Yvonne Anderson lives in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland, where she writes fiction that takes you out of this world.
The Story in the Stars, the first book in the Gateway to Gannah sci-fi series, was an American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award finalist in 2012. The adventure continues with Words in the Wind—develops further in Ransom in the Rock—and comes to a stirring conclusion in The Last Toqeph.
What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?
Creating worlds with their own histories and cultures and peoples. What a power trip! If I had the power to actually do those things, I’d never be able to handle the responsibility that would go with it. Creating fictional realities, however, is a safe and satisfying hobby. Much like enjoying a steaming bowl of baked macaroni and cheese made with Wisconsin Brick (recipe available on request), but with no calories or fat! Writing does tend to go to my hips, though, so I have to make sure I take breaks and get exercise.
What made you start writing?
Temporary insanity. Which, sadly, turned out to be not so temporary.
Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?
I think just the fact that so many people of all backgrounds have contributed in so many ways to the rich, varied world of literature is an inspiration to me. I don’t feel the need to copy someone else’s style or genre. We each have our own unique voice, and if we have a story to share, we should tell it the way God gifted us to tell it.
It’s also an inspiration that there are so many older authors out there. Writing is one sport we can participate in well into our old age. This encourages me because I got a late start; my first book was published when I was 55 years old.
What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?
That depends upon the reason the person aspires to write. Is it an overall burning to do so? Or a desire for glamour, fame, and fortune? If the latter, then I recommend finding something else to do, because you’re only going to be disappointed. And seriously, does this world need more bitter, disillusioned people?
For everyone, though, I think my number one tip for an aspiring author is to quit. Just give it up, throw in the towel, turn your back on it. Don’t get cheesed at this—hear me out. If you try to quit but can’t keep away from it—if the drive to write gives you no peace until you simply must do it or die—then you’re a real writer, not in it for the glory. Then, my advice is to keep writing and never quit. No matter what. Because believe me, circumstances will conspire to discourage you. But don’t let them. Stand up to those bullies.
But I’m the sort who has to make things unnecessarily complicated. So, Number One Tip, Part ii [a]: Never stop learning; and, Part ii [b]: Always be willing to change. You might have as much native talent and more story concepts chasing each other around in your demented brain than Stephen King ever did. But without studying the craft, learning from the greats (speaking of Stephen King), being willing—no, eager—to change your writing habits, you might as well have Swiss cheese for brains. Admit you’re not the greatest thing to grace the world since Parmigiano-Reggiano. Quit thinking you’re a master of writing, and be a diligent student of it.
What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?
I like to read a variety of genres, but two that I never particular cared for were Christian fiction, and science fiction. But now I write Christian sci-fi. I could give you the long-winded reason for this, much of which has to do with what I was talking about above (trying to quit; being willing to change; etc.), but I’ll spare you the gore. Here’s the short answer: Because God has a fabulous sense of humour.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I would love to be able to live on the planet Gannah. I suppose it could be said that I did live there for the five years it took me to complete the four titles in the series. But while mentally living on that planet is fun, I’d like to physically set foot there, breathe the air, taste the food, drink the water, and become a real Gannahan.
Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?
No. I can’t say anything in ten words. Except this.
What’s exciting you about your next project?
I don’t know how you can tell I’m excited about my next project, but I am, and I’m impressed you noticed.
My current WIP is quite a departure from the Gannah series, but it’s similar in that it takes place on a planet that exists only in my mind. I’m about 90,000 words into it now and am probably only about halfway through, so it will be too long for one volume. My plan is to get the whole thing sketched out. Then, once I see how it all goes together, I’ll be able to see how best to break it apart.
Meanwhile, the story’s really captivated me. As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I can hardly wait to find out what happens next. I love my characters. I get a kick out of putting them in terrible situations to see how they dig their way out. I enjoy the way they illustrate universal truths that earthbound readers can relate to and apply to their lives in the here and now.
None of this will ever make me rich, but it provides a richness of life in another sense. So I suppose that’s what I’m excited about.
I’ll go with one of my characters’ favourite adages. Pik, the male MC (that’s writer-speak for “main character,” not Master of Ceremonies, and not Muenster cheese) in Words in the Wind, the second title in the Gateway to Gannah series, often says,
Truth always wins in the end.
“And speaking of end, I’d like to finish by saying that if you want to know why I keep mentioning cheese in this interview, you’ll have to ask PD Richmond. (Did you know the P stands for Paneer and the D for Danby? Neither did he, until now.)“
[PD: I take full responsibility for the cheesiness of this interview, sometimes it can’t be helped!]
For anyone interested in finding out more about Yvonne and the Gateway to Gannah series you can follow the links below.