Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Interview with Critically Acclaimed Joyce A Anthony

Welcome Joyce A Anthony
Author of STORM

[Author's note]
Storm is a spiritual fantasy unlike any you have ever read. It will change how you look at the world. He's back and the world will never be the same. Are you ready for Storm?

"Who he is and why he's here is a mystery, even to Storm--a mystery that can only be solved within the whirling rainbow. As he searches for answers, he touches the lives of society's forgotten and when he finds his identity, nobody is left untouched."
What do a prostitute, an abused child, a disillusioned minister, a Vietnam Vet and a homosexual have in common? These and many others find their lives changed when they meet Storm and his companion, an amethyst-eyed dog named Maggie. As you follow Storm on his journey to discover his true identity, you will meet many of society’s forgotten people. You will laugh, cry and get angry—whatever the emotion, you will feel deeply. When Storm realizes who he is and why he is here, the world is completely changed and not one soul remains untouched. Upon closing the covers of this book, you will see the world around you in a far different light and find yourself wondering—is it really fiction?

Joyce,Thank you so much for offering to stop by today on your month long blog tour. I am delighted to have you take the time to answer all of our questions. I want everyone to get a good look at what went into writing STORM a highly recommended, critically acclaimed novel. Classified as an inspirational

Billie: My picture of a thunder storm crosses my mind every time I think of your title--How did you arrive at that title for your book - I realize it is the name of the main character - and that just raises the next question.
Joyce: It was named after the main character. I find storms beautiful--powerful and full of energy. They light up the night. Much like my main character. Originally, I was going to title it The Whirling Rainbow, but it just didn't feel right, naming it after the MC did.

Billie: Storms and Rainbows seem to hold a huge place in your life – do you have any life changing experiences that make them so important to you? Or can you think of a reason why they seem to be so important/ influential to you?
Joyce: My earliest memories of storms are sitting on the porch with my grandmother and watching them. She loved them as much as me. I've never had any fear of storm--they seem to energize me yet calm me. As for rainbows--I've always seen them as a sign of hope. A promise. Sometimes in life, all you have to get through is hope--and part of me wants that to be what my writing does--bring hope to someone who may need it.

Billie: When you say you sat with your grandmother watching storms and loving it I’m reminded of sitting with my Grandmother and Grandfather summers on their farm watching those storms he loved them too…once the lightening struck so close Grandpa flew out to the barn to check on the livestock because he knew it had to hit something. It did a mother sow had given birth to fourteen pigs a day ago – all of them were dead but two, my sister and I bottle fed until they could eat on their own. Weren’t you afraid when you named your book Storm people might be put off by the title – thinking in terms of “The Storm of the Century,” type book…or do you think the cover would sufficiently warn them that it is not of the genre?

Joyce: Poor piglets :-( The thought did cross my mind that people might be mistaken about the content of the book--but I knew the cover would portray something different and was hoping that would draw attention. I wasn't sure exactly what would be on the cover, but I knew Storm's picture would be.

Billie: I know there have been many things I’ve learned that I only noticed I needed to know after the fact. And the reason I did that job or learned that lesson or skill was to deal with what was looming ahead of me or currently taking place in my life. For instance the caregiver training in various nursing homes that I had before my mother needed me to perform those same duties for her. Was there anything in your life that you feel may have prepared you to write STORM? Is the track Storm is following meant to be a railroad track or is it some other type of pathway he must search out to walk?
Joyce: I believe my Psychology training slightly--and just the variety of people I've come into contact with over the years more so--helped me to understand the inner workings of the minds of my characters. This understanding made it possible to allow them to express the full depth of each of their characters.
Literally, it is a railroad track. When I was a little girl, I'd look down the track and wonder what it would be like just to follow them to wherever they went. Another writer, hearing this, asked me what was at the end--that is what pushed me forward to finally put Storm on paper. He is also following another kind of track, however, this is one of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

How did you choose that name for your character?
Joyce: I didn't--Sam did :-) Actually, the characteristics mentioned above made me think of the name. Sam named him Storm because that is what brought him to the lighthouse--so it just "fit".

Billie: What about the dog—my daughter has a Boston terrier she just got, she named her Maggie. That sounds like a countrified, down home kind of name—is Maggie meant to come off that way and how did you find a name for her?
Joyce: I first called her Miracle--but she didn't like that name and told me she needed a new one. I wanted a name that conveyed kindness, loyalty, steadfast love--Maggie kept coming to mind. I asked on one of my writing groups for suggestions and Camilla, a sweet lady mentioned she thought Maggie was perfect. I still wasn't sure until I remembered someone they called Maggie--and her real name was Magdalena--it seemed perfect--so Maggie stuck.

Billie: .I can’t wait to tell my daughter how you chose your Maggie – in my mind I see a rag muffin doll — but now with your explanation I see more. Would you say your book is a Christian inspirational book ?
Joyce: I like to think of this as spiritual, inspirational from a Christian viewpoint. My faith is evident in this book, but I want people from all religions to see the value in it.

Billie: Can you tell us what breed of dog you envision Maggie, a character in Storm, as being and why?
Joyce: She's a pure white Alaskan Malamute. I find this breed of dog to encompass all the character traits of Maggie--dependability, loyalty, gentleness. They can deal with hardship and still come out sweet-tempered.

Billie: Has this book been rambling around in your mind for a while or did it just jump out and ask to be written now? In either case what was your process to get it down on paper?
Joyce: I always go over and over my writing in my mind before a word ever reaches the paper. I have often heard other writers talk about the story being written in their mind first--I actually "see" movies play out in my mind of the basic details. By the time I start writing, I have the basics clear and organized--it's those darn surprise characters that throw me--they pop up and I get to "meet" them on the spot!!
I must say, I could not have NOT written this book--the characters nagged at me, entered my dreams and thoughts during the day. They wouldn't allow me to ignore them.

Billie: When you say the book rambles in your mind before you write – do you take notes so you don’t lose any of those threads that turn up? Some authors will take copious notes before they begin a project — was it that way for you with Storm – if not do you believe in outlining?
Joyce: I never outline. I may write a word or two to remember something, but never complete sentences. The story basically plays itself out in my mind like a movie--and that sticks with me.

Billie: I find the whole movie in your mind kind of thing a unique take on writing. Many authors say their characters pop into their heads with scenes or parts of their personalities etc, they want written. But this is a first for the visual story telling. Would you say that your story is complete when you see this video in your mind? or is it more like a movie trailer with chunks of scenes that you need to connect with your own magic of pen and paper?

Joyce: This wouldn't be the first time someone said my mind worked uniquely :-) The story actually unfolds completely, ready to be put onto paper. Often it is written as it is playing out in my mind and I am as surprised as if I were watching a movie on the screen.

Billie: Mary is the first person we meet in your book once Storm and Maggie become a team. Can you tell us a little about her and why she found a place in this book where she did? Is she a stage setter, a precursor of things to come? Is she and women like her Storm’s mission in life?

Joyce: Mary is a woman who went from an abusive home life to an abusive relationship. She has given up hope and earns a living as a prostitute--figuring men have always taken that from her so she might as well get paid for it. This is her one and only source of holding power in her life. She has lost all hope. Storm's mission includes women like her, but it is wider. His mission includes all who have lost hope, all who are basically good people, but society may have lost track of that because of outer appearance.

Billie: Who is your most influential person affecting your writing? why?

Joyce: Hmm..this question can be answered two ways. When it comes to actually believing I could become a writer of books and sharing my writing with others, I owe it to two very dear friends who believed in me long before I believed in myself--I've mentioned them in my acknowledgements.
If you are referring to authors, I would have to say Richard Bach and Rod Serling. Both challenge their readers to think and examine both the world around them and the world within. I feel that with Storm I have incorporated a little of both.

Billie: Somehow I never thought of Rod Serling as being a mind boggler – and yet now that you mention it – he really has the mind of a genius to come up with some of his plots. Do you see any relationship or connection between him and Stephen King – as far as how their minds work to make plausible the implausible? — Or would you say Rod and Richard are far removed from the mind of Stephen King?

Joyce: I really don't see Stephen King in the same category as the other two--he writes horror, plain and simple. There is no need to stop and think, you just read. The other two make it impossible not to think. You finish a story and either find yourself thinking "wow" or you start wondering what is going to happen around the next corner, where you might find yourself.

Billie: I understand what you say about Serling and Bach. I think they both give reality a twist and the what if sits in your mind. Are their any current authors that do that for you? Are your new books as influenced by Serling and Bach as Storm was?

Joyce: I don't believe I've come across any other authors that influence me the way these two do--they are both literary geniuses. I believe The Trees Remember may show some influence, but at the moment I'm not sure about the other two.

Billie: In Storm the character of Storm seems to be very intuitive and , I hesitate to use the word psychic, but for the purposes of clarity – that is what I’ll use — does this ability to ‘see’ parallel how you feel perhaps a bipolar child sees also? Is this something that you feel you may have picked up from Serling or Bach as that air of their unique brand of story affecting or perhaps causing the reader to question what we ignore or don’t listen closely enough to in our own lives?

Joyce: I don't believe Storm's ability to sense that beyond the norm parallels a bipolar child's type of sight. Storm's is more of seeing what is beyond the "norm", while that of a bipolar child is basically seeing what is there, but from a different angle than others. I believe we all have this innate ability to see what isn't readily apparent, most just have pushed that aside in favor of what can be readily proven, and therefore understood. While I believe both Serling and Bach believe this way, this one happened to be based on my own belief rather than either of their influence.

Billie You already have another book in the works - is a continuation of where this one has taken you - or is going off in another completely different direction?

Joyce: Spirit of the Stallion is completely different than Storm, as are the two projects I have planned after that. I am a very eclectic writer.
The next one is nonfiction inspirational that tells the story of a bipolar child. Then I have The Trees Remember, which will be a\n historical paranormal and The Gospel According to Rex, which promises to be a fun book to write--it will be targeted at young readers.

Billie: These sound positively fascinating – can you tell us a little about Spirit of the Stallion? I can also imagine the world of a bipolar child – what a horrific burden for a child. — The titles are fascinating. How did you come up with these titles — ??? Some authors don’t find their titles until the book is done. What is your process for finding Titles? Or is that where you start?

Joyce: First, titles--I've never been very good at them until lately. They seem to pop into my mind, usually at the end of the writing. For some reason, these seemed to "fit" from the start. The Gospel According to Rex is actually only a working title--the others are set.
Spirit of the Stallion is my son's story. He has experienced symptoms of bipolar disorder since his first night terror at the age of one week. He has fought hard to get where he is now--but he's in a very wonderful spot in life. I'm hoping other parents going through the tears, fears, anger, etc... will realize there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel--with enough patience, fighting and love.
Many books on bipolar children don't cover some of the most common aspects--how to deal with the police and landlords, how to deal with two left socks, how to answer people in public who are full of advice on what they would do if it were their kid... Spirit of the Stallion will include those things as well as the story.

Billie: Spirit of The Stallion, I know your son is old enough and wise enough to have read your work. He seems to understand things on a level most children never reach. .Does he know this book is about him? How does he feel about that? I also know that he is an artist, and very good at what he does. Do you think his Bipolar problems has sharpened his ability to see and create what he sees, a sort of creativity edge?

Joyce: Shane certainly does have a spiritual wisdom most of us never reach. He has known this was going to be my next book for some time now. He says he wants me to hurry up and get it written because he feels he needs to read it. His inner need to read this is almost as strong as my inner need to write Storm--I believe this book will be led by a hand outside my own--to help Shane understand what he needs to.
Being bipolar does seem to help creativity. I'm not sure it has anything to do with genes, however. I believe the enhanced creativity comes because the bipolar mind views the world from a slightly different angle than the rest of society--and it is that angle that shows in creativity.

Billie: Were you trying to instill in the minds of those in situations similar to Mary and perhaps Shane and the others in your book that they are not alone, that they only need to seek the counsel of organizations that are out there and their higher power, be that God, the Great Spirit or some other Deity? Or is this just something that I feel, as a reader of Storm, which you hadn’t really planned on showing?

Joyce: I believe you hit on my point exactly :-) I believe a person needs faith in a higher being of some type--for me, it is God, for others that being goes by a different name. It doesn't matter what you call this higher power--it's the faith that is important.

Billie: Is there anything you'd like to tell your readers either about this story - or your next one?

Joyce: I would like to mention that part of the proceeds of Storm will be donated to StopItNow, a group dedicated to preventing childhood sexual abuse. Whether a person buys Storm or not, and you know I hope everyone does, I'd like to ask that you check out www.stopitnow.org and see what they are doing. They have a whole different approach to this very important subject.

Billie: I think it’s wonderful that you are donating part of your proceeds to StopItNow…Can you tell us a little more about this project – it is national in scope – how can others get involved with it – besides buying your book I mean? (which is an excellent idea – then you get a great read and the StopItNow Organization gets a donation.)

Joyce: Naturally, I'd love having people buy my book :-) StopItNow approaches the subject of childhood sexual abuse from the perspective that prevention is much better than treatment after the fact. They focus on training programs to help caregivers and parents, and anyone else involved with kids, to see where the roots of abuse start--to know when there may be a problem and avert it before it happens. They also work with would-be molesters to help them keep from harming a child.
This approach, starting from the very root to prevent, is a novel approach that seems to be working. Anyone wanting to see exactly what is being done and how they might help can visit http://www.stopitnow.org

Billie Will Spirit of the Stallion, your next book, be earmarked to benefit some charity as Storm was earmarked to help “Stop it Now”? And a question about bipolar children, this seems to be a growing problem in the United States or is it a problem that has just become more recognized and diagnosed with people being trained to help those who suffer from it? Also, is there any connection between Autism and Bipolar cases. Is Manic Depression the same or just another disease altogether?

Joyce: Yes, Spirit of the Stallion, as well as all my other books, will all benefit some charity. I have yet to decide which one, but it will relate to childhood bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is the same thing as manic-depression--it is just a more modern term. While some people with this disorder also have Autism, the two are separate disorders and not related.

Billie: Where do you see your career going say five or ten years from now? Both the big dream and/or the reality? I believe you have found your niche and I hope much success for you and your talents are ahead as I’m sure they must be.

Joyce: You know, I haven't thought about the future in terms of career. I see having written and published four books within the next five years. I'd like to have sold enough to buy a small house for my son and critters. Beyond that, I'm open to wherever life takes me--it's all an adventure.

Billie: What is your writing day like? Is it a planned time frame? Is it just happening when the mood strikes you?

Joyce: I don't have any set schedule for writing. With homeschooling and taking care of all the critters, it is a matter of writing a few words here and there--whenever there is a free moment. There are often days on end when I don't get a word actually written on paper. Luckily, I write everything longhand first, so bus rides, waiting rooms, etc... often see me with pen and paper in my hand.

Billie: So, you don’t set aside so many hours a day to write – I’ve heard this is the only way to get on target and yet you seem pretty prolific doing it your way. “A Picture is worth a thousand words,” does your photography feed your story idea bank – does it influence pictures you take or the other way around?

Joyce: My photography has actually given me ideas and stories. I'll be out photographing this or that and see something that catches my interst--before I've finished the pictures, I have a story formulated. I am a very visual person--I "see" stories in my mind, so it makes sense to me that the photos would create the stories. I'm a firm believer that every object, every person has a story to tell. We as writers just need to look and listen to find it.

Billie: I know that you are a very busy person and I appreciate you taking the time to answer all our questions. If I might ask, you also write articles how does this feed into your fiction, or does it? Where do you get your inspiration for writing articles?

Joyce: My articles are written by what the situation calls for at the moment. I don't need the same amount of involvement or emotion for them as my fiction. The two are completely separate in my mind.

Billie: One last question about your articles – I assume they pay the bills so that you can do all the other things that you do – when you’re novels start bringing in the money that can sustain your household, will you continue to write the articles? If so what do they bring to your life that perhaps fiction writing doesn’t? One other question, do you use the research that you do for your novels as fodder for your articles – or does that perhaps influence your writing to some degree – or are they both such different realms that neither feeds the other?

Joyce: My non-fiction and fiction are completely separate from each other and really don't influence each other. I would love to have my books make enough to support us, but I will always write certain articles--such as those regarding bipolar disorder and those for WINGS. There is a place for both in both the world and my life.

Billie: What about your photography? I know this is about your books, but it’s about you too and you are a multi-talented person and I’m curious if you sell your pictures, use them with your articles or sell them as a freelance photographer – or would you consider that if you don’t now? I’ve seen some of them they are very good. The ones of animals…is it hard to get animal shots as good as yours or is it you just have a knack with animals?

Joyce: Thank you, Billie. I am always open to selling my photography work, but that hasn't happened yet. I concentrate more on that aspect of my life in the warm months. I understand animals and I believe they sense that--except those darn birds, they won't cooperate with anything :-)

Billie: Joyce, it has been such a pleasure to talk with you and have your generous and thoughtful answers to some burning questions I’ve had about your writing style and content.

Thank you for spending time with us and for answering all these questions. I’m sure the readers will be grateful too for your time and consideration.
Billie A Williams
To contact our guest author "Joyce A. Anthony" and be sure to visit her website for more information and a link to order your copy of her book now.


Jo Linsdell said...

This is a really great interview! I also think it's great that Joyce is donating part of the proceeds of the book sales to charity. A great writer and a great person.

JanetElaineSmith said...

Wow! You both warned us that this would be quite the interview, and you certainly delivered it. Great job--to both of you.
I'm anxious for you to get to my house too, Joyce.
Janet Elaine Smith

NightRainbow said...

Great job pulling this all together, Billie---thanks for stopping by and commenting guys!!!!