Anita Kovacevic: Teaching my students English and telling stories to my own children. I know, it may not be original, but that is how it is. Although I did write a lot back when I was at school and high school. I just always loved telling stories and poems, making people think and feel. Had more writer's confidence, too ;)
LBBB: How long did it take for you to write your first book?
A.K.: Oh gosh, not too long as The Threshold is just a novelette, and I wrote it on such a wave of inspiration that time didn't matter at all. Or time of day or night, for that matter! I suppose it took about a month to finish the first draft of The Threshold, but editing took a lot longer. Now that I have written quite a few things since then, I would re-write it all over again. Or not. There's something endearing about owning your own mistakes; it makes me feel young knowing I still have a lot more to learn.
LBBB: How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
A.K.: Sometimes all it takes is a picture, a scene, a scent, a melody... something that triggers my writing angels/demons, and then they keep me up night after night ’till I set them free on paper.
As for my children's books (stories, rhymes and plays), they really appear when I need them for my lessons or when my kids want stories about something. Winky's Colours appeared when I wanted to teach a bit of ecology, and it was Valentine's season, so I came up with an adventure love story about a daring penguin who... well, read it and you will see! ;) I have a full cupboard of stories written, even told to children (my school is very supportive so my students perform my plays as well) but I only started publishing last summer.
LBBB: What is your writing routine like? Do you have a set schedule or are you flexible?
A.K.: No routine, I'm afraid. I have a full-time teaching job and two kids. I mostly write at night, because insomnia kicks in when the writing rush takes over. My husband is very understanding and supportive, now that he's gotten used to my obsession. He even helps as a reader, spotting timeline mistakes like a hawk. I prefer writing by hand though, listening to some Celtic instrumentals, Ed Sheeran or Enya. It is faster when I type, as it shortens the process, but this way, I even get to do some editing when I copy notes into my pc or tablet. No closed door yet, as S. King suggests, although I can totally see the need for one.
LBBB: What inspires you to write?
A.K.: People, nature, scents, colours, sounds, art... anything and everything. If I had the time to write all stories that I come up with... oh well, there is not enough time in the universe. Whether anyone would read them, that's quite a different matter ;)
LBBB: Are any of your stories written from personal experience, or any character traits that mirror yours?
A.K.: We cannot escape ourselves, can we? I suppose there's a bit of me in every story I write. I am kind of a naive dreamer like Winky, I guess. As for The Threshold, that's funny, but I can't really tell... In this latest novel I have just finished a while ago, there is a character who is also an English teacher, so I suppose there is something of me in her... I do not identify, though. I empathise. I feel physical pain when my characters get hurt, I hate myself when I get into the minds of my villains (and oh boy, have I got some villains there!). I relax when I write about magical creatures. (Therapy, eh?)
LBBB: When in a slump, what do you do? If you read or listen to music, what are your go-to books or music?
A.K.: It helps to be creative in other ways, draw some illustrations, make stuff from fabric, paper, make new stuff from old, fix something, redesign some clothes, make play costumes for my students or props... Walks in the nature help as well. Good music, singing to Sam Smith, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Sade, George Ezra, Emili Sande... in my car though, sparing innocent people the experience. Or I just cry on my hubbie's shoulder, or whine to a friend, and it comes back. Eventually ;)
Reading other authors, indie or traditional...hmm... sometimes. Although if it's a good book, I will stick with reading it till the end.
LBBB: How do you respond to negative feedback/comments with your work?
A.K.: I am not as awful as I had feared, but sensitive I am. Who isn't?! But it is always the same—constructive feedback and criticism only stings at first, but makes you think. Then you select what to use, what to avoid, trying to keep your style, but be smart about it. I don't wallow in self-pity for too long. It's a waste of time.
LBBB: What is your writing space like? Do you work anywhere or do you have a special place just for your writing? Messy or clean?
A.K.: It's just a corner in our bedroom. I had a nice spot all fixed for myself last spring—a lovely, comfy armchair, just enough light, a shelf for notebooks and laptop nearby... just perfect. Unfortunately, I had some back problems and had to avoid sitting for a few months, so I started writing lying down and even standing. I tried using the mic option on the keyboard, but that was a hilarious failure. Basically, when the muse visits, I can write on anything and anywhere. And I'd better, or else I can say goodbye to any proper sleep ’till I do.
LBBB: Do you have a favorite author? Series?
A.K.: Plenty. J. M. Auel, E.A. Poe, Jane Austen, Stephen King, P. Coelho, D. Koontz, J. K. Rowling, Charlotte Bronte.... I would have to stand next to my bookshelves and make a proper list.
LBBB: Any fur-babies?
A.K.: Not right now. We had two dogs, both of them lived long lives, and it will take some time to get a new one. The same happened with cats. We have a cat right now, but he's more of a visitor than a pet. Quite an independent fellow.
LBBB: Well, thanks Anita, for dropping by the blog this week and saying hello! :)
As a member of an international teaching community, she has also participated in a worldwide anti-bullying project Inner Giant (soon to be published as an e-book, the proceeds of which go to an anti-bullying charity), which, among others, will feature her short stories, essays, illustrations and poems.
Her greatest inspiration and critics are her children and students, who mercilessly let her know if 'stuff is boring' or not, even when they have no idea the stories are hers.
She enjoys stories which come to her on her dreamstep - right before you wake up or fall asleep, with just enough reality and magic as life requires. She writes poetry, children's plays (often performed by students, Anita dabbling with the props, costumes and directing), stories, fantasy novels, horrors, and has a special fondness for writing limerick stories.
You can also read her interviews with indie authors and artists on her Wordpress blog, as well as some free stories, poetry and essays.
In her free time, she loves reading, writing songs and, as her son eloquently puts it, 'creating stuff from nothing', including making new stuff from throwaway items, and using anything and everything for a story or a lesson.