Author Spotlight: Ann Lister

Switching Octaves by Ann Lister, Ann List romance author

CJC: How did you get started as an author and what made you want to pursue that field?

AL: I’ve always been a storyteller. When I was young, I’d keep my friends entertained with my tales. Sometimes I’d make up the stories, other times the story came from very vivid dreams I’d have. Then around the time I was in high school my friends started to tell me I should write down my dreams and stories in book format. After one particularly vivid dream that involved me and a famous guitarist that I’d won a couple of private lessons from, I decided to sit down and write it all down. A few months later, I had the first draft completed for Sheet Music: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Love Story. I didn’t stop with that novel and kept on writing. Eleven years later and after about 30 novels written, and I’m still doing what I love!

CJC: What do you find to be the most rewarding and challenging part of bring an author and what hurdles have your overcome while striving towards your goals?

AL: For me, writing the story is the easy part. The challenge is all the details that come after the story is completed, the marketing. That’s the part of this process that feels like real work but it is a necessary component. I’m not very good at marketing which makes it even more of a job to do. I’m fortunate to have others around me who do know how to market properly and they help me a LOT with this detail.

The rewarding part is hearing from the readers on how your story affected them personally. Hearing how my words touched them means so much. It makes all the long hours of sitting in front of a laptop seven days a week worth every minute. A lot of my stories have very serious themes, such as childhood sexual abuse, depression, chronic illness, and so on. I’ve poured a lot of my own life history into these stories and I think the realness of the story line comes across because of that. It was therapeutic for me to roll my life into the story but it wasn’t easy for me to expose myself in that way. I think whenever an author can add a layer of realism like that into a story it gives the story more weight for them to hold on to.

CJC: Which novel has been your favorite to write and why?

AL: Wow, that is a tough question! It’s like asking which of your children is your favorite. Each of my stories are special to me and were the most important novel I’ve written at that moment. All of the characters I’ve created have pieces of me threaded into them. Cooper from Make You Mine, Book 3 in The Rock Gods series has my humor. Dante from Fighting His Fire, Book 6 has my spark, and so on. For those who know me well, they’d know the bits and pieces that are me.

I’d have to pick Fall For Me, Book 1 to be an important turning point for me with my writing career. It was the first full-length MM story I’d ever written and I knew when I was writing it that it was going to launch me into something much bigger than I ever imagined and I was right. For that reason, the characters from that story, Dagger and Ryan will always have a special spot in my heart.

CJC: For first time readers of your work, which book would you recommend?

AL: It depends on what genre they like to read. I have five M/F (male – female) titles in print and over twenty MM stories. All are on the erotic side and are love stories with an HEA. If they enjoy MM and rock stars then I’d have to recommend Fall For Me, Book 1 in The Rock Gods series. That is the story that launched my obsession with musicians falling in love and finding their happy ending.

CJC: If one of your books were made into a movie, which would you select and who would you like to star in it?  

AL: I would love to see any one of my rock star stories turned into a movie! I think any of the titles in the Rock Gods or Guarding The Gods would translate perfectly in a movie format. As for actors to play the book characters, that’s more difficult to pin-point. My guys are alphas with swagger and raw talent on stage but they’re not afraid to show their emotions behind closed doors.

CJC: For those looking to become an author, what advice would you give them?

AL: Write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph. Know your target market and read all the books you can in that market to know what is trending. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone to engage with readers, whether it’s virtually on social media or at a book conference. It’s all important.

CJC: If you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be and why?      

AL: This question immediately brings tears to my eyes. I was working on a collaboration project with my author bestie, Sandrine Gasq-Dion when she suddenly passed away in October of 2017. In the days leading up to her death we were working together in my kitchen on this project. We had a few chapters completed and a pile of notes created for the story, but with her gone now the collaboration we had planned will never happen. She and I had a similar wit, humor, and writing style which is why we wanted to team up. It makes me very sad this will never happen but what I’m going to do is roll some of the elements we had written into another story, so on some level the readers will still get a piece of what she and I had started.

I do have some other collaboration news to share though. I am currently in the middle of another co-authoring project with TL Travis. We’re pairing one of her rock stars with one of my guards in a book titled, Ryder’s Guardian. This has been so much fun writing and it’s coming along quickly, so I think we’re going to try and get this one released sometime in April.

CJC: Favorite motto?     

AL: “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” Steven Tyler lyrics from Aerosmith’s song, Amazing, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite songs. The words to that song are so powerful.

CJC: What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

AL: I have been fortunate in my years of writing not to have experienced this on a grand scale. I have lost focus from time to time and what usually helps with that is to step away from that project and work on another one. Usually when I return to the first, my brain is open to work again. I have also found going back to the beginning of the story and re-reading will sometimes get my ideas rolling again.

CJC: In one word, how would you describe your writing style?

AL: Just one word? I can’t condense anything which is why my books are all around 80,000 words!  LOL.  If I had to choose one word to describe my writing style then I’d pick: Fun. My goal with each new book project is to write it in such a way that the reader is fully entertained and has fun while reading. I want my words to be an escape for those who read my work.  It’s as simple as that.

CJC: Which do you find harder to do… writing the blurb for your story or select the cover?   

AL: By far, the blurb is harder – for the reasons I stated above. I tend to be a bit too wordy with my stories which makes it almost painful for me to write the blurb. How do you take an 80,000 word story and condense it down to about 200 words that will entice a potential reader into choosing your book to read next?  It’s not easy.

CJC: Which author inspires you the most and why? 

AL: There are several authors who inspire me, whether it is their prolific work ethic or their ability to use their words in such a way that the reader is brought to their knees with emotion. I can’t list author names because it wouldn’t be fair to the many other authors who I adore and love their work.

CJC: What is your writing process like?  

AL: My process changes depending on the phase of the project I’m working on. If I’m in “writing mode” and writing the bulk of the story, then I will do a quick check-in on social media first thing in the mornings to answer messages, then I’m off to write. If I’m releasing a book, there is very little writing being done and my days are spent mainly doing full-time marketing. I work seven days a week though, but the hours vary. It could be anywhere from 3-4 hours to 10 hours. I almost never write at night but will do virtual events like an author takeover instead. I’m more of a morning or day person. I’m up by 7:30am and at my desk by 8am, sometimes earlier and I’ll work until 5pm or 6pm but then I am done for the day. When the sun is setting, so is my brain.  LOL.

CJC: What new projects are you currently working on and what are your goals for the remainder of the year?

AL: I have some very exciting projects planned for 2020! One of them already released on March 24th, Switching Octaves, Book 2 in The Rock Gods: East Coast Label which is a spin-off series from my original Rock Gods series.

Next up is the collaboration project I’m writing with TL Travis. That should be an April release.

I also have my very first FF (female-female) rock star story planned for this year. I’m hoping for a Summer release for that. The title is Weeping Willow and I’m about halfway done writing it.

Another project I’m neck deep into is a rock star series with myself and several other authors contributing full-length stories to. I’m about a third done writing my story for that series which is titled, Strung Tight.

I have another Rock Gods book planned for late Fall which will be the story of my rocker, Bronx and the guard, Cavalari. If you’ve been following the last couple of Rock Gods stories, then you know who this couple is. They are explosive on many levels and I can’t wait to bring you their story.  And if I have time beyond that, I have another short story to add to the Illicit Heat Series as well. Lots going on so I hope you’ll stay tuned.

CJC: Any final thoughts you would like to share with the CJC Photography readers?      

AL: I’d like to thank Chris first for doing this interview! You had some great questions here and I thank you for your time and interest in my work.

For the readers, I can’t thank you enough for the support you’ve given to me and my stories. I seriously couldn’t do this job I love so much without your interest in the characters and your enthusiasm for wanting more rock star stories! I can’t imagine doing anything else. I truly love sitting in my writing chair every day to bring you more stories, so I thank you for allowing me to keep doing what I’m doing. I cherish your private messages and public posts of excitement about one of my books. You have no idea how much it all means to me. My job is very solitary which makes interaction with the readers so valuable.

So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my stories!  <3

CJC: Thank you so much Ann for taking part in this interview. It was a pleasure getting to know more about how you became an author and your writing process and I look forward to working with you more in the future.

Switching Octaves is now available here! 

Stay up to date with all of Ann’s latest releases here.

Fall Again by Ann Lister, Ann Lister gay romance author, CJC Photography book cover photographer

 

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