Interview with novelist Anne Steinberg

special guest is novelist Anne Steinberg who is telling us quite a bit about
her writing, particularly her new novel, Manroot. You can connect with her on Twitter, and Goodreads.
While living
in England, Anne Steinberg’s first novel, Manroot was
published by Headline Review in London. Manroot was heralded
as an important first novel in 1994 and included in the Headline Review’s
prestigious “Fiction without Frontiers,” a new wave of contemporary fiction
that knows no limits. Eight modern storytellers were featured: Anne Steinberg,
Margaret Atwood, Iain Banks, William Gibson, Peter Hoeg, Roddy Doyle, and E.
Annie Proulx. It was an auspicious beginning to a long and varied career for
Anne Steinberg, who went on to write several acclaimed novels, Every
Town Needs A Russian Tea Room, 
the story of a wealthy socialite who
falls in love with a penniless young Russian immigrant who is haunted by a
bizarre shameful secret, The Cuckoos Gift, First Hands, and An
Eye For An Ear.
 She is also coauthor of The Fence, written
with her grandson Nicholas Reuel Tolkien, the great grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Nicholas is a filmmaker, director, and published poet. The Fence is
a chilling story of a magnificent Gothic fence forged by a despicable
blacksmith and infused with evil.
Anne was a
partner in the world famous vintage clothing store, Steinberg & Tolkien, on
Kings Road in Chelsea. After a successful run for over 20 years, the shop
closed, and she returned to the US. Approaching her eighty-second
birthday, she now writes, reads, and studies antiques, American Indian history,
animal welfare, mythology, and folklore legends.
Welcome, Anne. Please tell us about
your current release.
is the evocative and stirring story of a lonely town in Missouri, and a young
woman named Katherine who discovers a mystical side to herself that she’d never
known existed. It weaves together fantasy, romance, and a young girl’s
coming of age into a darkly magical story.  
In the spring of 1939, Katherine Sheahan and her father, Jesse,
are looking for work in the isolated tourist town of Castlewood. Jesse gets a
job as handyman and Katherine as a maid at a small hotel. Jesse drinks and
neglects his work and eventually disappears, abandoning his daughter. Frieda
Broom, the hotel Manager, takes Katherine under her wing, and teaches her about
ginseng, the manroot, and other secrets of the foothills. Katherine discovers
that she is a natural healer and has the ability to communicate with spirits, a
gift she inherited from her Navajo Indian mother.
Among the hotels regular clientele is Judge William Reardon.
Escaping his sterile marriage, he becomes captivated by Katherine. As the
pair bond over astrology and gardening, Katherine becomes convinced they belong
together, despite him being much older than her and married. As they begin to
fall in love, the violence of dark magic threatens to annihilate all Katherine
knows and holds dear. Can their love survive?
Manroot is a potent tale of destiny,
spiritualism and love, written in Anne Steinberg’s signature compelling style.
The kindle version was published March 2014 and is available for sale on
What inspired you to write this book?
inspiration for writing Manroot came
about from a country property that our family wished to purchase. It was wooded
acres in the Missouri Ozarks by the Meramac River. The property contained an
old derelict building that had been a small hotel during the depression.
There was an abandoned swimming pool that we found had contained salt water
from an underground spring from 1800 hundred miles south from the gulf of
Mexico. This strange oddity for a pool in the Midwest and the local facts told
of another strange phenomenon that the hills had a wild crop of Ginseng called
the Manroot, where in the olden days many came this way to hunt for the plant.
The river was named an Indian name MERAMAC. All the strange facts intrigued me
and I tried to image who came in those days in the depression looking for work,
and somehow this beautiful strange young Indian girl was born in my imagination
and I tried to see who she would have fallen in love with…. an older exciting
bad boy of a man, Judge William Reardon.
Excerpt from Chapter 5:
Working alone in the kitchen, Katherine scrubbed it
clean. Looking up at the calendar, she knew tomorrow was Friday. The Judge was
one of the few people who stopped here regularly, even now, in late autumn.
Perhaps it was telling Sally that had started it all, for now her thoughts of
the Judge were like a fever that stayed with her. Last Friday when she took him
his bourbon and spring water, she noticed it for the first time, the birthmark.
It was on his right hand, so clear and vivid that she had almost dropped the
tray. He had smiled at her nervousness, called her ‘my dear,’ and given her a
silver dollar for a tip.
Katherine slept restlessly; she dreamed of the Oh mu
and heard its moan of agony echoing in her sleep. She dreamed of Papa floating
in the muddy river, caught and held under by a treacherous branch, his eyes
vacant pools staring upward through the water. It was so real that in the
morning when the siren from the firehouse once again split the air, she rushed
into the kitchen where Frieda was telling Bruce, “You be careful…another one’s
gone and gave herself to the river. It was a suicide, a painted woman from the
Eagle’s nest…” Frieda shivered as she told the story the way that she had heard
it from the postman. The woman in the night had cut her wrists, but the dying
was too slow, so she ran from the clubhouse, perched only for a moment on the
railing, then jumped headlong into the cold water.
Katherine moved slowly this morning. Frieda fussed at
her, but knowing the girl had never been lazy, she thought the drowning must
have upset her or maybe she was coming down with something.
The guests were all gone. They only expected one
tonight – Judge Reardon. They’d have time to go into the woods today, hunting
for herbs and the manroot. But Frieda went alone as the girl looked a bit too
Alone, Katherine cleaned the rooms again; it took no
time, for they were already clean. She lingered in Number 8, The Judge’s room.
She knew a lot about him now, and she felt a very
real presence that he left in the room. She knew intimate things about him –
like the size of his shirts, the smell of his aftershave, which side of the bed
he slept on, how he preferred his coffee, the brand of cigarettes that he
smoked…numerous details about him that she had collected bit by bit, saving
them in her mind and in her dreams, like pennies to be spent at a later date.
He knew nothing of her dusting his dresser,
straightening the bed after he had risen. He was not aware that while he was
out, she pressed his shirts to her lips, inhaling his aroma, and sat on the bed
in the same crevices his body had made over the years that he had slept here.
Now she knew with the wisdom and instinct of centuries, she knew that what
would be, would be.
Last week for the first time she had seen it, the
birthmark, on his right hand. It was paler than the surrounding skin,
crescent-shaped like a slice of the moon, and within its outline, unmistakable,
a perfect five-pointed star. She knew its shape by heart, as just above her
right breast she had its identical replica.
The Navajo blood flowed strongly in her veins, with
all its beliefs in the signs, even though her father had tried vainly to smother
these strange alien traits. Since her childhood she had believed that she could
speak to animals, and she could find herbs hiding under any rock and knew
exactly what they would cure.
What exciting story are you working on
Right now I
am multi tasking, writing the screenplay of Manroot
and accumulating scraps and incidents of a memoir that I am writing sparked by
the many questions my grandchildren asked about the different things that
existed when I was growing up. I am also currently working on promoting my
previously published novels, which include: 
The Quest | First Hands | Every Town Needs a Russian Tea Room | The Cuckoo’s GiftElias’sFence
When did you first consider yourself a
I guess I
thought I was a writer when I had my first stories published by True Stories
back in the 60s. It was such a thrill to see the magazines on the stand at the
drug store, and sometimes I would see a woman pick up the magazine issue my
story was in and leaf thru it. Of course your name isn’t published as these
tales are supposed to be true, and I suppose they can be, the story could have
happened to someone. And in the broad sense they could have been looked at as
morality tales as they all have the same theme….Sin …Suffer and
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I don t
write full time I never could afford to do this…its a lonely difficult
occupation and so few are able to do so. I have been in writing classes where I
read pieces and stories by other writers that I feel were so very, very good
but again in those days never made it to print. Thank Goodness with ebooks
everyone with talent has a chance.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I guess my
main quirk is I can only feel creative at night. When my children were small I
would write all night, when the house was quiet and sitting at the dining room
table with our faithful dog Charlie Girl under my chair and only the night
sounds for company, that’s when I could hear the muse speaking softly in my
ear. Over the years I have tried writing in the daylight, no dice.
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
As a child
I wanted to be a Veterinarian. I think this was prompted by the fact that my
mother was very ill with asthma and we could have no pets. I viewed cats and
dogs as mysterious wonderful toys of sorts but better, they seemed capable of
love given and received.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

Right now I
am excited as a screenplay of our dystopian book ELIAS FENCE has won a
prestigious contest and is making the Hollywood rounds of production companies.
The book and screenplay was co-written by my 23-year-old grandson and myself.

Thank you for being a guest here at Reviews and Interviews, Anne!

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