6 Questions with Ann Aguirre

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

I’d have to say five. Why so low, you ask? Well, for one thing, I’m too freakin’ tired to be crazy at the moment. Going nuts takes energy — and I just got back from a family vacation. I’ve visited something like six airports in the last seven days, been scanned so often, it’s a wonder I’m not radioactive. And things are clicking along well. I finish up one project, either writing or edits, take a short break, and then move right along to the next thing. I’m terrible at planning, but this has worked out delightfully well without any conscious effort from me.

Plus, I have a great agent, and my editor is a joy to work with. I can also rest easy, knowing my publicist is shouldering part of the load. Those factors are all great for reducing stress. So far, I’ve turned in all my work at least a month before deadline, and sometimes as much as two. I don’t see any reason why this can’t continue. The pace is just about right for me, but then again, I’ve been accused of being inhumanly fast at what I do.

2. You have previously published one other book as Ann Aguirre, The Stone Maiden. I have read it, and it’s very different from what I expect of Grimspace. I mean, you defined an Ann Aguirre title as “darker themes, less explicit sex, and lots of ass-kicking action” on my blog. I’d say that TSM has darker themes, but not sure about the last. Care to share the story of your evolution to Grimspace?

I wrote STONE MAIDEN before I had clear ideas about how I wanted to brand myself. It’s sort of an interesting story (or maybe not).

Around 2002, I got serious about my writing, and I enrolled in the Online SFF Writing Workshop. As it happened, Del Rey partnered with them that year. I won the Editor’s Choice contest and wound up with a publishing contract with Del Rey Digital. That was my first experience writing on a deadline, and I am proud of STONE MAIDEN. It’s just not representative of my body of work because it pre-dates that post you reference.

Anyway, my editor loved me, and I expected a long and fruitful relationship. Then she left the company. Being orphaned is tough on an author, as others know. I found myself back at square one.

But I didn’t give up. I decided to give contemporary romance a try. I finished Guide in September of 2005. I once again began to query, but this time I was determined to find an agent. No more peddling my own stuff.

The search went slowly, and it nearly drove me mad, but in May ’06, I signed with an agent, who felt I needed two separate brands, if I was going to write straight romance, and do cross-genre books as well. So I had two websites designed and tried to do my part to get ready for my big break. Well, I received some lovely rejections, including “send me your next book!” but they were rejections just the same. This wasn’t the one for NY.

I was very frustrated by this point. I can write, can’t I? I’m getting better every time. Why aren’t I selling?
Some of the joy went out of writing too. I started to feel like, “What’s the point? Nobody but me will ever read this.”
To counteract that feeling of futility, I went with it. I said to myself, “Okay, if nobody but me will ever read it, then I’ll write something for ME.” I sat down at the keyboard with an utterly blank mind, no plot, no idea, no characters, and just began to WRITE. It was…magical. I wrote and wrote and wrote.

The end result was GRIMSPACE, the book Ace bought. I had to switch agents to make that happen, but Laura Bradford is my lobster.* See, when I finished GRIMSPACE, I knew it was “the book” for me. I just had to find an agent who knew it too. That’s the moral of this story. Believe in yourself. Then find someone else who believes in you. And you can do this.

*Geeky Friends reference

3. And of course, there’s Annie Dean, your erotic romance pseudonym, and an Annie Dean title has “quirky romance and smoking hot sex.” Do you think your writing as Ann Aguirre and Annie Dean will diverge, or converge, as time goes on?

I did find that my latest (and possibly last for the foreseeable future) Annie Dean title has darker themes and less comedy than the other two, however. So you could call that convergence of a sort. MY VALENTINE is an erotic title, but it’s different in that it’s an interracial erotic paranormal / reincarnation story. And I think it’s pretty wonderful. My editor said it was so intense, passionate, and edged with Gothic overtones that she actually shivered a few times, reading it.

4. You’ve recently sold your first series that has Mexico, where you live now, as one of the settings. Do you think it helped with your research? It’s not so completely familiar because it’s not where you lived all your life, but at the same time, you’d probably know enough to get a start on the research, right?

It absolutely helped with my research. And the cool thing is, most of what I’ve included has a basis in fact. I can’t say more without revealing key plot points, but yeah, it made a big difference. It lends the book a certain verisimilitude, I think.

5. Living in Mexico, do you think it’s made it more important to have a publicist? Or do you think it would be the same even if you lived in the US?

It’s definitely important. But publicity and promotion is important to any author, regardless of locale. It’s not enough to write the books. We have to do our part so that readers actually hear about them, just not in an obnoxious or over-eager way. Nobody likes the tool who can’t hold a conversation about anything but her sale.*

*See this post for more information on the Diva

If I lived in the US, I could visit bookstores to do stock signings more readily. I’d have a hometown bookstore that would be tickled to host signings for me. Authors in the US have more recourse, I think. J.A. Konrath, for instance, often does road trips, but I don’t have that option. A trip to the States for me always involves an airport. So I need someone there to help generate excitement over my releases.

6. You don’t eat raw cookie dough any more. Why not? Raw cookie dough makes people happy, and therefore the world becomes a better place.

Heh, you’d be surprised how often I get asked about this. The answer is kind of gross, but hey, you did ask. I got food poisoning from some improperly cooked chicken. Once you’ve spent a night hurling up your guts and wishing for death, you get more careful about what you eat. Raw eggs can have the same effect, so I stopped eating anything that contains them, which includes cake batter and cookie dough. Never riding the salmonella express again.

Ann Aguirre‘s current release is Grimspace, to be followed in September by Wanderlust.

She’s giving away a signed copy of Grimspace, and maybe other surprises! Comment, tell us what you think when you think “Grimspace,” and win!

24 Responses to “6 Questions with Ann Aguirre”

  1. 1 Larena Wirum
    February 20, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Loved reading the questions and answers. I think I will be checking out some books 🙂

  2. 2 Kimberly B.
    February 20, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Well, the novel “Grimspace” sounds like an adventure-filled science fiction romance—and I love books whose authors aren’t afraid to cross genres like that! The term “Grimspace” itself sounds both futuristic and gritty, with an added element of risk.
    Thanks! That interview was fun to read!

  3. February 20, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Ann, can’t wait to read Grimspace. The title brings to my mind adrenalin-pumping, roller-coaster space adventure. I’m glad you persevered and got published. Continue to believe.

  4. 4 Pamk
    February 20, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    Hi ann, Grimspace in my opinion is my very favorite genre romantic scifi. I am 41 yrs and this is the type of book i’ve had search for all my life. I am so glad that there is more of it to be found now.

  5. February 20, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Well Ann if you ever need a place to crash when doing a signing here in Louisville :D…

  6. February 20, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Hi Jennybrat!

    Thanks for stopping by. If nobody else wanders in, you get the book. 😀

  7. February 20, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Hi Ann,

    I’m patiently waiting for next week. (Ok, alittle bit haunting bookstores, but hey I can’t help myself)

    On the cookie dough answer, I know what you mean by the raw food,living in Hawaii people for some reason expect me to like sushi and I just can’t eat it. I got sick eating raw salmon once.

    Hugs, Danette

  8. 8 Jolene
    February 20, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I am anxious to read Grimspace, it sounds awesome. I am with you on the whole food poisoning.. i got it eating fast food tacos in a mall once.. i never in my life wished i could just die like i did that night… i have to say i still snitch cookie dough..eek..lol

  9. February 20, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Oh man, Danette. My husband loves sushi, but it’s really not my thing. The only thing I can eat is California rolls.

    I’m so excited! My agent sent me some pictures of the displays they had in San Diego. They’re over on my blog. Yay!

  10. February 20, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Gosh, weird! When I commented before I didn’t see any comments on this blog except Jenny’s! My fault. How exciting to see everyone over here.

  11. February 20, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    I’m really looking forward to this, but I don’t know if it’ll ever be released here in Australia. Have UK rights been sold?

    Have a lovely day! 🙂

  12. February 21, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Nope, not your fault Ann. I forgot that I changed the comment settings because of spam issues. Sorry!

    I love sushi, but I don’t eat tuna, no matter what anybody says about it making the best eating raw. Actually, I don’t eat tuna, period.

  13. February 21, 2008 at 2:37 am

    I know I left a comment. Um…senility? Anyway, I’m really looking forward to this book.

  14. 14 ruth
    February 21, 2008 at 2:59 am

    I am looking forward to this wonderful novel. All the best of success. What a great book.

  15. February 21, 2008 at 4:54 am

    Tez, another reader named Kat said that Galaxy Books in Australia had ordered some copies, and she reserved one. I’m not sure where you are, but if there’s a Galaxy Books in your city, maybe it’s worth ringing them up?

  16. 16 Laura K
    February 21, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Wow! I didn’t know you live in Mexico! Have you permanently located there or is this temporary? I totally understand the food poisoning thing. Got sick two times within two weeks from a seafood resturant in my neighborhood. Needless to say, I REALLY have to have a craving now to eat any kind of fish.

  17. February 21, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    I’ve permanently moved, Laura. Home ownership, that sort of thing. And we’ve bought property on a mountaintop, so we’ll be building a new house in the next year or two. I’m very excited because I’ve never lived in a new home before. I’ll get to help design it from the ground up and everything.

  18. 18 Cherie J
    February 21, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Great interview! I enjoy sci-fi and when you are involving multiple genres in a book like this one it is even more fun to read.

  19. 19 Crystal B.
    February 21, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Great interview. I love your answers. Grimspace sounds like an awesome book. I love the cover.

  20. 20 Laura K
    February 22, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Wow! To live on a mountaintop must be exciting. I live in the big city so I don’t know how I would react to that kind of thing. I think it’s great to be able to design something of your own, let alone a house. I bet the waiting for the home to be built is killing you- it would do that to me.

  21. February 22, 2008 at 6:58 am

    No raw cookie dough?
    No cake batter??
    (Congrats on the success, Ann, lol!) 😉

  22. February 28, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Great interview! I’ll be reviewing GRIMSPACE March 20th, most likely. I’ve already sped-read parts of it and it seems like one of those novels in which every is just right, you know? What I mean, I think, is the story is well-balanced, the Heat Level is appropriate, the action makes sense, everything is just so well-balanced with nary a word out of place.

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