Born into an all white, upper middle class community along the shores of Lake Erie, the author attended university during the tumultuous 60’s. After marching on Washington in Peace Protests, she meets and marries a Saudi in 1969, during an era when interracial unions were almost non-existent.
After graduation, the couple and their young son move to Saudi Arabia, where she gives birth to another son. This period from 1970 to 1977...before, during and after the discovery of oil is documented in "Seven Years Behind the Veil", written by the author.
Moving back to Southern California (during the Beach Boy era), she divorces her Saudi husband of 20 years and buries her oldest son at the age of 32. She then begins a new adventure and moves to a 15-acre homestead in the isolated hills of Northern Idaho, where she still lives with Ben: her husband and soul mate.
A student of life, the author challenges Anna with the lessons she’s learned. Imprinting the pages with provocative scenarios, the author has spunAnna’s Journey into an insightful tale: full of intrigue, mystery and self-discovery...with a sprinkle of romance. Enjoy!
Interview with Ann Hellewell by Smashwords
What are you working on next?
I am working on “A Long Circle Home.” This is a story about an infant, found on a church steps on the Washington State Palouse prarrie.
A large, loving, rural family takes her home. They name her Sky, for her eyes are the color of the bright blue, azure heavens.
From the beginning Sky was different, in a special and magical way. The story line follows her development as she discovers who she truly is.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have Sooo many favorite authors because I love to read a wide variety of books. To mention a few...William Young (The Shack), Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy), Sara Young (Jesus Calling) Maeve Binchy, Deepak Chopra, James A. Michener, Sara Roberts and many, many more.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My husband and I own a Border Collie, which requires about 1 million miles per day of exercise. Every morning my inspiration to get out of bed is a wet lick. While I am throwing on my clothes, I am herded from one room to the next until the leash is on and the walk begins.
As I step on wet grass, the sun is just coming up and the day is fresh and new. Surrounded by nature... I give thanks for my life, and the people and animals in it. It's a positive and wonderful way to begin each morning. I always return home ready to tackle the multitude of activities each day will bring..
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My husband and I have developed and marketed software to Volunteer Departments for over 25 years. So the mornings find me busy at work for Benan Systems. I can put my heart into our business because we "help people" across the country" help people." I try to write in the afternoons but in-between I help my husband take care of our large house and 15 acres overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene. I love to walk our Border Collie, read, take quad rides, spend time with our large family and friends. When the weather is right my husband and I fly in the plane we built, swooping over the virgin hills and pristine lakes of Northern Idaho.
Describe your desk
I write on my old high school desk. I have traveled the world, but always return to my chipped student chair and spread paper out on my well worn desk. On the right side of the desk I have a jar with pens and pencils. Leaning against them is a dog-eared dictionary and my ever present thesaurus. My computer perches dangerously on the left hand corner, and in the middle of the desk is a blank pad of paper waiting to be filled with inspirational words. On the back left corner is my Sharper Image Sound Soother I can turn on when my environment becomes a distraction. When I am writing, I need a restful environment to stay in the "zone."
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My two sisters and I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, outside of Cleveland Ohio. In this home of "Little Women" I learned to emulate strong, humorous, and wise females. Our family spent the summers at Grandmas house, on the shores of the Georgian Bay in Ontario Canada. In this home of the ancestors, without electricity or plumbing, the relatives gathered. It was here that I learned to live a simple life connected to nature. The secure feelings of being engulfed into a large family unit full of all the drama and love... has stayed with me It was during these long summer days that I subconsciously absorbed a strong moral compass and old family values. Since you are what you write, all of these experiences and many more have influenced my writing.
When did you first start writing?
I first began writing when I was in Junior High. When I was submerged in turmoil or emotional upheaval, I would put my thoughts on paper to sort them out. This therapeutic writing has followed me through life. I was compelled however, to write my first book when I was in my early 30's. An uneasy feeling kept following me through my days. This voice hinted that I needed to sit down at my desk and write down memories of Saudi Arabia, where I lived from 1970 to 1977. Of course I resisted, but the feeling only intensified. To this day, real peace of mind only returns when I have allotted a part of my day to pen and paper. If too much time is spent away from my writing desk I feel verbally constipated...so you see....writing comes from my soul and is in my blood.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I should be the "poster child" for Smashwords, for my journey parallels it's founder Mark Coker. In the 1980's, if I was to become a published author my book (Adrift in Arabia) had to be accepted by the all mighty agents and publishers of New York. It was an all or nothing proposition. After 5 years of reject letters I finally found a New York agent. For two years I worked with this agent and was almost successful several times. When my great literary teacher died, I pursued my dream for a few more years and finally buried my manuscript in a drawer and moved on.
Years later I find Create Space and dust off my pen. I tell myself, " If I'm going to write again it will have to be a fun fiction." Hence Anna's Journey is born. My creativity flourished since I knew I'm now writing for my readers and not handcuffed by political, monetary- based publishers who are too busy to give first time writers a chance. Because of Createspace and Smashwords I am a proudly published independent author,and I can't be happier.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is loosing myself in the storyline, to the point of living in a parallel universe. The characters become so real that they take over the plot and I come along for the ride. In this fascinating process I never knows what words will be formed. Standing outside myself I watch complex themes twist and turn, dropping hints and then tying all the strings together into a masterful conclusion. A central theme radiating from my soul, always wonders through the pages. Its almost as if this message is destined to be put into the physical plane to somehow enhance the readers life. Writing is a part of who I am and one of the most joyous things in my life..
What is your writing process?
I have a very active and flowing writing process. Usually a storyline begins to filter into my thoughts during the quieter parts of the day. When my mind begins perking like a pressure cooker, I schedule a long, safe, uninterrupted space in my life where I can totally zone out. I open my soul and if the time is right, the whole story simply runs through my mind. After outlining these thoughts I begin thinking about the first chapter. During walks, showers, dishes etc... images, feelings, words, character interactions and so on filter from the subconscious into the conscious. When I finally begin writing my fingers fly over the key board.
I treat each chapter as a separate book. After I'm done writing I reread several times, before moving onto the next chapter, When I'm done with the final draft I read the entire manuscript for flow, grammar, punctuation, imagery etc. Then again, I reread several times. While the book is with my friends who serve as editors, I read each sentence studying it's worth.
Writing is a very, very long process and hours of tedious work... but it's also endlessly gratifying.