After I emailed Anne Mazer to let her know that I had reviewed Spilling Ink, which she co-authored with Ellen Potter, I received a quick and positive response. She also told me if I needed copies of anything to let her know. I didn’t expect to actually take her up on that offer, as I know authors can’t exactly afford to send out copies of their books to just anyone. When however I looked for her books at our local library, I found myself out of luck. Anne Mazer immediately packaged up some of her books for me. Within a week, I received signed copies of five of her books. I wish to say thanks very much to Anne Mazer for her kindness in sending me some of her books and in agreeing to an interview. Next week, please look forward to reviews of books and interview with Ellen Potter too.
Allison: What was it like growing up with parents who were writers?
Anne: It was like attending writer’s boot camp from infancy. I absorbed a lot of invaluable knowledge about writing that was just in the air. For example, I had no illusions about much work writing took, or how solitary it was. That helped me a lot when I began writing later on in life. One nice thing about growing up with writers: no one minds if you disappear for hours or even days behind a book!
Allison: You grew up reading and writing. What were your favorite books back then?
Anne: I loved fairy tales, myths and legends, and anything funny, fantastic, or futuristic. And practically anything else with a spine, a cover, and a bunch of pages covered with writing.
Allison: What today is the worst thing about writing? What is the best thing?
Anne: Worst: isolation, lack of security, no health insurance. Best: ability to create universes out of one’s imagination; meeting amazing people whose lives you’ve touched with your writing.
Allison: You have two series: Abby Hayes and Sister Magic. What is the worst thing about writing a series? What is the best thing?
Anne: I love writing series. It’s like visiting with old friends. You don’t have to reinvent the world every time you write a book. On the other hand, you’re restricted. If you want to break out of that world, you can’t. You have to follow the rules that you set up. Also there’s a lot of time pressure in writing a series. You have to produce books quickly. That’s not always easy.
Allison: Who are you like of all your books’ characters? Who do you secretly want to be like?
Anne: There’s a little of me in every single one. But I’ve never yearned to be one of my characters. In another lifetime, I’d like to be Pippi Longstocking, however.
Allison: How did you meet Ellen Potter?
Anne: Megan Shull, the author of Amazing Grace, introduced us. The three of us did an event masterminded by Megan, called “You Read, Girl.” It was an incredible evening. Afterward I knew I had to become better friends with both Megan and Ellen. Sure enough, a few weeks later, we were all sitting down to discuss writing a book together. Because of other commitments, Megan soon had to leave the project. Ellen and I kept on going. The result was Spilling Ink.
Allison: What was it like to collaborate with another author?
Anne: I can only answer what it was like to collaborate with Ellen Potter: the best, ever. Magic happens when the two of us get together. We bring out the best in each other. There’s a lot of trust, respect, and mutual admiration; and we can be honest about what we think and feel. I barely knew Ellen when we started the book, but now she’s someone I can’t live without.
Allison: You have written books for younger and older readers. How do you adapt to each audience?
Anne: When I start to write, I try to “tune in” to that audience. Before I start writing, I have to get the voice in my head. Once I have it, I’m good to go.
Allison: You post about being involved in writing workshops for kids. What are the best lessons you have learned about your own writing from them? What are the best lessons you would pass on to young people?
Anne: What I’ve learned from kids: I love their enthusiasm, creativity, wild imagination, and ability to write dialogue that’s out of this world. They have a looseness and freedom that I try to emulate.
What I try to pass on: I think kids, especially the younger ones, should just learn to enjoy their writing. Find out what sparks their imagination and what makes their eyes light up. Once they experience the joy of it, they might be ready for some of the more difficult aspects. If they can connect to their own voices, the hard work part starts to make more sense.
Allison: What’s next?
Anne: Another project with Ellen Potter, of course. And I have a few books in the works.
The end of my thematic review months is coming to a close. Starting mid-May, I'll review an assortment of books.