We have with us today author Ane Mulligan. She’s a Southern writer, like me, and I’m happy to host her and share with you all about her new book!
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She indubitably believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two very large dogs.
So let’s get to it! Ane, tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Southern California – strong emphasis on the Southern, but I got to Atlanta as quickly as I could. But I met my Brit Hubs there, so I can’t discount it. I grew up in church and had a Daddy who loved unconditionally; so coming to Jesus was as easy as breathing for me. Now, making Him Lord of my life was a bit more difficult. That involved some head-knocking, but He finally got through to me.
We’re glad you made it to Atlanta! Tell us three things about you that would surprise your readers.
- I once sat in a cactus—now it was not on purpose—and found out who my real friends were by the ones who plucked cactus thorns from my behind by flashlight.
- I once won a corn-on-the-cob eating contest when I was a ten-year-old, beating out the teen boys and grown men.
- I survived the epicenter of a 7.5 earthquake in 1959. We wanted to stay along the river, but Daddy wouldn’t cancel the reservation he’d made in West Yellowstone. Twenty-eight people were killed in the landslide that hit the motels alongside that river.
Adventure seems to find its way to you, Ane! Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
Does a duck waddle? I devoured books. I read everything from Jane Eyre and Little Women to the Bobbsey Twins. I wanted to be Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew.
What is your favorite genre to read now?
Women’s fiction. I like romantic comedy, English historical and Biblical historical. I’ll read some romance, but there has to be more to the story than just the romance. However, it is a well-known fact that I’m Queen of the Big Honkin’ Chicken Club, so don’t ask me to read suspense. Shiver.
That’s hilarious! As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
I didn’t. I was ADHD (no big surprise there) so I played out the stories I had inside me with my dolls for weeks on end. As I got a little older, I dreamed of being on the stage. Sadly, Broadway never found my phone number, so as I got older, I wrote plays instead. I didn’t know I wanted to write novels until Hubs told me to write one. Nearly startled me right out of my y’alls. But … see the next question.
When did you first begin writing?
When Hubs said, “You’ve bought and read so many books, why not just write one yourself?” And as soon as he said it, an idea tickled my creative bone. I knew it was God’s call, because He’s always used my hubs to deliver a calling. So, on Jan 1st of 2003, I began my first manuscript. It now resides in a time vault, not to be opened until 15,000 years after my death.
Hahaha! I have books like that! So why do you write?
Because the stories/characters inside my head won’t stop talking to me. It would be easier to stop breathing.
Amen, sista! Tell us about the journey to getting published.
It was long and a real rollercoaster ride. I learned the craft pretty well by 2005—well enough to have full manuscripts requested. In 2006, I went to editorial committee. The manuscript was ultimately rejected. That cycle went on for another three years or so. Then, I went to pub board. The editor who took it there retired and her hard drive was wiped clean. With my manuscript in it. Amidst all this, my agent retired.
Do you see a pattern here? I did. God kept saying, “Not yet. Trust me and wait.” He didn’t give me an option B, so I waited.
He did, however, give me a new agent, Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary. She’s been a true blessing. She’s kept me from making a disastrous decision as she’s guided and advised me. Then, in August of 2009, she called me. It was “the call” and I knew it was God’s choice of time and place for me.
I love to hear stories of how God moves in our lives! Tell us about your latest book.
Chapel Springs Revival is set in the mountains of north Georgia and is a romp through miscommunication in marriage. The characters were so much fun to write. Gina Holmes, bestselling author of Crossing Oceans and Wings of Glass said, “With the charm of the Mitford Series, the humor of I Love Lucy, and the heart of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, Ane Mulligan’s Chapel Springs Revival is sure to be a hit with fans of Debbie Macomber and Jan Karon. Reading Chapel Springs Revival is like coming home to the place you wish you were from, to the friends you know and love.”
What inspired you to write this particular book?
Over the years, I’ve heard women in the church make the wrong assumptions about marriage and their husbands. One actually thought since she hadn’t prayed for a husband, the one she had was not the one God wanted for her, and she was going to get a divorce. I pulled her aside for a Titus 2:4 moment.
Later, I realized how much men and women miscommunicate. She asks, “Do you like this outfit?” He hears, “I spent a lot of money.” He says, “How much did that cost?” She hears, “It makes you look fat.”
From that and my own whacked sense of humor, Claire Bennett, Patsy Kowalski, and the village of Chapel Springs were born.
What is one takeaway message you hope readers will get from reading this book?
Marriage is a lifetime commitment, and God can change everything when we let Him change us first.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
Stories are all around us. I’m a romantic at heart and see stories in everything. I can overhear a portion of conversation (yeah, I eavesdrop) and think, “What if …” and bingo, a new story begins to grow.
Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?
Oh, yeah. The last scene in the book came from a real life incident of a friend. And no, I can’t tell you about it, but it involves an open grave.
In the sequel, Chapel Springs Survival, Claire’s son does what one of mine did. He gets himself a modern day mail order bride. I told my son for not telling me until after the fact, it would go in a book and it did. A mother’s retribution can be sweet! Insert evil laugh here.
Awesome! If you could interview any character in one of your books what might that character say? Why?
Claire would tell you she’s tired of being nothing more than a towel-folder, a sheet-changer, and a pancake-flipper. “Bev and Drew went on a romantic Mediterranean cruise last summer. We fished on the lake. Patsy and Nathan went to Europe—we went to Atlanta for the boat show. Somewhere in the whirl of twenty-seven years of marriage and five kids, I became a LazyBoy recliner.”
What are your favorite themes to write about?
Women’s friendships and sisters. I never had any sisters, or so I thought. I was adopted and have an adopted brother, but I always loved my girlfriends and wanted sisters. In 2009, I was found by a friend of my birth family and united with four my five … yep count ’em – 5 sisters! God is indeed good. You can read that story here.
There is nothing I’d rather do than take a girls’ road trip! Put me with a couple of other authors on a research trip and it’s a taste of Heaven. Most husbands, while wonderful creatures, do not enjoy poking through antique stores, asking innumerable questions of the woman sweeping her porch in Savannah, or pulling microfiche at the library. But another author will jump in and help so you don’t miss a tidbit buried in the back of a drawer.
Oh, I might just have to join you on that road trip one day! What are you working on right now?
The third book in the Chapel Lake series. It’s tentatively called The Dreamkeeper. A best-selling author’s latest book has bombed. While the reviewers are happily skewering her, her racecar-driver-husband, who just told her he’s leaving her, didn’t pay the lease and she’s evicted. He neglected to tell her he also drained the their bank accounts. When his affair hits the papers, her publisher cancels her contract. Homeless and penniless, she and her little boy have no choice but to retreat to the house she’d inherited from her grandmother. A house that’s been gutted. Then, a stranger knocks on her door. One that will change the course of her life.
WOW! What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
Schedule? You mean I’m supposed to have one? Uh-oh, I’m in trouble. Then again, I guess I sort of have one. I get up when I wake up. In a stupor, I stumble to the kitchen to make coffee. Once it’s done, I sit with Hubs in the great room, listening to the morning news as I mainline the caffeine and answer email. At 9:00 AM or thereabouts, I go to my office. I’ll write until noon.
Sometimes, I’ll continue to write in the afternoon, but more often that’s for marketing, both book and grocery.
Then there are days when Hubs wants to do something that sounds remotely fun, so I flip the day. If I were as flexible as my schedule, I could touch my toes.
Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
I’m so glad God didn’t call me to this writing gig until my kids were grown. I’ve never had to juggle that much … well that’s not totally true. I do have to juggle the hubs and two English mastiffs. They’re more needy tan two-year-old twins.
I know what you mean! My Chihuahua is more baby than my kids ever were. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
Uh, you mean the glamorous life of an author, like where I’m wiping dog slobber off the walls? If I’m not doing that, Hubs and I sing in a community choir of 133 senior citizens. They let me in as their mascot. Okay, I qualify, I’ve got my AARP card. But we do have a lot of fun. We tour north Georgia, singing in lots of venues. We even got to sing the national anthem for the Braves once. I’m also on the board of a start-up community theater. We just completed our debut performance.
How exciting! Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Absolutely. I write from a Christian worldview. I want to share with women how trusting God can bring them peace and joy. There is one good thing about getting older—you have 20/20 hindsight. I can look back and trace God’s hand. I want to share through story, how God is faithful and trustworthy.
Do you have a favorite scripture that applies to writing?
I love Hab. 2:2 “Write my answer on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”
I’m a literary missionary; writing Christian fiction is my ministry. You see, I believe people let down their guard when they think they’re being entertained. Then when they least expect it, our words can reach out, touch hearts and change lives, with the help of the Lord.
Do you have a life verse that doesn’t necessarily relate to writing? If so, what is it and why is it your favorite?
Phil 1: 6 says, “I am certain that God, who began a good work within you, will continue is work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” I love this verse because I so often fail the Lord. But He will continue to change me and grow me to be more like Him.
Tell us something funny about your life. I mean, something funny in addition to what you’ve already told us!
One of our mastiffs, Shadrach, is part marshmallow. This 220-pound dog is a scaredy-cat. We have to give him doggy Xanax for fireworks. He should be out scaring intruders or catching criminals, but instead he’s trying to climb inside the washing machine to hide. I kid you not.
When he hears thunder, he scrambles under my desk. Do you have any idea how hard it is to type when the desk keeps shaking?
Funny! What advice would you give to writers who are seeking traditional publication?
Never ever give up.
Factor God into your publishing equation.
Develop rhino skin.
Good advice! What is your number one spiritual gift?
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I think I’ve told enough. I won’t have any secrets left.
Where can readers find you or your books on the internet?
With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.
Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.
With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.
Thanks, Ane, for joining us today! I wish you much success with your novel.