I would like to dedicate this week’s blog to introducing everyone to a fantastic young adult author named Ann Swann. One of the things I love about her work is that it’s something I can share with my nearly eleven year old daughter. So many times we find YA books and movies that say they are in that category, but really kind of “skirt the line.” Ann’s new novel, THE PHANTOM PILOT, is exciting, clean, fun, even scary and when I asked my daughter what she thought about it when she finished, she said one word: “Amazing!” I wholeheartedly agree. Well written with strong characters, I highly recommend it for those who love YA or want to get started on one.
So, without further ado, hailing all the way from far West Texas (I think Texas is far for anyone from any other state, to be honest) I give you Ann Swann…
Elyse: Please tell us a little about your book, about the time period you chose and what makes your novel different than others in your genre?
Ann: The Phantom Pilot is a novella that originated as a short story. I entered the original story (The Escort) in the annual fiction contest hosted by my writer’s group, The Abilene Writer’s Guild, and it won first place. After that, I began to send it here and there to see if it could be published. In the meantime, my Muse decided I wasn’t quite finished with Jase and Stevie, so I wrote a wraparound story which planted the characters firmly in the time period of my youth. Most of the setting is based upon an idealized version of my West Texas hometown. After the story reached novella length, I came across a small mention in the AWG monthly newsletter which said that Cool Well Press was accepting manuscripts. I had met Denise Vitola, the editor, at an AWG workshop so I was intrigued. Since I hadn’t heard from any of the three places where I had submitted the short story, I sent the novella to Denise and she wrote back within a couple of weeks saying she liked it and wanted to publish it. Naturally, I was thrilled, and then two of the other places I’d submitted it to (months earlier) emailed and wanted to publish the short story. Isn’t that always the way? I think the time period of the late 60s, early 70s, is a little different for YA books right now. It’s nostalgic, and a bit historical, you know, set against the back drop of real events. Of course it’s also a ghost story, so there’s that . . .
Elyse: Ahh, a ghost story, that does give the book an intriguing angle. How did you come up with the idea in the first place?
Ann: A small plane was flying too low over my house one night; I imagined what would happen if it crashed and I had to go out alone and see about the pilot. I don’t know why I made the lead character a teenaged boy. I think my Muse did that when I wasn’t looking.
Elyse: I love that you have both strong female and male leads in your book. The kid’s personalities and characters are really developed and complex and stand out nicely. So tell me, do you specifically target YA when you get an idea for a story? Do you find it easier to write to that genre?
Ann: I don’t think about it. I just write whatever comes. I know I’ve had more people interact with me on my YA stuff, so I guess it must be easier for me.
Elyse: We all have other writers we look up to. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor and why?
Ann: Only one? Ray Bradbury, no, Edgar Allan Poe, no, Stephen King…aww, I give up. All of them!
Elyse: That was tough, wasn’t it? I think reading other people’s work shapes us and helps us in so many ways with our own stories. In fact, I always think that our mentors have special places in our futures as writers, as well. So, I’m curious, what are your current projects?
Ann: I’m working on the edits for the sequel to The Phantom Student, Book Two in The Phantom Series. It will be published around Halloween.
Elyse: A sequel… excellent and congratulations! So tell me, besides writing, tell us some of the other things you love to do.
Ann: I love to draw, and sketch, and play word games like Scrabble, Boggle, and Words With Friends (on my phone). I also adore live music, and if I don’t get my evening walk in every night, I get extremely cranky. Then of course, there’s reading–books are stacked in every room, begging to be read (and my Kindle overfloweth). In addition, my hubby and I go to the movies almost every week. We also like to jump in the car and drive. We want to do both coasts, just drive and drive, and stop when we see something interesting. Then there are the kids and grandkids . . . we’re headed to a junior rodeo this weekend in Oklahoma where four of the grandkids live. This rodeo is for toddlers and up. Should be interesting.
So, a big thank you to Ann for allowing us to take a peek into her writing world. If you’d like to found out about Ann’s current works, here’s what she has going on:
Check out her most recent short fiction in The Rusty Nail, at www.rustynailmag.com , The Soul Gardener, in the Cool Well Press anthology, Timeless: http://tinyurl.com/cav45q2, and a new self published pseudo-zombie gem called Chems at http://tinyurl.com/cj64sd8