Recently, the From Whispers to Roars team caught up with author Anne George. Her book, Love and Mutiny: Tales From British India was published in January 2018. Knowing how dedicated a writer must be to complete and publish a manuscript, we thought she could give our creative community some valuable advice!
1.) When did you first decide to pursue writing?
That’s a really good question, Rachel. I didn’t really think I wanted to be a “writer.” I did constantly write as part of my job, but didn’t really enjoy it, as it was mostly research-related and technical. In 2013, I started writing, after helping proofread for a friend who had written a book. It dawned on me that I was not a captive to academic writing and I could write for fun. So, I started writing my novel, “Love and Mutiny: Tales from British India.” It took me a long time to write because I only worked on it during the summer when I had three months off, due to the academic calendar. If I taught a class, then the book lay neglected for that many weeks. Then, I had a baby and stopped having time to even brush my hair! Writing stayed on the backburner for another 18 months! It wasn’t until I helped my friend with her second book, that I started feeling strongly driven to finish what I had started. I worked on it during the baby’s nap times, in 3-hour increments (did I mention, I love naptimes?!) and finished my book in 2017. When the book was complete, I just knew I had become a writer, that this could simply not be the only book I ever wrote and that I would have to keep at it!
2.) What does your writing process look like?
My writing has to happen when I get some quiet time to myself. Therefore, it happens during my child’s naptime. The moment I get those hours to myself, I fairly pounce on my computer and start pounding away. It is very intense and I keep going, rapidly getting everything I have, out on paper. If I have time, I edit right away. If not, it keeps until I have written everything down, perhaps the next day or a few days later. I stay off the Internet, except to do some research or to look something up, and only get up to get a cup of tea. When I have finished getting all my ideas on paper, I start revisiting, editing, rewriting and so on. I send things off to my sister, who is a constructive critic. She alternates between cheering me on and asking difficult questions. I sometimes grumble that she doesn’t know what I am trying to say, but I usually address her questions and my work has always been the better for it.
3.) What inspired your latest book?
The only inspiration I have comes from wanting to tell a story that is entertaining. I have always been interested in history. I found British Colonial history in India fascinating, and also disturbing. The stories of people from the past move me deeply. As a child, I read British Colonial literature and that led me to start wondering about the stories of the people who experienced the events of that age. I am an academic, so my work is very meticulously researched. I often find myself deeply moved by the stories of people in faraway times.
4.) What advice would you give to other writers?
Write for joy. Write for pleasure. Write because you have something to say. Write to give joy to your readers and share your joys with them. Write also to tell about the pain that exists in this world because when you do, your writing gives a voice to those whose voices may never be heard. Care about what you write about and think always about your legacy in the world of words. As every author does, I dream of my book becoming a bestseller. Usually, this dream is followed by someone needing a diaper change, and the thrill dissipates quickly. But, the bigger dream I have is that someone will find this book and others I write, years from now, and enjoy it and pass it on to their children’s children as good and enjoyable books, like the books my mother passed down to me and that I intend to pass down to my child.
5.) Have you ever experienced writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
When I have writer’s block, I write anyway. Usually, it’s choppy and needs a lot of fixing, but it provides good raw material. So, I write, even if everything sounds like complete drivel. Occasionally, I have found the material unusable later, but more often than not, I find something useful in the pages I wrote when I had nothing to write or say. I am incredibly busy, and I work in concentrated bursts in the day. Most of the time, I am champing at the bit, waiting to get to my computer to write this or that. That helps keep my mind full of ideas. Not having enough time to write has worked out well for me, in a way, because I am always itching to get back to work, and a lot of ideas build up in my brain and are bursting to get out!