Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yvonne Anderson lives in rural Ohio with her husband of 35+ years, and sometimes with one or two of her four grown kids. Her three grandchildren, who live in Virginia, are the smartest and cutest kids in the world, without exception (no offense to yours). Yvonne works part time as a Virtual Assistant but spends most of her time on the planet Gannah researching her books. She’s a regular contributor to the blog Novel Journey and her personal blog can be found at

Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?

As a child I loved to read, and I think I might have imagined myself writing YA books. But by the time I’d outgrown YA, I’d also outgrown my writing aspirations. I was too busy with marriage, family, mini-farming, and working as a legal secretary. For several years I didn’t have time to read a book, let alone write one.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

In the mid ‘90s, I wrote two novels just to see if I could, but I didn’t try to market them. I knew I wasn’t ready for that. Though I enjoyed the creative process, I thought the whole endeavor was a huge waste of time, so I quit. Cold turkey. Thought I’d kicke
d the habit. But I fell off the wagon in 2002, and things got deadly serious after that. It wasn’t until nine years later that I sold my first book, so it was a pretty long haul.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

Realize that the act of writing is what make you a writer. So if you want to be a writer, you need to write, consistently and persistently. I don’t mean you must always have publication in mind, but writing thoughtful notes to family and friends, stories for your kids, and journal or blog entries all exercise your writing brain. The more you write, the better you’ll get at it, so make sure you write at least a little every day.

Now for the readers…many times, it’s easy for them to connect with the characters in a book, but not so much the authors themselves. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

When we were first married, my husband and I tried the self-sufficient farming thing. Though it wasn’t a complete success (we never got to the point where he could quit his day job), it wasn’t a complete bust, either. In addition to the practical education it provided, for two or three years we ate for free. That is, we sold enough of what we produced to break even. It was a lot of work, but it was a wonderful experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Now that you are published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becomin
g published?

I just signed my first contract in January of this year, and it’s for three books. Fulfilling that contract has kept me busy every writing minute since, and I haven’t had a chance to even think about writing or submitting anything else. So, no – I haven’t received any rejections since. However, I don’t have any illusions about happily ever after. Having one, two, three or even more books published is no guarantee that you’ll sell your next project.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

I call The Story in the Stars a space fantasy rather than science fiction, because it’s a whole lot more “fi” than “sci.” It’s a fantasy set in the future in which there are other worlds, other races, and extremely unrealistic space travel.

Gannah’s inhabitants are known as bloodthirsty savages, and their reputation is well deserved. Though centuries before they’d set out to conquer the galaxy, now a plague is wiping out the inhabitants. By the time a League of Planets medical vessel arrives to help, only one survivor remains—a young woman named Dassa.

Dr. Pik from Karkar, one of the planets Gannah ravaged centuries before, is assigned to her case. He hates everything Gannahan and wishes every last one of the people had died, but he’s duty-bound to save her. After he brings her back from the brink, she shares with him the story God put in the stars, and he has to decide what to do with it. They have some exciting adventures together, and there’s a little romantic tension as well. But precious little, so don’t get your hopes up about that.

If you could only share one line from The Story in the Stars, which one would you choose and why?

Like all Gannahans, Dassa possesses a sort of sixth sense. It’s not a supernatural thing, but is a function of a gland at the base of the brain. With it, the Gannahans were able to communicate nonverbally with one another as well as with God.

In one scene she’s communicating with God about an argument she’s just had with Pik, who told her that in his language, they didn’t even have a word for forgiveness, let alone understand the concept. God tells her that there is a word for forgiveness in Karkar, but they have yet to discover it; Dassa must show them what it is in God’s language. She tells Him, “But You speak in all languages.” And He answers: “The language of God is love.”

Writers often put things in their books that are very personal—like a funny story that happened to them, a spiritual truth they learned through difficulty, or even just a character trait that is uniquely theirs. Is there something in The Story in the Stars that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?

No, not in this one. In the next two books in the series, though, I name characters after my grandchildren.

Readers often talk a lot about the hero and heroine of a story, but today I’d like to know something about your villain. Does he or she have a redeeming quality? Why or why not?

Though Dr. Pik’s people and Dassa’s are ancestral enemies, I don’t think of him as a villain. Nevertheless, Dassa butts heads with him throughout the book, so I guess for these purposes we’ll call him that. He’s not the villainous type, though. In fact, he’s more likeable than Dassa. She’s a bit of a cold fish, but Pik’s more emotional and easier to relate to, even if he is arrogant and whiny.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?

Since it’s pure fantasy, I didn’t have to do a lot of research in writing it. Instead, let me tell you what inspired it.

Several years ago I was introduced to a little nonfiction book called The Gospel in the Stars by Joseph A. Seiss, first published in 1882 and reprinted in 1972 by Kregel. Its premise is that God wrote the Gospel story in the constellations so that all the world could read it. The language of the book is a little archaic and hard to follow—especially if you’re like me and know nothing about the stars—but I liked what it had to say. One day while struggling through it, I thought it might be fun to put it in story form to make it more palatable for modern readers. The end result isn’t what I had in mind when I started out, but it turned out to be a fun story nevertheless.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

As I mentioned, I signed a three-book contract in January for my series Gateway to Gannah, and I’m working on completing that contract. Book 2, Words in the Wind, is with the publisher now and I’m drafting Book 3.

The most common thing I hear when people learned I’ve published a book is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Faced with this statement, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?

Step 1: Pray. This is no small investment you’re contemplating. Make sure it’s God’s intention for you, and be willing to spend years of your life with little to show for it. If you’re certain that’s what the Lord wants you to do, then roll up your sleeves, and don’t look back. Get involved in an active critique group. Take knowledgeable advice and suggestions seriously, but always with a grain of salt; nobody is God but God. Pray for an open heart and a skin so tough, a rhino would envy it.
And have fun.

What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?

I’m always worried someone will ask me what my favorite novel is. But I don’t have a favorite novel, nor a favorite color, song, food, or favorite anything; I enjoy too many things to pick favorites. I will tell you, though, that I loved J.R.R. Tolkien when I was growing up, and his work undoubtedly influenced my writing today. Why it took me fifty years to write my first fantasy, I have no idea.

Yvonne is giving away a copy of her book The Story in the Stars. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!


  1. I hope all your readers pick up a copy of Story in the Stars. I'm NOT a sci-fi fan, but I loved this book! I can't wait for the next one. :)

  2. You are a stellar writer, Y. Story in the Stars is so much fun to read and has great truths woven throughout. Thanks for visiting us here at BB!

  3. I love Story in the Stars and recommend it wholeheartedly. Buy it, you'll love it.

  4. Great debut novel, Y. Congratulations!!


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