Friday 6 December 2019

Meet A.A.Warne - Australian Author and Artist

 This week, I interviewed A.A. Warne, who is a creative soul in many ways. Originally an artist, she stumbled across writing at a special time in life. Her covers are brilliant, and you can definitely judge the books by their cover and know you're in for a reading treat.

A. A. Warne writes elaborate, strange, dark, and twisted stories. In other words, speculative fiction.
Located at the bottom of the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia, Amanda was born an artist and grew up a painter before deciding to study pottery.
But it wasn't until she found the art of the written word that her universe expanded.
A graduate of Western Sydney University in Arts, Amanda now spends her time wrestling three kids and writing full time.

What was the defining event that made you start writing? 

After I had my first child, I had to give up my art. At the time I was practising pottery and then came along my daughter who never slept day or night. Pottery is a big all-day practice that takes lots of time to get ready and clean up. So I put it aside for a few years and decided to go back to drawing. I planned years of art, complete with drawings within a month. Then I got bored. And it wasn't the boredom where you pick up jogging to kill the time. It was a boredom that got into my soul.
One of my really close friends saw this in me, no matter how hard I tried to hide it. And she threw a book at me. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. She demanded I read it and I laughed at her. I wasn't a reader! I was an artist. But I did it anyway. Each time my daughter went to sleep, I picked up the book and read it. Then I tracked down the next one and read that too. From that moment onwards, I haven't stopped reading.
But the boredom was still there, deep in my soul. I couldn't figure it out. Was this the depression that mum's have after having a baby? No. It wasn't a depression, it wasn't the fact that I was run off my feet with a baby who never slept, the house was always clean, and I had things to do like reading and exercising and eating right. But I wasn't creating!
So I bought a notebook and my favourite type of pen. The only problem was, I had nothing to write. The first page was lines saying something like, "I am writing but I have nothing to say."
Then the dreams started. I dreamt the same dream three nights in a row and bam! I had a story.
Now, I'm telling my brain to stop sending stories! Because I can't juggle so many, but no, I don't think I have control of my imagination. If my imagination had any more control - I wouldn't sleep, eat or do anything but create!

What are you working on now?

Ha! So many projects that you'll wish you had never asked! I'm a scatter brain and with that means I can work on multiple projects at once. Then when I set the editor in place, I buckle down and complete the story.
The Reluctant Wizard is in its last stage and that one is about a boy who gets accepted into an exclusive wizard school, but he realises that the wizards are not what they make out to be.
I've just finished a draft to Dawn of the End and I've commissioned the cover. It's about a prisoner who is transported from one prison to another when the Earth is invaded by an unknown alien entity.
And Michelle and I are mapping out The Hidden Truths Trilogy book two! I know everyone is waiting for that one. For those who are not familiar, it's about a psychic who meets two guys, unbeknown to her that one is a shape-shifting reptilian and the other is in an secret society, and they're at war with each other.
I have just finished a short-story called FrankenSanta where a trinity of Elves accidentally kill Santa Claus and think it's a good idea to bring him back, but Santa isn't the same. It's due out Christmas 2019 and advance readers have said it's hilarious. I had so much fun writing it.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both! I'm totally energised when I do anything creative. I'm a painter, potter, drawer, writer, you name it and I'm creating! If I run out of art supplies, I start knocking down walls and renovating.
But that being said, my creative mind never switches off. I will work myself into the ground. During the beginning stages of a book - when I'm first getting an idea - my mind goes into overdrive. I'm reading non-fiction, writing down conversations, analysing people's faces, body language, architecture, etc! And this is all great techniques to get into the book, but then somewhere between draft and re-write, I hit the exhaustion button.
So to avoid this obsessive behaviour, as energising as it is, I now collect lots of things for many different ideas that will eventually becomes books later on. That way I get excited about a new idea but put that energy into the book I'm currently finishing.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Rules and cliches.
Who invented writing rules? I mean, back off people! First they want us to 'find our voice' and then make sure that voice MUST be 'unique' but wait, jump through a million rules that no one can define? Madness!
Then the cliches - 'Write what you know!' Well then I can honestly, wholeheartedly say that I've been to another planet and explored their culture, plus have a tendency to jump inside people's minds time to time. So does that mean I actually write non-fiction?
Those two aside, there's one massive trap that, even after two published books, still keeps coming up. Judgement. Not the fact that I'm writing or publishing, but the idea that if you're not going to make lots of money or be famous, then why bother! This drives me bonkers. Life is not about money and being famous is a madness in itself. My imagination is vast and I have the ability to express that in art forms, including writing. So for me to create my imagination in form, that's my gift to the planet. And in turn, that is me experiencing life.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes! You're probably going to laugh because I live in Australia, but I get 'winter block'! Ha! Like bears, I go into hibernation. I wish I could sleep for the duration of winter because I'm slow, sluggish and tired. Luckily winter here only last about twelve weeks and then bang! Straight back to warmer weather and I'm energised and creating again.
Very rarely do I read one book at a time. I have about five or six non-fiction books where I'm cross referencing or picking up to throw my imagination a curve ball and I don't let the writer control my ideas.
I do only read one fiction book at a time. That way I can dive into the story and let the writer lead me along the emotional rollercoasters.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I have no idea what readers want and I think it's a slippery slope to judge it in the fantasy world. I understand that genres like romance have their tropes and done right can be replicated but fantasy is boundless. And how do you cater for a never-ending possibility?
Originality is an interesting concept. For me, I try to feed my imagination possibilities: Nothing is impossible. Everything is true. And there is no such thing as limitations.
Now apply that to anything! And all of a sudden reality gets turned upside down and that's where new stuff comes from. Feeding the imagination allows us to see and experience and feel the world in a totally different way and that's what I do to generate my ideas.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

For me, nothing is off-limits. I finished my degree in Arts a couple of years ago. I do plan on starting my Masters soon but first I wanted to know where I stood in the world. I read and research other's arguments, opinions, beliefs, etc. and I needed to know where I stood, what my beliefs are and if I had opinions.
See I have a tendency to take a don't-pick-sides perception, which sounds odd but that's just me. What I do is see an idea from every different aspect possible. I like to know what's going on, what's not being said or seen, outside forces and this is applied from the micro and day-to-day stuff right to the big macro and universal stuff.
So when I graduated, I started reading everything. History, geography, conspiracy theories, science, biographies, etc. Then my interest diverted and I went into the history of science and all it's different branches.
At the moment I'm really focused on the unknown. What do we have evidence for but we don't know or understand it. So that takes me down the route of pyramids. Harmonic vibration healing. Hypnosis therapy. Ancient sites and architecture. etc. So I still research very widely and pull ideas out from all different places and apply them to whatever idea I feel that suits best. That's the best thing about planning a huge series or lots of different stories because I could read one research book and have content for five stories.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Now you're really going to laugh. I am more comfortable at writing a male's voice and character than I am a female one. Gender is a learnt behaviour. We socialise our children from birth into proper 'girl' or proper 'boy' behaviour. And it's so ingrained into our society that we often don't realise that we're doing it. I hear it all the time, 'oh, he's such a boy' or 'because he's a boy' and that means females can't do the same?
I grew up surrounded by boys. Three across the road, two next door and my own brother. My mother is not a girly-girl either. She often had to save my father from spiders while he took off screaming. Now as an adult and with my own husband, I often laugh at how we swap gender roles. You can always find him baking cupcakes while I'm renovating the house.
So when it comes to writing, I easily jump into the man's head. Woman are complicated. They often are motivated by emotions or justify things through emotions. While men have the ability to disconnect emotionally and get things done. I tend to do that myself and I think that's because of my very-masculine upbringing.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not in Heavy Dirty Soul or Concealed Power. But my upcoming books, yes! And lots of them. In Dawn of the End, it's a ten-book series that kick-starts a huge mega series. There is a lot planned out and then there is a fair amount of grey area that I'm still yet to explore. Essentially, I'm knitting together all of humanity's secrets that I've been researching. I can't give anything away because these secrets are super juicy, however Dawn of the End gives away one of the most intriguing ones.

Do you believe in writer’s block? 

Heck yeah! Writer's block occurs so many different ways. I got it once during a really bad sickness that had me in hospital on and off for months. I couldn't even form a thought in my mind. It was like my mind had terminated. I was devastated. I thought my life was over. The doctor didn't sympathise with me. He didn't understand that my imagination is life and how all of a sudden was I not able to access it. But really I needed time to heal. Once my body healed, my mind went into overdrive and ten years later I'm still trying to catch up.
I tend to slow down on the writing around the times I catch a cold or feel a little sluggish from overdoing life in general, but now I've learnt to take time off, heal properly and by doing so my mind will catch up again.
So for me it's about the body, but for my writing friends it's about their minds. I feel like I don't run out of ideas because I'm constantly feeding my brain fresh content. If I see something that is interesting, I explore it. If a book grabs my attention, I buy it. If I'm fascinated by something, no matter how small, it becomes part of my office decor. Stimuli is key for writers - ideas, visuals, smelly candles, soft clothing, craft books, whatever. I feed my brain like I feed my body food. Then it has enough energy to produce another story.

Quick quiz:
Favourite food: Strawberries
Favourite drink: Coffee... black!
Silliest saying: Not silly, but a constant saying of mine is: Nothing ever happens until it all happens at once.
Best holiday spot: Love the bush when it's beside the water
Favourite song at the moment: Loving Post Malone right now - Blame it on me
With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? Mostly a plotter, but if I have a section that I haven't planned out, I pants it out when I get to it.
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Star Wars, but love them both
Best superpower: Any that has a consequence
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Sell everything I own except what I can fit in a backpack and walk around the planet.

Heavy Dirty Soul and Concealed Power
Genre:  Speculative fiction - heavy on fantasy

Concealed Power:
For centuries, Earth has served as the battleground for a secret war between a reptilian alien species and the clandestine human organization dedicated to eradicating this extraterrestrial threat. But when a single woman becomes the focal point of this brutal conflict, the fate of the planet alters forever...

Life hasn't been easy for Riley Anbar since her grandmother's death. Between struggling to run the family business, dealing with troubling psychic visions, and puzzling over unanswered questions about the parents she never knew, Riley is doing her best just to get by. After a pair of chance encounters with two mysterious men, Riley finds herself thrust into danger as both human and alien forces converge on her once-ordinary life.

But in this war, there is no clear boundary between good and evil. Both factions are determined to use Riley for their own ends, and they're willing to endanger everyone around her to achieve their goals. Caught between the two men who have captured her heart and the secrets of her own past, what choice will Riley make when she discovers neither side is in the right?

Publish date: April 2019
Publisher: A. A. Warne

Heavy Dirty Soul:
A love that transcends Death. A curse that defies Time.
Bold, independent Ivy is a witch. In a time of rampant hysteria against witchcraft, Ivy is an easy target.
After she wins the heart of Thomas, the town's most eligible bachelor, Ivy's rivals burn her at the stake.
Her death unleashes a powerful curse, forcing Ivy and Thomas to relive their doomed romance throughout the ages.
But this is no love story...

Publish date: May 2019
Publisher: A. A. Warne

Find more about A.A. Warne at her sites and links below



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