Introducing the Curious Wren | An Interview with Annie Hawthorne

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

My heart is rather full of excitement right now! I am so thrilled in fact, because I've been anticipating this day for years now, and it makes me so happy to finally be able to feature an interview here on Fullness of Joy with one of my very dear and closest online friends. Annie Hawthorne has just launched her own blog in the online writing community, friends!!
I distinctly remember the time (and post) in which Annie stopped by my little corner of the blog-community and left the sweetest comment on one of my sunset-photography posts (back in those days, to have had anyone comment on my blog was something worthy of celebration - Annie's note almost made me tear up!). In typical Annie-fashion, she was sweet, encouraging, joyful and made me smile. 

When later she asked if she could email me and we started sending emails to each other back and forth, I realised Annie was truly a special young woman with a loving, affectionate heart, and a passionate love for the Lord Jesus. She was a girl I truly I wanted to be friends with! It was funny and joyful when we found out just how many things we had in common, despite living on opposite sides of the globe. . . through our long chats, emails, letters o'er the seas and Viber textin' (hey, sending quirky smile-y faces back and forth on Messages is a legitimate form of communication, folks!), we discussed and shared, we laughed and we cried and we prayed together. It's true, we've never met in the flesh (though we dream and pray about it!), but we truly feel like the best of friends, kindred spirits and bonded sisters in Christ. It is not really strange that with our mutual love of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, we frequently call each other "my dear Samwise", and see each other as Frodo and Sam did <3. Because Annie is really a beautiful Samwise friend! :)

So, dear friends, please pick yourself up a nice, warm cup of tea (or hot chocolate if you prefer that!), and join Annie and me as we have a nice, long-ish chat together :). . . 

Hello, Annie, what a delight it is to have you on Fullness of Joy! To start this off, could you share a little bit about yourself? Hobbies, personality, tea or coffee, least favourite household chore, cats or dogs...?
Hello, everyone! *group hug* Joy, you are so sweet for agreeing to host me. I am honored to be featured on your delightful blog today! <3

Hmm... let's see, I color, knit, sew, and collect books among other things. I've been called vivacious, and I'm an optimist with an affinity for hugs, long, in-depth conversations, and smiling at strangers. Tea and coffee -- I like my coffee cold. Cleaning out the science experiments in the refrigerator has never been a favorite task of mine. Washing dishes is lovely because a) it never fails to kick-start my muse, and b) everything is so shiny and clean afterwards. ^_^ Cats, cats, ALWAYS cats. I am an ailurophile all the way. Pluviophile and Nemophilist too. 
Ooh, I'd love to wash and dry the dishes with you - what fun we'd have talking and laughing together over our favourite stories, our fondness for our quirky-loveable families, our mutual  obsession with hobbits, and our love for Jesus!

2. I'm so super excited that you have your own blog now! But for our dear readers, can you tell us a little of what inspired you to launch Curious Wren, and why? What can we most look forward to from your blog?
For several years I've wanted to have a specific place on-line where I could share about my writing and chat about books and plot and everything bibliophile-related with kindred spirits. This January the time felt right, so after much prayer and brainstorming, and planning I finally set the launch date for Curious Wren. I originally intended to launch in July, but Camp NaNo took precedence.

As aforementioned, I'll be sharing lots about books, and writerly stuffage. I'm looking forward to many, many good discussions with you all! :) And I can't wait to share specific articles too, such as: Three Reasons Being A Writer Is Terrifying, and Why Every Writer Should Watch Doctor Who, or a Certain Piece of flash fiction that's been swirling in my head for the last couple days. *rubs hands together gleefully* 
I'm excited about that piece of flash fiction and other wonderful bits of writing you'll be sharing on your blog! *grins* But should I be worried about the Doctor Who post? *fondly remembers the long-night Sherlock-discussions we've had in the past* ;).

3. At what age did you first start writing and develop a love for wordcrafting? Was there someone or something that influenced you to start this journey?
Not any specific age that I can recall. Because my Mum read books like The HobbitThe Chronicles of Narnia, and Little House on the Prairie to us children when we were little pipsqueaks I grew up with a love of literature ingrained in me. My habit of telling stories about mice and hedgehogs to my little sisters at bedtime (which I did until I was about 13) morphed into putting my words down on paper too. Since she fostered such a deep love of books in me, I would say I have my Mommy to thank for my love of writing. She's always encouraged me, and given many a word of caution when I get too excited and charge ahead with things impulsively. And she also doesn't bear grudges when I write things that make her cry. My Dad hugs me when I'm in a rough patch, and is my cornerstone of common sense when I'm too ambitious or not thinking clearly about a book's theme. Seriously, I could never write a shallow book with Dad around. <3 And I couldn't go without mentioning my precious Grandpa who saw potential in every tiny, horrendous scrap of writing I showed him as a young girl, or my sisters who showed (and still show) such enthusiasm over my books and characters. They yank me back in line wonderfully when I slack off on completing things. 
Aww! I love how supportive and encouraging your parents are - they sound like the best inspirations! 

4. On a similar vein, a great man was known to have said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Who have been the giants or “Greats” that have inspired your writing, love of literature and perhaps even your life thus far? 
I will name only a few of the many, and I won't even try to elaborate because I don't think I could find the words. But of all the books I have read the authors that mean the most to me, that inspired me the most, that have taught me so much and tangled their stories into my soul are... Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, L.M. Montgomery, Dickens, Kenneth Graham, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Norton, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. More recently, Eric Nylund, Harper Lee, Stengl, and Mirriam Neal. 

5. Not to quote Fanny Thornton and say “I see you’re not musical, as you have no piano…” ;), but do you play an instrument? What’s your favourite type/style of music? Do you have any favourite composers?
Oh, Fanny. XD I need to watch North and South again... 

Coincidentally, I do play piano, though not very well. My favorite style of music is instrumental, and I love hymns, classical, soundtracks, and different random good songs I've found over the years. My top five favorite modern composers are Murray Gold, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Henry Jackman (because Captain America has epic music), and John Powell. 
Howard Shore! *grins* He's such an amazing composer. . . I'lll have to look up Henry Jackman's "Captain America" soundtrack :D. 

6. How do you feel your Christian faith affects your writing in general, and allows you to express your worldview of life?
My faith as a child of God is the lens through which I view life, and so naturally that influences my writing. How does it affect it? I attempt to write my stories in a way that I know will please my Saviour, in a way that will not lead people astray or cause them to fall. Example? I write flawed characters but not amoral characters unless they are villains or going to change drastically in their story arc, I don't use actual swear words; if I'm writing about touchy subjects I'm going to write it in a way that I wouldn't blush to have my Mum read it, or be ashamed of myself. I want my books to be wholesome, and unflinching about the truth, and I believe that can be achieved without being explicit or crass. :) 
Amen! That's a wonderful standard and desire in your writing, Annie, and I applaud you for that desire to write true but wholesome fiction. How we need more of that in our world these days!

7. So. . . can you tell us a bit more about your current writing projects, and what you’ve been working on lately? (Also, a few snippets from your work would be a treat!) 
My current WIP I am keeping very close to my chest, but I'll grant you all a tiny sneak peek. ;) It's a shortish steampunk fantasy thingummy I'm writing just for fun and it involves a snarky, proud, impish cat, his bird side-kick called Prism, a wild little girl that they try to contain, vengeful faeries, lots of smog and mechanical things, split milk, and the color blood-red. ^_^ 

My other WIP is a sci-fi Beauty and the Beast re-telling called I am Juliette (the first book in a series of re-tellings) and at the moment I'm editing/finishing the third draft -- which basically means I go into panic mode or happy spazzing mode every time I think about it. Ah, the life of a writer, so confusing to one's emotions. O.o
Well, I am just bursting with anticipation, m'dear, for all your stories! And folks, "I am Juliette" is seriously worth waiting for - such a moving and beautiful story. . .

8. Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks (like standing on your head for research or plotting assassinations in the shower)?
Well, I definitely plot assassinations in the shower! Also, births and kingdoms being overthrown and hearts broken, etc. The usual. 

*thinks* I can't write while listening to lyrical music. I write the best when I am completely alone, and listening to music that fits the mood of whatever scene I am destroying. I have to have a glass of water nearby, but I don't like snacking while I write, unless it's something like chocolate or candy. I tend to take awhile to get into my writing, but once I'm going full-steam I can write for hours, and generally I forget to eat. I wash my face before I write, clip back my hair, and don something cozy -- like my flannel shirt. Lots of times I catch myself saying the dialogue while I scribble, or having conversations with my charries aloud, along with facial expressions that go with the movie in my head. Oh, yes! I see my stories as movies in my mind, complete with camera angles, panoramic view, lighting, and even soundtrack sometimes. Also, I write first drafts best by hand so I have piles of notebooks and pens. 
Ooh, how I would love to hijack one of those notebooks! ;)

9. Can you tell us what are your current favourite movies, TV shows, and books? (Stress is on the current, of course.)
Doctor Who will always be a current favorite, I think. ^.^ My oldest sister-in-law recently introduced me to a Masterpiece Classics crime show called Inspector Lewis. Other than some swearing and parts to skip, it's really good. I love the repartee and friendship between Lewis and Halloway, the mysteries, and the general lovely British-ness. Then there's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which I fangirl over for multiple reasons. The twists and turns! The characters! The fight scenes! The snark! The emotional trauma! COULSON! FITZSIMMOMS! Skye and her Dad!  *calms down*

Bookwise that would be:

-The Eagle of the Ninth. (Rosemary Sutcliff).
-The Code of the Woosters. (P.G. Wodehouse).
-Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures.
-A Wish Made of Glass (Ashlee Willis). 
-Monster (Mirriam Neal).

Ah, yes, British TV-dramas are really some of the best out there, aren't they! :) And it makes me so excited to see a Rosemary Sutcliff novel in this list - her books are so good!

10. Being a home-school graduate from a big family, how do/did you fit writing time with studies, chores and family time as well as other activities?
Back when I was in high-school? The short answer is... I didn't. I wrote an appalling small amount over my last few school years -- and I do mean appalling. I can't tell you how much I regret those wasted years of not honing my craft, not sticking to things like I could have. I thought I was too busy, thought I couldn't have possibly fit it in, but I know now if I had chosen to make time to write even for fifteen minutes a day I could have. It just requires perseverance and sacrifice. Missing out on a movie here, and a social event there; going to bed early, getting up extra early, being a miser with my time... these are all things I'm finally learning to do now. It's hard, and it's a balancing act, and I am terrible at sticking to a schedule and forming good habits, but it can be done. I should actually write a blog post about this..... *ponders*
Well, you don't need to ask me twice, I'd love such a post! :)... I think so many of us would in fact. 

11. What are some of your favourite non-fiction books?
How To Win Friends and Influence People. Steal Like An Artist. Personality Plus. The Hiding Place. I can not say enough in praise of these four books. 
I just re-reread "The Hiding Place" recently. . . I love this book so. much. 

12. What excites you the most about literature and its influence in culture, and how it affects the way people think and act?
Cultures are built and woven with Story. People are shaped by Story, whether it's books or film. And I find that fascinating, and it means writers and screenwriters and publishers and filmmakers have a huge responsibility. With our works we have the potential to directly influence lives for good or evil, and we need to make sure we don't abuse that power, but use it to show light, and hope, and strength, and good things. I firmly believe that people can, and are changed by what they read. Everything you put into your mind has some influence on you, no matter how small. That's why it's so important to weigh carefully what we let in.

"Garbage in, Garbage out." --> Austin Kleon

13. Hands down, what's your all-time favourite holiday food and sweet treat?
Holiday food? Probably turkey and stuffing. Sweet treat? TOO MANY. But tops would be pumpkin pie, gingerbread cookies, and homemade hot chocolate. (My brain is wired for autumn and Christmas right now, apparently). 
(Hey, and so is mine. . . !)

14. What is one thing you feel God has been teaching you this last year?
The importance of being there for my family. Of making sure they know I care, not just assuming it's taken for granted. Of investing my time in things that matter. Of not being afraid to speak out about what I Believe, and that if the God who holds galaxies in the palm of his hands still has time to spend on me individually, then I can make time to be with him, and share my love for him with others
Those are truly wonderful lessons. 

15. Who is your favourite side-kick (secondary character) in a book/movie of your favourite genre? (You are welcome to choose more than one ;). 
Thank you for specifying favorite genres, dear. That helps narrow it down considerably. 

Fantasy: the obvious answer would be Samwise (LOTR), but a runner-up would be Piglet in Milne's delightful stories, or Ratty in The Wind in the Willows.

Science fiction: Cortana in Halo: First Strike. Kelly in Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. Runner up, August and the Doctor in the Firmament series.

And since I just read The Eagle of the Ninth, I must mention Esca. I love that charrie so much. 
Isn't Esca such a great side-kick? Sutcliff is really great with those secondary characters who just wriggle their way into your heart and make you forever love them! 

16. What literary character do you think is most like you? And if someone made a movie of your life, what actress would you cast to play you?
Jo March in Little Women. Every time I read that book I am struck anew by how similar we are. It's actually a bit scary. O.o
I would choose Chloe Bennett as the actress to play me. She acts as Skye in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is another character that reminds me strongly of myself. 
I think Jo March suits you perfectly, Annie *smiles fondly* :). <3 

17. Is there a particular song or film that makes you cry every time you watch/listen to it?
There are many of those. o.o 

Okay, movies first... The Last Samurai makes me cry throughout the whole film -- it's just so SAD. The Return of the King definitely. Gettysburg has me in tears also by the end. And Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhatten. Those four are the only ones I can think of where I have out-right sobbed. But there are lots where I get teary and sniffly. 

Songs now: 
*Sniffs* I get tearful every time I hear "The Last Goodbye" or "Going Home" too!

18. Can you name your three favourite colours?
All colors of blue, except pastel. Blood-red. Black. 

19. What is something you especially love about the place you live in? 
It's in the country. O.O I've lived in the city before, and it was like being in a cage. Other things I love are the glorious panorama of fields behind our house, and the tree outside our window that serves as a darkly-green, quivering curtain in the summer. 
It sounds so beautiful . . . :)

20. Do you work to an outline/plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?
I'm a hybrid which means I'm half pantser, and half plotser. Most confusing. I start out with a fairly decent outline of the beginning and specific Big Events that Must Happen and then I pants happily from Event to Event, and all sorts of unexpected and surprising things happen along the way. I think I write more by intuition than anything. I don't always logic very well. 
It's funny because I don't do always do logic very well either and rely much on intuition as I write! It really makes the writing process thrilling and scary at times, doesn't it ;).

21. Do you have a secret talent that most people don’t know about? :D
Yes. *feels all secret agent-y* I can give rather good foot massages, and I'm interested in studying reflexology and acupressure further. 

Also I whistle! Funny story, I'm a soprano and my brother is a bass, but when we whistle together I can only do the low parts and he can only do the high parts. No idea why. O.o 
Ooh, you'll have to teach me how to whistle one day!

22. Do you have a favourite Scripture passage or life verse? What inspires and encourages you the most about it?
I have several, actually. I'll share three of them.

"[...] for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5 KJV

"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8 KJV

(Those two verses I have clung to in dark times, and they are so precious to me).

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17 KJV

(This verse means so much to me, and I cherish its reminder of God's love and goodness. Every. Good. Gift. is from him. Everything).
Such precious Promises, Annie. Thank you for sharing!

23. Elves or dwarves, m’dear? Erebor or the Woodland Realm? Can you name a favourite hobbit from J.R.R. Tolkien’s work? (OUCH!)
Always elves. ^_^ The Woodland Realm. And just for that cruel question I will name two hobbits. ;) Bilbo Baggins who I have loved forever, and Sam because of his unfailing loyalty and sweetness. 
^_^ Bilbo and Sam are truly two of the most brave and loyal characters in literature ever! I highly approve, m'dear :) It *was* a cruel question, though and for that, I am truly sorry, my dear Samwise.

24. Favourite quote by your favourite author?
I'm going to cheat and use a Bible verse for this too. 

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, not crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."  Revelations 21:4 KJV
That is truly one of my favourite Bible verses ever. . . so much hope and comfort in it! <3

25. What is your greatest wish/purpose in picking up your own pen and writing?
To encourage, inspire, challenge, and make people more aware of certain subjects. To do whatever my Saviour wills. If I will have changed one person's life by my writing, if I show one person the way to the Light, I will be content. 

*****
Thank you so much, dear Annie, for joining us today and sharing your heart with us *hugs* :). It's been such a delight! And congratulations on the launch of your lovely blog! <3 So, dear friends, be sure to head over to Annie's lovely new blog at Curious Wren and leave her a little bit of love, hang about a bit and send her the best blogging-wishes :D. Also don't forget to do her fun tag, and enter in her fantabulous giveaway which ends on Wednesday midnight! 

Annie Hawthorne is a twenty-something writer who tends to be guilty of either hyperbole or crafting scenes that make her beta-readers cry. If she’s not scribbling YA fantasy and speculative fiction, then she can be found interacting with her family as one of its more lively members or attempting to shorten her TBR stack (it never works). She practices piano badly, and photography even worse. People-watching, long road-trips, dissecting movies, Doctor Who and LOTR marathons, wearing red heels, and collecting mugs are always on her To-Do list. She chases beauty, and is a child of God. Annie talks books, writing, and life at https://anniehawthorne.wordpress.com. You can find her Twitter account https://mobile.twitter.com/account

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