Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
Welcome Ane Mulligan, author of Chapel Springs Revival, to Author Spotlight! Leave a comment below for the chance to win a copy of her book.
I’ve been married to my artist husband for 42+ years. We have three grown children. I write full time and thankful God didn’t call me to this gig until my nest was empty. I don’t know how others balance their writing with raising children.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
My brand is Southern-fried fiction, which is women’s fiction set in the South and delivered with humor. I love exploring women’s friendships.
Like most writers, I love to read. When I’m not reading, I’m cleaning the walls of slobber (we call them slingers) from our two English mastiffs. They are like having a pair of 200-plus-pound two-year-olds; they’re always underfoot. Only you have to lift your legs high to step over them.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I really started as a playwright. I was Creative Arts Director for my church for eleven years. Pastor would send me his sermon titles and ask for illustration sketches. Then one day, Hubs said, “You’ve bought and read so many books, you ought to write one.”
The right side of my brain quickened, and I knew God spoke through him. An idea formed and I started writing. It’s a long stretch from playwright to novelist. Plays are all dialogue, but I had so much more to learn. POV? Never heard the term. Omniscient was something God is. Boy, did I have a lot to learn.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
My journey has been a long one. I sat down on Jan 1, 2003 to begin that first manuscript. My debut novel, Chapel Springs Revival, releases today, nearly twelve years later.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I sit in our great room with Hubs and coffee in the morning. I go through my email while listening to the news. Around 9:00 AM, I head into my office to write. I’ll write for a good three hours. In the afternoon, I’ll do some more writing or work on marketing. Somewhere in the day, I slip in a trip to the gym or use our treadmill. In the evenings, I’ll write blog posts in the great room in front of TV with Hubs again.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
Writers’ conferences without a doubt, because I met my critique partners at one. We’ve been together for all these years. I’m the last of us to be published. Also, the three main things that changed my writing I learned at conferences. I’ve gone to one or two every year since 2004.
What are your biggest distractions?
Our two English mastiffs. Like I said before, they are like having two-year-olds. In fact, maybe my nest isn’t empty after all. They don’t pay a lot of attention to closed doors. They stand on the other side and whine. And they’re very good at it. If I don’t answer the whining, they will scratch at the door. They aren’t good at being ignored.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
The best was getting “the call” from my agent after all these years. We’d turned down another contract about a year before this one. The worst moment was when I’d gone to pub board at a large publishing house. Their slate was full for that quarter, but they put me in a slot for the nest quarter. Then the editor retired and her hard drive was wiped clean. Yep. With my manuscript on it. Sigh.
That’s when I truly realized how much God was in control of my life. He kept saying, “Not yet. Trust me and wait.” Since He didn’t give me another option, I chose to do just that.
For me, the most difficult part of writing is the first draft. I love discovering my characters. I enjoy research. I sweat bullets creating the first draft.
I love the editing stage or second draft. That’s where the magic happens. I’m a romantic at heart and I love to tell stories. I also love to make people laugh. Doing both is the best gig ever!
What is the role and importance of an agent?
They guide, advise, and negotiate contracts. My agent has been so wise in all these areas. She kept me from making a couple of critical mistakes, for which I will bless her every day of her life.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Don rhino skin from day one and always remain teachable. I realized I knew nothing when I started, so I soaked up everything anyone taught me. My critique partners and I were serious about publishing, so we were hard on each other, pushing one another to excel. So much so, we earned nicknames: Attila the Holmes (Gina Holmes), Genghis Griep (Michelle Griep), Hannibal Dotta (Jessica Dotta), Ludwig von Frankenpen (Elizabeth Ludwig), and I’m Ane of Mean Gables.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
Chapel Springs Revival is a romp through miscommunication in marriage, and with a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
The sequel, Chapel Springs Survival, is ready to go and I’m working on the third book in the Chapel Lake series, Dream Keeper.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion.