Welcome to Writers4Higher
The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Anne C. Petty
Hi Anne! Welcome to the Writers4Higher family!
1. Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
I’ve always been a wordsmith. Even in grade school I remember how cool it was to be able to manipulate words, and somehow I never got over it. The idea of being a writer and book publisher took root pretty early on. At age 8, I remember taking the 8x10 cardboard from the package of my dad’s new shirt and folding it in half, thinking, ‘I’m going to write a book.’ On the front of the cardboard I wrote the title: The Dog Who Lost His Bark, and drew a kind of Scotty-looking dog underneath it. Inside I wrote, “He found it!” I rediscovered that early wordsmithing attempt years later when I was looking through my mother’s keepsakes after her death.
My writing foundation is in myth and folklore, and I’ve been an avid reader of classic horror since I was a kid. J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, and Edgar Allen Poe are probably the biggest influences on my own storytelling approach. I’ve written a lot of non-fiction, as well. My first three published books were non-fiction, literary criticism. The first was a user-friendly version of my dissertation on Tolkien’s mythology, which is now in its 2nd edition from the University of Alabama Press. The second was Tolkien in the Land of Heroes, a study of universal themes in LOTR, and the third was Dragons of Fantasy (how to write about dragons in fantasy/scifi fiction), both from Cold Spring Press/Simon & Schuster.
My literary tastes run toward the dark side, but I really prefer psychological horror and suspense over the guts ‘n gore school of writing. My first novel, Thin Line Between, was mined from the Australian Dreamtime legends. The sequel to that novel, Shaman’s Blood, came out last year from Journalstone Publishing in San Francisco. I also have a writing partner, P.V. “Pete” LeForge, with whom I’ve written a trilogy in a style we call Florida literary suspense. The first book of our North Florida trilogy is Hell and High Water, set in the Gulf Coast area and dealing with Florida swamp legends (Black Bay Books, 2012). The second book in this series, Museum Piece, is due out early 2013. Also, Journalstone will be publishing two of my books in 2013: The Cornerstone, based on the Doctor Faustus tale, and LIMBUS, INC., a shared-world anthology for which I’m both creator and series editor. Looks like I’ll be busy next year!
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
In mid-2012, I was diagnosed with lung cancer and not given a very optimistic prognosis. However, I’ve already outlived the shelf-life that hospital physicians projected for me and have turned things around to the point that I now believe I’ll live to write another day, or even another year.
As I wrote in my blog, what has this experience done for me as a writer? I think it has made me less cerebral about the big issues of life and death. It’s so easy to kill off characters on paper, but having stared my own possible quick demise in the face, my perspective is changed forever. I hope it will infuse my storytelling with a level of immediacy and empathy that I think was missing.
I suspect my writing may become more spiritual in nature. My background in myth and folklore has made me aware of symbols and their greater meaning for people, but now those images are more personal. I definitely believe in the transformative power of the human mind. I wouldn’t call myself a religious person, but I’m open to the spiritual aspect of life and the beyond. Do I envision spirit guides of my own? Indeed I do.
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
I love sharing with others what I know about the craft of writing. I’ve spent nearly 40 years as a professional editor, writer, and publisher, so I do have a few words of wisdom I can pass on to those who are curious. I especially enjoy presenting panels and seminar sessions at writing and pop-culture conferences. Dragon-con in Atlanta is one of my favorites, where I have often been a guest speaker for the Tolkien Track.
Also high points for me every year have been the free summer workshops I’ve presented for the Tallahassee Writers Association at the downtown Tallahassee library. I’ve covered topics as diverse as the fluid landscape of the publishing industry to writing flash fiction to world-building techniques for science fiction and fantasy fiction. I hope to do more of these, once I regain my health.
And finally, there’s my publishing company, Kitsune Books. I started it 6 years ago with the mission to publish literary fiction and book-length poetry collections that were highly deserving but probably didn’t have a prayer of getting published by larger mainstream companies. Our motto was “Quality books for eclectic readers.” I’ve reluctantly decided to close the company at the end of 2012, because I just can’t manage the demands of running the company while I’m concentrating most of my energies on staying alive. That said, I feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do with the press, which was to make sure that each book was a work of art, from the text to the cover, typeface, and layout. Working on a personal level with the authors and artists who crafted our thirty or so “Kitsune” books was a great joy and possibly the most rewarding period of my wordsmithing career. The fact that so many of these books won literary awards in our short history is icing on the cake.
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