The Writer’s Room: Annabelle McInnes

I am just so excited to introduce you all to my second guest for the new interview series, the Writer’s Room: Annabelle McInnes. I met Annabelle when we both attended Fiona McIntosh’s Commercial Fiction Mastercalss earlier this year, and I was instantly drawn to her. Annabelle is already an accomplished writer, having secured a three book (series) deal with Escape Publishing, the first of which is due out later this year.

From the age of sixteen, Annabelle lived in a youth refuge while she remained committed to her education. She spent two years within a section of humanity that society overlooks.

Her experiences are the foundations that drive her stories and her characters. They fight for their freedoms, have courage in the face of adversity and will ultimately, always aspire for greatness.

Annabelle is privileged to spend her time writing with a backdrop of Canberra’s iconic landmarks and admiring its distinct and captivating change of seasons. Outside of her love for reading, she spends every free moment with her husband, son and her poodle named Serendipity. She drinks her Whisky neat and is known to scour the local markets in an attempt to find the best blue cheese available.

 

First of all, can you talk us through your writing process a little bit? 

I am the mother of a two-year-old son. A little boy who is full of all the wonderful elements that makes up any toddler. I also work a four-day work week and support my husband with his business. The only way I can fit in time to write is to be a master at time management. The baby goes down for a nap – write. Lunch break – write. During those precious moments, I don’t distract myself with housework, social media or telephone calls. My headphones are in and I have a playlist of 90s rock ballads that I put on repeat. I am also the queen of understanding my own body and what it needs to write. Mornings are best for me with a cup of tea, coffee or even an energy drink depending how much uninterrupted sleep I’ve had. I work in stages and do a minimum of four distinct drafts. I’m currently working on the first draft of my third novel, so I’m getting into the swing of my own style now.

Why do you write and what do you hope to get out of it?

I write because I love it. I write because it is an external expression of who I am. What I think, dream and feel. I’ve always written as a hobby, but I started writing True Refuge when my baby was only six months old with no intention of ever publishing it, or even anyone else reading it. I needed an escape, and so I wrote. That original draft has had innumerable rewrites as I have learnt the complex difference between writing a story and writing a novel to be published. Through that process I discovered that writing is intrinsic to my happiness. I want to create a career as a successful writer. It’s hard work, of that there is no doubt. But it is the type of work that feeds my soul, and so I am able to push through the barriers.

Who or what are some of your biggest influencers?

From sixteen, I lived in a youth refuge in Canberra. During that time, I experienced the significant disparity between privilege and poverty and lived within a part of society that most overlook. Those experiences still colour my life and heavily influence my writing. I have always loved high fantasy novels. I grew up reading (and re-reading) all of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, the Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist, and the early books by George R. R. Martin to escape during my childhood. As a teenager I discovered Romance, and my ferocious appetitive for books really began. But it wasn’t until I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy did I come to appreciate dystopian and speculative fiction novels and how my experiences could shape these fictitious worlds. The concept that drives Speculative Fiction – What If – fuels my imagination more than any other genre. Couple that with romance and a chance to build a new world? A brilliant combination that I adore to read and write.

What sort of training / study have you undertaken as part of your writing journey? And have you found it useful?

Though I have always loved to write, choosing to become a published author was a decision that came in my thirties. Attending conferences and masterclasses has helped me develop my craft. In 2016, I attended the Romance Writers of Australia’s Annual conference. While I was there, I completed a one-day Story Mastery workshop with Michael Haugh. It really solidified how important it is to tell a great story. He outlined the strategic elements that create a detailed narrative, complex characters and a tight plot. Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass was also a turning point. Her insights into the publishing world, the work required to create a career out of writing and the mechanics of a successful novel, were pivotal. The connections with other writers has also been fundamental. They inspire me, drive me and support me. I wouldn’t be here without the friendships made through those conferences and classes.

Do you have any advice for other emerging writers?

Write. Everyone says it, but it’s true. Write. Write what you love. I’m time poor, so if I don’t love what I’m writing, I’ll procrastinate and it won’t get done. Like training to run a marathon, it’s about time on your feet (or in the chair, as writing may be). You’ll never succeed if all you ever do is talk about it. Write, get feedback, edit, edit, edit, edit. Then send it out. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Believe in your style, believe in your words, believe in your genre. Don’t listen to others. Like having children, everyone will have an opinion and everyone will tell you a better way to do something. Trust your instincts, and write, write, write!

The first book in your new Refuge romance series is coming out later this year, but I recall at masterclass that you are also toiling with the idea of writing in another genre, what is your reason for this and how are you finding the shift from Romance to something new?

The chance to explore other genres excites me. During Fiona’s Masterclass I thought of writing contemporary fiction, leaving myself open to the opportunity to explore a range of stories and narratives. These new plots play constantly in my mind, but as I’ve been working hard writing the Refuge Trilogy, I haven’t had a chance to fully investigate these options. Yet!

Thank you so much, Annabelle, for your time and insight. If you want to get more of Annabelle, you can connect with her here:

Website: www.annabellemcinnes.com
Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/authorannabellemcinnes/#
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabellemcinnes/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/akmcinnes
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/58003716-annabelle-mcinnes\
Escape Publishing: http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9781489251015

The Writer’s Room: Jodie How

Writing can often be a solo journey. Though family and friends are ‘supportive’ of our desire to write, it’s really only other writers that can truly understand what it means to be a writer. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to join a physical writer’s group. But I’ve been so fortunate to meet an array of wonderful writers online.

Because I feel so grateful to have had the access and opportunity to engage with such wonderful, like minded people, I thought it would be nice to invite some of them over to the blog to share a bit about themselves. I’m calling this series, ‘The Writer’s Room’.

I hope this virtual Writer’s Room helps other emerging writers like myself find new people to engage with online, (and maybe even in person!), learn some tips and tricks, or just feel more confident about their own approaches when hearing from other people who are also navigating the world of writing.

I’m so very pleased to welcome my first guest and very good friend, Jodie How.

Jodie lives in the South West of Western Australia with her husband, five-year-old son, cat and dog. She is an avid consumer of a large range of stories, from very old classics, biographies and romance through to modern psychological thrillers and horror fiction (including everything in between).

Jodie has been writing part-time for five years and has recently been print published in the anthology, Twisted Tales 2016. She writes both short and long fiction, poetry and online articles. You can find her at Twitter and motionandmusings.com

 

  1. First of all, can you talk us through your writing process a little bit? 

I’m an ‘emotional writer’ so my writing process isn’t especially ‘clean cut’ and my stories are often heavy.

I rarely start with a well-considered structure but I’m not a complete ‘pantser’ either. I always start writing a story with a definite character in mind (including their name), a very general idea of plot and theme and one or two prominent, defined emotions that will underpin the story.

Once I’ve finished the first draft, I edit and rewrite profusely. In between redrafts, I request feedback and gather critiques from various people.

Generally, my work explores one or two central emotions over a big idea or dilemma. My writing is, above all else, character focused.

 

  1. Why do you write and what do you hope to get out of it?

I write for many reasons. One reason is that I just cannot not write. I get very grumpy and hard to live with when I haven’t written. In fact, I don’t function well at all. Writing is a positive creative outlet for me.

I write because creating a truly wonderful story feels almost impossible for me to achieve. The sheer challenge of reaching storytelling excellence through writing excites and motivates me.

And I write because I’m a curious soul, a deep thinker and a deep feeler who must explore both the world and the human psyche – endlessly.

I’m passionate about stories and their important role in our lives. I’m awed by how rich combinations of language can convey such depth of meaning. I’m fascinated by written communication and how it can string human hearts together.

I want my stories to touch the hearts of readers and help provide some level of emotional healing. I long for my work to provoke depth of thought.

It would be a dream come true to be print published more that half a dozen times.

If history is anything to go by, I’m expecting that writing will open all sort of doors for me and I’m so excited about discovering these opportunities.

I hope that writing will take me around the world. I’m itching to immerse myself in other cultures, make far-reaching connections and just be a blessed partaker of this diverse life in all its beauty, both close and far from home.

If my writing ever leads to collaborative projects with other writers or artists from other industries, I will consider myself died and gone to heaven!

 

  1. Who or what are some of your biggest influencers?

As for all writers, favourite authors are a big influence on my desire to write. (I have too many literary idols to list!)

The ambitious part of my personality is a huge influencer on my productivity because I just have to feel like I’m moving forward. Even if the goal is tiny and it takes me a long time to achieve it (which it always does) – I still must achieve. I’m just wired to win, I guess – even though I don’t always win.

I don’t want this to sound overly spiritual and abstract but destiny is huge for me. It’s something I believe in and am very aware of. Knowing that writing is a big part of what I’m meant to do with my life keeps me focused. It makes me get up from falls time and time again. (I’m always falling, getting up, dusting myself off and putting the boxing gloves back on, ready to fight again.)

Past successes and past failures influence me too. I try my best to use them as leverage to push me forward.

 

  1. What sort of training / study have you undertaken as part of your writing journey? And have you found it useful?

I’m a ‘Jill of all trades’ so I don’t have any special writing qualifications, to date. I only committed seriously to writing five years ago, so I did a lot of other things in life before finding my real passion, which is writing.

I’ve done countless workshops, a few short courses and one weekend writers retreat. All of these have given me something new to apply to my writing, which has ultimately propelled me forward. Even listening to author interviews at writers festivals have been hugely educational and encouraging.

 

  1. Do you have any advice for other emerging writers?

Aha! The real question here is, ‘what’s the word count limit’? I’ll try to keep it short.

Recognise and capitalise on every single opportunity that comes your way. Grab each one in a full body hug and see it through.

Keep comparison in your closet. She’s a useless bitch.

Pay attention to, and effectively use, your gut instinct – not only for your writing but also for your writing journey.

Work hard and never, ever give up. Redraft your work until your eyes bleed, and then redraft it again.

Stick with your characters – don’t abandon them just because you can’t nail their story.

Be brave. Put your work out there. Now. Don’t wait until next year. Start submitting your writing today. Professional feedback is invaluable.