Ann Aguirre's THE SHAPE OF MY HEART Blog Tour-Author Interview
1.Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of books for teens and adults. Before getting published, I was a clown, a clerk, a savior of stray kittens, and a voice actress, not necessarily in that order. I grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now I live in Mexico with my husband and children. You can find out more about me on my website http://www.annaguirre.com/ or by following me on twitter (@MsAnnAguirre)
2.What do you do when you are not writing?
I enjoy playing video games, watching movies, spending time with my family, cooking, and reading. When I have some down time from writing, it’s not uncommon for me to read a book or more a day. I’m an extraordinarily fast reader.
3.How did you choose the genre you write in?
I have genre ADD; I can’t commit to one. So far, I’ve written romantic science fiction, dystopian, contemporary romance, steampunk, urban fantasy, paranormal, and horror. I would get bored writing the same type of book year after year, so diversity is necessary and fun. What new adult offers me is the chance to write about college-aged people, which is something I wanted to do before this market became a thing. I love being able to write a young, fresh POV (similar to YA), only in new adult I can write romance style sex scenes, which ups the ante, heat-wise.
4. Where do you get your ideas?
Weird things. Random things. Everything. The world is pretty awesome when you get right down to it. True story, I was driving to pick my kids up from school and I saw a man trudging down the sidewalk. He was dressed up, but disheveled, as if the day hadn't gone as he'd planned. In his hands, he carried a mixed bouquet of pink and red roses. He paused for a second outside a house, but he didn't ring the bell. Instead his shoulders slumped and he put the flowers in the rubbish. Then he walked on. Watching that, I thought, that's a story.
That's kind of how I operate. I get ideas from snippets of conversation, from a vignette I see, from the way people dress and talk. Sometimes books come to me in incredibly vivid Technicolor dreams. I pretty much always have an incredible backlog of ideas that I haven't gotten to write yet. It's enough to keep me busy for the next ten years.
5. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I spent my allowance on books as a kid. After I got my first job, I put part of the money in my gas tank; the rest I spent on books. In college, I was much the same, but there were certain authors I would buy instead of food.
Sharon Shinn was one of them.
So clearly I can remember how I felt when I discovered her books for the first time. I was in a dungeon of a shop in Muncie, Indiana. I didn’t really want to be there because, frankly, they sold gaming stuff: Dungeons and Dragons, sourcebooks, dice, graph paper, and pewter miniatures. I wanted to be in a proper bookstore because I had a little money to spend. (My part-time job as a pharmacy tech paid all of $4 an hour.) But I had gamer friends (and I played too, but my great love has always been fiction), so I was hanging around the store, waiting for them.
As I wandered, I eventually came upon a wire book rack. It mostly had TSR novels (Drizzt, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance) and maybe a few White Wolf stories. I was spinning it listlessly when this fey cover art caught my eye.
Hm, what’s this? I asked myself, plucking the book from the rack. The Shapechanger’s Wife. I read the back and it sounded wonderful, so I bought it at once. While they finished shopping, I hugged the paper bag to my chest and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. In short, I devoured that one in a few hours and then from that point on, I would buy whatever she released, even if I had to dine on ramen… or nothing at all.
The coolest thing about Sharon Shinn is that so many years later, I’ve had the pleasure of her reading my book for a blurb—and then I met her. After that, I cried tears of pure joy over a dream come true. It’s so wonderful when your idols turn out to be even more amazing than you dreamed. Since then, we’ve developed a relationship and I am honored to call her my friend.
She’s inspiring to me because when I found her books, she was a woman living in the Midwest. She didn’t seem to be famous or connected to publishing. She earned her publishing contract through her beautiful writing and through persistence. She gave me hope that I might be able to do it someday, too. If not for her, shining as a beacon of hope for another Midwestern girl, I might’ve given up on my dreams. I’ll never stop thanking her for blazing a trail that I pictured myself following.
6. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The end. That sounds a bit glib, but when I start a project, I have all these ideas tangled up with the fear that I won’t be able to do them justice. Is my ability equal to my vision? I have no idea. Until I power through and complete the book. Once I do that, it’s the biggest rush and I just savor it.
7. How did you come up with the title?
For some reason, when I was on the Fall 2013 Fierce Reads Tour with Leigh Bardugo, Jessica Brody, and Gennifer Albin, we were always singing the Backstreet Boys in SUVs and vans on the way to our events. Since I refined the idea for book one while on tour, I figured it was fitting to use Backstreet Boys titles as the book titles. The first book is dedicated to Leigh because I got the idea from listening to her while we were on tour. “For Leigh Bardugo, who talks about love as if it is a question that must be answered. So I tried.”
8. Who was your favorite character(s) to write?
I’m never able to choose a favorite character. I have something in common with each of them (even if it’s only a small thing), so I love them all equally.
9. Chocolate or vanilla?
10. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Since it took me twenty years to get published, each time a reader reaches out to tell me they enjoyed something I wrote, or that my book spoke them? It feels like a miracle. Each email, each Tweet, is precious, remarkable. I’m the girl who grew up in a farming town, across from a cornfield, where people hoped for jobs in factories, on assembly lines or in the steel mills. Instead, I build worlds and spin dreams for a living. Can you imagine anything more wondrous? I can’t; I never once had another dream, not since I was eight years old and won an opportunity to hear Shel Silverstein read from Where the Sidewalk Ends. Thank you for making my dream come true.