Anne Canadeo: ‘All Characters Are a Reflection of the Writer’

Last night, I attended the book signing of cozy mystery writer Anne Canadeo at Book Revue in Huntington, New York. Anne is the author of the Black Sheep knitting mystery series (she also wrote the popular Thomas Kinkade writing as Katherine Spencer) and was discussing The Silence of the Llamas, which is the latest book in the series. As often happens when I attend these appearances and the authors talk about their experiences while writing their books, I find myself nodding along. Here are nine things Anne said that I thought were pretty spot-on:

Anne Canadeo

Anne Canadeo

  1. ‘All the characters in the book, including the villain, are a reflection of the writer.’ Whether consciously or unconsciously, I imbued practically all the characters in Baby Grand with elements of my personality or fragments of my thought process. A piece here. A piece there. What’s fun is when people who know me read the book and pick up on them.
  2. ‘Fun things happen by accident.’ All the time. I plan, plan, plan, but sometimes the characters have something else in mind. I was surprised by many of the twists and turns that occurred in Baby Grand as I was writing.
  3. ‘Even though I knew my ending as I was writing, I wasn’t sure  how I was going to get there.’ Imagine getting into your car and getting ready to drive to a destination that is familiar to you. Hmmm… let’s see, you can take the highway if you want to get there quickly, or perhaps the scenic route if you’re in the mood for pretty. There’s lots of ways to get to one place, and that’s part of the magic of storytelling.
  4. ‘I need an outline or else I find that I’m wandering aimlessly.’ I experience this as well. Although my process is to just jump in and start writing wildly, without an outline, I reach a point — probably about a hundred pages in — where I get that “wandering aimlessly” sensation. That is when I sit down and do a very, very basic outline that serves as a guideline to get me from chapter to chapter and eventually to the end of the book.
  5. ‘Sometimes writing is miserable, but you’re compelled to do it.’ As one of my graduate professors used to say, there are so many more exciting things we could be doing — spending time with our families, meeting friends for lunch, going to the movies. Why do we sit at that computer and suffer? Because, for some reason, we’re compelled to do so.
  6. ‘You can talk and talk about writing, but you really just have to sit down and do it.’ This is VERY true. Waiting for inspiration is a myth if you’re a working (or serious) novelist. Gotta just sit there and write. Now.
  7. ‘When I’m writing, I do not think about the reader.’ It sounds cruel, perhaps, but worrying about what readers will think about a book will keep me from writing anything at all. Everybody is different. We all find different things funny, scary, thought-provoking. I truly believe that if you just concentrate on writing what’s in your heart, readers will find you.
  8. ‘Being a writer is pretty lonely.’ When I’m writing, it’s just my computer and me. In the middle of the day or night. I wouldn’t quite call it lonely, although I am indeed alone. Writing is a solitary endeavor. Maybe that’s why I’m enjoying the marketing aspect of Baby Grand right now — interacting with readers at store appearances and book clubs. I get to share my characters with others who — thank goodness — seem to love them as much as I do.
  9. ‘The most fun is being done with a book.’ Amen.
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My Book Revue Author Event

Last night, I had my first book signing for Baby Grand at Book Revue in Huntington, N.Y. — the go-to place for book signings on Long Island (Nelson DeMille will be there tonight, Valerie Bertinelli tomorrow night). More than 100 people came out to support me, braving the rain and the parking. I was completely overwhelmed. A truly great evening. For photos from the event, you can visit the Making ‘Baby Grand’ Facebook page. And here is a video snippet of my presentation where I talk about the inspiration behind Don Bailino, the villain of Baby Grand.

Meet Author C.B. Knadle

I met today’s featured debut author Charlene Knadle at the book signing of a mutual friend, Jeb Ladouceur, at the wonderful independent bookstore, Book Revue, in Huntington, New York. I’ll be back at Book Revue this coming Monday, October 15—this time for my own book signing! I’ll be speaking, Q&Aing and signing copies of my debut novel, Baby Grand. Yippee!

Name: C.B. (Charlene) Knadle

Name of book: Paper Lovers

Book genre: Suspense/Mystery/Romance

Date published: June 2005

Publisher: PublishAmerica

What is your day job? I teach at Suffolk County Community College.

What is your book about? Dana Ritz, a.k.a. Charlotte Ruth, who writes romance novels, attends a banquet where writers exchange books. She meets a man who writes romances under a female pseudonym, Roberta Rhodes; she’s been curious about him and has read his earlier books. She goes with him to his car where he has copies of his latest. He throws her into the car and takes off. At his residence are four other women—some of whom she recognizes. Unlike herself, they are happy to be under his domination. Her presence inadvertently disrupts the peace; troubles ensue. With difficulty, she devises a means for escape. There is a trial, at which surprising events and revelations occur.

Why did you want to write this book? I liked the idea of combining the genres of suspense, mystery, and romance, but the trigger for the book was a dream that gripped me.In the book, it is only a half-page scene, but it was the seed for the whole drama.

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? That’s really hard to say; there are so many challenges. For one thing, there’s the old cliché that “life interferes.” But once you begin writing and know in a general sense what your story is and who the characters are, it isn’t hard at all. Each bit of writing suggests the next. Then you have to stop to deal with other responsibilities. It’s important to find on-going time to write.

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Long Island’s Jeb Ladouceur at Book Revue

I attended a reading and book signing on Wednesday by Long Island thriller writer Jeb Ladouceur, who appeared at the Book Revue in Huntington. Jeb spoke about the writing process, read an except from his forthcoming book, Inked!, which will be published in 2012, and also signed copies of his latest book, The Oba Project.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeb earlier this year when he appeared on my show, The Writer’s Dream, during which we had a lovely and informative chat about the writer’s life:

It was nice to see a sizable group of people turn out for Jeb’s reading. I’ve gone to quite a few of these things over the years, and I’m sad to say that attendance is typically low — with the exception of readings by celebrities or other high-profile folks which usually draw a crowd (my library recently had one of the “real housewives” come chat about her new cookbook and from what I hear it was standing room only).

As a writer, I think it’s important not only to support fellow writers, but to learn about other writers’ processes — sometimes what you hear can jumpstart or help you work through a particular block you may have in your writing or perhaps just broaden your understanding of writing in general. For instance, I found it interesting that Jeb never visited the towns or cities he wrote about in his books. He didn’t want the realities of those places to stifle his creativity in any way. I, on the other hand, took a road trip to Albany, New York, the setting for much of Baby Grand, while in I was in the throes of writing my first draft in order to get a feel for the place and make my descriptions more authentic.

Congratulations to Jeb for a successful event. I look forward to attending many, many more.

Jeb Ladouceur and me at Book Revue/Photo by Debbie Lange Fifer