Thursday, August 6, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Rolynn Anderson

The Write Way Café welcomes Rolynn Anderson. Anderson's zeal has given her persistence and an appreciation for the joy of revisions.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
When I retired from a high school principal position, I began thinking about what I’d like to do next.  I wanted to see if I could craft the kinds of novels I always enjoyed reading (romantic suspense), so I started writing in 2000.  First book published in 2011 (Wild Rose Press); I’ll have six novels published by the end of 2015.

What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
A long and winding road describes it best.  I almost threw FEAR LAND under the bus, but the subject was worthy, so I kept going, even when my editor called for a complete reconfiguring of the plot.

Where did the idea for your story come from?
I had a minor trauma in my life and, as a result, decided to do some research on it.  I began thinking about how certain people might be more susceptible to trauma than others, which led to the ‘could we screen out certain vulnerable men/women from combat?’ question.  Soon I was writing about a whole range of anxious behavior!

Why did you pick the setting you did?
I wanted my character (a child psychiatrist…a researcher) to go from a small town college (and a minimum of colleagues) to a big-college setting where she was forced to deal with lots of adult co-workers.  She hears rants from adult minds, so she avoids adults (works with children, instead).  But this new project forces her to work with lots of adults…lots of conflict!

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
My characters tend to be better (and the villains worse) than people I know, to push the envelope.  My ‘good’ characters are people we want to become, because when they are faced with challenges, they (finally) step up, like we all hope we’ll do.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
As I said, above, I struggled mightily with the characters and plot in this story.  At first I had a double mystery, sort of side-by-side plots.  I decided to entwine the two plots, requiring a major rewrite.  Plus I dumped one villain!  As I said, the topic/theme was worthy, so I kept at it until I got the characters and the plot right.

What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
I discovered that the Armed services have been trying to figure out a way to screen out recruits for emotional problems since the Civil War!  I also learned that, today, we have almost as many suicides among soldiers who have never been in combat compared to those who have served in battle.  So much about trauma, its symptoms as well as ‘cures’, is still a mystery.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about anxiety, PTSD, and neuroscience?  
I’ve become a big supporter of the whole range of science of the brain.  Trauma, dementia, anxiety, depression…these are brain problems, chemical issues we could address if we had enough knowledge about the brain’s workings.  I hold out hope that in my lifetime, scientists will find ways to address brain problems.  As for me and this novel?  This is my first try at a ‘normal’ paranormal, coupled with the tricky area of PTSD/anxiety.  But I learned I am above all, persistent.  I’m thrilled I finished the novel and hope readers enjoy it!

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.  
I write in the morning when I’m fresh and I am a pantser, surprised every day with what I type onto the page.  Of course, the next day I have to polish, polish, polish…but then I write something new as well.  I do enjoy the magic of revision.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  
I was an English teacher (high school/college level) so my favorites would fill pages (Catch 22, Brave New World, anything Shakespeare, for instance), and I still read about a book a week.  I’m fond of Gabaldon’s Outlander series; enjoyed Doerr’s ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.  But don’t get me started, I love lots of books, yet I rarely read them more than once, nowadays, because I’ve just grabbed a new one!

What are you working on now?  
BAD LIES, a story about a talented golfer whose biggest challenge is a mystery she and her coach can’t solve.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?  
I’d like to learn how to write short (short stories).  FEAR LAND is a ‘normal’ paranormal…a new genre for me!

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?  
A philanthropist with a ton of money to solve a major social problem.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?  
Detailed descriptions of actions and deeply emotional scenes.  Body part positions-yikes!

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?  
Because I know them so well, I pick Claire and Jamie from Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

     Tally Rosella, an acclaimed psychiatrist who helps children fraught with anxiety, avoids adults because their brains rant at her.  But the chance to start a second child study and connect her findings to PTSD, sets her squarely among devious colleagues at a big California university.
     Army Major Cole Messer, Tally’s new neighbor, won’t admit that trauma from combat tours in Afghanistan, destroyed his marriage and hampered his ability to lead.  As a teacher of college ROTC and single parent, he’s focused on enrolling his highly anxious son in Tally’s study and getting back to active duty.
     Someone is dead set against Tally’s presence at the university, and blowback from her battles with co-workers put Cole and his son in jeopardy.  Watch what happens when people struggling with shades of anxiety collide with corrupt, revengeful foes.

About Rolynn:  Scandinavian, Army Brat, English Teacher, High School Principal, Golfer, Boater, World Traveler, Author.  With her experiences, Rolynn Anderson is fairly bursting with stories about extraordinary people and amazing settings, real and contrived. Now add her competitive nature and her love of ‘the makeover.’  As a principal, she and the staff she hired, opened a cutting-edge high school; as co-captain with her husband on INTREPID, she cruises from Washington State to Alaska and back.  As a writer, she delights in creating imperfect characters faced with extraordinary, transforming challenges.  Her hope: You'll devour her ‘makeover’ suspense novels in the wee hours of the morning, because her stories, settings and characters, capture your imagination and your heart.

Buy links for Rolynn's books, Award-winning Suspense Spiked with Romance:




Leah St. James said...

FEAR LAND sounds terrific, Rolynn! I'm also fascinated by neuroscience. Actually, I'm fascinated by all biology--the intricacies of each living "thing" and how all the parts interact so perfectly. It's amazing. Brain issues, of course, affect everything else in that "body," so can be so heart-breaking. And Clair and Jamie are my favorite fictional couple, too! (Sigh.)

Diane Burton said...

Fear Land sounds like another winner, Rolynn.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Leah and Diane, thanks for stopping by. MRI's of the brains of trauma victims "light" up differently from those not beset by trauma. The question remains, what do we do with this information? In FEAR LAND, I trot out a couple of theories through my character, Tally. I hope she's on to something :-)

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynn said...

Very inspiring post! It's nice to get to know you.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks, Lynn. Turns out the more I write, the more I learn about myself! Weird, huh?

HiDee said...

Very interesting! Thanks for being with us today, Rolynn!

Rolynn Anderson said...

It's a pleasure, HiDee. I've sent out messages about the interview, but looks like this is one very busy day for our writing/reading buds. So many things to's mind-boggling, as we well know. Tell me what you're working on these days.

Angela Adams said...

Every interesting novel premise.

Angela Adams said...

Oops...I meant "very" interesting novel premise ('s been a really long day...)

Rolynn Anderson said...

Angela, thanks for writing. I wait with baited breath to see if readers find the premise interesting/compelling!

Rolynn Anderson said...

HiDee, thanks for the interview! Good luck to you! Rolynn