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Armchair BEA: Interview with Jeanmarie Anaya

Today's Armchair BEA topic is Interviews! I had the pleasure of interviewing author and blogger Jeanmarie Anaya, and she has interviewed me on her blog. As Jeanmarie says on her blog:
I'm a writer of paranormal YA pursuing the elusive dream of publication, a mother of two little girls, a wife to a surfing addict, and an attorney (hey, it pays the bills). I'm one of those crazy book lovers who won't turn down the corners of pages in my books. I also don't crease paperback covers. (Gasp!) Heaven forbid!
I have to admit I don't turn down corners of pages either. I can't fathom why anyone would do such a thing! That's what bookmarks and little scraps of paper are for!

In any event, welcome to My Book Retreat, Jeanmarie. Tell me about your life outside of books and blogging. How do you balance reading and writing with family life?

Balancing reading/writing is HARD with a capital H. I'm not going to lie. I have two daughters, ages 6 and 2, so they're still at the age where they require a lot of care and Mommy-attention. I often wake earlier than the rest in my house and steal a half hour to do some revisions on my manuscript. Naptime is another writing opportunity...assuming I don't have "real work" to do. (I'm a corporate attorney by trade and work part-time from home for my clients and for my family's business.) Then, it's usually a marathon of writing and reading at night after the girls' bedtime. My poor husband! Luckily, he often works nights (he's a NYC firefighter) so I don't feel too bad about ignoring him! He's a good sport. It's definitely a juggle. I haven't slept more than 5 hours in a long time. But I feel so energized when I'm writing (probably because I'm doing what I truly love) that I have a smile on my face, despite the lack of sleep.

Wow! What a busy life! Have you always been interested in writing? Tell me how you came to be an author.

I don't have one of those cliche writing backgrounds where I can say "Oh yes, I was writing stories when I was in third grade. I always knew I'd be a writer!" No. Didn't work that way for me. I was always an avid reader, first and foremost. I loved to write but never took it seriously because I thought it was an unattainable dream. Also, I had the type of parents who wanted me to have a job with less pizazz and more security. So I chose lawyering, thinking I would love it because it involves a lot of reading and writing. It certainly does and I do love it. But it isn't the creative outlet I longed for. Eventually, after the birth of my first daughter, I realized I had to pursue my dream. Failing is okay, but not even trying is totally unacceptable, in my humble opinion. I took a few classes at a local New York university on creative writing and writing for children and teens and voila! Here I am. I'm still unagented but that's okay. I know I'll succeed one day because I want it THAT BAD.

That's a great attitude to have! You said in your introduction on Monday that you're currently sending out queries for your novel, MAGNETIC. Can you share a little about the story and how you came to develop it?

MAGNETIC is a paranormal YA novel about a seventeen-year-old self-described rock star named Carly Reynolds who discovers--much to her horror--that she's a paranormal medium. Not only can Carly communicate with the dead, but she can also cross over to the afterlife. She's not exactly thrilled about her newfound ability and does everything in her power to stay away from the lifestyle. But when a band of rogue mediums intent on stealing souls targets her as their next victim, she's forced to accept her gift and learn how to protect herself.

I've always had a fascination with death and the different religious attitudes toward the afterlife. The story started as a way to explore some of those issues with a main character who had just experienced the death of her beloved grandmother and who was overwhelmed by the idea that her grandmother was "gone". Eventually, as I developed the story more, I was inspired by Greek mythology's "Eleusinian Mysteries." In a nutshell, some ancient Greeks made an annual pilgrimage to Athens, I believe, to pay homage to the goddess Demeter and become initiated into what was called the Eleusinian Mysteries. There were many rituals involved in this pilgrimage (which took place over several days). The initiates were called "Mystai" and though the final rituals have been kept a secret for centuries, one theory is that the final ritual revealed the answers to the secrets of the afterlife. I was very intrigued by this sort of "secret society" idea and wondered how something like that might affect my main character's beliefs. So I included a society of paranormal mediums (called the "Mystes") in my manuscript and the whole story and its conflict really came to life from there. It's been a very fun journey for me.

It sounds like a very interesting storyline. As you may have discovered by looking at my blog, I'm not a big reader of young adult (YA) novels. Since you are a fan and author of YA novels, give me a few recommendations (besides Twilight, Harry Potter and Hunger Games). If I want to give the genre a try, what 2-3 YA novels should I read?

I know you list historical fiction as something you enjoy so I think you'd like THE VESPERTINE by Saundra Mitchell. It's an historical paranormal YA. Her prose is just beautiful and the historical setting is wonderful. There's some paranormal in there, so grit your teeth and get through it! Hahaha! I'd be surprised if you didn't like the book at the end. You may not love it if you're new to the genre, but you'll like it. I can hardly find a person who doesn't find Saundra Mitchell's writing style enjoyable. Also, a lot of buzz in the YA world has centered around DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. It's similar to HUNGER GAMES in that it's a dystopian. All-around 5 stars on that one from everyone who's read it.

Thank you! I promise to look into both of those. :-) So what was your favorite book or author when you were a child? What are your favorite books to read aloud to your children? Have you shared any of your favorites with them?

I owned every Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown book as a kid. And I loved loved loved Judy Blume as a pre-teen. I've started reading some Judy Blume to my 6 year-old daughter (she loves FRECKLE JUICE). But as far as children's picture books go, Mo Willems is my absolute favorite. Lots of adult humor in his books that still resonates with the kids.

We love Mo Willems here too! What are you reading now? What's on your upcoming TBR list?

Sigh. My TBR list just grows and grows. I'm currently trying to get through the HUNGER GAMES series. I'm a little late to the game on that one. I really enjoyed the first book and now need to finish the rest. Today is also the release date for THE WARLOCK (from the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series) and I'm super excited to put everything aside and cozy up with a cup of tea for that one!

Thank you so much for visiting, Jeanmarie. And thank you for the book recommendations. I will definitely let you know if when I read them!

Be sure to visit Jeanmarie Anaya's blog to learn more about her and to see the interview she conducted with me!


  1. Great interview! I hope you had fun and were able to make some new blogging friends!


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