Exclusive Interview with
J. Anne Campanile
When did you start writing?
I've been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I think the first "novel" I wrote was when I was eight or nine. It'll never see the light of day, but it helped me develop as a writer.
What makes writing your passion?
There are stories all around us. Every train track overgrown with weeds, every decayed building has a story in it. It tells a tale of when it was full of life. The stories creep into my head without me telling them so. I just choose to write them down and share them with other people.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing stories going on sixteen years now. I started really young, knowing that I wanted to be "an author!" when I grew up. I wrote stories all throughout school, for the fun of it.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
It was crazy to me, that someone liked my book enough to publish it. I liked my own stories, but I didn't have a lot of faith that other people would, and when you submit your book out into the world, you kind of automatically brace yourself for a "no." When I went through the final proofreading before we published, and saw the finished manuscript, I started crying.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
Pride and Poor Judgment was the retelling I never got as a kid. I always related to Darcy more than I wanted to marry him, and there were just no retellings out there from a modern, female Darcy's perspective. I wanted to get in her head, see the story through her eyes. I wanted real, compelling people in her story, and empathetic motives behind everything she did.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
There never seems to be enough time for everything! The actual writing, marketing and social media, plus the time I spend at my day job. It's like having two full-time jobs.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
Sometimes freewriting helps, to just expel words onto a page. Sometimes my critique group helps, knowing I have a deadline and I have to write and get something out, no matter how bad it is. Honestly, there's no one "perfect" answer, because each writer's block is a little different.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
Write the stories you want to read. I could stop writing, sure, but the ideas wouldn't stop coming. They'd just keep occupying space in my head until I wrote them down. And since I'm writing them down anyway, I might as well make them entertaining.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Be patient and be nice to yourself. I was so hard on my writing, and I had to realize I was writing my Million Words of Crap. Anything takes practice before you're good at it. There's no sense in being critical of the practice.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
I try to read everything, good and bad, because it helps me grow as an author. I'm a better writer than I was when I published Pride and Poor Judgment, and no project will ever truly be "done," but I can learn from the things people liked and the things they didn't. Truthfully though, you can't please everyone, so I have to read the negative with a grain of salt. Maybe I'm just not their genre.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
It feels awesome. There's nothing better to me than knowing my characters connected with someone. That I got to tell an enjoyable story to a stranger.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Sure. The aphorism is to "write what you know", after all. They're more little details than major plot points, like one character's counseling sessions or little things that make the world feel more real.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
In the very first draft of Pride and Poor Judgment, Darcy was practically a self-insert. But as I rewrote and refined the novel, she grew and branched out into a different person. I still relate to her a lot, though. She's socially awkward, never says the right things at the right time, but her heart is in the right place and she fights for the people she loves.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The cover is the reader's first window into the story, so I definitely feel it's important. For romance especially, the leading couple on the front cover is who you're going to picture in your head a lot of the time.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I love connecting with readers! I'm always happy to talk to anyone who's read my books at conventions or through social media.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Tough call. Kasie West, Liz Czukas, and Heather Demetrios are all really great romance authors, for different reasons. West is great with wit and poignant emotions. Demetrios is good with the grittier, heavier subjects. Czukas is really good at light, fun reads and cute couples.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I don't know that I have any one person I'd love to be "as big as," but the dream is to be able to turn writing into my only full-time job. To tell enough stories to enough people that I can make it my career.