Friday, May 10, 2013

An Interview With Author, Ksenia Anske!!

Meet our guest, Ksenia Anske!

Where are you from?

From Moscow, Russia.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I became suicidal at 33, and, after not going through with it and recovering, did 2 years of therapy and decided to go back into my past, when I was 16 and wanted to kill myself, to examine why I wanted to do it. Siren Suicides, in effect, started as writing for therapy.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I quit my career in Marketing last year to write full time. In fact, I remember a specific date I started writing full time. It was May 15th 2012.

How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life?

I adhere to a very rigid schedule. 7-8am getting up, coffee, kids. 8-10am social media. 10-2pm write (sometimes this lasts till 3 or 4pm), 3-5pm read (this occurs later if my writing went on longer), 5-9pm kids, home stuff, 9-12am blog, social media again.

What jobs have you held that influence your stories?

None, really. My life influences my stories.
Do you have a specific writing style?

Um, people tell me I do, but I don’t know!  They say a writer can’t tell her own style. I’ve been called “raw” and “direct” and “poetic.”
How did you come up with the title?

This took a while. I have gone through several titles, until it struck me that two main things I talk about when telling people about my book are SIRENS and SUICIDE. I put two words together, tweeted it, and people loved it. It stuck. Siren Suicides is the final title.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. The message is that no matter how shitty your life is, it’s not worth taking it. There is love all around, if only you’re willing to open your heart to it. And that no matter how bad this life seems to you, we’re all in it together. Underneath this message, I also want to expose the problem of abuse, specifically of women and children, which is still a glaring problem in our society.
How much of the book is realistic?

Um, not sure what you mean by this? It’s urban fantasy that is set against the background of the city of Seattle, which I described very carefully, down to specific street names. In fact, you can trace the main character’s movements on the map, if you wanted to.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The actual events are not based on anyone I know or anything I’ve seen. It’s all imagined. The emotions, however, are directly tied to my personal experiences. And certain aspects of characters are drawn from people I know, specifically the relationship between Ailen, the main character, and papa, her dad, are drawn in some respect from my own relationship with my father.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Russian fairy tales about Baba Yaga, Pushkin’s tales when I was little; One Thousand and One Nights tales, Alice in Wonderland, and, later, books by Chekhov, Bulgakov, Nabokov, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Astrid Lindgren, The Headless Horseman by Thomas Mayne Reid, which was my first “horror” story, and then Stephen King. I devoured him. Most recently I’ve been completely smitten by Fight Club and am absolutely in love with Chuck Palahniuk’s work. And, of course, I’m a potterhead. I love Harry Potter.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Stephen King through his ON WRITING book. Virtually. And Michael Gruber is my actual mentor and neighbor. He wrote over 25 novels and gives me invaluable advice. We meet ever so often to chat literary stuff.
What book are you reading now?

ORLANDO by Virginia Woolf
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Yes. Hugh Howey and his WOOL. My recent favorite.
What are your current projects?

I’m finishing BLUE SPARROW, book of my tweets, this week, and am starting on ROSEHEAD, my 2nd novel, next week. It’s about a preteen girl who, with the help of her talking whippet, discovers that her grandfather murders women and turns them into roses.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Do you see writing as a career?

Yes. I wanted to do this all my life, ever since I started writing a diary and poems at 15. Just never had the guts to admit it and finally do it.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. It was 1 year out of my life, and it’s perfect that way it is, with all its imperfections.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Yes. I went to a lecture by a prominent writer in Moscow House of Book Lovers (as best I can translate its name), and he said that it’s beneficial to have a diary, to be able to look back at your life and see how pointlessly you have spent it. I went home and 5 days later started a diary.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I believe I did above. ROSEHEAD is my next novel. After that I will be writing IRKADURA, a novel that Michael Grueber, my mentor, suggests I should write. It won’t be fantasy, it will be literary, based on my childhood in Soviet Russia. The main character is Irina, or Irka, for short, and she can’t talk, so everyone calls her a fool, which is DURA in Russian. Hence the novel title, IRKADURA. After that, I want to write a sci-fi novel. After that, we shall see!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Yes. Every day I battle fear of starting. I have this anxiety of not being perfect, not writing anything worth reading, and it’s draining sometimes. I hope it will diminish with years.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Stephen King. He is an absolutely genius story teller. I also love J.K. Rowling, Chuck Palahniuk, Haruki Murakami, to name a few more.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not yet! I plan a book tour, once SIREN SUICIDES is published.
Who designed the covers?

My daughter will design them. They’re not done yet.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Going into my personal pain every day. Making myself do it.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Yes. The simple fact that I can, actually, write.
Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t write, can’t make money writing. It took me so long to believe in myself, please don’t repeat my mistake. Don’t write to be published, to make money, to be famous. Write for therapy, for yourself. Write to feel happy. This is when people  will notice your work and will read it. Because they will feel connected with you. We all share the same pains.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love you! Every single one of you. You make my life. You make me want to write more for you.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Just the act of sitting down every day and doing it was the biggest challenge of all.

What do you think about e-publishing versus technical publishing?

I don’t understand what it means! I have yet to go through the drill of self-publishing, so I’m sure I will learn a lot.

Do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one?

I have 3 agents interested and sent them my work, and I have 1 publisher interested. But I think I might go ahead and self-publish, because my readers want my book now, and it takes up to 2 years for the book to appear in the stores if I go traditional route.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?


If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Be able to fly.

For More On Ksenia Anske:

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  1. So great! I'm very excited to read Siren Suicides. I've been following Ksenia and her work for a while now. I'm glad she's getting the attention she deserves!