What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Annette Hart. I was born in Ewell which is not too far from where I live now in Fetcham, Surrey.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I have always wanted to be a writer but I also wanted to teach and I have been very lucky to do both.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
I think I first considered myself a “writer” when I finished my first attempts at a full, book-length story and considered sending it off to publishers.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
It took several years of writing, then submitting work, to get published. The first book I got published was part of a series and I felt I had to draft the 3 stories I had in my head before submitting the first – just in case it got nowhere and I gave up on the stories!
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I am a primary school teacher. At the moment I do supply work as well as writing but that may change as my youngest children get older and more independent.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book is called “Love and Restitution”; book three in a fantasy series finishing the adventures of Bryony and friends in their rebellion against the unlawful King.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
My publisher is Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It can take me a year to write and rewrite a book – and another year in the official editing stage. But I will have more than one story on the go. I like to leave a story for a few months and come back to it with fresher eyes before redrafting.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I really enjoyed going back to one of my first stories and rewriting it for kindle (called “The Keystone). It’s simpler as it is for a slightly younger reader. Strangely, I found redrafting the follow up to it tougher, I don’t know why, and haven’t finished it yet.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Hopefully a mixture: I have written more fantasy books for older children/teens but I have also written a fantasy for adults. I am also currently writing a historical romance set in WWII. I am not sure yet if it will be part of a series or stand alone – I will see where the story and characters take me!
What genre would you place your books into?
At the moment, most of my books are fantasy, although I tend to make it historically based alternative world rather than magical.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I suppose I chose fantasy because I have always enjoyed reading fantasy and have always loved myths and legends.
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
I think that is a very tough question! I do particularly like a book that I haven’t yet published; it follows on from the 3 I have published in my Athlandia series and I explore some different characters and different places, covering some tough events. In “Blood and Allegiance”, the first, I stuck more with my lead character but as the series has progressed I have enjoyed developing the other characters more. I have also tried to make them ‘human’ and not perfect.
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
I would definitely be Keely from “The Keystone” because she eventually gets the chance to go to Camelot and she meets knights from the Round Table!
Where do you get your book plot ideas from? What/Who is your inspiration?
I have always been a daydreamer so I have always found initial ideas easy, places to start; it’s persisting with and developing that idea which can be tougher! I have always loved myths and legends: I wanted to create worlds like Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and I wanted to draw them like Pauline Baynes.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I do ask members of my family to read my books at various different stages to get feedback on what needs changing or developing. Also, a fresh pair of eyes is always good during proof reading to pick up the little mistakes.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
I am a member of Goodreads.com and enjoy doing giveaways through them. My books can end up anywhere in the world!
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
No, I would not ask them to change their review as it is their opinion. As a writer, you have to accept that not everybody is going to like your books, just as a reader I don’t enjoy every book I pick up. It would be a dull world if we all liked the same things! However, it does hurt if someone doesn’t like your book as you have put so much of yourself into it. Sometimes I have had to bite my tongue when someone has misunderstood an element of a story or put forward a view I strongly disagree with. I remind myself of the fans who keenly anticipate the next book I write!
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I write my story first then choose a title. I struggled with the title for my first published book “Blood and Allegiance” and I employed my children to help as my first ideas were rather ‘namby-pamby’. However, I also chose it before “Twilight” and vampires became big or I might have chosen differently! The next 2 books in the Athlandia series, “Escape and Betrayal” and “Love and Restitution”, were easier as they followed the style I had set in book 1.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
I have tended to give the characters and names in my Athlandia series an Anglo-Saxon feel. When that changes it usually means the character comes from another country. I usually have ideas for some characters names before I start but others develop as I go along (especially as I might add characters). The king I deliberately named ‘Unwin’ as it means ‘the enemy’.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I usually have a good idea of my main characters’ traits before I start but sometimes they might grow/change/develop along with the story.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I try to sketch out the basic plan for the book before I start writing but I do like to give room for it to change and grow. I find that writing often sparks new ideas and new characters can add layers or twists to the plot.
How do you market/promote your books?
As I am with a smaller publisher I have to do a lot myself which means getting involved as much as possible online (having a webpage, blogs, interactive reader sites, review sites, booksellers). I am learning all the time of new ways to get myself and my books ‘known’. It is nice, though, when the chance comes up to do a book signing in a bookshop or to talk to children in schools, allowing me to meet my readers face-to-face.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
I like going for a long walk – that usually gets my mind roaming free and sparks new ideas.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
Writing is my way of relaxing but I do enjoy drawing too and, as requested by some of my readers, I have begun to include a few illustrations in my books.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
Finding Susan Cooper’s “The Dark is Rising” series came at an important time in my life and influenced both my reading and my desire to write. I then followed that series with C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. I know my writing could be described as old-fashioned, perhaps because of my influences, and sometimes I wish I could write more ‘cleanly’ or sparsely , sticking to the action and dialogue as a lot of modern writers do.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I have more than one favourite author as I like to read different kinds of books according to my mood: J.R.R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christie. I have read “The Lord of the Rings”, “Emma” and “Rebbeca” more than once.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I am reading Kate Mosse’s “The Winter Ghosts”; I am enjoying it but I am tempted to take a couple of books my daughter has just read on holiday, “Across the Universe” and “A Million Suns” by Beth Revis. She read them very quickly which is a good sign!
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
My children are certainly encouraged to read and write imaginatively at their school. They had a week long sponsored read last year that certainly encouraged my son and they have regular writing competitions.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I had trouble initially in both reading and writing at school and had to have extra lessons but once I got started I didn’t stop. Following those extra lessons my mum gave me her old copies of “The Famous Five”; I was hooked and away!
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
I have already mentioned both C.S. Lewis and Susan Cooper as childhood favourites but I also loved Leon Garfield, Alan Garner and Diana Wynne Jones.
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
I’m always buying books for my teenage daughter and occasionally read them myself. I love Joss Stirling’s series that has started with “Finding Sky” and “Stealing Phoenix”.
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I would have liked to change my title for “Blood and Allegiance” purely because of the popularity in vampires that came after I published it. I chose ‘blood’ for family. I am also really pleased with the cover of my book “Love and Restitution” and wish I had the option for a similar style for the first 2 books in the series. I expect there are lots of bits I would like to change and add to the actual stories. I expect that’s true of all authors; you could potter on a book for ever!
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Keep going, keep persevering, as you never know when you will find the magic formula for the perfect story. And just because it is not a bestseller does not mean it isn’t a good book!
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
My first stories are for children and teens so I have wondered if I should have a pen name for any adult books I write with more adult content.
Where can readers follow you?
My Facebook page:
Goodreads author name: Annette V Hart (www.goodreads.com/author/show/3087229.Annette_V_Hart)
Tumblr blog name: Athlandia
My book details (easily available from Amazon and Smashwords):
“Blood and Allegiance” (Athlandia #1) ISBN 9781903491799
“Escape and Betrayal” (Athlandia #2) ISBN 9781903491973
“Love and Restitution” (Athlandia #3) ISBN 9781907552267
“The Keystone” B007C191RI