JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Anjuelle Floyd, author of The House
On receiving the very thing she wants—a divorce and the power to sell their house—over which they have fought the past year—Anna Manning learns that Edward, her soon-to-be ex-husband is dying from cancer.
A faithful wife for three decades, and stay-at-home mother of four children, Anna endured Edward’s constant absence due to travel for his international real estate firm and numerous extra-marital affairs. With their children now adults, Edward has less than six months, possibly three, to live.
Anna takes him home to die in the house she has fought so vigorously to sell. But letting go of someone who has caused so much pain in your life doesn’t come easily. Edward has changed. There are Anna and Edward’s four children, three of whom who are married and struggling to endow their families with meaning and purpose.
News of Edward’s terminal illness provokes her to understand the present, rooted in a wellspring of the past and pouring into a future without him. The House shows what happens when one adopts the belief that: All hold regret and are seeking forgiveness. Our salvation rests in the hands of others—most particularly the ones we love, and who have treated us wrongly.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write The House?
Anjuelle Floyd: Interestingly, I wrote The House while taking a class entitled Story Basics. Having earned my MFA in Creative Writing, I was scheduled to teach the class in a masters-level writing programs. My experience as a student in the class served as training for me to teach it.
The main primer for Story Basics is Writing for Story by Jon Franklin, a Pulitzer Prize Winning Essayist. In Writing for Story, Franklin addresses the importance of career writers learning to develop an outline or blueprint for writing their fiction.
Upon graduating my MFA program, I began exploring various ways and methods for planning out my stories and novels, but that also left enough undiscovered territory that I gained even more excitement to write the story. I wanted to develop or find an outline that fueled my desire to write, yet not take it away with planning to point of leaving no mystery.
The Franklin Outline as explained in Writing For Story did that for me. A requirement of the class is to use Franklin’s Outline or some variation thereof to plan a story or novel and then write the story or beginning of the novel, about 10,000 words.
I had intended to write a short story. Having written 10,000 words by the end of the first of 15 weeks evidenced the outline worked for me. Those interested in learning more about The House can sample opening pages @ http://www.freado.com/book/6208/the-house
JP: What sets The House apart from other novels in its genre?
AF: The House is a work of Women’s Fiction. The House is about family coming together. Like American movies, most novels display families coming apart or the aftermath of what has occurred in the family’s demise. And yes, families are dying in America. Our society does not value nor does it support families.
Those we look up to in our culture do not demonstrate how to hold relationship. We are a society of immediacy and disposability. We dispose of anything that holds flaws. The replace any instrument or people who appear weak.
The House shows marriage and family with flawed and struggling members, but remaining engaged in dialogue while in the midst of their battles. While the major character of The House is Christian, the novel does not espouse any particular religion. And yet, it echoes the wisdom of spirituality, connectedness, the need for forgiveness, atonement, redemption and grace.
The House shows a woman committed to doing what is right despite her husband who is dying, despite his unfaithfulness throughout their marriage. We also see Anna remaining present with her children in the midst of trying to make sense of emotional injuries rising out of the difficulties of their parent’s marriage, challenges that have left and continue to stir questions that may never gain answers.
Anna is not without flaws, and judgments. She has many sorrows and regrets. Against her anger and hurts, she fights to remain truthful and compassionate, displaying a mix of qualities we do not often witness in America. I, the author, am truly amazed at her strength. She has provided me a polestar by which to seek to live.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that led to The House getting out to the public?
AF: Patience, perseverance and passion. These are keys that allowed met to access my ability to bring The House to ripeness of publication and the fruitfulness of promoting and marketing it. Perseverance helps us to write that 1st draft. Then revise, revise, revise and then some more.
Passion fuels the long haul of promotion. Passion demands that we write from the heart. And when we write from the heart, our stories naturally engage. The first whose attention they claim is ours, that of the writer. When we are engaged with a story or novel, the time we put into making the it the best feels like no work at all.
We do not want to let go of the story. This is a good problem to have versus an eagerness to push an unfinished story or novel lacking development onto the world. Doing this ultimately breaks the writer’s heart. We regret not having given our baby the time it needed to gestate and reach full term.
Novels expelled too soon from the wombs of our imagination and the careful refinement of our hands do not survive long in the world of readers. When our story dies, so too goes our drive to promote it. The stories we write with an intention of making them available for public consumption and purchase need to give rise to a new set of emotions and realizations, on each reading we do after it has completed the work–a new pan of discoveries like gold we fish out of the water of a river in the western United States or diamonds we exhume from cave in South Africa.
The development of gold and diamonds takes time. So, too, must writers exhibit patience in both the crafting of our stories and novel, and in the promotion and marketing of them. Blogging and maintaining a website are imperative for the 21st century fiction writer. If you are not willing to invest time into your writing then no one else will. And why should they? You have to feel passionate about your story.
If you’ve studied and learned the craft of writing, entertaining and engaging fiction, and you’ve taken the time to write a story that held your interest throughout the process of revision and editing and then paid an editor to help–ultimately given your personal best to the project–you’ll have what it takes to promote and market your work.
A reading from your book 3 or 4 years down the road from when it was first published will excite you. This means giving away free copies to people who are interested in reading your work when they can help you promote and market it. With e-readers this is really easy and economical to do.
The first part of good promotion campaign involves/requires a good and entertaining product. Toni Morrison said, “I wrote my first novel so I could read it.” Your story must entertain and engage you. Promotion is an endurance race, a marathon. Absorption with one work also fuels your drive to continue writing.
“Fiction writers need to be able to spend long and inordinate amounts of time in our head, absorbed, subsumed and consumed by our imagination.”- -Lisa Unger
Acquisition of skills to writing entertaining and engaging fiction will give you the needed information to promote and market your work, most especially through writing blog posts for your website. Whether you self-publish or seek and attain an agent that leads to a traditional publishing contract, you must make a great investment of time and money into your writing. This is kind of like a right-of-passage.
The first four stories in my collection of short stories, Keeper of Secrets…Translations of an Incident, come out of novels I wrote nearly 10 years ago. I have been writing for 15 years. And yet I feel like I have just begun.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish The House?
AF: My routine is to write one novel a year. I usually do this in the fall around October and November. I am usually finished in December. I lay aside the rough draft of that novel and then start on revising the novel I have written from the previous year.
I take a novel through several revisions. I wrote my novel, The House in January 2007, laid it aside and returned to it in fall of 2008. From October 2008 to May 2010 I took it through 3-4 revisions.
When I am writing a novel, I try to write something each day. Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Achievement of the goal, compile at least 50,000 words on your novel requires that you write 1600 words a day.
I’m finding that daily goal a bit much to expect from myself. I started my novel 2010 at the outset of October with a goal of writing 800 words a day. That’s about 4 pages. At this pace I should have the rough draft finished by mid-December.
When I enter the process of revising a novel, I print out the entire novel, and read each page while making edits, with a red, purple, blue or green pen as I go. I usually read about 50 to 100 pages in one sitting. I then take those pages with my notations made in one of the various colors listed above, and at the computer type the noted changes into the draft from which I printed the hard copy.
JP: What’s next for you?
AF: I’m in the middle of the 8th revision of a novel I wrote the rough draft for in 2001. It is entitled Seasons. I have begun writing my novel, yet untitled, for this year, 2010. I aim to write a novel each year during the fall. On completion of that first draft, I lay it aside and begin revising the novel I wrote either the previous year, or as with now, the one I wrote in 2001.
Seasons chronicles for one year the plight of a woman who has lost her sight and how her efforts to help a man dying of AIDS assist her in adjusting to her blindness and gaining new perspective and insight on her
husband and herself.
About Anjuelle Floyd:
Anjuelle Floyd is a wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work.
A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops.
A student of Process Painting for the last decade, Anjuelle has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California.
Anjuelle facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects. She also gives talks on The Need for Family, the Writing Process as a Path Toward Self-discovery and Healing.
Those interested in writing can join “SheWrites” at http://www.shewrites.com/ and once a member you can friend me at http://www.shewrites.com/profile/AnjuelleFloyd and also join my group “Why Do You Write
and What Is Your Process” at http://www.shewrites.com/group/whydoyouwriteandwhatsyourprocess. (Please note: Men are welcome to join “SheWrites”. I have a male member of my group.)
WIN A FREE KINDLE!
To celebrate the release of her novel, The House, author Anjuelle Floyd is offering a (1) Kindle Wi-Fi (retail value: $139.00) as a part of her promotional blog tour. A WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1, 2010.
TO REGISTER ONLINE – http://bit.ly/TheHouseKindleGiveaway