Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Author Interview ~ Ana Simons


Regular readers know I have many author interviews on this blog.

And, those readers know about my relatively recent immersion into the Wattpad community.

Those readers have experienced interviews with the following Wattpad Authors: Holly GonzalezJ. A. PartridgeRaphyel M Jordan, and Jennifer Morrey.

Today, we have another Wattpad author; but, this one’s quite different

So different I’m publishing this interview on a day I normally re-blog someone else’s post and I’m leaving it as top post on through tomorrow

I suppose my main reason for this is because Ana Simons has shown me a rare type of authorial courage—a courage that needs to be granted attention

I read the book she’ll talk about in this post—gave it a private “r” rating (small “r” because the steamy scenes were well done)—and, I was a surprise to Ana when she saw me commenting on her story (a man reading “ChicLit”…).

So, let’s get to know a bit about this woman.

~~~

Who is Ana Simons?

Ana Simons - Author I’m a mother, wife, teacher, social scientist and, apparently now, an occasional writer.

How did you come up with the idea for your first book, Ana?

From the “iceberg theory” itself, which I actually lecture about. It has been used in different fields, namely in psychology by Freud, anthropology and culture studies by Edward T. Hall, even in literature by Hemingway. It reinforces the idea that our perceptions rarely correspond to the whole truth, because we all hide much more than we allow the others to see. The iceberg analogy, the fact that there’s much more underneath the surface than we actually observe floating on the ocean, underlies the relationship of the main characters in my first book. It can even be applied to the story itself, because readers are not reading what they think they’re reading; the true meaning of it all is hidden in the last chapters of the book…

So, it’s really your first story, Ana?

Yes, The Iceberg Theory is my first The Iceberg Theorystory, I had never written before ‒ I mean, I had never written fiction before. I teach at the University, which means that I also have to do research and write and publish the results in academic journals. So I do write a lot, but in a quite different register.

O.K., Ana, seems like it’s time to reveal why you started to follow the path of fiction writing…

Firstly, you should know that most of my academic research centres on the analysis of wartime literary representations. Last year around this time, I was chatting away with my husband about how difficult and draining it was to read; and, in a way, sort of dissecting autobiographical accounts that always describe quite painful events, terrible situations that shattered people’s lives and, in some cases, even their children’s lives, as well, because trauma can quite forcefully be a trans-generational phenomenon.

So, I had been doing that for 14 or 15 years already.

Then, completely out of nowhere, he came up with the idea that maybe I should take a break from it and give fiction writing a go. I laughed at the idea, because, sure, I could write, but I was not that kind of writer. Sure I had read a lot, I hold a BA in English and German Studies and therefore studied all the classics. I post-graduated in Culture Studies—had to read the work of the greatest authors of our time—but studying literature is one thing, being able to weave and tell people a story is another. So I rejected the idea. But then a couple of weeks later I did find myself outlining a plot, thinking about the characters, about the places where I could make it happen…

What made you use Wattpad to tell your first story?

A year ago I wasn’t even aware that there were such platforms. A friend of mine told me about it, I looked for it, registered just to see what it was and a month later or so I started to post to assess how it really worked.

Do, please, tell us a bit more about your experience of publishing a “serial story” on Wattpad…

I had just begun to post The Iceberg Theory when after a couple of weeks I decided to quit, you know? I even got to the point of deleting the half dozen chapters I already had up. It felt that Wattpad was a place populated only by teenagers and young adults and that there was no place for me or my story, so I decided to leave and even forget about the whole idea of writing.

But then, that same day, I came across the LOL+35 thread and everything changed. LOL stands for Ladies on Life and there I found a group of talented and generous women, who help and support each other in their writing endeavours. Every time I posted a new chapter they were usually my first readers and thanks to them and their words of support and encouragement I found a reason to finish writing that story. All in all, it was an amazing and quite rewarding experience.

Change-up—what’s your favorite book and why?

There are many. In terms of autobiographical writing I’d like to name Ruth Klüger’s Still Alive, which I only read in the German version. Unlike what we usually see in other Holocaust memoirs, we have here an author/victim that assumes a quite provocative attitude as she renders her childhood memories; in fact, she approaches quite sensitive matters such as disrupted parental relationships during the war, the complex relationship between Jews and Germans and even some Jewish patriarchal conventions which, according to her view, deny women their right to hold traumatic memories. Paul Schatz im Uhrenkasten, written by the German author Jan Koneffke, is also one of my all-time favourites. Also based on real life events, it’s a moving, at times, disheartening account of how a Jewish little boy managed to survive the Nazi persecution. Part of it is narrated from the child’s perspective and it’s amazing how the writer, who is nephew to the real ‘Paul’, managed to capture a child’s imagination and his innocent interpretation of all those shattering events.

Ana, how old is your new web site? And, please tell us about your traveling and interviewing other authors.

My website is not even one month old! It’s my first 2016 project! The authors I’m interviewing are all members of the group I told you about in Wattpad. They’re the women who most inspire me and that were there when I embarked on my writing journey. These interviews are sort of a tribute, a way of saying “thank you” to them.

And, what are your plans for the future?

Well, I will continue to write, because, in the meantime, it has become a hobby that I really enjoy ‒ certainly Wattpad readers, who are all immensely kind, and the supportive community of writers I found there have contributed to this positive feeling.

If I’ll take it to the next level and try publishing that’s still under consideration. For starters, I’m not a native speaker, so I’m perfectly aware that my work needs a lot of editing. I’m getting some help on that already, but I’d still need to get back to it and revise it thoroughly. Not quite certain if the effort pays off though. My perception is that it’s incredibly difficult to succeed out there and I still don’t know if I want to go through all the frustration when I’m having so much fun right now

Well, Ana, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your new-found writing life with my readers! I’m looking forward to more books :-)

~~~

Ana’s working on her second book right now (check out the links below…).

Ana’s Links:
Web Site
Wattpad Page
First Book
Second Book
FaceBook
Twitter

O.K., folks, now’s a great time to ask Ana questions in the Comments—especially if you’re sitting there wondering if you can actually write a novel :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment after this post, try up at the top right :-)
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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18 responses to “Author Interview ~ Ana Simons

  1. Jane Watson January 31, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Thank you Ana, for such an inspiring interview! I love it when someone suddenly uses the knowledge they gained in other disciplines to write a novel! I wonder what drew you to the Iceberg Theory in the first place? I think it’s a wonderful analogy to use in a story and from what I have read, so far, on Wattpad, I think you will really do it justice :-)

    Like

    • Ana Simons February 1, 2016 at 4:23 am

      Thanks, Jane, for your comment and question.
      When I started plotting this story I was actually teaching about Edward T. Hall and how he analysed national cultures through that particular lens. My students have always responded so enthusiastically to it, it’s the moment they become aware of the actual meaning of that expression “that’s just the tip of the iceberg”, the moment they also look within themselves and acknowledge how small our visible side is when compared to the invisible, submerged part that we keep to ourselves or only to those who are really close to us.
      So that was the initial premise for my book, but I believe that’s only “original” because I actually make a reference to the theory itself; in its essence all or almost all stories play with this concept as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Leigh W. Stuart (Surviving Switzerland) February 1, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Pretty sure this is just the tip of the iceberg of your writing journey!

    Like

    • Ana Simons February 2, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you, Leigh!

      Like

  3. Salvatore Pope Ritondo February 1, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Has your study of the classics been beneficial? I have always wanted to try to read them. I have added your books to my wattpad account!

    Like

    • Ana Simons February 2, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks, Salvatore, for your question. Studying the classics is always beneficial, even when you don’t particularly like the artistic period they belong to. On a more technical level, you can always observe their technique, their ability to play with words to convey their vision of the world, and take it as a learning experience.
      Personally, when I read such books I like to relate them to their specific social and historical contexts, because if you do that you’re able to understand certain (sometimes half-hidden) messages between the lines and everything gets even more interesting – it’s not “just” literature, it’s a testimony of a moment of our common history.

      Like

  4. Ali Noel Vyain February 2, 2016 at 9:05 am

    How do you find time to be all that you are? I understand having a regular career and being a parent takes up most of many people’s lives…So how do you find time to write and still get everything else done?

    Like

    • Ana Simons February 2, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks, Ali, for taking the time to read my interview and leave a comment.
      As for your question, you know, in my first language we have a saying that translates more or less like this: “he who runs for pleasure doesn’t get tired”. I think this is the case here. Besides, I’m already used to it, to doing several things at a time; when you have baby twins, a house to run, work at school and also a thesis to finish writing you really need to develop your multi-tasking skills. Because if you don’t, you’re doomed! LOL
      On a more serious note, I often write at night, when my kids are already in bed, and on weekends. And I don’t expect to write more than a 2000-word chapter a week. That’s always my goal, and if I can’t get there, it’s okay too. This is a hobby to me, not a reason to stress out.

      Like

  5. dgkaye February 3, 2016 at 12:03 am

    What a fascinating interview Ana and Alex. The book sounds intriguing and I wasn’t aware of an LOL +35 group on Wattpad; very interesting. :)

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai February 3, 2016 at 1:10 am

      Yes, Ana is quite fascinating :-)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ana Simons February 3, 2016 at 4:19 am

        ;-)) You’re very kind, Alex!

        Like

    • Ana Simons February 3, 2016 at 4:18 am

      I believe my initial perception isn’t that wrong, most of WP users are indeed quite young people who are eager to read and learn, that’s also why so many YA stories are as successful as they are and there’s still little room for stories with adult protagonists. Maybe this trend will change gradually, we’ll see…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alexander M Zoltai February 3, 2016 at 9:12 am

        Yes, Ana, we shall see :-)

        Like

      • dgkaye February 3, 2016 at 10:37 am

        Thanks for that response Ana. You’re correct. It’s always been a well known fact that Wattpad was best suited to YA stories and a younger demographic. That’s why I was interested to hear that you said you found a +35 group there.
        I know I neglect posting anything there in a long time, it’s hard when you’re spreading yourself thing over so many social sites and groups and trying to write and publish books. That said, I’m going to make more effort in a few months. I’m already following you. ;)

        Liked by 1 person

        • anasimons February 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm

          Yes, social media can be tricky. They help you connect, but they also distract you from the essential, I mean, from writing. It’s hard to balance all that. And my FB and TT accounts are only a couple of months old :-((
          But WP worked differently for me; I’m not a professional writer, and less than a year ago I would have never imagined that I’d be here talking about writing with you. I got in as a reader and that group in particular gave me the necessary encouragement to write and post too. So they are not a distraction, they are my pillar of strength so to say.

          Liked by 1 person

          • dgkaye February 12, 2016 at 8:08 pm

            That’s wonderful Ana. A writer is a writer. You don’t have to be published to call yourself a writer. There are so many wonderful writers, authors and bloggers in the wordpress community, always willing to share good information. It’s a wonderful community. :)

            Like

  6. AnnWrites February 12, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Now you can add web designer and cover designer to your list of qualifications, Ana! You did a very professional job. Iceberg theory is a very catchy and intriguing title, and your book definitely explores a topic where many of our long-buried pain/joys/dreams come to the surface, only to be buried again – finding love again after heartbreak…I’ve read most of your book but then we moved house and my eye trouble flared up, so I had a hard time keeping up with my reading.
    You have always been a wonderful friend to me <3 <3

    Like

    • anasimons February 12, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Thank you, Ann. You’ve very kind!

      Like

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