For this Wednesday Scrolls, we are lucky enough to have an author interview with Ann Mauren, author of the Mayne Attraction series (you can see my review of In The Spotlight here: http://persyandarty.blogspot.com/2010/07/persy-in-spotlight-by-ann-mauren.html). Ann Mauren was born and raised in Kentucky, but she now lives in Ohio with her husband and two sons.
In The Spotlight, Mauren's first novel, is about Ellery Mayne, a girl who discovers that she's being watched and protected by a surveillance team. As she starts trying to figure out why, she ends up falling in love with one of her watchers, and hijinks ensue.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, an interview with the author *applause*:
1. When did you first start writing?
I do a very limited amount of ad writing in my day job as a Marketing Coordinater for a Foodservice company, but novel writing was always a velleity (a mere wish unaccompanied by action to obtain) for me. Things changed about this time last year (summer of 2009) after my second son was born. I spent a lot of time nursing and being up at night, feeling particularly unproductive and restles, so I decided to keep my laptop nearby and jot down these random ideas as they would come to me -- usually a one handed endeavor while holding an infant. Eventually bits of dialogue and disjointed story outlines slowly came together and Mayne Attraction: In The Spotlight was released in the Summer of 2010.
2. What inspired In The Spotlight?
My initial concept for 'Spotlight' was "What would it be like to have a Secret Service detail as a teenager? And how much fun would it be to mess with them, especially if you could pretend to be doing so innocently, as if unaware of their presence?" That was the core idea. Then the mystery and romance began to fill in as layers overtop.
3. Are any of the characters in 'Spotlight' based on real people?
Only Ellery is a direct adaptation. I borrowed a number of my own preferences, insecurities and pet peeves for her character. The more noble and heroic aspects of her personality are purely fictional.
4. When do you estimate the next book in the Mayne Attraction series being released?
I wrote most of books one and three (Spotlight and Shadow) simultaneously, because originally it was only the story of Ellery and Ash that was being told. But Gray's character turned into more than a simple antagonist, and I decided that it was only fair to present the situation from his point of view as well. I'm writing that now. I hope to release books two and three (Smoke and Shadow) by the end of 2010.
5. Who is your favorite character from Mayne Attraction?
I love Ash Ryan the way that I love Fitzwilliam Darcy and Edward Cullen. Need I say more?
6. What is your favorite scene from In The Spotlight?
I have two favorites. The first is Ellery and Ash's first date at Hidden Falls. It's incredibly romantic and sweet and I can hear the waterfall and feel the breeze and taste the sunshine when I read it. My other favorite is Ellery's moment of truth at Lake Oesa with Gray. There's something udneniably satisfying in being blind-sided with another person's declaration of long-standing intense affections for you.
7. In 'Spotlight', Ellery has a pretty impressive vocabulary. Would you say the same about yourself or were you using a dictionary to deepen Ellery's character?
For what it's worth I can say that within my family I am the reigning champion at the game of 'Balderdash' (a game of word definitions). I've always loved unusual words but there's been little opportunity to work them into day-to-day life and conversations. Instead of, "Is that odious stench emanating from your diaper? Please, love, don't prove yourself a hindrance as I abet your progression towards a more acceptable level of hygiene," you'll most likely hear me say, "Hey! Who's got a poo-poo butt? Okay, let Mama fix it!"
8. If you were offered a movie deal for Mayne Attraction, would you accept?
Of course I would love that. But I admit that I'll be kind of disappointed if Pee-Wee Herman and Morgan Fairchild play the main characters...
9. Do you currently have any ideas for other stories/novels?
Sure do. But if I tell you I'll have to kill you. It's all very hush-hush you know.
10. Do you have a special place where you like to write?
You bet! At the desk of my day job! JUST KIDDING! Though, the really good ideas always hit at the MOST inopportune times. I've done just about all the writing in the comfy glider of my baby's nursery with my laptop on a TV tray beside it. Sad, huh?
11. Who is your favorite author(s)?
By virtue of repetitive reading it would have to be Jane Austen. But I am in love with Bill Bryson's style and how educated I feel after I stop laughing whenever I read him. In all seriousness, I agree with those who have called him the finest living writer. It would be the ultimate thrill to meet and embarrass myself with him.
12. What about favorite book(s)?
Again, by virtue of repetitive reading it would have to be "Pride and Prejudice".
My favorite audio book is "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid."
And then there's that one series about a girl named Isabella...
13. And music?
I'm a lifelong fan of Alternative music, and especially of new wave bands. Depeche Mode, INXS, Men At Work, The Cure, and U2 were early favorites. These days I love anything with Ben Gibbard, Snow Patrol, and Franz Ferdinand, though the list is much, much longer. In fact, all the songs I really love are embedded in chapter excerpts on the http://www.mayneattraction.com website. I also enjoy the sounds of dulcimer and harp, but I haven't found that particular channel on XM just yet. In a side note, one of my hobbies is to make up fictitious band names and a few of these make an appearance in Mayne Attraction.
As you might expect, I've watched the A&E version of "Colin Firth is Adorable", ugh, I mean "Pride and Prejudice" more times than my self-respect will allow me to confess. Also I'm sorry to admit it, but I've viewed all the seasons of "Survivor" like a junkie. And I love "The Office" where Creed Bratton is a personal favorite, followed very closely by Dwight Schrute.
15. And the classic question, your favorite color?
Magenta. Yeah, 'Barbie Pink'. I'm sorry, but it's true. Please don't hate me. And please don't hate me for saying "Don't hate me".
16. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
According to one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, who has done extensive travel writing, I need to visit the island of Capri, in Itally, at some point. After that I'd love to visit and make the tour of Iceland. Rounding out the top three, I'd like to return and sit by the shores of Lake O'Hara in the Canadian Rockies -- unequivocally the most beautiful place on Earth, in my opinion.
17. What if you could go anywhere in history?
I'd like to see the Garden of Eden and take the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad" side tour out of curiousity.
18. What is your greatest fear?
I'd rather give a public speech than merge into highway traffic in a barrel infested construction zone -- though both give me the distinct sense that my death is imminent. Those two things or possibly erasing all my novel files by accident... yeah, that one especially.
19. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
1) Don't listen to the voice that tells you to give up, that you're not good enough, and that no one wants to read your work. The fact of the matter is if you truly enjoy what you are writing, there's a very good chance that others will too. You'll just have to be creative and diligent in the way you go about reaching them. 2) Ask for feedback and then use any criticism that comes your way to your advantage. 3) Read Ken Atchity's "How to Publish Your Novel". This is the best, most helpful guide I've found to assist me through the scary, murky maze of the publishing world. It's easy to understand and the advice it contains is specific and effective.
Once again, I'd like to give Ann Mauren a big thank you for the interview, and I hope to be reading more of her novels soon!