Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jacqueline Howett interviews Annalisa Crawford.

Click on book to Buy. $2.99 Amazon/Kindle USA
 I’m happy to announce we have Guest author Annalisa Crawford of Cat & The Dreamer here today.

Now on with the interview.

Q. Where do you come from?
I was born in Plymouth, so I grew up spending my weekends playing near to the Mayflower Steps where the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from. It's one of my favourite places; I love the feeling of being surrounded by history. I now live just across the boarder into Cornwall.
Q. What made you write this book?
There was a spate of people in the UK dying as a result of suicide pacts, and I wondered what would drive people to enter into something like that. Then, I wondered what if you tried but failed. I already had a character in mind who didn't want to live in the real world, she hid in fantasy, and I knew that something terrible had happened. The two ideas fused together.
Q. Which authors have had a significant influence on your writing?
Suzannah Dunn, who's much more well-known for her historical novels, started her career by writing stories similar in tone to what I was writing at the time. Her first book was a novella and her second was around 55,000 words. I'm drawn to shorter books, because I struggle to write anything past 60,000 words, and finding these books convinced me I wasn't wasting my time entirely. Apart from her, I love Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahnuick and Daphne du Maurier's short stories.
Q. Do you like to listen to any music while you write?
Yes. I listen to Absolute Radio because they have a no-repeat policy, which means you're not constantly hearing the same Top 5 songs. If not radio, then CDs - sometimes, to get into the right mood with a particular MS, I'll just have the same CD on repeat. Some songs have actually inspired stories. I've mentioned before, on my blog, how False Alarm by Cherry Ghost inspired a story I'm currently polishing for submission.
Q. What do you think of the changing world of electronic books?
For my novellas, which I know would have a hard time finding a print publisher, it's fantastic. I still love books, but I think the two can live side-by-side very happily. There are so many opportunities for writers, at the moment - it'll be interesting to see how it develops.
Q. Do you have any other books you can talk about that you’re writing?
The story I mentioned earlier is part of a collection of three novellas, all set around the same town, similar to my own town but with some creative alterations. The town is haunted on quite a dramatic scale. There's another suicide, a murder, a bad psychic, and it includes my all-time favourite character - very sexy, charismatic guy with long hair and dreamy eyes!
Q. If there were three books you could only take to a desert island what would they be?
Pride and Prejudice, which is my all time favourite book.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Q. What advice do you have to offer other aspiring authors out there?
Purely on the creative side - because I'm still learning the publishing side - listen, observe, be interested in people, enjoy the stories you're telling. And, don't write what you think you ought to write, write what you HAVE to write.

Thank you Annalisa for visiting with us today.
Thank you for having me.

Q. How can readers find you and follow your progress?


Blog - Wake up, eat, write, sleep

Book description:
As a teenager, Julia survived a suicide pact, while her best friend Rachel died. Julia’s only escape from her guilt, and her mother’s over-protection, is her imagination. When Adam arrives in the office, Julia’s world takes a startling turn as she realises reality can be much more fun than fantasy. Finally she has someone who can help her make the most of her life. But can she allow herself to be truly happy?

Here is a free excerpt from the novel of Annalisa Crawford, Cat & The Dreamer: 
Today is Rachel’s birthday. Born 29 November 1981: a bundle of joy, no doubt, for her doting parents, who wrapped her up in a fluffy, pink blanket and brought her home in time for Christmas. Fifteen years later, on that very day — on this very date – she was buried; right here, right where I am standing now. Buried under years of untended grass and weeds, neglected since her parents divorced and moved; wrenched apart, torn away. The gravestone, once gleaming white marble in the shape of an angel, is weathered with green moss and dirty rain; some of the lettering is starting to wear away.
I hate that angel. I hate the way she smiles benevolently, the way she stands proud above the other graves, observing the rest of the cemetery with her smug, gloating face: Yes, I’m dead as well, but I am still better than you.
I throw the bouquet of pink roses at the base of the statue without much regard for presentation and kneel for my annual prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for saving me. But, the more I say it, the more I think I should be admonishing Him for His failure to let me die as well.
I stand; I sigh. I stare for a while because I cannot muster the enthusiasm to leave. I’m only going home; there’s nothing much for me there, except my mother waiting to dish up dinner and my father muttering to himself about some news item that’s offended him today. I’ve tuned out his latest rant. Single mothers, gay marriages, the unemployed loafing around as though they have the right to sponge off his taxes: he has opinions on everything, and no one listens anymore.

When I walk through the front door, my parents are lying dead in the hallway. There are blood stains along the carpet, trailing out from the living room. I stare at the scene for a moment, trying to take in all the information. All I can truly think is, I’m an orphan. In the living room, the furniture has been turned over, the cushions slashed open; the drawers have been pulled out of the dresser, the contents strewn across the floor. Nothing obvious is missing; the thieves — for there must have been more than one to attack both parents at once — were looking for something specific. It seems as though my father’s secret life as a spy has been compromised.

When I walk through the front door, my mother is humming along to Radio 2 in the kitchen as she pulls plates down from the cupboard and rummages through the drawers for cutlery; my father is sitting at the table reading the paper and ignoring the fact that he could be helping.
“Julia? Is that you?”
One day it would be so nice to walk into the house and to be alone. I consider not answering; I consider turning around silently and running back down the path. “Yes,” I answer obediently.
“You’re late.”
I peer into the kitchen. “I didn’t go to work today, remember?”
“That bloody grave again,” Dad mumbles from behind the Telegraph. “Can’t be good for you. Can it, Mags?” He leans back in his chair and raises his voice, as though Mum is in another room. “It can’t be good for the girl, going off to that bloody cemetery all the time. It’s best forgotten, that’s what I say.”
“It’s not all the time. You know it’s not all the time. I don’t know about Mum, but I’m getting bored with hearing what you think.”
“Don’t talk to your father like that.”
“Like what?” I drop my handbag to the floor and kick it into the corner. I slump into my chair and wait for a plate to appear in front of me. I am suddenly a fifteen-year-old girl again being chastised for some perceived transgression. I visibly shrink three inches to inhabit that gangly awkward body. My head swarms with all the years I have not yet lived.
We eat in silence, because it’s usually best and usually the way all meals end up. I collect the plates, wash them, and put them away. I wipe the sides, make coffee, and hide away in my room. It is half-past six and my day has come to an end. No friends to meet for a drink, no evening yoga class, no date.
I change into my pyjamas and curl up to watch a James Stewart DVD. Mostly I stare up at the ceiling. I’ve watched The Philadelphia Story so many times that I know exactly what will happen in this scene and the next. I deliver Katherine Hepburn’s lines alongside her, but then I’m bored and give up.
The moon shines brightly, casting silvery shadows around the room when I turn the light out at half-past eight. There’s a whole world of people out there who haven’t even eaten dinner yet. They’ve returned from work, sat down with a glass of wine with their husbands and wives, or taken their kids to the cinema as a treat for getting good grades. They’ve considered cooking, then decided to eat out at their favourite restaurant, because these people that I’ve created have favourite restaurants. My parents have one restaurant that they use for birthdays and anniversaries; the rest of the time, Mum cooks meat-and-veg because Dad won’t consider eating anything else.
Every night I fall asleep with the curtains open, and every morning they are closed. Mum comes in and tidies around me late at night as though I’m not even there; she folds my clothes; she stacks books that I’ve left open with the pages face down because I couldn’t find a bookmark, the spines twisted and cracking. I’ve asked her not to, but she ignores me. And if I mention it a second time, she reminds me that this is her house and she is allowed to go wherever she likes, and I should remember that.

“This is really your life?” you ask, appearing in front of me and peering around the room in disdain. “This is really what you do every night, every single week? Just sit here and vegetate?”
“Yes, this is what I do.” I can confront you because you aren’t real right now. “What did you expect? Extreme sports? An evening job as a lap-dancer?”
You shrug sadly. “Perhaps it’s unfair of me to judge you. Why can’t we be different and still get along?”

Ah, Cat, why are you so understanding in my dreams and so ghastly the rest of the time?
That’s you: you’re called Cat for this little romp. Because that’s how I think of you, like a cunning and calculating cat. You are tall or short, always slim, brunette or blonde or red; you are always perfectly dressed, whether smart, casual, bohemian or sporty. You have friends who always agree with you because they know the consequences if they do not.
You’ve been following me for years, assuming various disguises. You were the PE teacher who singled me out in front of the entire class because I couldn’t hit the baseball. You were the girls behind the make-up counter who ridiculed me when I tried to buy my first eye-shadow, aged seventeen. And you were the bloke at my first job who sent me a Valentine’s card and then told everyone I was frigid when I ignored it.
I know it’s you, because you cannot conceal your spirit, your eyes betray you every time. Whenever I meet you in yet another incarnation, you always impart that identical, brief but unmistakable, echo of recognition.


  1. Thanks for the interview. I really enjoyed it:)

  2. Good interview! I always listen to music when I write as well. And I must be tired, because at first I thought she said she came over on the Plymouth and I didn't think she was that old!

  3. Thanks for this interesting interview. I wonder if Annalisa has some Swedish in her family, it's a Swedish name, actually two put together.

  4. Wow! What a powerful concept this is! Wishing Annalisa all the best for Cat and the Dreamer.

  5. New follower here. I’m getting a head start on visiting my fellow “A to Z”ers. This book sounds interesting. Thank you for sharing the interview. I look forward to visiting again.