Author Interview: Annabel Pitcher, author of The Silence is Goldfish

11:53 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I enjoy literature and writing and teaching literature and writing, which is why I wanted to ask Annabel  some questions about her favorites, least favorites, and tricks of the trade.  I know all my fellow teachers out there would love the tips too.

I share her love of the Harry Potter series and admire her 'real talk' about writer's block.

The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

First a little nibble of her new book:

By Annabel Pitcher

My name is Tess Turner--at least, that's what I've always been told. 

I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied. 

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. 

Fifteen-year-old Tess doesn't mean to become mute. When she discovers that her dad isn't her biological father, at first she's just too shocked to speak. But quickly she begins to see the benefit of silence. She can protect herself from the questions she's too afraid to ask. It frustrates the heck out of her parents. And it also gets the attention of her handsome Math teacher, Mr Holdsworth...

Tess sets out to discover the identity of her real father. But when trouble strikes and everything spirals out of control, how can she ask for help when she's forgotten how to use her voice?

And on to her interview...


Who is your favorite author? Why?
This is a tough one! Hmm... I have never been much of a fan-girl, but I went uncharacteristically crazy over Harry Potter, queuing up at midnight dressed as Hermione to purchase my copy of the The Deathly Hallows. I still listen to the Stephen Fry audio version before I go to bed and a framed copy of ‘The Marauder’s Map’ is hanging in my study. So yeah, J K Rowling would be up there for me. I relate to the stories but also to her as a person. She’s a self-confessed ‘born tryer’ and I just love her tenacity. She inspired me to write. Her rags-to-riches fairy tale made the whole publishing thing seem possible. But I am less keen on her adult stuff and have no interest in her crime novels, so would she be my all-time favorite? I’m not sure. Competing for that honor would be Lionel Shriver, Jonathan Safran Foer and good old Charles Dickens.

Who is your least favorite character in your book? Why?
That would have to be Mr Richardson – and for good reason! He’s cunning, manipulative and two-faced. When Tess discovers her father is not her real dad and sets about searching for the truth of her identity, she convinces herself that the man she’s looking for is Mr Richardson, a teacher who has just started at her school. Without wishing to reveal too much, he abuses her infatuation in a horrible way. I hated him, but I loved writing about him. That is often the case with the villain!
How do you handle writer’s block?
I used to be embarrassed to admit that I suffered from writer’s block, saying, ‘A plumber doesn’t get plumber’s block so why should a writer get writer’s block?’ It seemed so self-indulgent to suggest that some days the words just don’t flow so the work cannot get done. But, in all honesty, that is sometimes the case. And I think having a practical, no-nonsense attitude to it can be helpful. Writing is a job, after all, and (like a plumber) you have to turn up and do your best even if you don’t feel like it. But writing isn’t just any job. It demands an unusual amount of concentration, creativity and giving of oneself. When it feels difficult, it’s often because I’ve been giving too much from the creative well, so to speak, and I need to replenish it. So, when I have writer’s block, I force myself to work in the first instance just to check I’m not being lazy. If it still isn’t happening, or if days go by without me producing very much of any substance, I take a break and rejuvenate. I used to think this was silly, but now I see it as a vital part of the writing process. I go to the cinema or the theatre. I have a change of scene. I walk the dog. I make collages or write poetry – anything that isn’t the book. I kind of ‘stock up’ on creativity and I allow myself to think and wander and daydream, so when I come back to the book, I feel refreshed and the problem seems to sort itself out.
What advice do you have for young/student writers?
Make a habit of writing. If you want to be a writer, you have to write, every day if at all possible. You will get better at it. You will lose your fear of the dreaded blank page. 

Expect to hate your first draft of anything you do. Self-loathing is part of the process! Turn off your inner critic and allow yourself to write whatever comes into your mind. Commit to finishing it, however much you despise it (and you will). Get to the end, and allow yourself the joy of seeing a project through to completion. Then rewrite it to make it better. Then rewrite it again. And when you think it can’t be improved, rewrite it again.
Explain your revision process
I have to fight the temptation to revise as I go. It’s difficult. I like a page of writing to be the best it can be before I go on to the next. But that is impractical, and I constantly hinder my own progress, tripping myself up by going back over (and back over... and back over...) the same chapter in order to perfect it before moving on to the next. I am learning to live with imperfection, though, constantly reminding myself that a first draft should be wild and bold and full of flaws. It should be experimental and innovative and daring. It shouldn’t be careful and precise. It’s not easy, but I try and let myself off the hook and just write the first draft quickly, without worrying too much about the quality. That can come later in the edits.
When editing, I’m lethal, cutting anything that is not absolutely necessary. Finding flaws in my own work is something that comes naturally (!) so it isn’t difficult to find a reason to delete something. Sometimes, the greater challenge is to NOT get rid of an entire chapter in a fit of self loathing, but to work with it and make it more effective. During the revision process, it is vital to identify the crux of the story, the heart of the narrative, the characters’ motivation. Knowing these things changes how you edit, so I spend a lot of time thinking about the book on a grand scale as well as agonizing over the minutiae on each page. 

Find The Silence is Goldfish: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

 About Annabel

Annabel Pitcher studied English at Oxford and has since worked as a script writer and an English teacher. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband. MY SISTER LIVES ON THE MANTELPIECE was her first novel. She is a full-time writer.

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SILENCE IS GOLDFISH, 
US Only.

Be sure to check out all the other stops on this tour

Week One:
5/9/2016- BookHounds YAInterview
5/10/2016- Here's to Happy EndingsReview
5/11/2016- A Dream Within A DreamGuest Post
5/12/2016- Just CommonlyReview
5/13/2016- Kovescence of the MindInterview

Week Two:
5/16/2016- A Gingerly ReviewReview
5/17/2016- Lost in Ever AfterExcerpt
5/18/2016- Pink Polka Dot BooksReview
5/19/2016- A Book and a LatteGuest Post
5/20/2016- 5 Girls Book ReviewsReview

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