Thursday, September 2, 2010

Author Interview - Ann Stewart

      What a get-away this interview will be for those in the colder parts of the world, wherever you might be. We're on a warm beach in South Carolina  so it's warm here. Thanks for stopping in to visit with us! The sea breeze is blowing strong and the waves are crashing over the rocks on the far corner of the beach. I love the sounds of the oceans, don’t you? Feel free to pull a lounge chair to the edge of the surf and sip a peachy margarita while I introduce Ann Bartle Stewart. Her novel, Awenasa Island, is a real summertime treat. Just because September is here doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a wonderful summer novel!

Deanna:  Ann, thanks so much for being here on the beach with us today! You look so relaxed, I love that picture of you! Tell our readers a bit about yourself.

Ann: Well, hum…how long do we have? Most of “me” comes from my desire to learn and do.  I wish I was more like my brother, a sponge who soaks up endless amounts of information, but I’m more of a have-to-do-it-once kind of person; right brained, hands-on kind of learning. Research is a highlight of writing for me. I love to learn about new places and imagine the people who would live there.
     Other than writing, I enjoy reading (duh!), music, horseback riding, and spending time with family and friends. My sister-in-law suggested I take the time to mention I am an expert shark tooth hunter. I can’t leave out that part.

Deanna:  That’s interesting! So many hunt for shells and stones. I just enjoy walking along the beach. What happened that made you want to become a writer?  

Ann: I’ve harbored a dream to write since I was in Junior High school, but I never told anyone.  I guess I thought they would all laugh. I let the dream rise to the surface in my life every now and again, and after a few chapters or short stories, I moved on to other things.  A few years ago my young son was having some health issues and my world started spinning out of control. A friend suggested I find something I enjoyed doing as a way to stay grounded and “sane” during the coming stressful years.  Once again writing surfaced and this time stuck.  After long, stressful days of work I would rock my son to sleep then take to the computer to carve out “me” time.  At first it was all for fun, but before long I had a novel, then another, and another.  
       I’m glad to say my son is doing much better, and I hope to be able to write about our experiences one day to help others. Mostly I’m thrilled to be able to share our stories with parents going through the same thing. To see a parent light up when they see hope at the end of the road because of something you’ve said or done is humbling.

Deanna:  Taking care of those close to us who are sick can really be stressful. I’m glad your son is doing better and that you took up writing! Congratulations! Do you write under a pen name? 

Ann: No way! It’s too much fun to see my name on a cover. I did think about it a time or two.  Being an educator and writing romance could be tricky, but so far I’ve had nothing but support. My fellow coworkers are wonderfully accepting and encouraging.

Deanna:  Is there a certain type of character that is easier to write than another?

Ann: Boy, the gossip is going to fly after I say this.  The truth is most of the characters I write are made up of bits and pieces of people I have met in my life. I like to mix the good with the bad to create a well rounded character with faults as well as endearing qualities, and a little sex appeal never hurts. Once I get the right mixture the characters take over as I type.

Deanna:  I know what you mean! Characters take on a mind of their own and sometimes that’s a good thing. Do you read in the same genre that you write in?

 Ann: My first love is romance. I’m a sucker for a happy ending, but I do step outside the box from time to time to sample what my friends and family are reading. Right now I’m reading the Forest of Hands and Teeth written by fellow Charlotte resident, Carrie Ryan. I heard it’s being made into a movie soon and I cannot wait. My sister suggested her books to me and I’m so thankful.  I’ve also been reading some travel manuals as of late for research, oddly fascinating, and a book on ship mastery; not as fascinating, but great for sleepless nights.  

Deanna: Uh oh, look out, here comes a big wave and we're sitting too close! It’s going to get us wet! *we quickly pick up our chairs and scurry back to reposition ourselves a little farther from the water* This is a little safer distance I think, Ann. Did everyone else stay dry too? Back on track, do you credit anyone with helping you along the way as a writer?

Ann: There’s not a word meaningful enough to convey how much love and appreciation I have for several people in the writing industry who pushed, pulled, berated, and praised me along the way. If it hadn’t been for one very complimentary email from a member of my writing group, I never would have had the courage to submit Awenasa Island to a publisher. The writing and publishing industry is like a family of people also supporting each other and pushing each other to greatness.

Deanna: You seem very grateful for your friend’s support. Do you have any advice to share with those still awaiting publication? 

Ann:  Three words are all it takes to make it. NEVER STOP TRYING!  A little heart and many supportive friends can help, but as long as you keep trying, keep growing, take critiques, and continue to learn and grow you WILL make it.
      When I first started writing, I didn’t know anyone in the business and I relied heavily on a wonderful group of people I found through  Heck, I still rely heavily on them.  

Deanna: I’m at also and love the feedback I receive from those who comment on my items! I’m very happy you found your nitch in the publishing world, Ann. Tell us a little about your d├ębut novel, Awenasa Island. 

Ann: Sure Deanna.  Awenasa is a word from the Catawba Indian language meaning ‘my home’. The fictitious island is based on Edisto, South Carolina, my home away from home. Shannon Paige is called home after several years away to care for her ailing grandmother and falls right back into a relationship with her childhood sweetheart.  

Here’s a sneak peak:

      If her morning was any indication, Shannon Paige’s day was shaping up to be hectic. Filled with ill-tempered vendors, conference calls, and endless buyer meetings, she doubted she’d even have time for a soda and pack of crackers for lunch. A headache loomed. She tossed two pain killers in her mouth and washed them down with water from the fountain outside her twelfth floor office before taking a short break to check her messages and emails.
      Her cell phone rang as her assistant buzzed her office, announcing her noon meeting with a teen apparel vendor from Los Angeles.
     “Shannon Paige,” she greeted in her usual business tone, not recognizing the out-of-area number on the caller ID.
     “Shannon.” A man’s voice came clear and full of authority. “This is Jon…Sutton, from Awenasa.”
      Her heart stopped at the name.
    “I’m sorry to have to call you, but there’s been an accident,” he continued.
   Her breath caught in her throat. Her grandmother May’s worn, sun-drenched face came to mind.
     “An accident? Is Grandma May alright? What happened? How is she?” The questions came fast and flooded her head with panic. And for him to call, why him and not the doctor, or hospital, or… oh my God. “Jon!” she shouted. “Is May…?” The rest she couldn’t bear to say aloud.
     “She’s alive,” he answered with haste. “She’s at Memorial Hospital in Charleston in the ICU—” He paused. “But, Shannon, there’s more.”
      How could there be? Her grandmother, the only family she had left was lying in a hospital some six hundred miles away—she couldn’t handle more.
     “What is it, Jon?” She braced herself for the worst.
     She heard him take in a shallow breath, then clear his throat. “She’s in a coma.”

Deanna: What a nice cover! Sounds like a great read with a wonderful hook for the readers.  I  wish you all the best with it! Where can we buy it?

Ann: Awenasa Island is available in Ebook and print from and My second novel, Brigadoon’s Guarded Hearts is also contracted with Bluewood with an undetermined release date.

I can also be contacted at:

Deanna:  Ann, thank you so much for sharing this time with us and introducing yourself to our readers. Your novel sounds like a wonderful read and a warm, inviting get-away. Please be sure to come back when your next book is released. We'd love to chat again. There are plenty of our icy refreshing peach margaritas so grab another and stay awhile!
     Please feel free to leave a comment or question for Ann. She'll be in and out today and Friday so she can comment back with you! Thank you all for joining us and let your friends know they can come visit Ann also! 


  1. Thank you for having me, Deanna. The Margaritas are wonderful and the skies over the Atlantic are full of peach and orange-cream colored clouds. Our eyes are on hurricane Earl, and if you need a great read to get you though the storm, I suggest Awenasa Island.

    All my friends on the coast please be safe!

  2. Hi Ann, great interview! We're keeping our eyes on Earl here, too. I hope he decides to take himself off to sea. Stay safe!

  3. Jennie, My parents are headed up your way Saturday and are wondering if they will make it all the way to Maine with the storm. I hope so, I need pictures for my WIP.

    Stay safe up there and thanks for the comment.


  4. My brother and sister-n-law (sistagirl - as we so fondly call her) go to Edisto Beach every year to their timeshare beach house. I will definitely suggest your book to her. Stay safe everyone on the east coast. Steve and I are moving to Savannah next year. LOL We will ride out the storms with you all!

  5. I loved the interview and your book sounds fascinating. As I post, I heard Earl had turnd out to sea again (I'm in the UK) and that you are all safe and well.

  6. Hi Ann. Wonderful interview. Your book sounds really good. Great book cover.
    Sue B

  7. Brenda,
    Thank you for the suggestion to you sister-in-law. Edisto is my idea of Heaven on earth.

    I hope enjoy your move to Savannah. The waterfront there is so magical, almost supernatural feeling. I know you are going to love it.


  8. Sherry,
    Thanks for the comments and well wishes. I have wanted to quote one of my favorite Dixie Chicks songs all week and now, with your comment, I get the chance. “Goodbye, Earl”. The Hurricane is gone with very little damage to the coast.

  9. Katsrus
    I’m glad you like the cover. It took awhile to find just the right background but the cover artist was fantastic.

    Thanks for the comment.