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Interview with Annmarie M Roberts

The writer in Annmarie Roberts emerged at a young age when she couldn’t wait to hand in her “What I Did Over Summer Break” school assignment to her teacher. Since then, she’s used her writing talents in a variety of forms, and her debut novel releases this month. Read on to find out more about how she feels about her characters meeting a world of readers.

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You have a variety of writing experience from short stories to poems to scripts and now a novel. What are some similarities among those writing forms and what are the differences?

One similarity amongst all my writing forms is that in each piece I am creating a story. Writing excites me if I can create a story to tell, whether it's a minute or two long in a commercial script or numerous pages filled with continuous intrigue as in my novel.

Another similarity is how I present little bits of whimsical verse to invite a giggle or warm-hearted smile from my readers. I like the happiness that laughter or clean, comedic anecdotes can bring when created by the everyday happenings we all experience.

How do your scriptwriting and video direction backgrounds help you with fiction writing?

In scriptwriting or storyboard creation, you often have a certain number of words and amount of time to bring imagery and meaning to the reader or viewer. The focus on honing words or sentences to make that happen has strengthened my writing in engaging readers. They will adventure through moments of mind, connecting emotions and drawing visuals of experiences when they adventure through my novel.

Talk about the inspiration for your debut novel. When did you first have the nugget of a story idea? And how did it develop into a full-length book?

The idea of my novel started about fifteen years ago, when I typed up a paragraph about a story idea. The real magic began eight years ago when I moved from Las Vegas, Nevada, where I had lived for more than twenty years, to Greenville, South Carolina. The South took my heart up and hugged it. I came home to an inviting church family, funny names for things and how to say them, amazingly prepared food—oh, the deliciousness of it all!—and beautiful, endless scenery supported by all the seasons.

The true inspiration of my novel is how I came home to the South and how the South blessed my heart. Sometimes, when a new place brings out a good feeling in you, you find perspective in your life. When I began writing, all that influence just spirited out of me, paragraph after paragraph, working right alongside the story idea I had from the start.

How do you feel about your novel making its debut into the world? Do you have anything special planned to celebrate its release?

I am very proud of my accomplishment in writing this novel. It has been a long time coming. I was a stay-at-home mom for some years and worked part-time for others. I juggled my girls’ after-school activities and church volunteer events. The most exciting part is the anticipation of sharing my characters with the world. I feel like they have been locked up in my computer all this time. Hopefully soon, they will make quick friends with thousands of readers who will love them as much as I do.

I am planning a book release and celebration with friends and family. It's a wonderful gift that I have been given as a writer. What a great way to kick off my novel by sharing this gift with many of the people who supported and encouraged me in my writing.

What has surprised you about the publishing process and/or your journey to publication? Can you pinpoint a turning point on the path to publication?

I wrestled with the idea of publication for some time as I decided which route to take in doing so. There are so many possibilities for publishing, and I suggest all writers explore them. The surprise I received about publishing is how difficult it was to read your work and make decisions on editing. It is hard to critique and adjust your work when you have put so much time and effort in. However, as all writers know, sometimes we need to edit to make the story connect with the reader on a higher level. Thank goodness for editors!

The turning point in my path to publication came when I finally decided to publish. I fell in love with the idea that someone could hold my characters in their hands and let them seep from their fingers into their hearts. It didn’t seem fair to the people who know and love my writing not to share this story.

What's your writing routine like? Do you aim for a word count or a certain number of minutes in the seat? Any drinks or snacks or music that you MUST have to write?

The best part of writing for me is getting lost in my piece of work. I love the feeling of adrenaline that I receive as I start the first sentence and round the corner to the last sentence. It’s such a great escape from the mundane, daily routine that life can sometimes present. The creative process from mind to word ignites my brain and warms my heart with little bits of magical connection for my readers.

I never aim for a word count at first. However, in writing commercial scripts, I have to narrow down for time constraints. When I am writing longer pieces, like my novel, I have the same approach. I would keep writing through the night if given the chance at any point. As a mom and a working professional, that didn’t quite align with my necessary need to rest.

My favorite snacks when I am writing are roasted almonds and ranch-flavored veggie sticks, though not at the same time, of course. While I typed my novel in a trance, I munched away with headphones on, listening to contemporary Christian music. On occasion, I would cry or laugh out loud. My husband, who shares an office with me, would look over in wonder at my emotions. I fully believe if you don’t feel your story then how will readers feel it?

On your website, you talk about how much you loved writing a "What I Did Over Summer Vacation" essay for school when you were younger. What would you write in an essay with that theme now?

Wow, there is so much to draw from that question. My essay would start with the transition from a pandemic year to a summer full of fun and blessings. We all have so many things to be grateful for. This summer is the best time of any to realize them. My girls have grown into beautiful, amazing women. As much as the little-girl mommy in me wishes them young, the pride of their growth to college has my mind and my heart well.

My novel comes out this summer, so perhaps I would work in parts from this interview into my essay to show my excitement. As soon as I handed it in, I would remind my teacher how I am super excited for her to read it. What a truly blessed summer my family and I have. Praise the Lord for good times!

Any parting words?

We are all stars in His eyes. I hope that my message from this novel will reach deeply for my readers, and that money and fame aren’t all that they sparkle to be. Living your best life, wealthy or not, is far more valuable.

Lisa Bartelt is a child of the flatlands fulfilling her dream of living near mountains in Pennsylvania. She loves reading, writing and listening to stories—true ones, made-up ones and the ones in between—preferably with a cup of coffee in hand. Wife, mom of two, writer, ordinary girl, Lisa blogs about books, faith, family and the unexpected turns of life at

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