Interview With Author Anna Schaeffer

I’m so excited to be sharing an interview with author Anna Schaeffer with you all today!

Anna Schaeffer is the author of All of This and Just One Thing. I read and LOVED All of This and am so excited to read its newly-released sequel Just One ThingI am so lucky to have been able to interview Anna, and I am confident that she will inspire and encourage you through this interview as she has inspired and encouraged me through this interview and her books. Keep on reading for my interview with Anna!

Tell us three random facts about yourself!

1. When I was seven, I wrote a country love song. My family still laughs about it, but I was convinced I would end up with a Grammy one day. That was the start of my writing career.

2. Road trips are my favorite kind of vacation.

3. I make playlists for everything. I have playlists for writing different kinds of scenes, getting ready for work in the morning, and even for driving in the car on a rainy afternoon. 

Where did you get the inspiration for All of This and Just One Thing?

One summer in college, I took a walking/jogging class for a wellness credit (I’m not exactly ambitious when it comes to athletics…). One day I got to class early, so I decided to sit in my car and just listen to the radio for a minute. The song “Down” by Matt Kearney came on, and I heard these four lines in the second verse:

“It was Monday night under the street lights
She’s turning seventeen in seven nights
Out on the fairgrounds walking in monotone
She kicks a bottle as empty as her soul.”

 The song goes on from there, but for some reason, that one image stuck with me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A disillusioned, sixteen-year-old narrator started to grow in my imagination. The final book has nothing at all to do with the song, but that one image sparked what became All of This. 

I’d written a novel earlier, but the narrator hadn’t been all that different from me. So I decided to challenge myself. I was born and raised in the South, so I wrote Sadie as a girl from the Pacific Northwest who visits the South for the first time and experiences the culture shock of Southern culture. 

And, obviously, I’m not a runner…so guess what Sadie does when she’s stressed? She runs. I used that walking/jogging class for inspiration and drafted the novel that summer. 

That was supposed to be it. I wasn’t planning to write a sequel. But a year before All of This was even published, a friend and I took a weeklong trip to Seattle (where Sadie’s from). On the plane ride home, I knew Sadie’s story wasn’t over, and I wrote the synopsis of Just One Thing.

How does your faith impact your writing? 

My faith is my reason for writing. I want to entertain readers with a good story, but I also want to gently invite them to think about the bigger picture and how they fit into it. Readers get to walk beside characters who experience life in all of its weird, messy, and sometimes painful moments. And as my characters begin to discover their purpose, it’s my hope that readers begin to think about theirs too. 

There’s a line in All of This that says, “As long as your heart’s still beating, you’re not done. You still have a purpose. God still has big plans for you.” That’s why I write—to share with readers that there is more to their story than what they’re going through. No matter who we are or what we’ve done, we’re loved like crazy by the Author of our stories. And He still has big plans for us.

What has God taught you through writing and publishing your books?

So many things. But I’d say one of the biggest has definitely been this: True success as a writer isn’t defined by my sales, reviews, or followers. What matters is that I’m loving God with everything I’ve got. That includes my writing. My job is to do my best with what He’s given me and to trust Him to take care of the rest. I write in response to who God is and what He’s done for me. If He is glorified in it, I’m successful. 

Through writing, I’m also reminded that we are made in the image of a creative God. That means we all have some kind of creativity inside of us. How awesome is it that we get to participate in creating things that contribute to the beauty of the world and point back to the ultimate Creator? 

If you had to describe Sadie Franklin in three words, what would those three words be?

Independent, sincere, and scrappy.

If you could spend an afternoon at a coffee shop with one of your characters, who would it be and why? What drink would you order?

As much as I love her, I won’t say Sadie, since we’ve spent so much time together already over the years 😉 I’d love to have vanilla lattes with Melina Elliot, Sadie’s aunt. Mel is wise and compassionate, but she’s also super witty and has a stubborn streak like Sadie. Our conversation would range from talking about deep heart stuff to joking about random topics.

If I got to pick a second character, I’d say Fynnigan Larcy from Just One Thing. Honestly, Fyn could make a piece of wheat toast sound fascinating. I’d just want to sit and listen to her commentary on life.

What are three of your favorite books?

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, and A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman.

What is your favorite quote? 

I have several! But here’s a quote from one of my favorite books. I’ve had it written on my bedroom mirror for years:

“I don’t believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world. I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify. And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will glorify him with my life.” – Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways

I love that quote for many reasons. But as a writer, it reminds me that my identity and worth are not found in my author title. Writing is a big part of my life, but ultimately, my identity is in my relationship with Jesus. My goal is to honor Him in my writing, but there are also so many other ways He wants my life to point to Him. 

Lastly, what is your number one piece of advice for writers everywhere?

Know why you write. If you write for popularity or money or to impress others, you’ll ultimately end up disappointed. Those things never fill us up. But remembering your reason puts everything else into perspective. There will be days when you can’t seem to shake the writers block, or you’re overwhelmed by the publishing process, or you wonder if anyone will ever even like the project you poured your heart into. When that happens, remind yourself of why you’re doing this whole writing gig in the first place. Hold onto that, and you’ll experience more joy in the process. Why? Because you’ll know you’re doing what you’re made to do. 

About Anna

Anna Schaeffer writes about girls navigating their teen years and discovering their purpose along the way. Born and raised in the South, she lives near Raleigh, North Carolina, where she works as an administrative assistant and frequents all the best breakfast places in town. When she’s not lost in a story, she loves hosting movie nights, making playlists, and taking road trips with her family. Hang out with Anna at annaschaefferwrites.com and on social media @aschaewrites.

Buy All of This on Amazon ~ Buy Just One Thing on Amazon

View All of This on Goodreads ~ View Just One Thing on Goodreads

Have you read All of This? How has your faith impacted your writing?

Interview with Author Ashlee Cowles

I’m so excited to be sharing an interview with author Ashlee Cowles with you all today!

Ashlee Cowles is the author of Beneath Wandering Stars and Below Northern Lights. Y’all have hear me rave about Beneath Wandering Stars before in my post “7 Books About Military Kids.” Guys, if you haven’t already, READ THIS BOOK. It is honestly one of my favorite books, and I was so excited when Ashlee Cowles agreed to do an interview. She is not only a great writer, but also so kind, inspiring, and all-around amazing. Keep on reading for my interview with Ashlee!

Tell me three random facts about yourself! 

  1. I once swam a few feet away from a shark…only I didn’t know it until I got out of the water and saw the fin! (Maybe this is why I now prefer swimming in the Great Lakes to the ocean!).
  2. My high school prom was held in a German castle.
  3. I’m pretty sure I could live off of olives, cheese, and fresh baguettes.

How did growing up as a military kid influence you and your stories? 

So far all of my stories are rooted in locations I’ve either lived in or traveled to, in large part because of my mobile military upbringing. I love stories with a strong atmosphere and sense of place. I think living in different regions and among a variety of different cultures has given me an ability to recognize the little details that make all of those places “home” in some way (because most military kids don’t just have one home — they have certain memories that feel like home). For example, I can still remember the sound of cicadas from spending my early childhood years in Alabama and Texas, I know what it feels like to not see the sun for weeks during a Pacific Northwest winter, and one of my favorite scents is the smell of cinnamon almonds roasting at a German Christmas market. Those are the kinds of special details I try to incorporate into my stories to make them feel real, but mostly, I just love writing about people from vastly different backgrounds who are trying to work together and figure out how to make their way in this complicated world. Growing up in the military community gave me a lot to think about in that regard.

Where did you get the inspiration for you novel, Beneath Wandering Stars?

My own upbringing as a military kid was definitely a major source of inspiration. There is a huge population of teens who know what it’s like to change schools multiple times because your family has to move every few years, and who know what it’s like to have a parent or loved one deployed to a war zone for months at a time. Yet I hadn’t read any Young Adult novels that focused on this unique upbringing, so I decided to follow Toni Morrison’s advice — “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Your story is set during a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. Why did you choose that as the setting for Beneath Wandering Stars?

I knew I wanted to set my military kid story overseas on a U.S. military base in Europe (since that’s a unique experience many military kids have at some point), but I also wanted my protagonist (in this case, Gabi) to go on some kind of adventure that would cause her to grapple with the challenges that are part of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. After I walked the Camino de Santiago myself in 2011, I finally knew what my “adventure” would be and the rest of the story kind of fell into place! The Camino is a real-life “Hero’s Journey” and a fantastic setting for fiction — you meet so many interesting people who are walking the route for all kinds of reasons. I knew it would be the perfect setting for Gabi to encounter other characters who would stretch her and help her grow.

What message do you hope readers take away from Beneath Wandering Stars?

Whether or not you grew up in a military family like Gabi, I think a lot of us feel are longing for more connection and feel a little “homeless” right now, like there isn’t one physical location where we feel like we belong. The last line of the book will probably always be my favorite — “People are the only home the Army issues.” Because that’s what “home” ultimately means to me — it isn’t just a place, it’s the relationships and memories we carry with us no matter where we go.

If you had the chance to go on a trip with one of the characters from Beneath Wandering Stars, who would it be and why? Where would you go?  

What a fun question! I would probably want to go on another walking pilgrimage, and I would love to take along Homer, the German Shepherd, who makes an appearance at the end of the book. He’s such a loyal companion and he would make me feel safe if I wasn’t traveling with other people (Homer also plays a major role in the sequel to Beneath Wandering Stars, Below Northern Lights). I’ve had serious wanderlust for Italy (and gelato) lately, so I would probably want to hike the Way of St. Francis — a pilgrimage route from La Verna that passes through Assisi and ends in Rome.

What are three of your favorite books? 

Three recent favorites are A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset, and Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge.

What is your favorite quote? 

I love this quote so much that it’s actually on the homepage of my website: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~T.S. Eliot 

Lastly, what is your number one piece of advice for writers everywhere?

To write well, I think you first have to see well. By that I mean you have to notice details and pay attention to what moves you and what moves other people. That’s why I’ve kept a notebook of quotes and poems and little snippets of writing that I love — it helps me to pay closer attention to what kind of words ring true and why they make me feel something long after I’ve finished reading them.

Thank you so much, Ashlee! I’ve loved having you on my blog and reading your fantastic answers.

About Ashlee Cowles

Ashlee Cowles is the award-winning author of BENEATH WANDERING STARS (Simon Pulse), BELOW NORTHERN LIGHTS, and WISDOM FOR THE WAY. Raised in a military family without roots, Ashlee enjoys traveling the world almost as much as she loves telling stories. Learn more at ashleecowles.com.

Click here to buy Beneath Wandering Stars ~ Click here to buy Below Northern Lights

In what ways does you life influence your stories? If you could go on a trip with a book character (yours or someone else’s), where would you go and who would you take?

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