ANNE MCANENY: I LIVE A LIFE NOT NEARLY AS EXCITING AS MY CHARACTERS
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Anne McAneny’s latest novel Circled was released in late July. The book is part of Crime After Time collection and once again combines crime with mystery. The story received flawless reviews and currently is standing with strong average of 4,9 Amazon stars. We’ve got a chance to speak with our guest about her most popular novel Skewed and for many more interesting things. Get ready for the next Land of Books interview.
– Anne, what is your new book Circled about?
– Circled tells the story of reporter Chloe Keyes who is investigating events that took place in her hometown twelve years ago. In the course of one week, her town experienced the biggest lottery win in the state’s history, as well as the death of three locals. It was a time filled with highs and lows, tragedy and triumph—and all of it left a dark mark on Chloe’s soul.
– How did you decide to write the books from Crime After Time Collection?
– “Crime After Time” refers to a common theme in my four mystery books: The consequences of crime are borne by those who survive, even decades later. My protagonists are the survivors, and they each discover something unexpected that upends the narrative of their lives. The new information propels them to unveil long-hidden truths—not an easy task with buried evidence, faded memories, and cover-ups still worth lying about.
I wrote the collection because after completing the first one—Foreteller—I realized there were many similar stories to be told, but with vastly different crimes and outcomes.
– What was the biggest challenge during the writing process?
– My stories involve varying points of view along with shifts between past and present. Keeping all the balls in the air while revealing information at just the right moment is my biggest challenge. It can be dizzying!
– Tell us something more about your main character Chloe Keyes from Circled. Is she close to someone from your real life?
– Chloe Keyes is a survivor. She lives on the edge of a South Carolina swamp, rumored to own a pet alligator. She backs down from nothing—except the truth of her own scars. Inside, she carries the loss of two childhood friends close to her heart, never realizing its effect on her coarsened adulthood. Of course, fire, murder, and fresh clues converge to change everything—and that’s only the first few chapters.
Chloe is a product of pure imagination, although her sarcasm probably has roots in yours truly.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I am a never-ending editor. Circled and Skewed took me about eight months each, while Raveled was written cover-to-cover in one exhausting month, followed by three months of editing.
– What will the readers find in your most popular novel Skewed?
– In Skewed, I hope they’ll find the traditional elements of a good mystery told in a unique way. I love to hear from readers who enjoy the twists and red herrings, but who ultimately feel surprised and satisfied by the ending. Skewed is the story of a crime scene photographer with a warped habit. When she receives new crime scene photos from her mother’s death thirty years earlier, her life is suddenly framed differently and she struggles to bring it back into focus.
– Who are you?
– I live a life not nearly as exciting as my characters! I’m a mom, wife, animal lover, biker/hiker/gym rat, volunteer, and eavesdropper (because really, how else can one write good dialogue?)
– What are your writing habits?
– When I write, I get deep into it, spending six to twelve hours a day at my laptop. I write at home and go wherever it’s quiet because all I need is my laptop, a pen and paper, and a chair. I’ve written in a closet, a basement corner, and in bed.
I make valiant attempts to outline stories before diving in, but inevitably, I change everything. Once I have a complete first draft, I feel like I’ve finished a marathon. From then on, it’s edit, edit, edit, and I actually find that fun.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– Absolutely, but who doesn’t want to reach more readers? Sales volume comes down to exposure and word-of-mouth. There’s not much a writer can do about word-of-mouth except create a water-cooler-worthy book. As for gaining exposure, that can be harder than writing the book; other times, it just happens (which is when a writer should sit back, smile, and give thanks!)
– What are you doing to promote your book in the best possible way?
– Blogs like yours certainly help. I also use price promotions, occasional prize giveaways, guest blogging, and podcast interviews—almost anything to let readers know a book exists. Lots of reviews from readers are also quite helpful. By the way, if anyone out there knows a celebrity who wants to pose with one of my books, please let me know!
– When will we see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– I have two books in the works. The first is a sequel to Skewed, with an increased focus on Sophie Andricola; readers asked for more of her character. The second is set in the 1980’s and revolves around an eccentric woman who witnesses a possible crime, but the woman proves to be an unreliable witness—or does she?
– You wrote a lot of screenplays. What is the difference in plotting a film story compared to a novel?
– There’s not much difference in plotting; the difference comes in presentation. In a screenplay, the pages contain a lot of blank space. The writer must convey a complete and compelling story using far fewer words. Those three to four lines of description that pop up between bits of dialogue must be treated like gold because they relay the story as much as the characters’ spoken words do.
– How did you become a fan of Belgium beer?
– I tasted one! That’s all it takes. My favorites are tripels and quadrupels, but they’re usually strong, so no guzzling!
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– “Who does your covers?” I am in awe of people with artistic talent, so I’d like to acknowledge my cover designers: Ray Lillard, Rita Toews, and Tyler Anderson, who respectively designed covers for Foreteller, Raveled, and Circled. Each of them created layered images that reflect the story in a way that cannot be fully appreciated until the last page is turned.
My current cover for Skewed was done by the awesome folks at Thomas & Mercer, but Ray and Rita had worked together to create the original Skewed cover. It gave off a Vertigo/Alice in Wonderland vibe that reflected how my protagonist felt while investigating her mother’s case.