Annalisa Crawford – Bio
Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall. She writes dark contemporary stories, and has been winning competitions and publishing short stories in small press journals for many years. She’s the author of four books, and won 3rd prize in the Costa Short Story Award, 2015.
• How long have you been writing?
It’s a huge cliché, but I’ve been writing since I was a child. I wrote my first story about a flying golden horse when I was about seven (sadly, long gone) and an epic two-parter about a Victorian scullery maid for school when I was eleven.
• What do you like to read in your free time?
I love reading standalone books by authors I’ve never read before. I’ve only ever read two series—Harry Potter, and the Game On series by Kyra Lennon. In bookshops, I’m drawn to the covers of books and to fascnating titles. And, as a writer who really struggles to write more than about 65,000 word novels, I love picking up thin volumes. I’ve read some amazing books using that system.
• What does a typical workday look like for you?
I don’t have a typical day. I work part-time, but my hours vary a lot. I try to fit in four gym sessions a week, have a dog to walk, and friends to meet up with.
Once all that has been taken care of, I tend to sit on my sofa with my laptop, watching repeats of Buffy or Star Trek:TNG. I try very hard to avoid social media, but the closest I’ve got is to limiting my internet usage to when I’m drinking tea—however I drink a lot of tea!
If I’m in the middle of a project, I’ll be completely focused, to the extent that I’ll work until 10 or 11pm, trying my best to pretend I’m still a part of my family and make sure they all have clean clothes to wear. At the beginning or very end of a project, I find it easier to put my work aside and do other things instead.
• Tell us about your book(s)?
I’ve written four books—a mixture of novellas (Cat & The Dreamer and Our Beautiful Child) and short stories (That Sadie Thing and You. I. Us.) I write character-led fiction, exploring the relationships between people. My characters lead me into some interesting situations.
I’ve written about suicide pacts, serial killers, ghosts, premonitions, the deep bond of friendship, the break-up of relationships and people who are floundering in their daily lives.
• How did you come up with the titles of your books?
I tend to have the titles in my head before I start writing, and the story leans into the title. To be honest, I don’t really know where they come from, but I do consider them to be extremely important. On rare occasions, when I don’t have a title, the whole process feels awkward and meandering. I’m currently writing a short story that has no title, and it’s making me quite anxious!
**Publishing and Marketing
• How did you break into the publishing world?
I’d been writing and submitting short stories to literary journals for a couple of years, when I had two accepted in relatively quick succession. I was 20, and thought it was the beginning of something huge. It wasn’t. I continued to write, and every couple of years I’d have another acceptance.
I wrote novellas and attempted a full-length novel, as well as continuing to write short stories. One novella in particular seemed completely unpublishable, because of its length (it was just before the rise of ebooks which has allowed all lengths to be viable). I found a publisher called Vagabondage Press, and sent the story to them. I basically wanted one more person to read it before I shelved it, and the accepted it. That was Cat & The Dreamer, and that’s when my writing career took its next step.
• How do you develop your plots and characters?
I’m a pantser, so apart from having a vague idea of the plot and/or the characters, I sit with a blank page and see what happens. My current WIP is a short story—I started with the idea of an elderly woman with tattoos. As I began to write, a 16 year old boy emerged, and my old lady can now predict the future. Her tattoos have so far failed to fully materialise, and may disappear altogether.
• Do you put yourself in your books/characters at all?
I used to do it all the time, but less so recently. My quirks, opinions, ideas, mannerisms and snippets of conversations have all featured in my work—I think I must have started to run out!
• How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Far too long. I have no editing filter, so I’ll go back and edit again and again. My longest-running project was about 16 years until I abandoned it. And then…
Last year I decided to do NaNoWriMo, and took the characters and vague premise from that abandoned story into the new novel. My idea was to have the novel completely written (including beta reads and edits) within a year. That hasn’t happened, but I’m now aiming for March, so not too far from schedule. I blogged about the year here – https://annalisacrawford.wordpress.com/category/novel-in-a-year/
• Are there any nuggets of wisdom you can impart to aspiring writers?
My advice tends to be quite harsh, but it’s helped me keep my head over the past 25 years of almost making it.
Writers need to learn how to get over rejection.
Nothing in this industry is personal—you are not being personally rejected, just that particular story on that particular day by that particular person. If they’d read it tomorrow, or yesterday, the outcome might have been different.
If you love writing, someone saying “no” shouldn’t put you off.