Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Anna: Hello! My name is Anna Blakely. I’m forty-three years old (though most days, I act more like I’m twelve!). I am so excited and thankful for this opportunity to share a little about myself and my writing!
Fiona: Where are you from?
Anna: I live in rural, northwest Missouri, USA.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Anna: I have been married to an amazing man (Whom I often refer to as my oldest child!) for a little over eighteen years. We have four wonderful children and several rescue animals, including a donkey and a partially blind horse.
I have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, as well as a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Most people would probably think this an odd combination, but you would be surprised at how closely they are related these days! LOL
I currently spend my days teaching, and my evenings and weekends writing…you know, between playing taxi driver, chef, maid, and whatever else my family needs me to be.
My dream is to be successful enough with my writing that I can stay home and do that full-time.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Anna: I am SUPER excited to tell you about my new romantic suspense series, “R.I.S.C.”, which debuts in January 2019! Here is a little bit about the series:
R.I.S.C. (Rescue, Intel, Security, and Capture) is an elite, private security company owned by former Delta Force Operator, Jake McQueen.
With Jake as their leader, R.I.S.C.’s Alpha Team takes on a multitude of jobs while specializing in high-risk situations. Some of their jobs are government sanctioned, but they also take on jobs for private clients when the need arises.
Working closely with Homeland Security, the five tough-as-nails men and one badass woman who make up Alpha Team will stop at nothing to protect the ones they love. Each member of R.I.S.C. is former military, including two SEALS.
“Taking a Risk, Part One” is the first book in the series, and brings you the first half of Jake and Olivia’s story. From the very first page, readers will be taken on an emotional—and sometimes terrifying—journey as Jake and Olivia struggle to survive while escaping members of a major drug cartel in a Venezuelan jungle.
Book 2 in the series is “Taking a Risk, Part Two.” Like Part One, this is also a full-length novel, and is filled with nail-biting suspense as Jake and Olivia strive to finally find their HEA.
Jake and Olivia’s storyis the only one in the series that will have two parts. (There was just too much going on with these two to fit it all into one! LOL). As the series continues, each member of Alpha Team will get their own story, as well their HEA.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Anna: I have loved romantic suspense stories since I was a little girl. I remember my favourite books,TV shows, and movies were always the ones with lots of action and a hero saving the damsel in distress. Back then, I’d be reading a story or watching a show, and if I didn’t like the way it all played out, I would re-write the scenes in my mindto go the way I wanted it to.
It wasn’t until about five years ago, however, that I decided to try to write a story of my own. As to the why…that’s really hard to put into words (which probably sounds ironic, given that writing is what I do now! LOL).
One day I got this idea for a storyline and these two characters—Jake and Olivia—popped into my head. I started writing down a conversation between the two. Before I knew it, I had several pages filled front to back. I decided I was going to do my best to tell their story, even if it never went any further than my notebook.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Anna: The first time I felt as though I was an actual writer was when I saw “Taking a Risk” (Parts One and Two) listed on the major platforms for presale. I’ve been an avid reader for years. Seeing MY books listed with all the others was a very special moment.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Anna: This is actually harder to answer than it probably should be. I have no clue where the idea came from…there was no specific incident or personal experience that inspired this story…it just sort of came to meout of the blue. It’s how every storyline I’ve come up with for this series has happened. I’ll often get an idea for a scene while doing something totally normal, like taking my dog outside or putting away laundry.
It’s funny, though…After I got the idea for this first book, it was like a flood gate of new characters and storylines opened up, and it hasn’t stopped. I guess you could say I’ve felt “compelled” to write since then.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Anna: I wanted Jake’s business to have a name that reflected everything he and his team did to help those unable to help themselves, so I came up with “R.I.S.C.” As soon as that idea was born, I knew each book in the series needed to have the word “Risk” in its title. I already know the storylines for each of the books in this series, so I’ve come up with a “Risk” title that fits each story’s hero and heroine. Of course, readers will have to wait until closer to each book’s release date to find out its title. I mean, come on…a girl’s gotta have SOME secrets, right?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Anna: I’m not sure if there’s a specific label I would use to describe my writing. I want my readers not only to envision all parts of my stories, (the scenery, characters and their actions/emotions, etc.). I also want them to FEEL while they are reading, and not just see the words on the pages.
One of the best compliments I’ve gotten was when one of my beta readers and my content editor both told me they’d cried while reading Taking a Risk, Part One (each crying at different scenes). To know my words reached them on such an emotional level…it was like, “Wow! I did that!”
Another moment that made me think I could really pull this writing thing off, was when I got a text from a beta reader that read, “Holy S***! I did NOT see that coming!”
For me, especially as a brand new author, comments like those make all of my hard work worth it.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Anna: While my stories are all fiction, I have strived to make as much of the book as realistic as I possibly could. I worked hard to put myself in my character’s shoes, and dug deep to think about how the different characters would feel, act, and react in each situation. I do have a friend who is former Special Forces, and I was lucky enough to have him advise me on a couple of scenes, as far as technicalities were concerned. That was really cool. Other than that, the book is a creation from my very own, twisted imagination.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Anna: I did not travel for Jake and Olivia’s story, however I did refer to a world map several times. I would love to have the opportunity to travel in the future to help with making my writing as realistic as possible…I just need to sell a few more books first in order to pay for it! LOL
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Anna: The AMAZING Lori Jackson designed the covers for both Taking a Risk, Part One and Taking a Risk, Part Two. She did a spectacular job making the covers EXACTLY as I had imagined them to be. I plan to use her for the entire series!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Anna: I feel as though there are several messages one could take from reading this two-part story, but I’d have to say the main one is…True love is always a risk worth taking!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Anna: I get SO excited when a new author grabs my attention. Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read much of anything these past couple of months between working my full-time job, being wife and mother, and writing. (Who knew it took THIS much work to turn a pencil and paper story into a published novel?)
As far as my favourites, there are simply too many to narrow them all down to just one. I really enjoy reading Caitlyn O’Leary, Elle Boon, Cynthia Eden, and CristinHarber (her Titan Series is one of my all-time favs!)…and many, many others. These authors each bring something unique to the table, but I also know when I pick up one of their books, I’m going to get the type of suspenseful love story I’ve always craved.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Anna: Ah, man…do I have to pick just one? Here’s the thing…I have been blessed beyond words to have not one, but TWO very successful authors as mentors throughout this entire process. It’s a long story and I won’t bore you with all the details, but the short of it is, through a social mediafan group (I was the fan LOL), I was able to connect with USA Today Best Selling Authors, Caitlyn O’Leary and Elle Boon. Both women have been invaluable mentors and friends. Through their help and encouragement, they made me realize my dream to become a published author was an actual possibility.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Anna: Absolutely! I can spend thirteen hours a day writing, editing, etc. and, while I might be tired by the end of the day, I still love every, single minute of it! To be able to do this as a career would be a dream come true!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Anna: Nope! I mentioned earlier that this story has been running through my mind for years, and I am proud of the way I’ve written it. (Unless there are typos I’ve missed…I’d definitely change those LOL).
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Anna: I learned a TON. Some of what I learned came from the research I did for my book’s primary location. I also learned how a Spec Ops guy can get loose after having his hands tied securely behind his back…I mean, you never know when that little titbit could come in handy, right?
Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself as a writer. I learned what areas I needed to work on and things to look out for when writing my next book, as well as where my creative strengths lie.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Anna: Ooh!Great question!I’m going to have to go with Hawaii Five-0’s Alex O’Laughlin…Specifically, the way he looked in the show’s seventh season. The character he plays on the show—Steve McGarrett—was a former SEAL. He’s a total badass, but also has a heart of gold…not to mention a smokin’ hot body!
That’s how I picture Taking A Risk’s Jake…he has a confidence that’s just this side of arrogant, but deep down, all he wants to do is help people who can’t help themselves and protect the people he loves. Oh, and did I mention he’ssexy as hell? LOL
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Anna: As my husband has told me from day one, you will never know unless you try! If you have a passion for writing, then GO FOR IT! Do not let anyone tell you it’s impossible. I’m proof that it’s not!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Anna:Thank you for “Taking a Risk”on a new author like me! (See what I did there? Wink wink).But seriously, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Anna:I’m in between books right now, but am anxiously awaiting Caitlyn O’Leary’s new release, “Her Captivated Hero,” which goes live on December 31st!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Anna: Actually, I do! I learned to read with the Flintstones book ,”How Pebbles Got Her Name.” I have a very vivid memory of lying on my belly on my parents’ bedroom floor while reading that book to my mom.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Anna: My family makes me laugh…EVERY. SINGLE DAY. We truly have the best little corner of the world, as far as our relationship with each other. My husband and I joke and banter back and forth constantly (all in good fun), and our kids have the BEST sense of humor ever! Our youngest son is probably the biggest jokester in the family, and there is seriously not a day that goes by that he does not make me laugh.
As for the crying, I’d have to say family, as well. The thought of something happening to any of them is a guaranteed way to bring on the tears.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Anna: I would love to meet my great grandmother and grandfather on my mom’s side. They both passed well before I was born, but I would have loved to have had the chance to know them.They met on the boat as they travelled from Czechoslovakia to America to start a new life. What better romance story to hear than one like that?
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Anna: My favourite “Me-time” hobby is reading. I also make cakes for people as a side-job/hobby, and have been known to belt out some karaoke on occasion. However, my absolute favourite thing to do is spend time laughing and hanging with my incredible family.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Anna: My taste in shows/films has not changed since I was a little girl. I still like action, as well as psychological thrillers. Right now my “can’t miss” shows include SEAL Team, Chicago PD, and Hawaii 5-0. I also like all of the NCIS shows, as well as the other Chicago shows (Med and Fire), MacGyver (I was a huge fan of the original, and now my son loves the new version, so I watch it with him every Friday), and Criminal Minds.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Anna: I love just about anything pasta, and for sweets, I’m a sucker for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m a total carb junkie, but I’m TRYING to limit those as much as I can…it’s a daily struggle LOL. Oh, and I believe that coffee is the true source of life!
My favourite color is navy blue, and I love all kinds of music. I will listen to anything from country, to rock, to pop and hip-hop and rap. It all just depends on my mood.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Anna: Hmm…that’s a hard question.I guess if I could no longer write, I’d probably have a much cleaner house and less dirty laundry…Maybe.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Anna: With my husband and children. At the end of the day, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Anna: “Here lies Anna Blakely, the wife of the luckiest man in the world.”
Okay, fine..here’s a serious one:
“Loving Wife, Mother, and Mimi: Creator of dreams and believer in love.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Anna: As of now, I do not have a blog. I’m hoping to have one in the future, once I get this new career of mine up and running a little more steadily. I have the domain, annablakely.com, however my website designer is just getting started on putting it all together this week.(I had NO idea how much went into writing, publishing, and advertising a novel!)
I encourage anyone wanting the latest news on my books and upcoming events, to friend me on Facebook (Anna Blakely, Author https://www.facebook.com/annablakely.author.7 ) and follow me on Instagram(annablakely) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ablakelyauthor ). They can also join my FB group, Blakely’s Bunch https://www.facebook.com/groups/354218335396441/ for updates, ARC opportunities, and contests.
TAKING A RISK, PART ONE:
TAKING A RISK, PART TWO:
KOBO: (Coming soon!)