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Seriously Honored ~ Thank You, A Page Book Club

I recently (okay maybe not so recently, but I'm just now getting around to posting it, because we all know I struggle with doing the "things") had the honor and privilege of being interviewed by Alis at a Page Book Club. She's an awesome book blogger from across the pond, and maintains a quality, info-rich blog covering a multitude of genres. And she posts on the regular, something I can honestly say is no easy feat. So, kudos, Alis. Everyone else, if you're like me and are constantly struggling to find new books to read, I suggest giving her blog a gander. You can do so at: A Page Book Club | Book Blog


But if that's not you, and you're just here for answers, Alis graciously agreed to let me cross-post the interview here:


(Intro)


I have had the most fortunate experience of liaising with Sabine Reeve since her debut novel Avenger of Blood. Sabine reached out to me to see if I would read her debut novel in return for an honest review and I was blown away by the book. Since then, we have numerous correspondences and I was so glad when her second novel came out, The Orphan that I couldn’t wait to read it as well and again she did not disappoint. So, I wanted to share with you what is behind this brilliant writer. What follows is my exclusive author interview with S.M. Reeve. Let’s step into the captivating world of mystery and intrigue as I delve into the creative mind behind the acclaimed Anna Croix series. Sabine Reeve, the brilliant wordsmith and storyteller extraordinaire, as she takes us on a wonderful journey filled with suspense, unforgettable characters, and unexpected twists. In this exclusive interview, I try to unravel the layers of Reeve's inspiration, the evolution of Anna Croix's character, and the secrets that breathe life into her novels. Get ready to be spellbound as we peek behind the curtain of the thrilling literary realm and you will see Sabines honest and funny answers that shine through and I hope you will love the talented Sabine Reeve and her work as much as I do.


(Interview)


Please introduce yourself.


Hello there, I’m Sabine. Maker of questionable life choices. Writer of not entirely untrue fiction. I’ve lived in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia for as long as I can remember, which makes me what I call, mountain ghetto. (The county in which I graduated high school was at one point the meth capital of the state. Not our finest moment.) My favorite foods are bacon, chocolate, wine, and plain ruffle Great Value brand potato chips from Walmart. My best friend and I have invented a culinary delight out of said foods we call Girl Dinner. I’m a practitioner of multiple martial arts, but jiu jitsu holds my heart. I love to shoot and believe there’s no such thing as too much ammo. I also believe the only reason I’m still here and not dead in a gutter is by the grace of God.


At which age did you start writing and why?


I’m not sure I have an exact answer for this. English was my arch nemesis in school. I was more of a STEM girl in college (minus the technology part) and trying to crank out a ten page paper nearly killed me. I think I seriously started writing when my husband (not my husband at the time) decided to join the military at the ripe old age of thirty-two. I might have had an early mid-life crisis. That’s when I rediscovered the public library. Reading was an escape, and I think it eventually morphed into writing. Which for me, was even more of an escape.


What inspires you to write?


Holy moly, what a question. I’ve never actually thought about it. Life, I guess? The crazy things I’ve experienced. The crazy things I’ve seen others experience. Humanity’s ability to overcome despite the easy road being to succumb. Maybe? I think this would take some serious introspection, which is not really my strong suit.


Are there any authors that inspired you to write?


Um, yes, and I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this because it’s not the genre I write in AT ALL. I might have discovered something called paranormal romance on those trips to the library. I must say, not all of it’s good, some of it’s kinda weird, but there was one author who completely sucked me into another world. Her name is Kresley Cole, and I devoured her Immortals After Dark series.


How do you get published?


I self-publish. I did a lot of research after I wrote Avenger of Blood, and there was very little about traditional publishing that appealed to me. In fact, the only part of traditional publishing that appealed to me was thinking I wouldn’t have to market myself or my books, which turned out to be untrue. So, I decided to retain ownership of my work and write what I want, when I want. It’s worked out quite well, aside from the marketing tidbits. That’s still a nightmare.


A surprising lesson you have learned through your journey of writing.


Oh man, um … I can write more than ten pages. Who knew?


Where do you get your ideas from?


Again, it’s life, mostly. And sometimes it bites me in the butt. I remember the feedback I got from the first editor that read Avenger of Blood. “The beginning is too slow. Just make her already know martial arts.” I remember thinking, I studied biochemistry in college and it’s not exactly a major that gives you loads of free time. I knew med-school would be worse. I also know the time and effort it takes to become proficient in a single martial art, let alone three. Add weapons on top of that and what this editor was suggesting just wasn’t feasible. Yes, I realize it’s fiction, but it’s not fantasy. And the almost two years it takes Anna to get to where she is while devoting one hundred percent of her time to training is still a stretch. The story line of average-protagonist-meets-adversity-and-one-month-later-is-kicking-ass-and-taking-names has always been a pet peeve of mine. To all of us who’ve lived it, it’s kinda rude. That editor did have a point, though. She knew what people expected in thrillers, and sadly, it’s something like what she suggested. I still refused to change it. I want what I write to at least be plausible. If that means my books don't appeal to some, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.


What daily habits or routines do you find most beneficial for your writing?


Coffee and wine. Lots of coffee and lots and lots of wine. But on a more serious note, not spending too much time in front of the computer. After about the tenth hour, everything starts to look like word soup. I always tell my husband to cut me off in the eleventh hour. He tries, and I’m like, “Not now!” Bless it. He’d tell you I’m great at making up routines, and then completely ignoring the routine. Some of my best ideas come to me in the shower after he’s managed to cut me off, but I’m not “allowed” to turn back on my computer, so I just cover it in sticky notes.


What was the initial inspiration for the Anna Croix Series?


I know you’re probably tired of this answer, but it’s life. The first scene I ever wrote for Avenger of Blood (the warehouse scene) came to me after watching John Wick. I remember thinking, we might have a problem here. A guy goes on murdering spree, killing I lost count of how many people, and we’re still cheering him on by the end of the movie. I thought, what if I wrote a different kind of story? One that exposes the evil at work. That’s what I tried to do in Avenger of Blood. Anna starts out good enough, but she’s never been through any trials. First time she’s faced with adversity; she has to make a choice. Mourn like a normal person, lean into the foundation of her religion and upbringing, and go on to live a healthy, happy, somewhat adjusted life. Or give in to the dark side. At first, she struggles with her baser desires, but the more she gives in, the easier it gets. Until she becomes just as dark and twisted as the people she’s fighting. Luckily for her, God was also fighting, and sent her Spike. This is where the real-life, not-so-made-up part comes in. The entire story basically ended up being a giant book of symbolism based on my experiences, my testimony if you will, of how God was continually working to save me from the darkness, even as I was running the other way, screaming, “You can’t catch me!” And, yes, the good Lord did send me Spike, in real life. I was hesitant at first, but they eventually wore me down.


How do you develop your characters and decide their traits?


Most of my characters are based on real people, so it’s easy. I’m not that creative of a person. Much more of a left-brainer.


Who is your favourite character other than Anna Croix and why?


Spike. One hundred percent. No contest. Because I love him. So hard. How could anyone not? Funny story, when I first met him, I thought he was suspiciously nice.

Like, what’s your angle, buddy? No one’s that nice unless they’re working an angle. Probably a testament to the type of people I was used to being around.


Do you plot your stories in advance or let them unfold naturally?


Panster all the way. We writers classify ourselves into two groups. Pansters and plotters. I don’t know how plotters do it. The only outlines I ever made were in that dreadful English 101 class in college, and I remember getting a C. On an outline! How is that even possible?


What is your favourite part of the writing process?


The first draft. Where I just get to let the words flow onto the page. It’s editing that I hate. There are so many rules. Really should have paid more attention in that English class.


What role does research play in your writing?


HUGE. Kinda. By that I mean I’m not going to put something in my books unless I know it’s accurate. Luckily, I’ve got some pretty deep life-experience pockets and a network of contacts throughout the military, FBI, and GBI, as well as some not so legit channels. So, research is usually just a phone call away. And if I have a question about anything SF, I just yell into the other room.


Do you have any specific writing rituals?


None whatsoever. Unless you count the coffee and wine.


What is the most challenging aspect of writing for you?


It’s not so much the writing as it is the editing. I can bang out the entire novel in a couple months. It’s getting happy with it that’s the problem. I edit and re-edit, so many times that I think I’m just looping back to where I started. It’s a vicious cycle. There’s a meme out there saying, “Write the book you want to write because you’re going to read it 200 times,” followed by that clip of Matthew McConaughey in the Wolf of Wall Street saying, “You gotta pump those numbers up. Those are rookie numbers.” Haven’t seen the movie, but truer words have never been spoken.


How do you decide on the point of view of your stories?


I really didn’t think this through in the beginning. If I had, I might have tried to find a way to work AOB into first person. I love writing in first person. It’s so much fun. But with the first two books of the Anna Croix Series already in third person, there’s no going back now. I think that would throw people off. Except for the short story spin offs. Those are in first person, and I think everyone’s fine with it.


In what ways has your initial idea ever dramatically changed by the time the book is completed?


I’d say AOB was a dramatic change. The plan was just to write a different type of revenge story. I didn’t know it was going to morph into a giant allegory.


What sparks your creativity when you’re feeling uninspired?


Creativity. Inspired. I don’t know if my brain operates in those terms. I usually just pour a cup of coffee and sit down in front of the computer. If a scene is giving me trouble, I work it out on the heavy bag.


How do you know when your manuscript is finally done?


I don’t. I think this is a common problem for a lot of writers. We never feel like it’s done. After spending four times as long in the editing process as we did in the writing process, there comes a point where we just throw our hands up and say, “Screw it. It’s good enough."

That's it! Thanks again to Alis for this amazing opportunity, and if you'd like to check out the post on her blog here's the link: Unveiling the Craft: An Exclusive Interview with Sabine Reeve, Author of the Anna Croix Series (apagebookclub.com)

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