Name Anne Carol
I live in Northern California with my husband and two sons, ages 11 and 13. I have a degree in business administration from a small university in Orange County, CA. In 2001, the year my first son was born, I earned my CPA license. I’ve been employed by the same local accounting firm for almost 18 years.
Fiona: Latest new:
Currently my book, Never Let Go (Faithfully Yours #1) is almost finished with the formatting, and then I’ll be able to double-check everything and load the document in its different versions onto Amazon.com, Createspace (for print copies), Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo, and iTunes. I just set it up for pre-order in the Kindle store. I’ve priced it at $2.99 and it’ll be released November 25th.
Fiona: When and why did I begin to write:
I can remember writing children’s stories when I was still a child of 8 or 9. I’ve always been an avid reader, just obsessed with books and magazines. When I was around 11 ½ I began writing the first version of Never Let Go. My imagination is always working; I sometimes feel like I live in two worlds – the real world and a fictional world. It was only natural that I had to put these stories onto paper.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself to be a writer:
On an amateur level, I considered myself a writer about 2 ½ years ago when I realized I didn’t feel complete unless I was able to write every day. Professionally, I’d definitely say this past summer, because I worked diligently on implementing changes based on my editor’s feedback. That’s when I felt like this was a job.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book:
Daydreaming, fantasizing about being married to my favorite English rock star – and I was only 11 years old at the time (refer to #4). That book will be coming out November 25th, though a more mature, well-written version.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style:
I tend to have a conversational, clear writing style. I’m not keen on using a lot of “fluffy” words. My strength is in writing realistic dialogue, and as I read through Never Let Go, I find that dialogue is a big player in telling the plot. Honestly, I have aspirations of writing screenplays someday. When I write, it’s like I’m watching a movie in my head, and I’m just re-telling it on paper.
Fiona: How did you come up with your title:
My title, Never Let Go, came only recently. Never Let Go is the first of a four book series titled Faithfully Yours, and after telling my editor my original title, she suggested I try to come up with four titles that have a similar sound or theme. Going back to the drawing board was not easy, because I find it daunting to think up titles. But I simply glanced through my book to see if any phrases stood out, and “never let go”, or a variation of it, appeared in several scenes. After I let it sink in, it just made perfect sense. Of course, then I had to come up with the remaining three titles so they all started with “never”.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp:
First and foremost, I wanted to illustrate a love so strong and binding between two people that it expands across an ocean and an entire country. But it couldn’t have developed if they each didn’t take the risk, or had the belief that it could last. They didn’t let the distance or their differences interfere with the love that happened so naturally between them.
Secondly, my characters have a lot of respect for each other – though sometimes their teenage ways overshadow that – but in a relationship I think respect for one another is so important. Beth respects David’s pursuit of music and David respects Beth’s physical boundaries in their relationship. I love that about them.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic:
The story is completely made up, but of course the characters all have parts of me, my husband, my family, and my friends in them. As far as the plot, I do know people who have gone overseas on vacation and ended up meeting their future spouses, so that part isn’t unrealistic. Regarding the setting, I did a lot of research – including traveling to London – to make sure my details were accurate.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life:
The general plot is all a figment of my imagination. But there’s at least one scene in my book that is taken from real life. It involves one of my first rides on the London Tube and how different the people of London are from the people of California. You’ll just have to read it to see what I’m talking about!
Also, having been married for 16 years, I can certainly take aspects of my relationship – silly arguments, etc. – and use them as inspiration. Same with my relationships with my parents and friends.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life:
I’m not sure I can name specifics. I’ve always devoured romance novels, from the time I was a pre-teen. I read the Sweet Valley High novels growing up, and all of the Judy Blume books. There was a huge gap in reading fiction between post-college and about five years ago when I was turned on to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. I’d say those books influenced me not so much from the content but that they 1) got me back into reading fiction, and 2) inspired me to re-write the story that’s been in my head since childhood. After reading Stephenie Meyer’s background, she sounded a lot like me, so I decided I couldn’t suppress the writer in me any longer. I told myself, “There’s no reason I can’t sit down and write this story and get it published.”
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor:
First off, probably Stephenie Meyer, because of the fact that she just had this vision and decided to write it down. She’s also a busy mom of all boys (like me) so I can relate to her in that way, too. Being in a male dominated house while writing a love story can be pretty interesting.
Another author I’d love to sit down and chat with is Nicholas Sparks. I love all of his stories, and so many of them have become popular movies, which is my ultimate dream. He also came from a business background and then switched to writing, similar to what I’m doing.
Fiona: What book are you reading now:
I’m currently reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I seem to go back and forth between these tragic, heartbreaking stories and the “happily ever after” feel-good stories!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest:
A while ago I picked up a novel by a new author, Jessica Brockmole, called “Letters From Skye”. The story is told through a series of letters, starting off with an American college boy writing a fan letter to a young poet who lives on the Isle of Skye. It begins in 1912, so it’s an historical romance. I thought it was well-written, and I hope this author keeps writing!
Fiona: What are your current projects:
My current book is called “Never Let Go” and it’s the first book in my “Faithfully Yours” series. There will be four books in the series. It’s basically about a California girl who spends the summer in England and falls in love with an English guy. The first book is set in the years 1979-1980, and the entire series will tell of their love story as it develops, matures, and faces challenges over the years.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members:
Definitely my co-workers at my accounting job. They’ve cheered me on and kept me motivated over the past three years as I’ve re-discovered my writing voice and struggled through my first draft. Every day I was at the office, they’d practically beg me for more material to read to them. They made me feel like not only could I do this, but I HAD to do it.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career:
I’d love for writing to be my sole career, outside of raising a family. At this point, I still need the accounting job to supplement our income, but my dream is to someday quit accounting altogether and just focus on writing. However, I’m grateful for my accounting job, not only because of my answer to #17, but because of the knowledge I’ve acquired on how to run my own business.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book:
I can honestly say, “no”. I’ve spent the past year revising and editing this project, and between my own editing, my beta readers’ feedback, and professional editing, I think the book is pretty perfect! At least, I think so.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated:
I have a rich imagination. I’ve always been a quiet, reserved person, yet I have this alternate existence living inside my mind. I think most writers have this “other world” they have to escape to. It just came down to the fact that I love the stories in my head and I wanted to read them, so I decided to write them down. I wrote only for myself in the beginning (as a pre-teen).
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us:
This is from one of my favorite scenes:
I rested my head on his shoulder, after which he trailed his finger along my chin. “You have no idea how I feel about you, do you?”
“I do, because I feel the same way.” I whispered.
As I made the statement, a heaviness swept over me as I realized how deep those feelings were, and how impossible it seemed to fall for someone on the other side of the world.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing:
Just finding the time and energy! My life was already busy before I pursued writing, so I’ve been forced to drop other things so I can afford the time to write.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it really that strikes you about their work:
I’m not sure I really have a favorite author, but I enjoy Nicholas Sparks’ books. I like emotionally gripping stories, and he seems to specialize in that genre! His stories are passionate and romantic, which I love, and he’s just a good writer in general.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s):
Since most of my novel is set in London, my husband and I took a vacation there last summer (2013). I tried to visit the spots I mentioned in my book, but mostly I wanted to be there so I could take in the atmosphere. I think it’s important to do that, if possible.
Fiona: Who designed the covers:
Regina Wamba of Mae I Design and Photography. She arranged a custom photo shoot, took some amazing photos, and designed the covers for all four books of this series.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book:
Writing my book wasn’t hard in any way, except maybe getting the details – setting, cultural references, and language differences – correct. What I found difficult was trimming the manuscript down after writing the rough draft. The first draft was 255,000 words! And even after trimming it down to 100,000 words, then there was the professional editing process. That was also difficult because I was trying to follow the directions of my editor; it was no longer just for me. There was a bit more pressure at that point.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it:
How to write for publication. A lot of writing is instinctual, but it also takes many skills which must be learned. Since I was a business major – essentially a “number cruncher” for fifteen years with no writing practice – I was forced to learn along the way. Much of what I learned happened during the editing process. I still have a lot to learn, but I know it’ll come as I write more books.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers:
Aside from “just do it”, I’d say keep a binder to organize all your story ideas, any photographs of characters, character lists, timelines, research, and anything else related to your book. I have binders for each book in my series, and it makes it easier to keep things straight. I also keep a separate binder for new story ideas.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers:
I think you’ll like my story because it’s different. I’ve read a lot of romance novels over the past few years, and I have yet to come across one like mine – not only because it’s set in the late ‘70s, but because you can feel how naturally my characters fall in love. It’s intense and passionate, but they also have a great friendship. You can sense that they truly belong together. And I promise that the next three books will have you turning the pages!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read:
It was probably “Harold and the Purple Crayon”, a classic children’s book by Crockett Johnson.
Fiona: Any other hobbies besides writing:
My husband and I love to go wine tasting, and we live in the perfect spot – 1-2 hours away from California wine country. We also enjoy traveling. It goes without saying that I love to read. Music is another great interest; I love all kinds of music and enjoy putting together playlists. Of course each of my books will have their own playlist.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching:
I like teen dramas like Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, and the original Beverly Hills 90210. I’m also a huge fan of Downton Abbey.
My favorite films include The Notebook, Peggy Sue Got Married, Love Story, and my favorite funny movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
Fiona: Favorite food/Colors/Music:
Purple and blue
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done:
I can’t imagine not being a writer, but I suppose I’d do something – anything – in the entertainment industry.
Thanks for my first interview, Fiona! This was fun!
Never Let Go, The Faithfully Yours Series: 1
Is it possible to find your soul mate on the other side of the world?
Beth Johnson is an ambitious high school senior from suburban California with a secret passion for writing. David Somers is a charming young Englishman who wants nothing more than to play guitar in his up-and-coming rock band. Though worlds apart, when fate brings Beth and David together in London in the summer of 1979, sparks fly. After Beth receives upsetting news from home, she finds herself drawn to David’s warm character, and an all-consuming love develops. Theirs is the kind of love one never forgets, and as Beth’s stay in London nears the end, the young devoted couple must face the inevitable question: will their romance fade with the passing of summer or will they realize their promise of never letting go?