Ben interviews Author Anne Riley

Aerie

Welcome, Anne, tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?

Anne RileyYou know how people take those brain tests, and they are either right-brained creative types or left-brained logical types? Well, my brain runs right down the middle. I am some of each. This has led to a very mixed career. I have a degree in accounting, and am a logical, detailed person, but I get bored easily unless I can create new and different ways to solve problems.

I have always loved writing, but never felt it was a responsible career to pursue. About five years ago, I retired from my job in private banking and dabbled in writing as a hobby. Now I’m hooked.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

When I am not writing, I live life as I please. A few years ago, my husband and I moved from our home in Oregon (a beautiful, beautiful place if you ever want to visit), to be closer to family in Illinois (not as beautiful, but it has the advantage of being the home of our loved ones). We make ourselves available to help where we can.

I love to ride bikes and swim and run. A knee injury a few years ago has limited some of my activities, but I am happy with what I CAN do.

What is one thing that would surprise us?

Hmmm. I think it is that I am a minimalist. I have discovered over the past few years that I do not like stuff, as in, possessions. Everyone is different of course, but for me, the more I own, the more it owns me, and I have discovered that as I get rid of stuff, I feel more and more free.

When we moved to Illinois, we were not sure of our living situation, so we sold most of our belongings and rented an 800 square foot apartment. Surprisingly, I love this austere way of living. We have only what we need, and we are free to live our lives without a lot of stuff weighing us down.

AerieIs this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) What genre is it and what is it about?

Aerie is my second book. My first book, Elusive Little Sucker, is non-fiction. It is a set of stories that chronicle my struggle to find happiness. You can find it on Amazon. Aerie is a romantic suspense novel set in the high tech world of the early 1990’s. It follows Cara Larson and Liam Scofield as they wend their way through the complicated and cutthroat world of information technology.

What inspired you to write this book?

What inspires me to write all my books is the same thing: I have something to say on a subject. I am interested in all kinds of different ideas, and sometimes I will study one in enough detail that I feel I have something to say about it to the world. The nature of the idea determines the type of book I will write.

computer-keyboard-freeimageWith Elusive Little Sucker, I thought it was best to present it as a series of stories from my life, each of which resulted in a lesson that led me to discovering happiness.

With Aerie, writing about the perils of the high tech world would be absolutely boring. But putting it in a fast moving suspense story seemed to me the best way to entertain the reader as well as shed light on an important aspect of modern life.

compass-1420688-639x954Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?

Definitely a plotter. I have to map out the entire concept of the book in my mind. When I write, the book will often write itself, so I need to always be open to change, but having the concept established in my own head gives me more confidence to proceed. For me, writing is like riding a tiger. I am never sure what is going to happen. Having that concept in mind keeps me focused.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

Absolutely. I won’t write about subjects I am not interested in or don’t know much about. I do not profess to be an expert on the things I write about, but I do make sure I have a working knowledge so that I can make valid points while writing an interesting story.

Also, I shy away from erotica or graphic sex scenes. I could probably write them if I could keep myself from laughing uproariously at my efforts, but others do it so much better, and I am comfortable with my limitations in this area.

ready-for-flight-free imagesWho is your favorite character from your book and why?

It is always difficult to choose a favorite anything, but I will say ONE of my favorite characters of all times is Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. He had it all, in my opinion: intelligence, patience, integrity, empathy. And if you take the movie into account, good looks, too!

What other books/authors are similar to your own? What makes them similar?

I actually tried to craft my books in the style of John Grisham. He writes legal thrillers, suspenseful books based on some aspect of the law. I would like to say I write ‘business thrillers’ but I am afraid the term would be interpreted as a complete oxymoron.

Business is boring, or so everyone thinks. Actually, there is so much evil that can be done under the guise of ‘business as usual’ that it is a field rich in opportunity. I like to weave a good suspenseful tale of evil that can be done using normal business practices.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? 

In Aerie, the one comment that really helped me was that it was a little too technical at the beginning. My mistake was trying to convince my reader I had the technical knowledge to write the book. I think I might have oversold the idea. What I would tell readers is to not let that get in the way. It is more balanced after those first few chapters, so hang in there!

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Funny, I not only read more than one book at a time, I write more than one book at a time. I started a new romantic suspense novel, but have put that on hold because a new exciting idea popped into my head. I am writing a new little non-fiction book about kindness. It is very thought provoking and fun to write. I can’t say when it will be done, because I have to give the writing process complete freedom, but I can say, it is well underway.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“She was true.”

What were you like as a child?

I was actually really anxious as a child. In fact, my anxious nature was a constant companion up until about ten years ago. Every characteristic can be both an asset and liability, and though my struggle with anxiety led to much frustration and unhappiness, it also had the effect of increasing my sense of empathy and appreciation for the struggles of others.

What is your favorite Fiction/Non-Fiction book?

Fiction: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was the perfect combination of all the things I value: justice, integrity, kindness, empathy.

What books have most influenced your life most?

file0001486995335Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould. Professor Gould was a famous paleontologist who wrote many books on how life on earth evolved. This book in particular focused on the contingency theory of life, i.e. the sheer accidental nature of how human life formed. It opened my eyes to a wider view of life and made me realize that nature is devoid of particular purpose and it is up to us to make our own meaning in life.

What book/s are you reading now?

I always have more that one book going. Right now, I am reading: From Dawn to Decadence, 1500 to the Present by Jacques Barzun – a History book about major events affecting civilization during this time period; The God Particle by Leon Lederman – a physics book about the subatomic particles that carry mass; and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury – a classic. I read this in high school, and had the urge to re-read it. It is one of my favourite books.

Anne Head Shot 3 for FBAnne Riley was born the eleventh of twelve children in Washington state. In a family in which seniority ruled, she had no appreciable rights until a significant number of her older siblings went away to college.

She has a degree in Accounting from Illinois State University and an MBA from Portland State University. She has a wonderful husband, Tim, and three great kids, who have grown up and are now discovering the world for themselves. After spending 35 years in the lovely state of Oregon, Anne and Tim have relocated to the state of Illinois, where their parents reside.

You can find out more about Anne and her work at FacebookTwitter at @AnneRileyAuthor,  LinkedIn, Goodreads and Amazon.

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