Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Author Interview: Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke and Carroll Hofeling Morris

Today I have a special treat in my Author Interview series. I’ve gotten answers from three wonderful authors who wrote a trilogy together. Yes, three authors wrote three books! I am the stop today on their Blog Tour.

The authors are sisters Nancy Anderson and Carroll Hofeling Morris, and their good friend, Lael Littke. The series is entitled “The Company of Good Women,” and the books are Almost Sisters, Three Tickets to Peoria, and Surprise Packages, published by Deseret Books.

These women write a blog together called
Crusty Old Broads, and have a website, Virtual Sisters. The trilogy is the story of three women, Deenie, Juneau and Erin, who live in three different parts of the country, and their quest to become Crusty Old Broads.

On to the Interview.

Welcome! How long have you been writing? What made you start?

Nancy: I have been writing since seventh grade. My teacher assigned us to write character sketches about someone we knew. I left mine until the last minute then whipped out a short but heart felt paragraph about my father. My teacher raved about it. Up until that time I had no idea that my way of expressing myself was anything different that anyone else’s. At that point in my life (13 going on 30) I was desperate to have something to give me status, so I worked hard to have the reputation of the girl who had a way with words.

Lael: I'VE BEEN WRITING SINCE THE 7TH GRADE. I'VE KNOWN I WOULD BE A WRITER FROM THE TIME I LEARNED TO READ, BUT I DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO WRITE UNTIL A TEACHER WHO SPECIALIZED IN ENGLISH LITERATURE CAME TO OUR TINY COUNTRY SCHOOL AND ENCOURAGED ME. HE LIKED MY TALES OF COUNTRY FOLKS. THE TOWNSPEOPLE SAID, "DON'T LET LAEL KNOW YOUR SECRETS OR SHE'LL TATTLE THEM TO THAT TEACHER."

Carroll: Off and on from the time I was in fourth grade and showed my teacher some poems I’d written. When I asked her later if she’d read them, she admitted she’d lost them! As the daughter of an English teacher, I grew up surrounded by readers, storytellers and writers, so expressing myself through words came naturally. Also, I had a lot of questions about relationships and life, and writing was a way to think them through.


When did you sell your first book?

Nancy: My first book was Almost Sisters, released in 2006.

Lael: IN 1969. IT'S A PICTURE BOOK TITLED WILMER, THE WATCHDOG. I SOLD MY FIRST NOVEL, TELL ME WHEN I CAN GO, IN 1978.

Carroll: The Broken Covenant came out in 1985. I wrote it while living in Germany (82-83). After returning to the U.S., I revised it and sent it off to Deseret Book sans inquiry letter—over the transom, as they say!



What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?

Nancy: All of the above.

Lael: I USUALLY KNOW HOW A NOVEL WILL BEGIN AND END, BUT IN BETWEEN I MORE OR LESS FLY BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS. I HATE OUTLINING.

Carroll: Short answer: When I get an idea, I usually just start writing. That’s when characters reveal themselves and plot ideas/details come. Long answer: Check my post of July 29 on crustyoldbroads.blogspot.com entitled: How to start a novel: write first or outline first?


How do three writers manage to work together?

Carroll: Having each author write from the viewpoint of a single character made it workable. We wrote the combined scenes when we were together, which was always very satisfying.

Lael: IT'S HARD TO SAY HOW WE WORKED TOGETHER. IT JUST SEEMED TO HAPPEN. WE'D WORK SEPARATELY ON OUR SEPARATE CHARACTERS, AND THEN WHEN WE'D GET TOGETHER SOME KIND OF SYNERGY TOOK OVER TO MOVE US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.


Did you appoint a project manager?


Nancy: I’ll let Carroll tell you about that. She’s the one who’s shouldered the biggest burden in that area.

Carroll: No, but we did appoint a manuscript manager, whose job it was to assemble the text from all three authors in one document. Lael and her daughter Lori took that on for Almost Sisters. I had the job for the subsequent books.


Do you edit each others' work?

Lael: YES, WE DO.

Nancy: We do a lot of reading aloud when we are together. We read each other’s works to avoid the vocal interpretation the writer might add to it. Then we comment and discuss. We also edit hard copy for each other.

Carroll: I admit to doing some editing when putting the documents for the last two books together, sometimes for pacing, but mostly to make the text sound as if it had been written by one person.


What is your daily schedule like?

Nancy: When I am in writing mode, as opposed to gardening, Relief Society, or grandmother mode, I write for several hours, take a walk break, write some more, lunch and rest break, then write until evening with maybe a stop for mail, then dinner break and back to the computer as long as I can last. Everything else takes a back seat. Because my husband knows I have limited energy, he’s great at picking up the slack. Bless his heart for that. So I am free to concentrate on the computer. It’s really a terrible way to do it and I am looking for a better balance as well as deadlines that are further apart.

Lael: I'M NOT A MORNING PERSON, SO I READ THE PAPER AND SWEEP THE FLOOR AND PLAY WITH MY CATS AND GO GROCERY SHOPPING, AND THEN COME HOME TO DO FOUR OR FIVE HOURS OF WORK. I LIVE ALONE (WELL, WITH SIX CATS), SO I DON'T HAVE TO FACTOR IN ANYBODY ELSE'S SCHEDULES.

Carroll: I’m not much for schedules, but I typically write in the morning after walking, eating breakfast and checking my e-mail. Afternoons are free when I’m not on deadline, but I’m often back in front of the computer in the evening.


How do you handle life interruptions?

Nancy: In writing mode, I don’t. Thus the need for better balance.

Lael: GO WITH THE FLOW. I KNOW MY COMPUTER WILL STILL BE HERE WHENEVER I GET BACK TO IT.

Carroll: By doing what needs to be done. The trick is identifying what really must be done vs. something that can be delegated or ignored. Family needs always take precedence over writing, which makes for some late night sessions at the computer.


Do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?

Nancy: I like the quiet. But if I do want music in the background it is usually classical or Native American flute and always instrumental.

Lael: NEVER. I LIKE SILENCE IN THE HOUSE, WITH ONLY THE NOISES OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD -- THE LAUGHTER OF KIDS PLAYING, TRAFFIC AND LAWNMOWER SOUNDS, TWITTERING OF BIRDS IN MY TREES -- COMING IN.

Carroll: I like listening to non-intrusive background music like Native American flute music and the slow movement of classical pieces.


What food or snack keeps the words flowing?

Nancy: I’m leaning away from chocolate toward smokehouse almonds. But chocolate is always the old standby for a boost of energy.

Lael: PEANUT M&MS.

Carroll: Chocolate and diet Coke, though I’m trying to give up the Coke.



Tell us about your new book, Surprise Packages.

Carroll: It’s the conclusion of our series, The Company of Good Women.

Lael: IT'S FINISHED AND OUT, HURRAY! IT WINDS UP THE STORY OF THREE WOMEN WHO MET AT BYU EDUCATION WEEK IN 198O AND MADE A PACT TO MEET 25 YEARS LATER. THIS LAST BOOK OF THE TRILOGY FINDS THEM DEALING WITH PROBLEMS THAT SPROUTED UP OVER THE YEARS AND POSES THE QUESTION, "WILL THEY REALLY SUCCEED IN KEEPING THE PACT?"

Nancy: It’s about the surprise of self-discovery and where that takes our characters.


What is your next project together? Individually?

Nancy: That’s under discussion right now.

Carroll: Nancy and I are working on an LDS novel. When we get together to sign at BYU Bookstore during Education Week, we’ll discuss a project involving all three of us.

Lael: I'M DOING A YA FOR THE NATIONAL MARKET, WHICH IS WHAT I DID FOR A COUPLE OF DECADES BEFORE MEETING NANCY AND CARROLL. THEN THE THREE OF US PLAN TO DO ANOTHER NOVEL, A SINGLE BOOK THIS TIME RATHER THAN A SERIES.


What is your advice for other writers?

Nancy: Look for mentors the quality of Carroll and Lael and don’t give up.

Lael: PERSIST!

Carroll: Stephen King says a writer needs to spend six hours a day reading and writing. So, write and read! Try something new every so often. Meet new people. Exercise every day. Ask “What if?”


What other work of yours has been published?

Nancy: I’m the newcomer of the group and have only had the series published.
Almost Sisters, 2006, Deseret Book
Three Tickets to Peoria, 2007, Deseret Book
Surprise Packages, 2008, Deseret Book

Lael: I HAVE 42 OTHER BOOKS, SO I WON'T LIST THEM ALL. BUT THE LAST SEVERAL ARE:
THREE TICKETS TO PEORIA, 2007, DESERET BOOK (WITH NANCY AND CARROLL)
ALMOST SISTERS, 2006, DESERET BOOK (WITH NANCY AND CARROLL)
LAKE OF SECRETS, 2003, HENRY HOLT.
STORIES FROM THE LIFE OF JOSEPH SMITH, 2003, DESERET BOOK.
SEARCHING FOR SELENE, 2003, DESERET BOOK.
KING OF THE KNOCK KNOCK JOKES, 2003, DOMINIE PRESS (AN EDUCATIONAL COMPANY)
SPACE SLUG, 2003, DOMINIE PRESS
THE COOKIE QUEST, 2003, DOMINIE PRESS
HAUNTED SISTER, 1998, HENRY HOLT

Carroll: A Suzuki Parent’s Diary, or How I Survived my First 10,000 Twinkles, 1984, Summy-Birchard Music
The Broken Covenant, 1985, Deseret Book
The Bonsai, 1986, Deseret Book
Saddle Shoe Blues, 1987, Deseret Book
The Merry-Go-Round, 1988, Deseret Book
If the Gospel is True, Why Do I Hurt So Much, 1991, Deseret Book
Almost Sisters, Vol. I, The Company of Good Women, 2006, Deseret Book
Three Tickets to Peoria, Vol. 2, The Company of good Women, 2007, Deseret Book



Thank you for the Interview.

Nancy: Thanks for having us. It’s been great fun!

Lael: THANK YOU, MARSHA, FOR THE INTERVIEW.

Carroll: Marsha, although I’ve never been to your home, I’ve been to Kohl’s Ranch, which I think isn’t too far from where you live. What beautiful country, with those magnificent Ponderosa pines. I think of it a lot when it’s hot down here south of Tucson. And I can picture you there—the Writer in the Pines!

12 comments:

  1. Wow - I don't think I've EVER heard of tri-authors being sisters. That is really quite remarkable. An you make it work! I read three distinctly different personalities in the interview (I related most to Carol's answers - she's a lot like me re: writing habits & attitudes), and yet you've managed to merge and form a team. Great! Really enjoyed the interview, both the Q's and the triplet answers.

    Marvin D Wilson
    Blogs at: http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/
    eye twitter 2 - http://twitter.com/Paize_Fiddler

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm getting off Coke right now, too, Carroll, and I'm as cranky as a bear! It's not easy, but I'm told it will be worth it. I'll have to let you know.

    Great interview, Marsha!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Marvin. Thanks for visiting the blog.

    I guess I didn't make it entirely clear that Nancy and Carroll are the blood sisters, but I'm sure they feel very sisterly towards Lael.

    Thanks, Tristi!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved answering your questions, Marsha. And reading my co-authors' answers!

    Until Tristi set this tour up for us, I'd never heard of a virtual book tour. What a super concept. It gets the word out about our series, The Company of Good Women, and it gives readers a sense of who we are as individuals and writers. How cool is that!

    I hope to return the favor for you and other bloggers on the tour. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I enjoyed that, Marsha:o)

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a fun interview. I loved hearing about the different writing styles and schedules. The book sounds interesting too. Thanks, Marsha.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Marsha

    I think I learn from the interviews you do with other authors. It's interesting to read how they prepare, work together and create a story.

    JoAnn

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your interview was great. The first two books in the series were awesome and I can't wait to get and read the last one.

    Which author wrote which character?

    Steph Anderson

    ReplyDelete
  9. Marsha, Thanks for participating in our virtual tour. It has been so much fun to follow. Interesting, too, to read all the comments. Thanks again.

    For Steph: I write Deenie. Carroll writes Erin and Lael writes teh Juneau character. Scenes in common we work on together,

    ReplyDelete
  10. Carroll, next time I have a book out, I'll take you up on that!

    I did too, Jewel.

    You're welcome, Cathy. Thanks for visiting.

    I learn a lot with each author interview, JoAnn.

    Steph, I know Nancy wrote Deenie, and I think Lael wrote Juneau, but I could be wrong. If I'm right, that would leave Erin in Carroll's capable. I'll see if I can find out for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Carroll's capable HANDS, I meant to say, and thanks to Nancy, we now know I guessed correctly. Thanks for visiting and setting us straight, Nancy.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Enjoyed the interview and love the "sisterhood" you three have going. You make it sound so easy, but anyone who's written with a partner knows it's not.

    And I really like the book cover!

    ReplyDelete

I welcome your comments.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...