Anomaly (a novel of resilience and self acceptance) 


I'd like to welcome Thea Atkinson on my blog today. Thea's been doing a huge blog streak this month so it's nice to see she's finally put some clothes on!.

About Thea

The first thing you should know about me is I'm a Canadian--and one from the Maritimes where the water means almost everything to the people who live here. It shows up in my fiction a lot.
I have a dog. I wish I had three or four. I love dogs.

Some of my earliest memories are my fondest: like when my older brother put snakes in my rubber boots and I felt them slithering up my ankle when I put one on to go outside to play. Or when my younger brother pilfered every bit of babysitting money I'd hidden until I discovered the only safe hiding place for money was in the pages of a book. Or when my baby brother somehow got into my Dad's wine and threw up in the bathtub. Ah. The life of a sister. Those boys have given me some memorable images to take with me into old age.

Can I help it then, if bits and pieces of these also characters show up in my fiction in some way or other?

I've been fortunate enough to write for money, but I prefer writing for passion. I've published throughout the US, the UK, and my home country of Canada in various lit journals, but I'm a novelist at heart.

Wow! Glad I didn't have a brother, mind you, a sister can be pretty bad, too! Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
 
First off, I just want to say thanks to you Sibel for letting me spout my boring info at you. It’s so generous of you to offer me space. Now. Onward.
 
Oh my, my first book was so long ago. I was in grade 11 in high school and I used to write little ditties. My friends really seemed to like them and they asked me to write something more ongoing. Because my friends were mostly teenage girls, you can imagine that what they wanted was something akin to romance. So I made my first attempt at novel writing the year I turned 16 and it was a teen romance full of angst and never-ending first love. I shudder when I think about it, but I do remember that I had a friend's mother type it up for me so that I could submit it to a teen romance publisher. I still have the copy up in my attic.
 
I know what you mean. My first attempt at a novel was pants! What is your latest novel?
 
My latest novel, the one I'm working on right now, is the first major novel in the series that I plan to write. The most recent novel that I've published, is actually a novella: the prequel to the series. That one is called Formed Of Clay and is about betrayal and redemption in ancient Egypt. In fact, when I think about it, all of my novels have the theme of redemption. Must come from my Pentecostal upbringing.
 
Sounds interesting! What inspired you to write the book?
 
Would it be terrible to say that what inspired me was the Twilight series? I read that this summer because a friend of mine really enjoyed it, and for me it was more of a study on phenomenon writing. I wanted to see what drove the masses to purchase and read it. I learned a lot of things from reading it, the most important of which was that I thought I might be able to accomplish an entire series myself. I'd never really thought about writing more than one book with the same characters before, and when I started to think about it and my penchant for writing about reincarnation, I thought maybe I could do something different and yet the same. We'll see if I'm capable over the next year or so.
 
I'm all for a series. I love bringing my characters back for new situations! What’s your favourite part of writing a novel?
 
It's always the discovery. I know many writers who outline every detail, but I just outline the major things that I want to get to, and sometimes I never get there. Sometimes the course of discovery takes me into different places based on the exertions of character. I come to really enjoy keeping company with some of my characters. They become like family. It's like getting to know someone who will become a best friend. That sense of discovery.

I can totally relate to that. If I try and detail too much plot in advance I get a major stress-head thing going on and my mind goes blank! It's much more fun to see what happens when you start writing. Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?

Doubt. In fact, when I first spoke to my agent on the phone, excited as I was, I laid awake all night afterwards thinking: oh my God, what if my book sells and people read it. What if they really hate it? I can tell you that that stopped me cold. I didn't write for almost 2 years. Two years is a very long time for someone who has made it a nearly daily practice from the time they were 15.
 
Yep, doubt should be banned! And now you've published 5 books so far - go girl!  Where do you get your ideas from?

To be honest, sometimes the ideas come from a word or a phrase that someone says. Sometimes it comes from just a simple word that I like the sound of. The phrases become titles and from the titles come characters and from the characters come the story of their lives that is the most pressing at the moment. I'm very drawn to character driven fiction and so always it must have that element in it.
 
Bring it on - I'm a big fan of character driven novels. How long does it take to complete a novel?
 
Typically takes me a year to write a novel. When I write, I usually write about 2000 words a day and for a couple of years I wrote five days a week. But I worked on other projects besides the novel of the moment. I write lots of short stories and flash fiction. I like to stretch a novel out over enough time that I can actually get to know the characters. Then it usually takes at least another six months to edit.
 
Did you query agents or traditional publishers before self-publishing?
 
I'm sure everyone has. In fact, I have an agent. We did spend some time submitting to traditional publishers. While the reaction and response was very encouraging, my writing is really very mid-list: it won't appeal to the mass population of readers and so not a lot of publishers will jump on that. CUE: the reason for reading the twilight series last summer.
 
Self-publishing is an excellent avenue for niche novels. How did you handle the rejection letters?

I think I have gained a pretty thick skin over my years of writing. I belong to a lot of critique groups and I've spent a lot of time reading and reviewing other writing and having my own read and reviewed. Not everyone is kind. Not every response from a publisher is kind. Luckily, I've never received a nasty rejection, just indifferent ones. That makes it a lot easier, I suppose. Besides, when the encouraging rejections began to come in I started to actually believe that my writing didn't suck. I learned a lot from those rejections. Without rejection, how can a writer know what doesn’t work?
 
Very true! I'm a firm believer in the gift of rejection to make us grow. What’s your writing process?
 
I have a lot of processes, but the one that really works the best for me is to think about the themes that I'm exploring and find a lot of music that I think fits into the theme. I create a soundtrack for long work and I listen to it while I freefall write my scenes. Truly, that works best for me. Then I go back when I'm finished and take out all the stuff that doesn't fit in and add stuff that does. Then I try to sweep it clean of grammar and spelling issues.
 
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
 
It's the same writing advice I'd give to anyone: it's always nice to pay forward, but never forget to pay it back. Write everyday. Read lots and lots even in genres that you don't enjoy because every genre has something to teach. I think every writer has something to teach. We just have to be open to listen.
 
I love your pay back statement. I soooooo agree we all need to help each other out. We're all in this crazy thing called writing together. What's next in the pipeline? 
 
I've started working on the opening novel of the series. I have about 5000 words written and what I can say at this point is that it will have reincarnation themes. It started out with the plan of being young adult, but often my stuff is too dark to be considered for the genre so we'll see if I can manage to curb my enthusiasm for shadow.
 
Do you think your books would translate well to the big screen? If so who would you like to see play your lead characters ? 
 
I've never really thought about it. Well, to be honest, I did think about it once for the red adept reviews website. I had to think about who would make great characters for my novel Anomaly. This is what I came up with:
 
J's character is a pretty boy with a warped sense of humor and self-destructive streak a mile wide. I'd have to say my dream actor would be Jonathan Rhys Meyers. I think he has that incredibly forthright look with gorgeous lips that J needs. He's so clean cut, I think he could pull off an eclectic gender-bending bloke in his late 20s. In the Tudors, he was able to show some vulnerability, which I think, is crucial.

Molly is a tough one. She needs to be butchy but sexy with charisma that would have anyone eating out of her hand. Molly is edgy in looks and is sizzling with energy but she has a tender hearted side that needs to come through. If Helena Bonham Carter was younger, I'd nominate her, but I'd have to say Christina Ricci would be the perfect fit. She was amazing in Black Snake Moan because she showed electricity and vulnerability. Just what Molly is all about.
 
Tell me three random things about yourself.

I have two webbed toes on each foot
I used to love to shoot skeet
I can, have, and will again eat an entire pumpkin pie
 
 
A whole one? You little minx! Who are your writing influences?

Alice Munro, Stephen King, even Anne Rice. I read tons and they all influence me in some way.

 
Which five people would you invite for dinner?
 
Johnny Depp: no brainer as to why
Jesus: I have a few questions to ask him
Judas: I have a few more for him.
My brother Chris because he’s the life of any party and a great con and I’d love to see him work it on Jesus.
Dave Matthews because I think his lyrics are to die for
 
Could be an interesting meal! Describe your latest novel in fifteen words or fewer.

A story of betrayal and redemption in ancient Egypt.
 
What are you reading at the moment?
 
I'm reading a bunch, most notably:
Impeding Justice by Melanie Comley
Four Years From Home by Larry Enright
Trevor's song by Susan Gottfried
 
Ooh, I've read Impeding Justice - a fab thriller! What three things would you add to your bucket list of things to do?
 
Gracious. This is a hard one. I would love to go to Petra and touch the stones.
 
Have you ever used a friend or foe as a character?
 
No one is safe.

Better not get on the wrong side of you, then! 

 
About Anomaly

J wants you to understand how like you he is. He worries about money, work, family: all very normal. Well, there is the tiny, very tiny, issue of what gender he is, but that’s no big deal. Not really. Not when you remember how much is out there in the world to deal with. 

A little thing like gender relapse is so little to contend with after all.

If only that was all.

When a bunch of thugs turn J's pleasurable pub night into a trip to the Emergency room, they also set in motion a series of events that threaten J's sobriety and well-being. It is his penchant for self-destruction and self-medication, that propel J into the stormy waters of good Samaritanism and onto a journey of self-discovery that pits him against his friends, his family, and ultimately himself.

Anomaly is a psychological tale of hope that explores the duality in all of us. See how one week can change a person for a lifetime.
 
Anomaly can be purchased from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Kobo, B&N, Diesel. For more details about Thea and her books, check out her website. 

Thanks for your time, Thea! 


Happy reading!

Sibel XX