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?
I’m Anita Stewart, but I use A. F. Stewart for my writing, and I just turned 50 in July.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and I still live there.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
My life is rather ordinary. The daily routine of doing chores, running errands, getting in some writing time, chilling out watching some TV. Not much drama or excitement to had unless it’s on the page.
As for me, I’m very much a fantasy and sci-fi geek, I love reading and movies, I’m a minor history buff, and I’ve had a standard education.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I just published my second book of horror poetry, Horror Haiku Pas de Deux, and I have an upcoming fantasy novel, Ghosts of the Sea Moon scheduled for publication in January. Ghosts is a nautical fantasy novel with sea monsters, gods, and of course, ghosts. It is also the first in a planned series called the Saga of the Outer Islands.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing as a child. Poems, stories, I even tried songwriting. All the strange things in my head needed to come out.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose I’ve always been a writer to some degree; I can’t remember not scribbling something down, stories, poems, whatever. The professional side of it didn’t become serious, though, until I joined the indie publishing world way back when in 2007.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My very first book, Tears of Poetry, was a compilation of my poetry. A testing ground for my foray in the world of independent publishing. I guess it went well, because I’m still here.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For all my titles, I generally try to come up with a name that represents the key features of the book. For my first, the sad, evocative nature of my poetry inspired, Tears of Poetry and the title of my soon-to-be-released fantasy novel, Ghosts of the Sea Moon, reflects three main elements in the book.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing has been called reminiscent to Edgar Allen Poe, but I don’t have a particular style I strive for, or emulate. I just write the stories down as they spill out of my head. My stories do often tend to be dark, as I do feel most comfortable dredging up the monsters lurking in the shadows.
There are parts of the craft I find challenging (like not getting distracted, or not procrastinating) and I suppose with fantasy I do find constructing the battle scenes, or action sequences a challenge. It’s always a juggling act getting the right amounts of tension and conflict composed properly.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All my writing has some basis in reality, even the fantasy, in order to make the setting and characters believable to a reader, but I don’t consciously write myself or my life into a book. I’m certain some aspects of me or people I know slip in unintentionally, though. But I’m afraid my non-writer life is very boring and nowhere near as dark and fanciful as my stories as much as I might wish I had a few elves stashed in the closet.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Many of my books are based on historic settings, so in lieu of a time machine not much travelling required. The rest are set in made-up worlds so not much travelling required there either. Although for my upcoming book I did venture on a day trip to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to get some pictures of the tall ships in port to verify my research and get a feel for the old sailing vessels.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’m fortunate enough to have just enough artistic talent to design my own and get away with it. My publishing budget is limited in regards to hiring a professional cover designer right now, but hopefully someday.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In my upcoming novel, Ghosts of the Sea Moon, I suppose there may be an underlying theme about the nature and dynamics of family and how it can become dysfunctional. And possibly some tips on how to kill sea monsters.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
There is a fantasy writer I’ve discovered, TJ Muir, whose books I’ve currently reading. The author’s epic fantasy series, The Chanmyr Chronicles, is just what I like; a fully realized world, with twists and turns, secrets, and not-so perfect characters. My very favourite author, though is a bit of tie between Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay. Two wonderful writers whose books are superb, magic in every word.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I’ve had many supporters over the years, but a recent one is Heidi Angell, a talented author in her own right and always willing to encourage her fellow writers.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I do see it as a career. I’m in it for the long haul.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The time and effort it took to write it. I wrestled with this one quite a bit, but I’m satisfied it turned out well. It’s currently with my editor, though, so I’m sure some changes are coming.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Actually I had to do quite a bit of research for Ghosts of the Sea Moon on how to sail a old-fashioned tall ship. So I now know the difference between a foremast and a mizzenmast, how a ship docked, and various other nautical tidbits.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Aidan Turner (from Poldark) or Colin O’Donoghue (Hook from Once Upon a Time) would make a wonderful Captain Morrow. Plus, Arthur Darvill (Rip Hunter from Legends of Tomorrow and Rory from Doctor Who) would be great as the first mate Blackthorne.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Find a genre you enjoy writing. Be disciplined and try to set a daily writing schedule. Never fuss over a first draft, it’s supposed to feel like it’s unfinished drivel (the brilliance comes during the editing process).
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
That they are always appreciated. Authors would not exist without them.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading three books at the moment. Two epic fantasy novels, Melkorka (The Kaelandur Series Book 1) by Joshua Robertson, and Before the Luck Runs Out by TJ Muir and one historic drama, The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman. With many, many more waiting on my to-read list.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really, but as I started reading at a young age (4 or 5). It was most likely a children’s picture book.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love a good satire, and black humour, and I’ve been known to get weepy for any old-fashioned tear-jerker of a story.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
There are many people throughout history I’d love to meet, but Joan of Arc would be right on top. There are so many contradictions and mysteries about her, and her role in history.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I draw and paint, landscapes mostly, and do graphic design. I read, and also collect geeky things; my mug collection is ever growing.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like sci-fi or fantasy shows, and crime shows, and historical dramas. My top shows at the moment are Supernatural, Lucifer, The Expanse, Poldark and Legion.
In films I like action movies and sci-fi/fantasy films, but the best movie I saw in 2017 has to be Dunkirk. A superb historic drama.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love all things chocolate, most flavours of ice cream, and noodle or pasta dishes. My favourite colour is blue and I love rock and roll music.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d love be an artist, but I’m not sure my talent in that area is up to the task.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I’d definitely want something humorous or unexpected to make people take notice. Maybe something like:
Here lies Anita Stewart. Maybe.
Don’t look behind you…
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I do, called Welcome to Avalon. You find most of my writing life there, with listings of my published books and some freebies, my book trailers and other videos, my social media links, links to interviews and you can sign up to my newsletter. I also have a feature with book extras for several of my upcoming novels.
My latest book, Horror Haiku Pas de Deux: https://www.amazon.com/Horror-Haiku-Pas-Deux-Stewart-ebook/dp/B075HYSZRB/
My Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/A.-F.-Stewart/e/B00653FUOW/
And you can find info for my upcoming fantasy novel and series here: https://afallonblog.wordpress.com/saga-of-the-outer-islands/