Anika Arrington’s the accidental apprentice
interview with anika arrington
Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I moved to Arizona when I was 4, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m married to the best guy ever! I just gave birth to my sixth child, and he is just scrumptious. I’m a huge believer in self-education and life long learning, so I read all kinds of non-fiction as well as fiction. I studied at Northern Arizona University for three years: political science, communications, and creative writing. Obviously only one of those really stuck.
When did you decide to become a writer? Decide is such a solid, formal word. I guess I decided not to give up on writing about five years ago. I had started writing stories and given up on them a hundred times before, but I was just in a place in my life where I felt I could really make something happen, and I did.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? Well, at the end of it I would like to look back and be able to say, “I never wrote anything that was untrue to myself.” Beyond that, I just want to keep writing, keep putting books and stories out there, and improving as a writer and a person.
Which writers inspire you? Classical favorites include Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, and Oscar Wilde. In a more modern context I love Erin Morgentstern, particularly her Flax Golden Tales on her website. Patrick Ruthfuss is another modern favorite. And I find that a good number of children’s writers really resonate with me: Dr. Suess, Avi, Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, and Tomie de Paola to name a few.
What are you working on at the minute? Raising my babies. I just had my sixth kiddo in August, and he needs a lot of loving on. So with the release of The Accidental Apprentice I am taking a little break while ideas for the sequel simmer, and then I will jump back in come January. And I am never not working on being a better writer, so while I am taking a break from having a WIP I will do a bunch of reading up on writing and practice and play with older manuscripts like forgotten toys.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers? Well, I did have a short story published in an anthology, so it was great seeing the group effort behind the scenes, but I’m not sure I have the right temperament for collaboration. It would have to be with someone whose style was either completely different than mine, or who was so in sync with me that they could pretty much write the book themselves.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when? I wish I wrote every day. i want to. Some weeks I can, others I can’t. I have found that the real change in the way I write in the last year or two is that I don’t wait to feel like writing. I do it when I hate it, when I’m too tired, too stressed, too whatever. And in the end, that’s what it takes to get the work done.
Where do the your ideas come from? A small local honey stand in Pine, AZ.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I love writing by the seat of my pants and seeing what happens. But I was forced with Accidental Apprentice to create an outline. And I didn’t always stick to it, but it was really helpful when I got stuck from time to time.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? Writers who don’t read confuse me. But that aside, this year has had me in a bit of a dry spell. I am usually a voracious reader, but between my pregnancy, my other kids, and writing my own book my To-Read list has grown rather than shrunk. Though Patrick Ruthfuss’s “The Name of the Wind” and “The Wise Man’s Fear” were so stinking good I wanted to give up writing and become a professional Patrick fan. I actually don’t tend to latch on to a particular author, but rather individual books that speaks to me. Garth Nix’s “Abhorsen” series was truly excellent, his “Mister Monday” didn’t really do much for me. And that’s ok. That’s the nature of art.
What book/s are you reading at present? “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson and “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Senick
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about. Well, I didn’t have much to do with the cover. The amazing Dale Robert Pease read the descriptions I gave him and then went to work, occasionally asking a few questions. The result is one of my favorite scenes from the book brought to life. I’m really happy with it.
What is your favourite positive saying? Really? I’m a great big cynic most of the time, and yet surprisingly optimistic. I find happy little phrases on the trite side. Just doing my best and being alternatively content and joyful (while making fun of the cheerleaders of the world) as often as possible is enough for me.
What is your favourite book and why? Why do people think that any writer could pick one favorite book? Every book is its own work of art, and thus different. We like different books for different reasons and seasons. I reread Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” every year at Christmas time, but that’s not my favorite. I can recite “Green Eggs and Ham” from memory, but it’s not my favorite. My favorite is whatever suits the mood and the moment. Right now, I would probably say Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing.”
What is your favourite quote? The word “quote” is a verb. A quotation however, is a noun, and I might have a favorite one of those. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Socrates
What advice would you give to your younger self? You’re a writer, stupid. Just go with it. And YOLO is not a justification for anything!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Be observant. Ideas are everywhere. Write them all down. Play with writing. Do it constantly and faithfully and don’t stop. Also have a day job. Try a bunch of different things to give you the life experiences that will feed your creative endeavors later on.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included? Never try to write up interview questions at night when you are exhausted and the caffeine has worn off.
About The Accidental Apprentice
An Excerpt from The Accidental Apprentice