Author Anne Schroeder blogs about her writing career and launch of her latest book: Walk the Promise Road, a Novel of the Oregon Trail.
I am pleased to present a colleague, author, and former WWW President as she launches her latest historical novel. I sent her four questions and she warned me her “wordiness” occasionally prompts a bit of humor from her husband who claims Anne’s motto should be “never use a hundred words when a thousand will suffice.” So with that forewarning, here is my interview with Anne Schroeder. Enjoy:
Questions for Anne:
Your latest book, Walk the Promise Road, a Novel of the Oregon Trail, is described as a western historical romance. Is it based on an actual pioneer woman you researched? An ancestor from your family? Perhaps taken from diary entries? How were you inspired to write this story?
Thank you for having me, Judith. These are great questions.
On a road trip through Oregon, I began imagining the story. By the time I arrived back home the novel was half-formed. My husband and I attend antique farm equipment shows and I started interviewing pioneer ladies about their family stories. I found diaries and museums of the Trail and I read a lot. The characters, Mary, Luke and Philip are from my imagination, but the places and events are based on actual diaries. I stood at Devil’s Rock, Independence Rock, the Ice Slough, Three Island Crossing. I walked the Barlow Road and stood at the Columbia and wrote how it felt. I love people watching. Historical fiction is showing how people of all times and ages are really the same.
What was the most challenging part to write?
The story was so fully formed in my head that it actually only took 30 days to write—on a IBM Selectric typewriter. I have deepened it and edited it over the years, but the story was complete in a month. I think Mary channeled me to write her story! The challenging part was all the research. I made a timeline of events and read scads of background material in order to get the story right in my head. Putting in the hundreds of little details makes a story more “see-able.”
You have written in a number of genres:
- Branches on the Conejo; Leaving the Soil after Five Generations – a short story collection
- Maria Ines – a historical novel
- Cholama Moon – another historical novel
- Ordinary Aphrodite – an essay collection
- Gifts of Red Pottery—short stories
Which genre do you prefer? Why? What’s up next on your writing agenda?
My first love is the short story. I love developing deep character without using description. It’s like building a puzzle. I started in 1984, and had a couple dozen published in popular and literary magazines. Gifts of Red Pottery are stories that appeared in print magazines and/or earned writing awards. They are character-based stories about everyday women.
I wrote essays of my own life that morphed into Ordinary Aphrodite—the boomer women’s journey of small steps.
One day my mother phoned and said, “I’m the last one left. The oldest living member on both sides of my family.” Our family’s history in Thousand Oaks was really an untold story of Southern California’s history. Branches on the Conejo filled in the gaps for people who came there later.
Most of my novels started as a short story or two. Often my main characters, and sometimes even minor characters, started out as stars of their own short story.
Maria Ines and Cholama Moon are stand-alone historical novels about a Mission Indian woman and her family in early California. I worked with some of the elders of the Salinan Tribe to be sure that I had their history right. I have completed two others in the series. Hopefully someone will bring them out soon.
What’s next? I have two contemporary novels set in the Pacific Northwest that I’m polishing. One is a character-driven Amish romance, the other is an inspirational story of loss and forgiveness.
Tell us about how you select titles, covers, back page information for your publications?
My small press publishers let me have input in the covers. They request information about the elements of the story, details of dress and accessories, mood and story arc. Then the graphic artist creates a raw image that gets tweaked. I usually write my own back cover descriptions. I used to write copy for radio and TV, so blurbs and description comes easy for me. If it doesn’t for you, at least take a stab. After all, who knows the story better than the author?
What is the most challenging part of being a writer: the research, the creative writing, then editing, finally marketing?
Yes. Yes. Yes and Yes. While I’m writing, I wish the story would never end.
Then I start editing, cutting and pasting, moving things around and I’m so happy. Marketing is hard—reaching readers without being obnoxious. I can be a social butterfly for a few months and then my fans won’t hear from me for awhile because I’m off on another project. I run hot and cold, and that’s not an effective way to use FB, Twitter, Instagram or my blog.
Having said that, I invite you to anneschroederauthor.com for an excerpt of Walk the Promise Road and my blogs. There’s a link to sign up for my newsletter.
Thank you Anne for your informative insights. Now I’m off to finish reading your intriguing new book.