Long and Short Reviews welcomes Ana Bosch whose latest book is Art of Death.
Ana's favorite character in the story doesn't appear in the blurb for it. Porter is a student at Prestwick College of Art.
"Seriously, if I could adopt him, I would," Ana told me. "He just always makes me smile when I write a scene with him. He’s very animated and gregarious, and he doesn’t take life too seriously. He also has big poofy hair that’s really fun to draw."
Ana has had original characters floating around in her head as long as she can remember—it was part of the way she and her older sisters would have fun. They made paper dolls of their characters and used them in all sorts of games, including using them as UNO cards. When they would go on road trips, she would sit in the passenger seat of her dad's RV as they drove, staring at the passing landscape and imagining a trouble her characters would get into and how she would come and help them get out of it.
"I suppose I had quite the ego for a five-year-old," she said. "I hadn’t thought to write down any of these little adventures until my third grade teacher assigned us a project to write a story. At that point, I was hooked. Up until high school, I wanted to be a professional writer. Once I hit my junior year, my path took a sudden detour and I decided to pursue art—my other passion—instead. However, I continued to write long, rambling stories for my own amusement. It wasn’t until several years after graduating from college that I decided to submit something to a publisher. It was a short story called The Dragon Tamer, and I submitted it to Dreamspinner Press in the summer of 2011 while on medical leave from my job. When that was accepted, I saw no reason not to continue to write, and to continue to work with Dreamspinner Press."
In most cases, for Ana, her plot and characters come simultaneously—at least the major characters.
"But in some cases, I’ve gone through my notes and plucked characters from one story idea and inserted them into another idea where I thought they were better suited. This is actually what happened in Art of Death. The main characters originally came from a comic project I was toying with in my early twenties, which I later adapted into an extremely dark contemporary novel. I still wasn’t happy with it, so I let it sit on the back burner for several years before combining it with another idea I had for a young adult story, about undead worshippers and paintings that magically change themselves. With a bit of brainstorming, I had a new story."
Ana follows what she calls the "Lightning Bolt" approach to story creation. An idea will usually come to her at random, she'll have that "aha" moment when the lightning bolt hits and she knows she has something she can work with.
"From there, I do a lot of brainstorming—driving, lying down with my eyes closed, in the shower, doing chores, etc," she said. "I write down notes for all my ideas. Once it’s time to start working on a story, I take all my notes and use them to create an outline or synopsis. Once the outline is complete, I dive into my first draft. If something in the outline doesn’t work, I make changes as I go. But I continue to use the outline as a guide so I don’t lose sight of my story’s direction."
Ana currently has two projects in the works--Bonds of Death, which is the sequel to Art of Death. She signed the contract for it the beginning of the month and it's slated for an October release from Dreamspinner Press. The other is a contemporary m/m romance novel—a workplace melodrama about product developers at a company that sells adult novelties.
"It will be a fun, crazy story," she told me.
"Do you ever suffer from writer's block?" I asked her. "If so, what do you do about it?"
"My method of handling writer’s block may not work for everyone, but I’m sure some people might find it useful. At any given time, I have six to twelve 'personal' projects, on top of my freelance work. Among the projects are a couple of webcomics, three or four novel ideas, some illustrations, a couple craft projects, website maintenance, and promo. If I’m feeling blocked on one project, I jump to another. That way I’m always productive, and at least one of my projects is always moving closer to completion.
"I tend to work in intense bursts and then lose interest, so I try to get as much done as possible when the mood hits. I should note that I’m happy and fulfilled being a part-time writer, because my day job as an artist is also my true passion. In other words, I can afford to take breaks from writing whenever I’m not feeling it."
Because of this, in a lot of ways she still doesn't consider herself a writer—she's more likely to describe herself as an artist who loves writing and happens to also do it professionally. On the other hand, she admitted that if she were asked, 'Do you consider yourself an artist?', she would probably answer 'No' to that as well, even though art has been at the core of her entire adult life.
"I guess I’d be most likely to describe myself as a storyteller who works in a variety of media," she said.
The hardest part of writing, for Ana, is figuring out her place in the romance genre.
"I don’t consider myself a 'true' romance writer," she confessed. "I write plot, with strong romantic themes. I like to explore the different ways that romance can happen within the context of a larger story, but I don’t like writing stories that focus entirely on the relationship. Sometimes I think this might put me at the fringe of the romance genre. Because of this, even though I’m committed to writing my stories the way I believe they should play out, there’s always a bit of fear in the back of my mind—fear that all the romance purists will want to initiate a book burning or something. In the end, I suppose I have to accept that finding my audience will be a bit of trial and error at first, and I’m lucky to also have a lot of readers carried over from the art and comic community."
When she is writing, her work schedule is—in her words—"insane." As she said, she likes to work in intense bursts.
"For some reason, when I’m writing a draft, everything around me disappears, and I go into full hermit mode. I skip meals all over the place, I have trouble keeping a regular sleep schedule, and I usually also fall behind on chores and cleaning. I check my email for work purposes, but I stay away from social media sites and authors’ groups because I can’t handle hearing or thinking about sales or reviews or promotion when I’m working on a draft. When I wrote The Dragon Tamer and the first draft of Art of Death, I basically lived on peanut butter and tea. It wasn’t quite as bad with Bonds of Death, but even then, I think I consumed more Ensure than any sort of solid food." "What do you like to do when you are not writing?" I wondered.
"I love creating art. It’s my primary job for a reason. From an artistic point of view, my main passion is creating comics. It all comes back to storytelling, and I like using comics as a different approach to storytelling.
"Aside from that, I also love animals. I currently have a budgie, a cockatiel, and an African grey parrot. They’re all big losers. My theory is that all birds are losers. Watch any male bird performing a mating ritual, and you’ll agree. But 'loser' is a term of endearment, and I love my birds’ loserly antics. My budgie actually knows how to say, 'You’re a loser,' and he’ll also call the cockatiel a loser by name.
"I also had ferrets for the past twelve years, but my beloved Elmer sadly passed away in February, the day after my first short story release. I hope to either take in some foster ferrets or get another ferret of my own in the near future."
The next year, in her writing career, Ana told me she'd like to get to the point where she can make it through a release week without verging on a nervous breakdown.
"I was pretty miserable throughout the week that Art of Death was released. I think I went four days without eating solid food, and I couldn’t sleep for more than three hours a night. When I went in to the doctor for a follow-up on another issue, he noted that my heart rate was unusually fast. It had been like that for days, all because of Art of Death. I’m a nervous person by nature, and I get even more nervous when I’m not the one in control."
Finally, I asked Ana to tell us about the best fan letter she's ever received.
"One of my webcomic readers contacted me because he wanted to read The Dragon Tamer, but he wasn’t sure if it was safe to make an account on the Dreamspinner site. After I assured him that he wouldn’t get spammed, he bought the story. Not only did he leave me a lovely review, but he told me that he was inspired to write his own stories now. We’ve since been emailing back and forth and have developed a nice friendship. Fans are great, but friends are even better."
About the Author:
Ana is an avid animal lover and can't imagine life without her feathered and furry housemates. In her spare time, she runs a weekly webcomic and drinks lots of tea.
Find Ana online at:
Despite the support of his rich older boyfriend, starving artist Riley Burke is determined not to be a trophy—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school. It’s important to him that he pay his own way, so when the artist Coliaro requests a private modeling session with him, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.
Then he hears the rumors—that Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.
The source of these rumors is a man named Westwood, who claims to be an instructor at the school and warns Riley not to get involved. Riley ignores the advice—but when the rumors pan out and another murder looms, he turns to Westwood for help. Westwood is clearly keeping secrets. He’s dangerous, and Riley doesn’t know if he can be trusted—which makes him all the more attractive. Riley is in way over his head… and his involvement with the undead may make him the ultimate target.