Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Please Welcome Author Ann Werner
Ann Werner was born and raised in Baltimore Maryland, moved to Southern California in 1977, lived a few years near Sedona Arizona and now resides in Northern California. Along the way she has held a variety of jobs including bartender, cemetery plot salesperson, master hypnotist, auto salesperson, actor and wine consultant, to name a very few. For seven and a half years she portrayed Eliana, maid to the evil Dimera family on Days of Our Lives. She considers life to be a smorgasbord and intends to dine at the table for as long as she can. You can find her on Twitter @MsWerner and on Facebook.
Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
My novel CRAZY is a pretty crazy story that just sort of occurred to me. I love thrillers and wanted to write something other than a police procedural or CSI type of thing. I wanted to get into the mind of a serial killer and have the reader be there. It was a strange experience because I had to find those terrible things in me that I would never act upon but that a seriously disturbed person would be able to rationalize into action. It's an odd sort of endeavor because sometimes the things my killer does are just so beyond the pale. I'd be sitting there, typing away, the whole thing unfolding in my mind's eye and I'd be pounding the keyboard, the anger or the pain or the frustration of the character building within me. Maybe it's the actor in me, but I see my books in my head, like a movie, and I experience the emotions of the character. All this absolutely awful stuff would be pouring out of me and then I'd finish that segment and sit back and read what I'd just written. It sounds awful, but sometimes it would just make me laugh because it was so contrary to the way I am and I'd wonder where it all came from! This is a process I do with all of my characters, so when my heroine, Emily, is freaking out because this serial killer is sending her scary messages and then carrying out the threats, I am freaking out too. It is not unusual for me to sit at my computer and laugh hysterically, cry, shiver with fear or or seethe with anger. When you think about it, it's very therapeutic! The strangest thing was when I was about three quarters of the way through writing the first draft, I thought maybe it would be beneficial to actually research a serial killer and see how my fictional killer stacked up with the real thing. I picked up a book about the Zodiac killer. The only thing I knew about that one was the name - had no idea of what he did, how he did it and so forth. The parallels between Zodiac and my imagined killer were eerily similar. I must admit, that sent a few chills up my spine!
What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write?
I love to read just about anything. I have always been a voracious reader and my interests vary. I read mostly, but not exclusively, fiction. As stated, I like thrillers but I also like historical fiction, mysteries, science fiction, contemporary fiction and I'm into true crime and biographies and autobiographies - if it's well written, I'll read it! But when it comes to writing, I always seem to go to the weird side. CRAZY is my third novel and while it's the only one that deals with a serial killer, all of them have a definite strange factor. One is a science fiction/time travel tale and another is a story about a writer who has just made it and a bank robber who is sentenced to life in prison. Neither of them is aware of the other but both of their stories run concurrently until a fateful meeting happens. At present I am working on an entirely different sort of piece. It's a ghost story and a love story. I guess I'm counting on my readers to be as eclectic as I am with their choice of reading materials.
When you sit down to write, do you do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper or do you use a computer? Do you prefer one way or the other?
I love working on the computer. The first book manuscript I wrote was on a typewriter - now that was a job! I'm not the world's most accomplished typist, and I seem to have gotten worse rather than better over the years, so having a computer is invaluable. Not only is it great for spell checking but it's also so much easier to change the arrangement of things if I feel it's called for. Cut and paste - what a concept! I do, however, keep paper and pen near at all times so when I get an idea, I write it down. To me, writing isn't just when I sit down to do it. It's a process where I come up with things at odd times - sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night with an angle that hadn't occurred to me and I'll grab the paper and pen from my nightstand and record it so I won't forget.
Compared to when you first started writing, have you notice any big changes in your writing style or how you write compared from then to now?
I first started writing when I was a kid, so of course, I've undergone changes along the way. However, since I started writing seriously, I can't say I've noticed big changes but there have certainly been changes. One of the bugboos I've had - and still do - is the overuse of the word 'that'. Even though I try to keep it out of my writing, it seems to appear more often than not and I find myself going back over what I've written and deleting the word many, many, MANY times! I guess it's a strange little writing tic. My writing is also a lot tighter than it was when I first got started, which is the product of undergoing edits.
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
Good writing. It doesn't matter what the book is about, if the writing is good, then I'm there. Conversely, if the book is something I'm generally interested in but is poorly written, it hits the junk heap in no time flat. I realize there will be small errors here and there at times, although I have noticed an uptick of that in recent years, even in books published by the large houses. But I have come across some incredibly poorly written books and I wonder how the authors let them go out like that. Some are rife with mistakes, others have poor plot construction or even worse, get preachy. When I read, I want to be entertained or informed. I don't want to have to wade through a lot of grammatical mistakes, spelling errors and/or someone telling me how I should think. If it's fiction, I want a tight plot with interesting characters and not a lot of superfluous verbiage that doesn't drive the plot. If it's non-fiction, I want the facts. I don't mind if the author expresses a point of view but I hate it when a book is preachy. I want the information so I can process it and come to my own conclusions.
What do you listen to when you write? Do you find one type of music over another that inspires you to write? Why?
I listen to the voices in my head. No music. I find it distracting. When I get into writing, I have a movie in my head and I can see and hear my characters. That's all the music I need!
Did you get to quit your day job and become an author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it?
I WISH I could quit my day job, but I like having a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food on my table, so no, I haven't been able to quit my day job, although I have managed to take it down to part time, which is great! I work as a wine consultant - one of my other passions in life. I do love wine! In my position, part of the job is to taste wine and I would guess that I taste somewhere in the vicinity of 2,000 wines a year. It has been quite an education for me, plus I wrote a blog about setting up a wine tasting, so I managed to blend writing and wine. I do write for fun but I am also deadly serious about it. I've got three novels out and two non-fiction books and am currently working on another novel and my daughter cum business partner and I are working on gathering stories for a follow-up anthology to the first book we put out under the ARK Stories banner, The Virgin Diaries. She is also working on a book about the importance of voting.
What are you currently reading?
I am about a third of the way through 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz, one of my favorite authors. I perused the reviews on Amazon - some of them were bad. But there were also some really great reviews. I chose to heed the great ones and I am glad I did. He has a wonderful writing style, a terrific use of language and a fertile imagination. This latest novel harks back to some of his earlier work, which hooked me decades ago.
Who are your favorite authors?
You already know Dean Koontz is one of them. Let's see - it's a LOOOOOOONG list! So I'll just dash off the first several that pop into my head: Stephen King, F. Paul Wilson (if you've never read the Repairman Jack novels, you are missing quite a ride!), Colleen McCullough, Tess Gerritsen, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, James Patterson. On the Indie side, I like Alle Wells, Gloria Ferris, Ken McClure, Kenneth Hoss, Andrew E. Kaufman and Torsten Tomas - among others!
Which is your favorite character in your book and why?
I can't tell you the character's name because that would spoil the surprise, but my favorite character is always the villain. Villains are fun to write and so much more interesting because they're so off the beaten path of normal people. Writing the villain for CRAZY was always a challenge because I had to go places inside myself that sometimes scared me. But that is part of the fun of writing, at least it is for me!