Intimate Conversation with Ann Clay
Ann Clay resides in Southern Illinois with her family. She enjoys reading, writing, crafts, traveling, and family time. She began writing in 1999 and is a member of the Romance Writers of America. Thanks to the support of family and friends, Ann shares her heartwarming stories with readers of the heart.
BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book?
Final Play is a contemporary romance, released October 30, 2014, and is available in both print and digital forms. Final Play is readily available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, but could also be ordered from your local book store. It is also accessible through Kindle, Nook, and other digital sources.
BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
This title is what I call my in-between-book. I'm in the heat of finishing the second book from my Gumbo Series, also in the contemporary romance genre, entitled 'Beyond the Blue Cypress'. Because the second title starts in the early 1950's, I have to do some research to make sure the text and the feel of the book mirrors that time. So in-between writing 'Beyond the Blue Cypress', I got the idea for this book as the football season rolled in. I thought it would be nice to have a good weekend book to read in between quarters of a football game. The story introduces the steamy romance formed between a formal pro-football player and a young doctor he meets just as he leaves his football career to enter another.
BPM: Does your upbringing, prior relationships or life experiences inspire your writing?
Always! I've always been an avid reader. Reading was my means of escape when I was a child. Also, I come from a long line of storytellers. My father and brothers could spin a tale without thought or effort. Just pick a topic, we could make up a story, and then, could spin it any way you choose... funny, sad, or adventurous. So, while writing is different from storytelling in a sense, I often use ideas I've seen, heard, or experienced to help me create the plots of my stories.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven? Why?
I'm fortunate enough to be able to travel, and in my travels I see a lot of story potentials/ideas. Sitting in the airport is a people-watching opportunity for me. While some people work on their electronic devices or read or talk, I watch people. Their movements, how they interact with strangers, all to me tell stories of everyday living. So I use those things to come up with ideas. I try to write stories I'm interested in. The characters, once they form themselves, pretty much run the story. I just happen to be at the keyboard, jotting it all down. I’m not one of those authors who sketches out the entire story. I pretty much have a concept, I know what the characters will and will not do, and I kind of, sort of know the ending... sometimes. Other than that, I allow the characters to tell their stories.
BPM: Give us some insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Anree Alexander, a formal star football player, hangs up his helmet for a prestigious position at a national sports network as a sports analyst. He's popular, smart, driven, yet very modest. Anree loves family, but at the time he meets our heroine is not particularly ready to settle down or start a family of his own.
Rhonda Mitchell, had to overcome a tumultuous past, but champions her struggles with a lot of hard work and support. She lost both parents at an early age, but was blessed to have a godmother, her mother's best friend, as a guardian. Rhonda manages to finish college and med school before many of her peers. And at the time she meets Anree, is steadily focused on establishing her practice and managing other priorities in her life. Which means she's not looking for a serious relationship.
BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Wow! Key plots deal with self-assessment, what we think is important in life, overcoming heartaches, how much time we spend on ourselves, fear, expectations, commitment, parenting, love or the lack of it, manipulation, protecting the people we care about, promises, hope, healing, and celebration.
This story deals with opening oneself up to possibilities. We never know just how much or how far we can go, never know what we can achieve, if we don't open our minds and hearts to it.
BPM: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
I did meet a very interesting man in the Dallas airport. Nothing like a good looking black man in jeans, hat, and cowboy boots. He saw me taking notes as people passed and asked what I was doing. No... he wasn't flirting, well... maybe he was. That's a whole other conversation. LOL! But we struck a very promising conversation. I got a chance to ask him some very candid, what-guys-won't-really-tell-you man-questions, and he honestly answered the without caveat. He gave some very helpful information.
BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career?
My writing projects are for sharing with readers who like the stories I like. I try to write stories that are appealing to the kinds of novels I read. So for me, the story has to be likable, a story where the readers can relate to the characters and their challenges. Success for me is writing a story I love. Trust me, readers see it in the pages when I do.
I hope to continue writing solid stories, with plot and character building. I plan to finish the Gumbo Love Series in 2015, and hopefully began a different series based on new characters now waiting in the wings for their turn to shine.
BPM: What are your expectations for this book? What would you like for readers to do after reading this book?
I expect that there will be readers who will love the characters, love the story line. The story has great breath and covers a lot of different, everyday issues. So people will be able to recognize one or more of the characters, perhaps in someone they already know. I think it will do great. And I hope readers will continue to give me feedback on what the did and did not like.
BPM: Did you ever ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Should I change course and maybe try something else?
Sometimes I don't always know how to get through a story. And that's just me being really transparent. Like I've indicated before, I allow the characters to lead the story. In this book, I did have to do a little backtracking, because I wanted to make sure my hero wasn't talking out of both sides of his mouth. We have a tendency to allow men to say one thing and then do something different. All in all, I think the outcome was very positive and understandable, even with the characters' flaws.
BPM: Do you feel as if you are a role model for women and other authors period?
Role model... let's see. To me, role models are people who inspire others to do things they may not ordinarily do or think they can do. So, in that case, yes. I really love the written word. And I try to share what I know with others, even encouraging people I meet along the way to write their story. Everybody has a story, you know.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
I am currently finishing the second book of the Gumbo Love Series, entitled Beyond the Blue Cypress. This story picks up with one of the couples from the previous title, Blue Autumn in the Bayou. Beyond the Blue Cypress will start in the 1950's. It's a story of a love lost for more than 50 years, and is restored after the couple's granddaughter accidentally stumbles into her estranged grandfather. Two more titles should follow this one, and hopefully will be done by summer of 2015.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can find out more about my work at my website: www.annclay.com or check out my author's page on Amazon. Also, readers can contact me directly by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always interested in reader's feedback, and love the opportunity to work and speak to book clubs. Happy Reading!