AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: ROSE ANDERSON
Busy author Rose Anderson has stopped by to chat with us about her latest books…
Tell us a little about The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo, what inspired you to write it?
On an unrelated artist tour with my husband one day, I stumbled across an author selling a campy book regarding the local urban legend of wolfman sightings in Wisconsin. Normally, I wouldn’t have given it my attention, but the author was nice and the locations mentioned in her book weren’t far from my home. I read the details to hubby as he drove us around the tour. Over the decades, eyewitnesses claimed they’d seen a wolf walking like a man, and some of these people weren’t the sort you’d doubt. What’s more, these sightings weren’t just modern urban legends; they went back to pre-settlement times. That was my inspiration. Historical tidbits will grab my attention every time.
There was one account in particular that captured my imagination as a writer. It occurred more than 70 years ago at a convent with ancient Native American burial mounds on the premises. I knew that Wisconsin was once filled with burial and effigy mounds so I filed that juicy tidbit away. A night watchman saw a wolfman kneeling atop a mound there. Not sitting like a wolf or dog would sit, but kneeling like a man. Naturally believing his own eyes, the watchman came home rattled. Here’s the strange part – not only did he share the frightening experience with his family, he swore them to secrecy fearing people would think he’d been drinking on the job and he’d get fired if word got out. The man’s son came forward with the information after his father passed away. I was charmed by the whole thing. A little research on my part uncovered Native American lore about wolf men guarding the graves of warriors. Before long I’d gathered a good deal of info. The pieces fell into place and I crafted a story with a spin that included ancient as well as modern legends.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Oh I’m definitely a fly by the seat of my pants gal. An interesting idea will pop into my head and before I know it I have a character or two and they’ll start talking to themselves and each other. When they walk forward in their world, for one reason or another conflict comes in from the sides and they must react to it. The strange thing here is, I really don’t know how the story will end until they end it. They take over my brain until they’re done with me. I’ve heard other authors refer to this state of mind as a form of possession.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
You know, I think that changes with each book. They all sort of become my favorites in turn. The one character who has surprisingly grown on me is Nicolas Halstead from Loving Leonardo. I say surprising because I’m still a relatively new author and I wrote that story as a test. What I mean by that is in regard to the trend. One day vampire stories are flying off the shelves, the next day no one is touching them. As mentioned above, I originally got into romance to learn the publishing business. As part of my education, I wanted to test the aforementioned trend. What began as a social commentary turned into a gay love story, and that turned into a Victorian polyamory.
Nicolas by far possesses the most depth of any character to date. He’s an art historian who sees the world through the artworks he loves. Because all art is a manifestation of emotion, Nicolas wears his depth, compassion, sensitivity, and passion upon his sleeve. He’s also witty and intelligent and terribly romantic. I love seeing the world through his eyes. I find him an utterly fascinating character. See what I mean about possession?
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
That would have to be Ash (a.k.a. Ashkewheteasu) from The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo. He’s a 3000 year old Native American shaman coming into a modern world. Well, there are modern things we all take for granted because they’re just part of our lives…things like toilets, TV, electricity, and cars. I had to ease him into the world without flooding the story with extraneous detail the reader might get lost in. Looking for ways to creatively modernize him, I gave him a rudimentary lesson in reading from Sesame Street on the TV. I’m very pleased with how he turned out. The challenge I faced assimilating him really stretched my writing ability and he and I both grew from it.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
My life makes cameo appearances in one form or another in all my books. It’s easy to draw from the familiar. If readers knew me as my friends do, they’d recognize my furnishings or my car, my pets, and even things about themselves. As for my characters, they’re all composites of me. They have my values, my fears, my wit etc. Yes, even my bad guys are me. If you think about it they’d have to be. How else could I write them into being? Sometimes I even surprise myself. More than once I’ve given myself goosebumps.
The oddest thing I’ve done concerns that Native American shaman of mine. To get a feel for Ash’s calling, I actually smoked a pipe of reed canary grass. This common grass is the source of a chemical called DMT. It’s known as the Spirit Molecule. Indigenous Amazonian native cultures consume DMT as the primary psychoactive component in ayahuasca, a shamanistic brew used for divinatory and healing purposes. Reed canary grass is less potent than the full ayahuasca and I have asthma so going full bore was out of the question anyway. My shaman-esque experience lasted only five minutes, but for four of those minutes I swear my brain left my skull and sat on my shoulder like a parrot. Once was enough. I learned all I needed to know!
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Stopping in the middle of a scene to see to the mundane has to be the hardest part of writing anything. I mean really, who needs dinner? I’m a perfect candidate for the secluded writer’s cabin in the woods, because when I write, I fall into stream of consciousness mode. Definition: Stream of consciousness is the continuos flow of sense-perceptions, thoughts, feelings and memories in the human mind or a literary method of representing a blending of mental processes in fictional characters, usually in an unpunctuated or disjointed form of interior monologue.
Yep, that’s me.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I’m a Reiki master.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I don’t know if you could call this a guilty pleasure or not, but I do enjoy it a lot and look for every opportunity to do it. I’m a world drummer and make percussion-generated music with my husband and friends. Not to brag, well, maybe a little, we’re good enough to go professional. It’s amazing really. We all stop at the same time without any noticeable slowdown, that’s how in sync we are. Hours will pass in minutes.
What TV Show are you addicted to?
I don’t really watch TV, but I wouldn’t pass up The Big Bang Theory if it was on. I have several seasons on DVD. I find that show absolutely hysterical. It appeals to my inner and outer nerd.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Coffee. Since I work off a laptop now, the whole house is my office. Most days I work at the kitchen table with the coffee pot a few feet away. Last year for Christmas, my son gave me a back massaging office chair…for the kitchen! It’s a little uh…out of place… but I can’t deny the love behind the gift. I get up, make coffee, drink coffee, walk dogs, feed dogs, play with dogs (if I don’t then I’m hounded with squeaky toys until I do). Then I see to the details of being an author. If the Muse is on my side that day, I might get several chapters completed. I’ve recently added a stint on the treadmill to my daily repertoire because sitting all day is turning my muscle to mush and a recent study says that is seriously unhealthy for my kidneys and my heart. If I could figure out how to duct tape my laptop and coffee cup holder to my treadmill (with a long straw), and have the dogs in tow behind me, I’d be all set!
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
To combat shyness, I got myself a two semester stint as a DJ back in college so I love just about all kinds of music. (Long story there) My favorite anytime writing music would be Celtic instrumentals and American bluegrass. While working on my Magnum Opus, I delved into the traditional music of Brittany. Great tunes there. Lately I’ve been into ambient music – that benign new-agey instrumental stuff that just tickles your brain in the background. No theme song per se, but when writing The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo, I listened to Native American flute and drum music. I found it quite mood inducing when composing my ancient shaman’s flashback dreams and trances. It added a nice element to the creation process.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I don’t often place known faces on my characters. For me, this muddies the waters a bit. On the other hand, I’m not one to turn down a movie deal either! I’ve thought and thought, and searched google for likely faces, and I can honestly say I can’t find anyone other than British actor Ben Wishaw. He can play my Nicolas Halstead from Loving Leonardo.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
It’s a blur now, but I was home taking down the Christmas tree. I think called my husband at work and shrieked into the phone. The first publisher I wrote for was Siren-Bookstrand. They used to have a counter in real time that showed how many books were selling. I was glued to that for two days! It’s one of the reasons I don’t play slot machines. *grin*
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was 12 and the book was Jane Eyre. I still love Edward Rochester. When the BBC recently did a PBS series, I was so happy. It followed the book exactly and was all I’d imagined way back when.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Now that JK Rowling doesn’t offer more to the Harry Potter story, I’d have to say hands down it would be Diana Gabaldon. To me, her Jamie in Outlander et al is the hero that all others are compared with. She’s written him with such depth, and with full facets of humanity, that he’s an unforgettable hero. Then again, the fan sites dedicated to Diana Gabaldon’s characters say I’m not alone in that assessment. I’ve written a family of men with that kind of depth in my Magnum Opus. One day I hope this family will move readers the same way Jamie Frasier does.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
No. I left teaching, and then historic preservation, to write full time.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all-time favorite?
I have my favorites that I could watch again and again. Just to pick one off the top of my head that never gets old, I’ll lose myself in Harry Potter’s world a few times a year.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
Right now I’m getting ready to launch book 2 in my Victorian polyamorous love story Loving Leonardo – The Quest. It should be out early April. I’m also working on a magical story set in the Isle of Skye, and recently came up with a concept for another. I may set the first of these aside to focus on the second.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
It’s so hard to choose. I’ve met several amazing authors on this journey of mine and I’d be honored to conspire with them all. Today, I think I’ll imagine co-authoring with Diana Gabaldon. I love time-travels. It’s fascinating to think of going back in time being a woman or man of this century. That they’d have to adapt to that foreign environment by using their skill set is relatable in a weird anachronistic sort of way. (Diana if you’re reading, have your people call my people. Let’s do lunch!)
How do you pick your characters names?
In Loving Leonardo, I picked Nicolas and Ellie because I conceived the pair as solving mysteries a la Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles. Ellie’s full name is Elenora. I try to pick names that hint at personalities, but mostly I choose names that lend themselves to levels of intimacy. For example, in The Witchy Wolf and the Wendigo I have Dr. Olivia Rosalini. To her friends she goes by Liv and Livie. To her family, she’s Livie. Depending on who she’s interacting with, I can add depth to the interaction by using the name of familiarity commonly used by that family member or friend.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Love in very short order if not at first sight was my personal experience with love, so all my stories start with attraction that blossoms.
Where can readers find you?
I’m just about everywhere these days. If readers would like to keep up on the happenings and new releases, they can subscribe to my main blog.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Ganache, balanced with a side of whipped cream.