Friday, April 12, 2013

An Interview with Ann Rohrer

Today I'm interviewing Ann Rohrer, whose new book, MATTIE, is just out. From Ann's website:

Follow Mattie in her quest to find faith and love on the eve of the Mexican Revolution. After experiencing insurmountable trials, including escaping a killer and calling off her wedding, Mattie’s faith in God is shaken. In the throes of bitter disappointment, dark despair, and agonizing heartbreak, Mattie emerges a woman of faith. Recognizing God’s hand, she experiences peace, happiness, and enduring love.

LIZ: When did you figure out that you were a writer?

ANN: I kept hearing that I should be a writer from friends, but mostly my mother. They liked my Christmas letters. I never enjoyed lit classes, and I was no English major, so I figured an author I would never be. A friend, who was a playwright, advised not to let the lack of a college degree stop me. But I needed direction, at the very least. In 2000, when the last of my six children enrolled in high school, I took my first of several online writing classes. Ten years later, after writing three novels, I found the courage to join a writer’s critique group. They referred to my work in terms of great transitions and flowing, sentences. I had no idea what they were talking about, but they validated me as a writer. And now you know the rest of the story.

LIZ: Related to that question, when did you begin writing your new book, MATTIE?

ANN: MATTIE was my learning experience—writer’s lab, so to speak. I rewrote it about eight times over the last twelve years. I never intended to write novels. I figured on writing humor, like Erma Bombeck or Dave Berry. But my first Creative Writing professor suggested I consider a novel based on one of my short stories. The seed was planted.

LIZ: MATTIE is based on family history. Is this a story you grew up with, or something you recently discovered?

I grew up listening to my grandparents tell their stories. They grew and changed with each telling, so none of us cousins have the same version. Happily, the relatives give MATTIE their stamp of approval, even mother , who is the main character’s daughter. That says a lot.

LIZ: You’ve lived in lots of different places. What do you remember fondly about each major place you’ve lived?

ANN: Memories of Mexico are centered at my grandmother’s house, the setting of my story. Mother still lives there. A place of many happy summer reunions, the highlights were Grandma Wood’s giant pancakes for breakfast, playing in the irrigation ditch, horseback riding, climbing the apple tree to reach our fill of green apples sprinkled with a dash of salt. Grandpa Wood hollered at us to get out of the orchard before we got a stomachache. I never got a stomachache. I believe he was more worried about his apple trees.

I lived in Peru from age eight to age eighteen. My father was the Drilling and Blasting Foreman for Southern Peru Copper Corporation. We lived in a new company-built community at 9000 feet blasted out of the foot hills of the Andies. We could drive to the beach in an hour and a half. I learned to pop my ears as we dropped from the top of the world to sea level in so short a time. Growing up in a foreign country, I came to deeply appreciate the United States, warts and all.

LIZ: Is English your second language? Are you as comfortable writing in Spanish as you are in English, and do you have plans to write some Spanish-language novels?

ANN: English is my first language. I am about 70% fluent in Spanish on a fourth grade level. Hardly able to understand Spanish literature, I would never attempt to write it. I suppose I could do children’s books, but it holds no interest for me.

LIZ: What has been the hardest or most frustrating thing about the writing process for you?

ANN: Creating a story is a difficult process for me. I lean heavily on family history, the story that has already happened. Getting it written from start to finish in a way that will interest readers is the greatest challenge. Once that is achieved, the rest is pure fun, fleshing out the characters, the scenes, the dialogue. I love dialogue.

LIZ: What in the publishing process of Mattie has given you the most satisfaction?

ANN: Does anyone enjoy the publishing process with marketing demands hanging heavy over them? Ha ha. Signing the contract was a thrill. I nearly wept when I saw the cover of my book, it was so perfect. I displayed it on my computer desktop for months. Reading the novel in book form was surreal, like holding my baby or my grandchild for the first time. When an event that begins as a wish becomes a reality, life shifts. I see myself in a different light, added upon. And when my readers say how much they love my story, well, it just doesn’t get much better than that in the writing world.

LIZ:  Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

ANN: Hahaha! Still the aspiring writer, I find myself more comfortable with receiving advice than giving it. I guess I would say if you can lose yourself in your writing, when you surface you are shocked to see hours have passed instead of minutes, then you are a writer. Skills and techniques come line upon line. (pun intended) A successful long and ardous journey begins with the first step.

LIZ: Will your next book be based on family history, too?

ANN: My next novel is women’s fiction and is almost ready for the editor. It is based on the tragic life of a woman who was briefly part of the family when she married my Uncle. Historical events and Mexican culture do not influence the story, so I moved it from 1940’s in Mexico and placed it in 1970’s in Pasco, Washington and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The real story begins tragically and ends tragically, too heavy for the reader. I change it to a journey of redemption.

LIZ: Thanks so much for being my guest today. Good luck with your new book!

Ann blogs at and her website is at


The Damsel in Dis Dress said...

Very nice! Thank you.

Inklings @

M. Ann Rohrer said...

Thank you Liz, for your time and effort. the interview was great fun. Much more relaxing than being in front of a TV.

Liz Adair said...

Thanks for your comment, Margot. Love your "Damsel in Dis Dress." BTW, happy birthday tomorrow.

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, Ann, for the chance to interview you and get to know you better.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Great interview, and welcome to ANWA, Ann!

Michelle Wilson said...

Great interview! Ann- often times when I read interview questions, I will answer them in my mind (optimistic practice for when/if I will ever be interviewed) and was pleasantly surprised that we think remarkably alike, and our paths share some similar steps. I'm excited you are in ANWA and excited to read your book!

Liz -great interview!

Liz Adair said...

Thanks, Donna and Michelle, for leaving a comment. I know you know bloggers live for comments.

Glad you liked the interview.

rahim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alysa said...

This is cool!