Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.
Annalisa Crawford joins me in this edition of Behind The Scenes. Annalisa is a contributor in The Cat Who Chose Us and other Cat Stories–a must-have for cat-lovers everywhere. She is also the author of That Sadie Thing and Other Stories and Our Beautiful Child.
1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?
I remember writing a brilliant story about a flying golden horse when I was about 8 – I guess that’s where it started! My dad bought me a subscription to a writing magazine when I was still at school, and that’s when I began submitting to literary journals. At 20, I had two short stories published within two months of each other. But then it all slowed down a little – one acceptance every couple of years or so.
I kept writing though and by 2011 I was getting ready to shelve my novella, Cat and The Dreamer. On a whim I sent it to a publisher – Vagabondage Press – just to have someone read it one last time. They accepted it, and later took my novella trilogy, Our Beautiful Child, as well.
2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?
I wish my career had started properly sooner, but because I write novellas and short novels I guess had to wait for the rise of ebooks to get a foot in the door. Not many traditional publishers would want to risk a 73 page novella by an unknown writer. So, actually, no I wouldn’t have done anything differently – the time and the place were perfect.
3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?
• Don’t fear rejection – it’s a learning curve.
• Don’t submit, or publish, your first draft – you might think it’s brilliant now, but it probably needs a little more work.
• Use beta readers – and accept constructive criticism.
• Don’t give up.
4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?
My most recent book, Our Beautiful Child, took me a long time to write. The first two stories came quite easily, but I knew I wanted to make it a trilogy and the third story eluded me for a long time. In the end, the trigger was a song I used to listen to all the time – whenever I heard it, I’d get this feeling, until one day the whole story just appeared. I remember the relief when I realised my trilogy would become a reality.
5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?
My favourite character is Murray from one of the stories in Our Beautiful Child. He’s based on a couple of people I went to school with. He’s the mysterious love interest, dark and dangerous, with a secret. As I was writing him, he took on a whole backstory that I hadn’t expected.
6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?
I’ve returned to my first love, short story writing. It’s been a long time since I’ve written – or submitted – short fiction, so I’m looking forward to seeing what I can come up with. I love writing with no idea of where the story is going. I take advantage of the short form to avoid explaining anything, to just dump the reader into something extraordinary or confusing.
7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?
I’ve published both ways. I love having a publisher, because I need to have someone believe in me, which you don’t get with self-publishing. However, I self-published a collection of short stories, That Sadie Thing, because they’d all been either published in literary journals or had placed/been on the shortlist of competitions – I call it my greatest hits collection – and it was just an easy way to get them in front of new readers. Some of the literary journals had very small print runs, and I’m sure no more than a couple of people read them originally!
My advice would simply to be aware of your options, and know why you want to take one path over another. They are both rewarding, in very different ways.
Crawford writes dark contemporary, character-driven stories, with a hint of the paranormal. She has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years, and published her first book, Cat and The Dreamer in 2012.