Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Interview with Ann Finnin

Ever since escaping from a convent school at fifteen, Ann Finnin's life has been a continuous journey into magic. A Celtic harpist, Renaissance festival enthusiast, and lay historian, Finnin works as a freelance technical writer in the Healthcare industry. She and her husband live outside Los Angeles with their black Lab, Hunter. The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice is her debut novel.

(Bio taken from Flux's website)

How did the idea for The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice come to you?

Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe, monasteries were havens where ancient and heretical knowledge was preserved for posterity out of the reach of both secular and religious authorities. They were often located in remote places, the monks were literate and educated and, perhaps most important, they were bound together by sacred vows not to use their knowledge for selfish purposes or reveal their secrets to outsiders. What a perfect place for a group of wizards from all over Europe to escape from the Inquisition and practice their forbidden arts in peace – except when they do too good a job and the authorities start to wonder just what is going on.

What kind of research did you do for The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice? 

I read, read, read and read some more. Not just dry history, but historical fiction, books on religion, philosophy, art and culture. How people lived their daily lives. How they dressed, what foods they ate, their attitudes towards life and what they believed in. Movies are also helpful (provided they’re reasonably accurate) since you can visualize how your characters would behave in such an environment. Also, documentaries like the ones on the History Channel are very useful for getting the human perspective on historical events.

Did you always want to be a writer? 

Absolutely, from the time I wrote my first poem at 10 and my first ‘novel’ at 12. I have written constantly all my life. Even during the years when I had to make a living doing something else, I would write in the evenings and on weekends. Eventually, I got to the point where I could make a living being a Technical Writer while writing novels on the weekends. My goal now is to become a full time fiction writer.

What do you like to do in your spare time, when you are not writing? 

Dressing up in costume and spending the weekend in another place and time. My husband and I used to work the Renaissance Faire years ago and we still have lots of friends who are involved in a variety of historical reinactment groups. So I can be a pirate on a sailing ship, an Irish bard in an Elizabethan court or a belly dancer in a gypsy caravan for a couple of days. It’s a fantastic way to get first hand experience with life in other time periods – like attending a medieval banquet where there are no forks or how to sit in a chair while wearing a corset and farthingale.

What's the one question that no one ever asks you and you wish they would?

The question that nobody ever asks me is ‘why do you write?’ It’s one of those questions that if you’re not a writer, then it doesn’t occur to you to ask. If you are a writer, then you already know the answer, which is ‘I write because I can’t not write.’ Issac Asimov once said, “A writer is someone who writes.” When you’re a writer, you have to write or else you’re miserable. Selling your work to a publisher is wonderful because it means that somebody out there likes what you have written. But most published writers started out writing even when they didn’t sell anything. There are writers who write for years, decades even, who never sell a thing. I was one of them. But you keep writing anyway, because you’re a writer.

Thank you Ann for answering my questions! Congrats on your debut novel - one that I absolutely loved!

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