Friday, 15 August 2014

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT - Ann Christy


If you are a regular on my blog you will know that I am a huge fan of this lady, Ann Christy first came to my attention with her amazing Silo 49 series, she has also contributed to the Synchronic and Robot Chronicles anthology plus WOOL Gathering and she has just released her amazing new novel Strikers.

I thought it was about time we get got to know her a bit better!  She very graciously agreed to answer some of my nosey questions so without further ado *drum roll* Ladies and Gentleman I give you Ann Christy!.....


Hello Ann, first of all can you tell us a little about yourself?


Hey Heather! Glad to be here! 


About me? Hmm...well, I come from a land far, far away. Okay, not really. I’ve just always wanted to say that, like I was in a movie with glowing eyes or something. In the real world, I’m a career Naval officer. I’m also a scientist. Why this? Because it was as close as I could get in the real world to being Mr. Spock. No joke...huge Star Trek fan from birth. 

Otherwise, I’m actually pretty boring. I love dogs...particularly beagles. I’ve adopted mine via rescues and I have a weakness for the old, disabled or harmed ones that aren’t likely to be adopted otherwise. No, I’m not saintly, I just love them and know they need someone who will foot the bill to bring them to health again. Best dogs ever...ever. ::sigh and kiss doggie forehead::

I’m in DC for my tour this time, so I’m commuting incredible distances and not home as much as I like, but when I finish this tour in a few months, I’ll go back to doing the other stuff I love. Mostly, that is gardening, putzing about outdoors and engaging in seaside activities that mostly involve large umbrellas, sunscreen and a kindle filled with books. I garden for food, herbs for cooking and some flowers.

I suppose it would be more interesting to say I’m a jet-setting glamor girl, alas..

So, I live in a house by the sea with my family, two dogs and a cat. All of them have more say in the household than I do. I just live there and am eternally amused and delighted by it all.



I am as you know totally in love with anything silo related, how did you come across Hugh's work and why did you want to expand on this universe?


I was an “early adopter” of the Hugh genius. I discovered him accidentally while browsing around the Kindle store one day and just loved the way he wrote. I gobbled up what he had out, which wasn’t too much then, but when WOOL hit the scene in a big way I was already hooked on it. I suppose that somewhere between waiting for either book 2 or 3 of the original series, I had a thought. 


Basically, I asked myself what might have happened if someone critical would have been a better person, or not as consumed with power. You know, nice. An actual human. That thought just wouldn’t leave me and the seeds for the Silo 49 series were born from that. By the time I wrote Hugh and he, very graciously, said it was okay for me to publish it, I had the whole series in my head. I just really wanted to go to another silo and see how one good person could change everything.



A question I get asked a lot when I mention your books is will you be writing anymore Silo 49 books?


Oh howdyadoozie, I get asked that one a lot as well. I do have one more in my head, fully fleshed, that I haven’t written. It’s called Silo 49: Roughneck and it takes place at the start of the silos and even a little before. It lays a lot of the groundwork for why Silo 49 turned out the way it did. I love these characters and I probably should just sit down and write it out.


Also, it answers the common question as to how the silos have access to so much oil when that part of Georgia isn’t exactly covered in oil wells and does it plausibly! Bonus! 

Do you think I should write it? Do people still want more Silo 49? Maybe this fall?


Can you tell us a little about your latest release Strikers?


Strikers was so much fun to write! I love world building and this required a *lot* of world building. It’s a young adult novel...very clean...but seems to be being read by adults for the most part. I did write it so that it would cross over for adult readers and am glad that it worked.
The short version is that Strikers takes place in a dystopian future long after the fall of the United States. It’s not a horrific dystopia, but it’s more realistic because of that. When things are monstrous, we are less likely to put up with them. But a dystopia which is insidious and can be made to sound reasonable...well, humans have been putting up with those forever.

Karas, our main character, is a teenager on the lower end of the social spectrum and unfortunate events put in the position of having to go Striker, which is the term used for anyone who tries to escape Texas. She’s already got one Strike, which is a tattoo on the neck for a “crime”. Five strikes gets you an execution so most Strikers are those coming perilously close to getting a fifth strike.

The adventure that ensues with Karas and her group of fellow Strikers is a lot of fun and she does a lot of growing up in the process. It’s a full novel--no cliff-hangers because I hate those--but the world is so big that there’s room to grow. A second and third book are planned, but again, each of these are stand-alone novels so no one is left hanging in any of them. I love this world, these characters and this story and am super excited about it. I just hope that people like reading it!


How do you manage to find time to write, are you strict with yourself and write to a schedule or do you just wing it?

I’m strict and loose, if that makes sense. Since I work full time and commute down the coast I have to allow that there are times when I can’t write, but when I decide there are slots of time for writing, I stick to my guns. I do a lot of my plotting while doing other things, also. The elliptical is my friend in that regard and it’s shocking how much of a story you can get hammered out while going nowhere fast on a machine.


Sci Fi/Dystopia is still absolutely massive, I never tire of reading it, why do you think it is so popular?


I’ve often wondered that. By the time I think I have it figured out, I find another reason for it. I do think that it functions as a sort of inoculation. By reading these things, we get to see exactly what we don’t want for our future.

In the past, before TV and a thousand books with inventive dystopias inside their pages, kids used to spend a lot of time parsing out details of history in classes. They did that far more than we do within the current educational design. There’s simply too much to learn now to spend a year or even two months discussing the social reasons and societal responses in many countries that made the first World War inevitable.

Now, we read dystopian literature. Rather than making a study of Ancient Rome in laborious detail, we read Hunger Games. Katniss is a more relatable character than Spartacus, but the parallels are right there. The moral lessons are still there, but we enjoy reading them more and there is no ambiguity about who is right and who is wrong.

In Strikers, I made a dystopia that had seeds in real life. After you read it, take a listen around you when people talk about habitual criminals and see what you hear. And it all sounds so reasonable, so logical and so much more efficient. Except that we’re human and we’ll make a muddle of it and boom, Strikers world. So, in a way, it works out my questions on the subject and provides an inoculation to readers.


Writing heroes? Who has inspired you?


Totally, Hugh Howey. Boom...drop mic. What a work ethic and what a sunny personality that guy has! If he was any more generous with his spirit and time, he’d be riding a white horse and creating world peace. 


There are lots of writers I admire, am astounded at the talent of or amazed by their creativity, but hero is a definite term for me and the only hero writer I can think of is Hugh. 

Inspiration...wow...I get that everywhere. Margaret Atwood is a particular favorite of mine. George R. R. Martin makes me lose touch with my surroundings and gain weight when I read him (have you ever really looked at his descriptions of food?). I also like Robert J. Sawyer a bunch and a half.



Can you tell us a little about what you have planned for the future?


Strikers two is just starting, so there’s that. I also have yet another story coming out in an anthology this fall. This time in Michael Bunker’s Pennsylvania world. I swore off fan-fiction entirely in favor of my own worlds, but when Michael asked, I had to say yes. It’s one of my favorite short pieces yet. It’s about fifty pages long in paperback, which actually isn’t all that short, but I love it. I can’t wait till it comes out.

The Silo 49 story is still simmering and depending on what people say, I may move that one up in the schedule. I’m getting new covers for the series and putting them out in paperback, so I thought I would wait until then to release the new one, but...well…

There’s more...much more. A series of novellas I’m calling Good News Gone Bad. It takes good news stories in medicine and tech and turns them very bad indeed. More dystopia for you! The first one is titled Young Blood and deals with the recent discovery of GDF11, a chemical in young blood that can turn back the clock in the brains of the old. Oh yeah, you can see where that is going, can’t you?

Lulu 394 is still in the hopper, but I don’t have a date for that release. It’s a goodie with spaceships, cloning and self-replicating machines. Much fun inside those pages! And finally, a super-power story in a new LOOW collection sometime this fall.


How do you cope with negative reviews?


Everyone likes something different. Most negative reviews aren’t really based so much on the book but rather that a person read a book that wasn’t for them. That is particularly true when you have a book on “perma-free”. When a book is free, there is no barrier to buying it. Many people don’t even check to see if they would even like the book. Most Silo 49 readers have read WOOL and that is why they are reading Silo 49. I’ve gotten a few that picked up the book, had no idea what WOOL was and then wrote a bad review because they didn’t understand the point of the story. It is what it is.

But that is why reviews are so crucial, especially to indie authors. Unlike a big publisher, I don’t have a stable of folks to tap for reviews on release day. Readers are my lifeline to being noted and seen by new readers.

There’s a sort of dark humor you hear now and again that says you’re not really a writer until someone says you ruined their life by reading your book. That finally happened to me on the UK Amazon site. I felt really bad. My first bad review was so tough I almost unpublished. But then I realized that this was just the skin I had to callous over if I wanted to do this job and I’m doing a pretty good job of it.
Mostly, I believe I can glean something from reviews, good or bad, and I try to learn from them. Like, I learned that I need to buy waterproof mascara.


Okay daft question time, dinner party guests dead or alive who would you invite and why?!


Pshaw! Queen Elizabeth the First next to Robert Downey, Jr. I’d want popcorn for that. Next to him, my Grandmommy because she’ll take him down if he gets too fresh. Then, me so I can be with my Grandmommy close again. Ridley Scott because I want to know what a person who can see the things in his head he must see is like. George Orwell next to him. Then Hypatia next to Carl Sagan. Next to him Gene Roddenberry is a must. Then my last two would be my sister because she’s a hoot and would have them all in stitches and Hugh Howey, because I totally owe him and would love to see what he writes after attending the party.


Advice for fledgling writers like myself who have just realised NaNoWriMo is only a couple of months away!

Don’t think you have to be perfect the first time. There is no time limit for when you publish what you write. You can adjust and adjust till the cows come home and you still won’t be late. Get the words down in NaNo and then play with the words you wrote for as long as you like.
Get an editor! It’s expensive to do that, so if you really can’t, then get into a writer’s group and try that. But, truthfully, we all need an editor. Writer’s just aren’t objective enough about their own words most of the time. I didn’t know enough about the writing business when I started so I had no editor...not even a beta reader...for my first work. I did it totally blind. Considering that, it turned out really well, but if I had it to do over, I would get an editor.

The cover draws them in, the story keeps them. These are words to keep handy. Be sure to find a good cover and don’t settle for something that doesn’t look good in thumbnail size since that is how most readers will see it. I know that isn’t about writing, but it’s terribly important so it’s worth a mention.

And finally, trust your gut. If you’re writing something and it seems like it’s getting boring for you to write, make a note of it because it will likely be a slow spot that needs work. And if you feel in your gut that the story is good, then keep at it even when it gets hard. Writing is intensely personal, but it is weird because when you’re done, you’re going to show it to the world. It’s exposure of a unique kind. Don’t be afraid when that day comes...just rip off the coat and show everyone what you’ve got hidden under there.

Quick fire Questions!

Last Book Read - It’s Just a Dog by Russ Ryan

Last Song Bought/Downloaded - Oblivion by M83

Last Film - Her

Last TV - True Blood (not loving this last season)

Thank you so much Ann, I don't know about you but her answers where totally brilliant, and yay the possibility of another Silo 49 book is just amazing plus it sounds like she has some good stuff in the pipeline.

If you are interested in connecting with Ann you can find her on Twitter @AnnChristyZ or her webpage http://www.annchristy.com/

Interested in having a closer look at her books, you can read my reviews here or alternatively click the Amazon here for her Amazon page!
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Thank you for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it and will make the time to come and visit your blog, maybe not today but soon as I am always behind!

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