Today's blog is happily turned over to multi published author SS Hampton Sr. and his guest multi genre author Annie Anthony.
Stan: Welcome Annie. So, who is Annie Anthony and what makes her tick?
Annie: Such a great question! And so hard to sum up in just a few words. I’m definitely a creative person, a caretaker, and a worker bee. I feel most at home when I have someone/thing to take care of, compelling and fulfilling work to do, and something to write in/draw on close at hand.
Stan: Your blog mentions your being a museum buff, volunteer, tattoo lover, and Lesbian. Will you tell us in a few words what it is you like about museums; what type of volunteer work you do and why; what tattoos you like (we won’t ask you to point “where”); and if being a Lesbian has had an influence on your writings?
Annie: Museums, yes. I actually truly love museums, antiques, even old or unique buildings. I love creating things—baking, drawing, writing. So when I’m in a museum, I feel like I’m able to peer over the shoulders of geniuses… like when I make something I love and show it to people or share it, in a museum, I’m able to be alongside brilliant artifacts of humanity and look closely, as if the creator is saying to me, “Look what I have done.” The internet is amazing because you can go anywhere and see anything—just like a computer cannot replace real human contact, seeing a work of art or an artifact centuries old so close, walking through a building that existed hundreds of years ago…it’s thrilling to me.
Wow, my answer about volunteer work could go on for pages---I work with children who have intellectual and medical special needs. I do it because it marries everything I think I am in one place—creative, caretaker, worker—and it’s fulfilling beyond what I have the words to describe. It’s safe to say that when I’m volunteering, I am completely out of my head, in the moment, and drawing out my most colorful, patient, playful self. Playing with a child who is dependent on a feeding tube or a wheelchair, or who has significant delays or obstacles is a very complex and fulfilling joy which gives me far more than I give.
Hahaha, I have a lot of tattoos and they each have very specific meaning to me. I thought through each one for years (no joke, years!) before actually getting it—the location, the design, the meaning. So they are far more than body art to me. They are literally like wearing my heart on my sleeve (or back, or wrist, or foot...) People get tattoos for different reasons but I don’t think many of us get them for no reason at all… I love that in our country we have the freedom and choice to decorate our bodies in ways that are significant to us. To me, just being able to have a tattoo is a symbol of the freedom we enjoy in this country and that along with our other freedoms is something I deeply treasure and appreciate.
And yes, absolutely. The people who I date or love always impact my writing and work, always. Whether I’m inspired or damaged, whether it’s a brother or a girlfriend, I draw all the truth (differentiated from “fact”) in my writing from reality.
Stan: Will you share one of your favorite childhood memories with us?
Annie: Absolutely. I’m the oldest of three. I have a sister who is two years younger and a brother who was seven years younger. My brother passed away when he was 21 (about 11 years ago) so my memories of him are particularly precious to me.
I remember being in high school and studying like crazy, tons of homework. I would often tuck my brother into bed and get into his bed with him to read him a story or rub his head as he fell asleep. At that point, I was probably 15 and he would have been about 8. I would often fall asleep in bed with him, and take sort of a blissful, stolen nap for maybe an hour or so. When I would wake up, I would turn off his lights and go to my room and get back to studying until late in the night.
Stan: What is your favorite time of the day (or night), and why?
Annie: I’m sort a weird hybrid of morning and night person. I love getting up early, getting some things done and then taking a mid-afternoon rest (LOL, when my schedule even allows.) Then getting back going in the afternoon and going until midnight or so. It’s like fitting two days into one!
Stan: You recently moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. If you don’t mind, what prompted the change? Has there been any culture shock?
Annie: My younger sister has lived in Los Angeles for more than decade, and she is married. She got pregnant with her first child just about 7-8 months after I had to have a hysterectomy for medical reasons. So I became sterile right around the time my sister became a mother. Intense, right? She and I are very close and we talked about how I could handle this, whether I should stay away, try to be involved. I hate LA—which is why I never moved out there to be closer to her before now! I’m very typically Midwestern, I would say. I can’t tolerate celebrity culture, I mean, yes, I enjoy TV and movies, but I’m not a stargazer, have no desire to be part of a cool “scene.” I like carbs and hate plastic faces… but. I love my sister and I want to be a part of this enormous moment in her life and in our family. Since I can’t have children and my brother is no longer with us, the full burden of kids falls to my sister. And I wouldn’t be the bossy older sister if I didn’t try to horn in and make sure she does it right, would I?
Annie: Ah, Bullseye. You know, I have been writing since I was seven years old and have so many works in progress started that I have abandoned, mostly due to self-doubt, time constraints, etc. So when I wrote Bullseye, I never intended to publish it, I sat down and churned out the draft in one sitting and told myself—this is just for YOU. Write this for YOU and finish it, just tell this story. After I did, and after some editing, I thought, hmmm, it’s not horrible. Maybe someone would like it? So I sent it out and the rest is history…
Stan: Is there a particular audience that you might have had in mind when you wrote Bullseye?
Annie: Bullseye was written purely for me, what I wanted to read, what I wanted to convey. I wrote the story about a woman who has cancer and a dog whose cancer has returned. My dog was in remission at the time I wrote the story, I was single and really hoping to find a love that could look beyond the flaws. I come with a lot of baggage, you know, we all do, I guess. So I think I wrote the story for me but also for everyone who like me is imperfect but still very much worth loving.
Stan: Understanding that Bullseye may not be “picture perfect” at this moment, will you still share an excerpt?
Annie: Sure! How about the first line, my editor won’t kill me for that, will she? It’s one of the lines I still smile over when I re-read, I love it:
“Car lights pushed through twilight like straight pins through dark cloth.”
Stan: I’m sure your editor won’t do dastardly things to you for one line! Maybe. What prompted you to choose Musa Publishing as your publisher?
Annie: There are so many publishers out there right now. Big, small, indie, traditional, eBook, print. I’m a small pond kind of girl. I want to know that where I am matters, that the editors actually read my book, not an intern at the slush desk, that my editor liked my book and is personally invested in the outcome, me as an author. I think there are a lot of fantastic books and fantastic publishers out there, but what appealed to me about Musa is that they are real people running a company their way, by their rules—and those rules really do buck the traditional models. Perfect example: when I saw the cover mock-up for Bullseye, I sent an insanely hyper and happy email to my editor—and she was thrilled and doing backflips too! THAT is what makes Musa special. They are real professionals running a small business. I’m grateful and proud to be a part of that.
Stan: Will you give us a hint about another Work In Progress?
Annie: Absolutely, I’m working on writing and illustrating a children’s picture book centered around two fish named Zuzu and Lotsa. I’m also still plotting out a GLBT YA fantasy series. It’s this epic process for me, but it’s amazing to actually sit down and plot out how dozens of characters fit into this world that I am creating. I am also working on a historical fiction, a romance, so that book has also required a lot of research and plotting. Wish me luck, my drawer of orphaned manuscripts is FULL!
Stan: Definitely, good luck! And, where can we find out more about you (blog, Pinterest, etc.)?
Annie: Thanks for asking! I’m on Twitter, Pinterest, I have a blog and I am on Facebook. I love Pinterest, I have lots of Boards for my WIPs, so that is a great place to see my ideas as they are yet unformed in words.
Stan: And, we have to ask: are those Pomeranians you write about in your blog, still being pushy?
Annie: HA! Well, yes and no. I have resorted to bribery (treats.) I have not been bitten in a while, but I still get the Darth Vader-esque bark from a couple of them, you know, anytime I live or breathe…
Stan: Finally, if there is one or a couple of things in this world you would most like to find—whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—what would it, or they, be?
Annie: There are definitely a couple of things I would like to find, have, create yet. And I have to thank you for even asking that question because just sitting down to examine what those things are is a good reminder of what is possible. Those vague needs and hopes are hard to chase, right? But when I say, OK, I’d like “a this” and “a that,” those things become real and possible. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, I would like to give more without feeling loss, appreciate more without becoming proud, and create more joyfully, without fear. And hell, I do hope that a chubby 40-year old can still hold out hope for a lasting love and family of her own, right? And for sure, another couple of tattoos…
Stan: Thanks for visiting, and for sharing so much of yourself with us. We wish you much happiness and success in life!
Annie: Thank you!
Annie Anthony is an editor, author, volunteer, and dog mama. On hiatus from her hometown of Chicago, Annie is temporarily living and working in Los Angeles. Look for her novella Bullseye releasing this fall from Musa Publishing.
SS Hampton Sr. served in the active duty Army, the Army Individual Reserve (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), then enlisted in the Army National Guard; he was mobilized for active duty for almost three years after his enlistment. Much of his work is based on military life such as his paranormal Dancing in the Moonlight.
Something is following Corporal Ronnie Edson back to Iraq, something that won't rest until it owns him completely.
To read an excerpt from any of the books written by SS Hampton Sr. please click HERE.
Hampton's writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.