And the interviews just keep on rollin’! Today I’m talking with Anna Quinn, author of The Night Child, a work of psychological/literary fiction that will debut January 30, 2018, and is published by Blackstone Publishing.
I’m sticking with my theme of “What’s Your Writing Process” and Anna will answer a few questions about her creative process right below a blurb for the book and cover shot.
The Night Child is the story of Nora Brown, a young mother and high-school English teacher, whose unremembered childhood trauma returns to threaten her sanity in the form of a child named Margaret. This exquisitely nuanced and profoundly intimate novel examines the fragile line between past and present—it is a story of resilience, hope, and the capacity of the mind, body, and spirit to save itself despite all odds.
Teaser: “Her past—a malevolent undertow she cannot escape from simply by swimming parallel to and waiting for release; no, this is a force demanding a surrender she cannot allow.”
Psssst! If you’d like to pre-order The Night Child, you can order it HERE!
Minerva Spencer: How long did you take to write this book?
Anna Quinn: I wrote The Night Child in only a year, but that’s because I used a great deal of content from my previously written memoir. It took another year to edit The Night Child, and yet another year to call up the courage to submit it. I queried twenty-four agents and within a month, received nine requests for partial manuscripts and three requests for full manuscripts. Soon after, two agents expressed interest in representation—one NY agent, and Gordon Warnock from Fuse Literary in San Francisco. The NY agent wanted significant developmental changes that involved sensationalizing certain scenes for commercial purposes, and Gordon loved the book enthusiastically as it was, so I accepted his offer. Nine months later he called to say Blackstone Publishing had offered a fabulous contract. After an additional three months of editing with Blackstone, my book was ready for publication and will be released Jan. 30th, 2018.
MS: What kind of research did you do for this book?
AQ: I used notes from my own personal history of dissociation, and spent hundreds of hours reading about psychiatric therapies, and interviewing psychiatrists and people who had experienced, or were experiencing dissociation.
MS: What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
AQ: I’m a fairly spare writer (my poet husband calls me a haikuist novelist) and I often need to elaborate rather than cut. However, the editing exercise that helps most regarding cutting words is to read the entire manuscript aloud underlining all the places that cause me to falter or lose attention. Later, I go back and either cut those sentences or rewrite the passages. I also used Microsoft’s Word Usage and Frequency add-in, to find repeated words. The words “actually”, “shrugged” and “sometimes” were my top three most overused words. I also removed an excerpt of Hemingway’s, Clean Well-Lighted place because my publisher and I agreed it would be too much effort to secure the copyright from Hemingway Estates as they are known to be a pretty tough crowd.
MS: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
AQ: One of the most exhilarating things about writing is the mystery and complexity of it, so while I have a sense of big what if questions when I begin, I allow my imagination free rein during the first draft— I become a combination of interviewer, recorder and witness. I observe my characters, follow them around, ask them things along the way like: What do you want? Why does this matter so much to you? What are you looking for? What’s standing in your way? What are you afraid of? and What next? Over time they lead me into scenes, into answers, and a story emerges—the structure revealing itself as I write.
MS: What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
AQ: Revision thrills me—re-visioning a draft from a critical perspective, listening to the sounds of language, playing with rhythm sentence by sentence, magnifying the abstract for an unambiguous detail, cutting irrelevancies (even if it means pages and pages) adding complications, and creating metaphor completely absorbs me. The first few drafts allow me to discover the story—what it’s really about, where the vulnerability of being human lives. Revision allows me to clarify and deepen the emotional truth of it.
MS: Okay, one last question, and one that many aspiring writers find interesting: what is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
AQ: Finishing a piece. But really, is any story ever finished?
A huge thanks to Anna Quinn for joining me to talk about her fabulous new book, which will debut January 30, 2018.
If you’d like to contact Anna about her book or with questions you can do so with the below addresses: