Anna Elliott: A Self Portrait
Anna Elliott Revealed
About Anna Elliott
What is your birthdate?:1/1
Previous occupations:editor, ghost writer, mom
Favorite job:Definitely writing. Although of course being a mom is pretty great, too. Really, they're both my favorites.
High school and/or college:Penn State University
Favorite movie:Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing
Favorite television show:We don't have TV, but I have been known to watch the CBS crime drama "Numbers" on my computer. Charlie, the math genius main character, reminds me a lot of my husband. And of course my husband the real-life math genius sits next to me and corrects all the technical mistakes the show makes.
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. I only need 5: wonderfully book-and-toddler-filled!
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth
- Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
- A. Perfect happiness is: Listening to our new baby's tiny hummingbird heart beating. Hearing my daughter sing the alphabet song. Lying in bed next to my husband. (Although ideally not while he's snoring). When the characters in the book I'm writing really start talking to me and completely surprise me with what they have to say.
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. Snakes! Ever since watching Raiders of the Lost Ark! That awful moment when the snake falls on Marion's neck gives me nightmares every time.
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. Honestly, I would chose to be exactly where I am now--typing at my computer, listening to my husband and daughter playing in the living room, knowing I'll go in and join them in a minute. I'm not sure whether that means I'm incredibly lucky or just incredibly boring . . .
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. That's a tough one to choose, but I'll say Abigail Adams.
- Q. Which living person do you most admire?
- A. Probably my husband. He's pretty great.
- Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
- A. I guess that depends whether we're talking about in writing or in real life. In writing, my copy editor pointed out to me--very rightly--that I modify way too many verbs with "slightly" or "briefly." Then in real life, I just recently overheard my 2 year old talking to her baby doll and saying in a very patient voice, "Oh, babydoll, why did you do that?" And I thought, Goodness, I have no idea where she could have picked that up!
- Q. What do you regret most?
- A. Hmm. . . I don't have too many regrets. But I do wish I could go back and tell my younger self to write more. I didn't start writing seriously until college, and it would have been great to have had more years of developing my voice to build on.
- Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
- A. I would love, love, love to be able to sing really well. I mean, I can carry a tune and I do a pretty mean Wheels on the Bus with my little girl. But I would love to have a really Broadway-star quality voice. Sadly, not to be--I guess I'll just have to write a book about a heroine with a fabulous singing voice someday!
- Q. What is your greatest achievement?
- A. Having children.
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. Yikes, I feel like I'm back in middle school playing a game of truth or dare at a sleepover party. I guess I'll say my lack of ability to scrub and wax my kitchen floor unless my mother or mother-in-law are actually in the car on the way over to my house for a visit.
- Q. What’s your best quality?
- A. Oh, goodness, I am horrible at answering questions like this. I'll defer to my husband, who says patience.
- Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
- A. Forever? Or just as a temporary thing? I'd love to live a day in the life of a Jane Austen heroine--any of them, from Elizabeth Bennet to Catherine Morland, I'm not particular! But I'd need to go back to being myself at the end of the day--I'd miss my family too much!
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. Captain Wentworth, from Jane Austen's Persuasion.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. Captain Hook, from Peter Pan.
- Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
- A. When anyone mixes up infer with imply or comprise with compose. Sorry--I was raised by two English PhD's who were correcting my grammar and speech patterns from the time I could talk. I can't help myself!
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. Well, my favorites are playing with my daughter and talking to my husband. But when I'm not doing either of those (or writing) you can usually find me with a book in my hands. I like running, cooking, and needlework, too.
- Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
- A. Really, being a writer. It's my absolute dream job and I couldn't love it more.
- Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
- A. Integrity, kindness, and sense of humor. Although if we're talking qualities I look for in a life mate, willingness to do laundry is right up there.
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. Well, at the time I'm writing this, I'm first-trimester pregnant with my second baby and hideously queasy, so nothing sounds especially appealing as a lifelong exclusive diet. Ugh. But going by my non-pregnant tastes, I'll say chocolate.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
- A. Sarah McLachlan's Ice Cream, Lisa Kelly's Send me a Song, The Indigo Girls' Power of Two, Crosby Stills and Nash's Southern Cross, Artisan's I'll Sail No More
On Books and Writing
- Q. Who are your favorite authors?
- A. Oh, too many to number! A short list: Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ellis Peters, and Francis Hodgson Burnett.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
- A. Persuasion by Jane Austen The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. Many many many. But if I had to pick one, it would be Jane Austen's Persuasion. I could read it again and again.
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. I'd quote Jane Yolen, who said, "Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing... the rest will follow."
- Q. How did you come to write Twilight of Avalon?
- A. Twilight of Avalon was inspired by a very vivid dream in which I told my mother that I was going to write a book about Modred's daughter. When I woke up, the idea just wouldn't let me go. Then in the very early stages of outlining, when I was just beginning to get an idea of the shape of the story, I was looking at Celtic names for my protagonist. The name Isolde caught my eye and I thought, hmm . . . and began to realize how many aspects of my story already fitted with the Trystan and Isolde legend. So blending the two together just felt completely natural from then on. I had first encountered both the Trystan and Isolde legends and the Arthurian legends in college, so I did already have somewhat of a background in the period. I was an English major with a concentration on medieval literature, and completely fell in love with everything about the Arthurian world. It was an absolute joy to get to live in that same world during the months I was working on my own version of the legend.