Talking With International Bestseller, Anna J. Walner

My Interview with ANNA J. WALNER!

I enjoy meeting other creative minds and learning about the journey writers have taken to become published authors.  I think we all have interesting stories to tell, and I am thankful to be able to help share them.  Thank you for joining us and allowing me to help share yours!

  • I always kick off my interviews with the same question.  Therefore, please tell us how you’d describe yourself?

I’m a single mom, a voracious writer, and an International Bestseller.

  • I read that writing was a way for you to cope with social anxiety.  As a person with clinical anxiety, depression, and OCD, I can relate to the healing powers of literature.  I’d like to explore this a bit with you if I may.
    • What came first, the reader or the writer?
      • The reader in me escaped constantly into the world of literature, and I’ve written since I was very young. But only in the past several years has my writing turned into something obsessive and unshakeable. I’m thoroughly hooked now.
        • What writer(s) and book(s) left an impression on you as a reader, and why?
          • In their own ways, each book and each author has left pieces of themselves with me through the years. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I finally took what I had gathered and began to write in my own voice.
        • Which writer(s) influenced your own voice and style – who, and why?
          • None, and all, to be quite honest and esoteric. There’s a bit of every book I’ve ever read in mine, and together, it’s all uniquely me.
    • How do you feel books aided you with your social anxiety?
      • Writing is truly a way to escape in itself. When I am writing in that world, whether it’s the Outback of Australia or the neighborhood of Verdant Glen, I’m there too. I walk along with my characters, talk to other characters, I live inside the book just like a reader would.
        • Do you feel reading or writing was more therapeutic for you, and why?
          • Writing has become more therapeutic. Only because now, I have the means to write more than I read. And because I have a fan base who is voraciously demanding more all the time!
        • What advice would you give to someone with social anxiety regarding the comforts of books?
          • For the longest time I was labeled a ‘geek’ or a ‘loner,’ and now, I’m bursting with knowledge because of the things I’ve read and researched for fun. Don’t let anyone shame your love of reading. Whatever you read, it’s all a form of either enjoyment or education, and for me, it’s often both.
  • I’d like to talk about your writing process and what led you to starting your own publishing company, Silver Dawn Publishing.
    • As a writer, what is your process like – is there a routine you follow? 
      • I have a very delicate balancing act as a single mother and an author. A lot of late nights and early mornings.
        • Do you have a particular spot you like to write or a favorite beverage?
          • I am a Red Bull addict! With the schedule I keep, or try to, caffeine is a must! I write in my bed, because my little one isn’t quite able to climb that high yet! It’s the safest place for my laptop.
        • Do you require silence, or do you enjoy music?  What ambiance most suits your creativity?
          • I need to be fully immersed in the scene. For me, it needs to be quiet, so the movie can play out in my head, and I can bring it to life on the page. As I mentioned before, it makes for a lot of late nights!
    • Are you a ‘panser’ or planner? 
      • I am a hybrid ‘Plantser.” I know what points need to be hit along the way, and I know the beginning and end. But my characters have a habit of surprising me, which is sometimes a very good thing. It can take my story in a way I never could have plotted out.
        • Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
          • Most times inspiration comes when I nap or do autonomous tasks around the house. When I’m driving, or just watching a movie, I think about something random and play the idea forward. If there’s a story in it, I’ll stop what I’m doing, besides driving, and get it down somewhere before I forget it. Even if it’s only a few sentences to start.
        • Every now and then, writers need to replenish their creativity.  I find renewal in reading; it impassions me.  Where, or how, do you find yours?
          • I wait. To force the creative process for me comes across the page as forced, stilted even. Creativity ebbs and flows, crests and falls again. It’s knowing when the crest is coming and riding the wave as far as it will take you. Once it’s abated, let it sit. Be patient. IT will come back when it’s time.
        • Most people don’t get that writing is a practice skilled, which is why you hear authors say, ‘doesn’t matter what you write, just write every day.”  Like with sports or other art forms, you need to hone your skills.  I edit to strengthen mine.  How do you exercise your writing?
          • I do write in my journal each night. But as far as creative writing goes, it’s not an ‘every single day’ thing for me. Maybe I’m an exception to the rule? I do tend to hear that often, but when it comes, it’s like a hyper fixation of getting it down as it comes through my mind. I like to say my bandwidth is on overdrive a lot.
          • If I write everyday for practice, the stories that truly matter wouldn’t have the same kind of heart that they do when I’m writing in the moment. I feel like I’ve gotten my 50,000 hours in over the past 15 years of writing for fun, without every publishing a word.
    • Were you always an indie author/publisher or have you experienced the traditional side of publishing?  Why, or why not?
      • I have queried, as most authors do, and I continue to for some projects. But self-publishing is both a challenge and a freedom. Ultimate control over content, cover, formatting, and marketing. It’s almost like the toughest climbs come with the greatest rewards.
        • Writers and storytellers come in all varieties.  What were your goals with publishing?
          • To never stop, quite simply. More expansive would be to continue to branch out into new territories, new genres, which I’m already beginning to do. There are so many places to go, I feel like I’m only just beginning.
    • What inspired you to start your own small press?
      • To give others the chance to publish under a small house that really cares about them, collaborates with them, and shares the inside truth about what does and doesn’t work. I have a degree in business, and a background in Oil & Gas Sales, Marketing, and Analytics. Surprise!
        • Do you have other authors signed under your label/brand?
          • I do, Jennifer Pezzano. She is such an amazing and lyrical talent when it comes to storytelling. She’s also the best critique partner a writer could have!
    • If you could go back and do anything over, what would it be, and why?
      • Start earlier. Believe in myself more and have the courage to really go for the dream I’m living now.
        • What advice do you have for an aspiring author?
          • Don’t let your fears or the opinions of others deter you from your passion. Everyone has a voice and a unique story to tell. If you’re not there yet, keep going.
  • Can you tell us about Vanessa Morris?

Vanessa Morris is the pen name under which ‘The Nymphetamine Girls’ is published. The book deals with some very intense topics, which are rarely talked about and should be.

  • Why did you decide to use a pen name?
    • To distinguish the types of content under each name. Anna J Walner writes more Young Adult / New Adult works, while Vanessa Morris is quite dark in comparison. I wanted to draw a distinct line between the two authors and the content you’ll find as a reader.
      • What do you think the benefits are?
        • To establish two distinct audiences and reader bases because the topics and tenor are so dissimilar. When you pick up an Anna J Walner book, you feel safe. With Vanessa Morris, it’s like being in a speeding car with no hood and no seatbelt. You might get hurt.
      • What do you feel the drawbacks are?
        • I don’t see a lot of drawbacks. Probably convincing people that you’re capable of writing both sides of the coin equally well. And so far, Vanessa Morris has been wildly well received.
  • I want to talk about The Uluru Legacy before we go.  I am currently in the middle of this series, and I am loving it.  There are familiar elements, making it comfortable and welcoming.  Then, there are unique aspects to thrill and entice.
    • I know, like the protagonist, Amelia, you were adopted and that your biological father was Australian, which inspired the series. I also know that the Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock) is sacred to the Aboriginal people of that area.  What made this specific region the focal point for your story?  Australia is a large continent/country – what zeroed you into this location?
      • Because of it’s location, it’s far enough away from any great populace, and visited frequently enough that readers would enjoy pondering the possibility that an ancient secret society could actually exist, hidden in plain sight.
    • I know you researched biological mutation and species adaptions for this series.  How does that play into the type of characters and creatures we encounter in the books?
      • I looked at my own family tree, and the multicultural ethnicities there, how my mother still has the features of my grandfather, a native American, although to a lesser degree. When communities and ethnicities blend together, you’ll see changes in skin tone, eye color, and hair color or texture.
      • In the Uluru Legacy, the indigenous people of the land were adopted into The Colony and over time, certain natural changes were made. How melanin rapidly intensities with direct sunlight and provides protection for Garkain, or how the standard lycanthrope wolf became a dingo. A species that relies heavily on blending in can’t stick out among the indigenous canine population. So, the Larougo form shifted to mimic the dingo in deference of the wolf form as a survival mechanism.
    • Your protagonist is a strong female, named Amelia, whom I love.  You’ve said you didn’t wanted her to be infallible.  Why was this important to you?  In your opinion, what value is there in a flawed hero/heroine?
      • I really wanted readers to connect with the main character. All of the characters, really. And so that meant making them as life-like as possible. There is no truly perfect person, we all make mistakes, we all make impulsive decisions, and it’s what we do with those mistakes that shows the kind of morality the characters have. Perfection is overrated. Give me real and raw every time.
    • How did you know this would be a book series and not a standalone novel or collection?
      • I had so much in mind for Amelia’s journey, I just knew it would be best told as a series. Knowing how each book would end from the get-go, really helped solidify that decision. And in the first book, when it ended, it felt so right, that I just said, ‘I got it,’ and started the editing process the next day. When you know, you know.
        • What did you enjoy most about this series?
          • The character arcs and the plot twists, the way I surprised myself when I was writing, and seeing the impassioned review videos from readers who absolutely loved everything about the books. I am currently being asked constantly about the third book in the series. And I will be doing a cover reveal and a title reveal soon. I promise!
        • Was there anything you struggled with while writing this series?
          • The first book was a lot of pressure to really make the readers invested in the characters. All of my books are very character-centric and driven.
          • Now, with the last book in the series being the fourth, there is so much pressure to really wrap things up and bring a finality to the story that is satisfying to the readers who really love the series. I have to do the series and their love for it justice. I’m taking my time to make sure that I do just that.
  • What can we expect to see from you over the coming year?

There are several things that I’m working on at the moment. The last book in the series, of course, but Vanessa Morris will be releasing ‘The Nymphetamine Girls’ in March of next year, and the third book in the series will release as Anna J Walner in May as well. So, a very busy Spring to next year.

  • What is your current WIP?
    • Without going into too much detail, I’m currently working on a passion project, which delves into the historical genre arena.
  • What’s the best way for readers to connect with you and your books?

Thank you again for meeting with me.  I appreciate your time, talents, and friendship.  Best of success always!


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