21 January 2012


 At times when I’m writing a manuscript, I find there is something I want to change or omit altogether.  It might be a mere paragraph or it could be a page or more.  Whatever it is, I don’t discard it.  Instead, I cut and paste it into the back of the manuscript I’m writing.  I also add a heading so it’s clear what it’s about.  Invariably, I find myself going back to it at some point and using it, or part of it, thankful that it's been saved.

What are your methods?

14 January 2012


Today we have with us Anna Mullins, author of Confessions of a Crazy Fox.  A memoir.  Good morning Anna! Welcome to The Perfect Plot!

Anna, tell us about Confessions of a Crazy Fox.

ANNA: Texas in the 30’s, 40’s, 50's, to the present!
"Confessions of a Crazy Fox" is the culmination of almost a decade of trying to write my strange life story as honestly as I can remember. It took some extremely stressful events to make me finally realize I didn't care anymore what anyone thinks about the way I think. It happened...and it was sometimes just outright bizarre...so that's the way I wrote it.
I really enjoyed reading your book and was amazed at the amount of detail you remember about your life.  How did you go about putting it all together?

ANNA:  I was at a very low point in my life after my Mother’s death when I decided to write about it. I wasn’t certain where to start; I just set down and let it flow. I didn’t plan it. My detailed memory has haunted me for as long as I can remember. Once I started writing, I had over 600 pages in a month. At that point I hadn’t considered publishing it. I made that decision almost a decade later. I did spend a few months editing it to a reasonable 327 pages before I submitted it.

I think a memoir is very special because it’s the personal experiences of the writer and much of what you read of the past, in such a book, you could never find in any history book.  The lives of your grandparents fleeing religious persecution in Europe to settle in America, is a fine example.  I think capturing that in your book is a wonderful testament to them.  What do you think?

ANNA: My grandparents had a profound effect on my childhood as I noted in the story, they were wonderful and loving, and though they never had very much in the way of material things, they had an abundance of love, faith, and appreciation for the blessings they felt God had granted them. My parents and grandparents were all interesting story tellers and I had long wanted to document some of the interesting facts about their lives. 

Why did you decide to write your memoir?

ANNA: I was compelled to write it to pull myself out of the deep depression I fell into after Mom’s death and 9/11 happened in close proximity. Some of the strange things that had happened in my childhood came back to haunt me at that time and writing about it seemed a good way of purging it all out.
Once you decided to share your life story, what was the most challenging aspect of the memoir writing process?

ANNA: I didn’t start writing it intending to share my darkest secrets, at the time I thought no one would ever read it but me, so I never felt challenged. Not until many years later when I felt publishing my story was the only way the truth about what had bothered me so much would ever be known.
I imagine there was a lot of research that went into your book.  How long did it take you to write?

ANNA: There was no research at all done for the book, it all came flowing from memory very quickly once I started writing it. When the final stressful event happened almost a decade later that provoked me to try and publish, I knew 600 pages would never fly with a publisher so I went through it and took out all the memories I didn’t feel were pertinent.
Do you have any advice for others who might wish to write a memoir?

ANNA: Don’t write and publish it when you are angry! I suppose my problem became, I couldn’t get over the fury until I publicly confessed all my sins and those of others who had distressed me so.

Do you have plans for another book?  If so, will it be non-fiction or fiction?

ANNA: I would someday love to write the sequel to my memoir to tie up loose ends but not sure they can ever be. I wrote a historical novel many years ago my young daughter really enjoyed and I may try writing that one again at some point.

Confessions of a Crazy Fox is traditionally published.  Would you consider self publishing in the future?

ANNA: I’m not sure I would attempt to self publish though I admire those confident enough to do so. I never would have self published my memoir due to the very personal content. I felt I needed a professional to give me advice on whether it should be printed. The first publisher who read it offered me a contract. I signed it but I’m still wondering.
How did you come up with the title?

ANNA: It went through a number of title changes from beginning to end and I didn’t decide for certain until it was being edited by the publisher. It is a true confession and I explain the “crazy fox” reference in the book.
And now for something about yourself.  What do you enjoy reading, and who are your favorite author(s)?

ANNA: I was an avid fiction reader in my youth and have always loved historical novels, especially some of the classics, Gone With The Wind, Dr. Zhivago, War And Peace. Most of what I read today is shorter non-fiction. I can’t honestly say who my favorite author is any more. Tolstoy and Nathaniel Hawthorn were at one time…so was Jackie Collins.
When you’re not writing what do you enjoy doing?

ANNA: I have been an artist of some sort all my life. I took piano lessons for 11 years and love all sorts of music. I play the harmonica sometimes. I have sculpted and painted in a variety of mediums as well as spent several years on detailed ceramic art. I love to cook and still sew some. Whenever I feel a creative urge, I can usually find something around to satisfy it.
I seem to write wherever I happen to be - study, coffee shop, airport lounge.  Where do you prefer to do your writing?

ANNA: I only write on my home computer these days. I still wonder sometimes if I really am a real writer. I’ll usually take along something to read if I know I’m going to have the time.
And finally, you mentioned in your book that you have previously written two books of fiction.  When you write fiction, where do your ideas come from?

ANNA: The first novel was a contemporary twisted political inspired story that I never did finish because I couldn’t think up a realistic ending. The historical 19th century Civil War era romance just seemed to flow from a dark recess in my mind that  opened up once I put my fingers on the typewriter. The fact that my teen age daughter was eagerly waiting every afternoon to see what I typed the night before may have influenced it but I had no problem with that happy ending…after about 400 pages.
Many thanks for stopping by to be interviewed Anna.  Is there anything you’d like to add?

ANNA: Thank you very much Jill for giving me a chance to explain. Confessions Of A Crazy Fox is not a typical memoir with a happy ending. I have a feeling it leaves some readers with their mouths wide open scratching their heads in wonder saying, “Huh!” I have been accused of being honest to a fault and still wonder if I didn’t take it to the extreme with the book.

Do you have any questions you’d like to ask Anna about her book, Confessions of a Crazy Fox?  If so, leave a comment or connect with Anna on line.

10 January 2012


 I’m often asked where I get my story ideas.  To tell you the truth, they can come from anywhere and at the most unexpected times.  It pays to carry a notebook and pen with you.  Needless to say, I didn’t have one when the idea for The Fourth String popped into my head because I was listening to a symphony at the Sydney Opera House.  An odd time and place to be thinking about murder but there you are, I’m probably a bit odd and my imagination is persistent.  I haven’t decided who will be murdered, but the fourth string of a cello is the murder weapon.

You can build a story from a thought, an experience, a fleeting event, in fact anything at all.  Once the spark is there your imagination can run rampant.  You are on your way.  And don’t be surprised if that initial idea gets buried or changed as your story takes shape.  This happened to me when I wrote The Celtic Dagger.  My idea came from a news item I heard one day about a scientist whose car was found on a bridge.  The keys were still in the car, but the scientist wasn’t to be found.  (I’ve often wondered what happened to that poor man.)  With that one news item I started writing, but the scientist became an archaeologist and the bridge turned into stolen artefacts.

So, what does this tell you?  Don’t dismiss anything you see or hear because it might be the spark for your masterpiece!

Where do your story ideas come from?