October 20, 2012

Debut Author, Anna Kittrell and her Scrimshaw Doll

Growing up in small town Oklahoma, Anna spent many a summer day on the lakeshores she often writes about. Today, she works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim, and their two practically grown children, Evan and Brandilyn. She still loves visiting those muddy red lakeshores of her childhood, when she’s not too busy writing about them instead.

Please tell us your latest news!

I am excited to announce the October 17th release of my novella, Skinbound. The story, set in Oklahoma, is part of a series called Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll, created by members of Oklahoma Romance Writers of America. Each stand-alone story in the series ties to the others by the common thread of a cursed, bone-carved doll. Skinbound is published in e-book format, and is available through The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Please describe your writing environment.

My writing environment typically consists of me, hunched over a small table in the dimly lit dining room. When my husband or daughter turn on the television in the adjoining living area, I pop in my earbuds and log onto http://simplynoise.com./ The site offers free white, pink or brown noise—brown is my favorite—and makes it easier for me to tone out whatever is in the background.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. I still have most of my tattered creations—leftovers I was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. My love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and I am thrilled my tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?

For the past twelve years, I’ve had the honor of working as an administrative assistant at Anadarko Middle School. I absolutely love my job. We educate approximately four hundred twenty students in grades sixth through eighth. I never know what will happen in front of my desk—each day is unique, exciting, and crazier than the one before. I operate the intercom, computer, telephone—often all at once—while supplying band aids, icepacks, medication, vending machine change, homework sheets, various reports… As you can imagine, the days fly by. One perk of many, is the two month vacation I receive each summer. I write full time from June 1st until July 31st, then return to work the first day of August. Before my position at the school, I worked seven years as a bank teller. And before that, I clerked eight years in a clothing store.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

I refer to my planning process as “breadcrumb outlining.” I outline enough to create a trail home, but not so much I cover the entire forest floor. Normally, I work out a beat sheet—inciting incident, first act turning point, midpoint, second act turning point, climax and wrap up—filling in around each beat as I go. I love tiny spiral notepads. When I’m working on a project, I think up scenes (usually in the shower!), scratch them down on the pages, rip them out, then pile them around my laptop (I recently got a note-spike to store them on.) I then “stitch” the scenes together, balling up and throwing away the little scraps of paper as I go. I call this phase of the process “quilting,” because the little pieces of paper remind me of quilting squares. Throwing the notes away gives me a feeling of accomplishment, reminds me I’ve finished something, helps me to press on.

If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?

By nature, I am a non-confrontational person with a nagging conscience. Therefore, I think it would be fun to spend a little time in the ‘bad-twin-skin’ of Scarlett Vaughan, the villain in Skinbound. Scarlett is mean, conniving, self-centered and ruthless. However, she is also beautiful, ambitious and confident—qualities I wouldn’t mind having a larger dose of. I don’t want to walk too many miles in her Gucci slides, though. Just a couple of steps would suffice J

Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?

My latest romantic suspense, Another Man’s Treasure, is the story of Deason McKindle, a chivalrous Oklahoma parks worker spitefully demoted to garbage man. Deason dreams of becoming a national park ranger over a thousand miles away in Glacier, Montana. But when the abusive ex-husband of pretty home-healthcare nurse Charis Locke is murdered and tossed into a trash dumpster, Deason is the prime suspect. Forced to trade in his dream of wide open spaces for a 6X8 jail cell, he quickly loses hope of ever going free. Then, like an angel (with wings on her ring-finger instead of her back), Charis unearths the passion Deason buried long ago with his family’s charred remains.

Not yet published, Another Man’s Treasure is currently a finalist in the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors’, Rebecca contest, and is also a contender in Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s FAB (Finally A Bride).


Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?

I am privileged to be part of the Oklahoma chapter of Romance Writers of America (OKRWA), an amazing group of writers doing whatever it takes to ensure success. That includes critiquing for each other when called upon, oftentimes through e-mail. Regularly, on the third Saturday of each month before our scheduled meeting, a critique session is held. Those attending acquire up to twelve critiques of a scene and perform critiques for others. Sunday afternoon critique sessions are enjoyed by the group as well, usually at a coffee shop or bookstore. In addition to the invaluable input received from fellow group members, I am fortunate to have a several avid-reader friends always willing to read and critique for me—sometimes at a moment’s notice. Receiving and giving critiques has grown me as a writer more than I could ever imagine, and I am eternally grateful for every critique I’ve obtained…even the ones I didn’t quite agree with.

What's your favorite genre to read?

I love to read classic horror. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera and—my very favorite—Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I enjoy the timelessness of these tales, the writer’s ability to transport me back to his era, then scare the wits out of me. It is thrilling and somewhat surreal to picture the author dipping his plume pen, setting it to the parchment, spilling his imagination onto the page the same as I do—over a hundred years before my birth. I find the transcendent nature of the writer/reader relationship intensely romantic.

What type of book have you always wanted to write?

I would love to write something in the classic horror vein. In addition to Romantic suspense, I enjoy writing YA Christian thrillers—maybe I’ll mix them all up…what a wild (possibly unreadable) concoction those ingredients would make!

What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?

Twitter user name: @KittrellAnna

An ancient scrimshaw doll—does its gypsy magic protect or destroy?

As a child, Darcy Vaughan cowered beneath the malice of her twin sister, Scarlett. Now, Scarlett is back and Darcy hopes to establish the sisterly bond she’s always longed for. Instead, Scarlett tries to destroy Darcy’s life—and her new relationship with the town doctor.

Dr. Cabin Creighton returned to his hometown near Lake Chickasha, Oklahoma to take over his father’s practice. One look at Darcy, and Cabin wants nothing more than to love her forever. But a guilty heart and memories of his deceased wife are holding him back.

When someone from Scarlett’s past reappears, bad things start to happen. Darcy and Cabin struggle to keep their love alive, but as danger draws closer, Darcy finds herself once more at her sister’s mercy, with nothing but the yellowed bones of an ancient doll to protect her.

CONTEST:  One randomly chosen commenter to win a copy of Skinbound (.pdf format).


Kathy Wheeler said...

I was privileged to have critiqued the original story before it went more to suspense. I look forward to reading the new version. Congratulations, Anna. Welcome to the Scrimshaw Club.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Anna....great interview! I was privileged to be the editor on this wonderful story. I LOVE the Scrimshaw doll project, and I'm so happy that Anna is a part of it and that her story is now available for readers all over the world to enjoy. Congrats, Anna...wishing you tons of future success!

Anna said...

Thank you so much, Kathy. I am so excited about the Tales of the Scrimshaw Doll project, and the new doll blog we have set up at http://talesofthescrimshawdoll.wordpress.com/. I've read every book in the series thus far, and am fond of each and every one. Thank you for checking in!

Anna said...

A big 'thank you' to my wonderful editor and fellow scrimshaw-sister, Alicia Dean. I can't thank you enough for all you do for me, as well as everyone else on the planet! I am thrilled to call you my editor and my friend. The scrimshaw project is amazing, and I can't wait to read the new, soon to be released books in the series.

Callie said...

Hey Anna,

Loved your interview. It's always nice to learn something new about another OK sister. Best of luck with Skinbound.

Winona said...

I just finished reading "Skinbound." It was truly one of my favorite of the currently published Scrimshaw Doll Tales. I'm honored to be part of the OKRWA and an friend of Anna's. The interview was great, Anna. I must check out Simply Noise . . .

Diana Layne said...

Fun interview, best of luck with Skinbound!

Anna said...

Callie, are one of the reasons Skinbound was published. Your critques of the story were extremely helpful, and I am forever grateful :) I'm so glad we are sharing this 'Scrimshaw experience' together.

Anna said...

Wow, Winona, what a compliment! I am sooo looking forward to reading the published version of your scrimshaw story, Hearts and Horses! Thank you.

Anna said...

Thank you, Diana! I appreciate it.

Calisa Rhose said...

I'm late...big surprise there. LOL I had to come by and congratulate you, Anna, for this exciting accomplishment! Great interview. Good luck with your contest entries!
I am so happy and proud to know you! I'm thrilled to have had the chance to read and critique it for you. I truly love Skinbound and can't wait to read the new suspense version!

Anna said...

Calisa, thank you so much for your support. You are a fantastic critique partner; your suggestions really helped me to shape Skinbound early on and make it a tighter, better story. I'm so glad we are 'scrimshaw sisters', and so glad you stopped by to comment :)