to.”
            Blair placed her hand, gloved in white cotton, along the side of her friend’s face, kissed him again and told him, “Trouble has always managed to find me, though I swear I scarcely went looking for it. But I know, as sure as there are windy days in autumn, all I need is that pistol and five minutes of dazzling courage, and I can recover my son. I don’t know how to thank you, Wendell.” She smoothed the worry lines from his forehead and whispered, “Yes, I promise…I will put him down.”  

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just returned the conceptual edit of “Bodie” to the publisher last week. The editor loved the minor edits I made to it and had no changes for me, so now it is just removing the editing marks and incorporating the changes I made. After that it’s looking for those elusive typos before it goes to press. It’s all pretty smooth sailing from here on out. Here’s a quick synopsis:

“Bad Whiskey, Bad Weather, Bad Men…” BODIE, in the California
Desert, was the deadliest town in America’s history.

Lara and Lainy survived foster care and all its horrors, but the experience left them incomplete in that they had no knowledge of the people they came from. Unknowingly, until now, each of them has had a reoccurring dream for more years than they can remember—the same dream. When the girls undergo regression by a therapist anxious to publish their story, they learn shocking details about themselves, an unsolved murder in Bodie, California, and a massive cover-up. They want to investigate--but a mining executive can’t allow the “Dream Sisters” to go poking around Bodie, anymore than he could allow the therapist to go public and threaten his thirty-five million dollar deal. Are the “Bad Men from Bodie” really dead? Join Lainy and Lara as they dig up shocking secrets in Bodie. Based on a true story.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That happened when I had a signed publishing contract in hand. But then, I had self-esteem issues.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Some days I do. I may write for ten hours, one day. But maybe the next day (probably because of the marathon from the day before), I can’t go longer than an hour. I don’t worry about it; I write when I can. I have poor health and chronic pain, and when I push too hard, I pay for it. Lately, I’ve really been pushing it (but “Bodie,” has totally been worth it!)  As for finding the time, I’m disabled and my husband works two jobs. I write every minute of the day that I feel I can. And even when I can’t type at my laptop, I am always rolling around characters and plots and such in my head. In that respect, I guess I am writing full-time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have to be smoking marijuana while I write. I gave up very strong pain meds for self-hypnosis (which I largely achieve through writing) and medical marijuana. Trust me, pain meds are the death of creativity. I could not write my way out of a wet paper bag while on pain meds. But the Medical MJ actually helps me achieve a state of self-hypnosis while I write. This is when I feel my best.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian and a singer. I did do a little singing in college (I didn’t say I was any good); my daughter became a veterinary tech. Isn’t life interesting?

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My friend insists that when I finish up “Grog Wars,” my next project should be a sequel to The Thing with Feathers. I admit, I had given it some thought; I had the idea of writing Victory’s story, as well as a children’s’ book, Adventures of the Hammer-Tail Cat. What do you guys think?

Thanks, Anne! 

Readers, here's the form to enter for a chance to win a Nook Book Glowlight or to choose a character name for one of Anne's books:


Rita Wray said...

I would love to live in the 1800's.


Unknown said...

“The effects of adoption on a child's psychology”.
dissertation topic

mon said...

I would love to go back to Regency era. I always fancy myself like a daughter of a duke or an earl, attending those fashionable balls and meeting the ton.

Anyway, nice interview. If I have known some of the answers here before writing a review, I would have understand it better.


Monica Calangian - Pit Crew

Unknown said...

Great post :) I can't wait to read this book.

Unknown said...

It is always fascinating to think of living in a different time.