Novelist Anne Marie Bennett joins me today to chat about her new contemporary women’s fiction, Dragonflies at Night.
Anne Marie Bennett has been writing stories and novels since the sixth grade when she was assigned to write a short story and instead turned in a 40-page novel about a little girl who stumbles on an underground cat colony. Her English teacher (thank you, Mr. Ballantyne!) was so impressed, he sent it to a publisher. The publisher did not respond, but Anne Marie decided right then and there to be a Writer (note the capital W).
Flash forward 50 years and she is still writing stories and novels (among other things)!
Anne Marie has published several books about the intuitive process of SoulCollage®, as well as her two unique cancer journeys. Last year she released a fifty-page novella, All You Need is Love… and Lilacs, plus a young adult novel, Come As You Are. She is now focusing her creative energies on creating books and stories that are good for the soul.
While some people think that falling love at first sight (or almost first sight) isn’t a “thing,” Anne Marie experienced it firsthand in 1991 when she met her husband Jeff. It was four years until they celebrated a wedding, but the relationship that began almost thirty years ago is still thriving and going strong. She wishes the same for Ben and Savannah, the main characters in Dragonflies at Night.
These days, Anne Marie spends lots of time writing, reading, wearing bright colors, trying out scintillating varieties of dark chocolate, creating mixed media collages, working with the SoulCollage® process and EFT Tapping, and traveling to new places with Jeff, as well as spending quality feline time with Louis and Seymour who grace her life with much love, joy, and laughter.
Welcome, Anne Marie. Please tell us about your current release.
Dragonflies at Night is about two thirty-somethings: Savannah plans life celebrations; Ben is an international celebrity. On one level, it’s a tender, bright romance; but—like the subtitle says—this is much more than a love story. Woven through the narrative of Savannah and Ben’s relationship is the powerful message of love on many different levels, including the love that Savannah’s mother still holds for her even though she died when Savannah was fifteen
At its heart, this contemporary women’s novel is a romantic love story that is also about letting go of our fears, becoming vulnerable, opening our hearts, and embracing a deeper love that is watching over us all, always, and in all ways.
What inspired you to write this book?
To be honest, this novel began as a simple romance. I wasn’t even intending to write “a novel.” I was just playing around with words and characters as they came to me. I’ve always felt my work as an author is to follow my imagination and the characters where they take me, so that’s what I did.
Also, I will admit that I’ve always been fascinated with how celebrities handle their public lives. Years ago, I was waiting for someone at the airport, and Michael J. Fox just happened to be coming down the corridor in the opposite direction, surrounded by a few bodyguards and his entourage. This was my first “celebrity sighting,” so to speak, and while I was thrilled to see him only a few feet away from me, I couldn’t quite grasp why there were so many people crowding him, calling out his name, and trying to touch him. I do explore this a bit in Dragonflies at Night, and I even did some research on the psychology behind celebrity obsession.
Excerpt from Dragonflies at Night:
When they got back to the house, Ben worked out and took a shower, then spent some time in his music room, playing around with a new song. It was still in the very early stages, but he had a good beginning:
Tell me your heartaches and I’ll tell you mine
going back in time and how it all came to hurt so bad
And even better than that, he had the ending:
And together now,
we’re telling all the heartaches
The middle stanzas were being elusive, but then again, they often were, and he was okay with that. He loved this song already and knew it was a keeper. The creative process was a slippery thing; the best way he knew to figure out the middle was to wait and trust that it would come to him in time. He paused, thinking intently.
Maybe the songwriting was a little bit like creating a relationship. Here was a really good beginning, and he knew how he wanted it to end: Savannah and him, together, for always. He could actually see it all ending up that way. But it was the whole damned middle that was the tricky part, just like when he was writing a song. He set the guitar down and jotted a few more notes on the page. He’d have to simply trust that the middle would work itself out, with this relationship, as well as his new song.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a novel called Angel Feathers, which will be the beginning of a series set in a small coastal Maine town. The story will focus on pre-teen Eva and her mom Emma who move to Seahaven for a fresh start after a big change occurs in their family. Eva starts finding white feathers in strange places and is convinced that they are angel feathers. You’ll have to read it to find out where the feathers are coming from!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I began writing stories and novels at a very young age; it was just something that I’ve always loved to do! In the sixth grade, our class was assigned to write a short story, and I turned in a 40-page handwritten, illustrated novel about a little girl who stumbles on an underground cat colony! My English teacher (thank you, Mr. Ballantyne!) was so impressed that he sent it to a publisher. That made such an impression on me! The publisher never responded, but I decided right then and there that I wanted to be a Writer (note the capital W).
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?
At this time I am not a full-time writer. . . but maybe someday!
I own my own business, KaleidoSoul, that offers online and in-person learning about the process of SoulCollage® (an intuitive process for personal growth and creativity) created by Seena Frost). I love my work at KaleidoSoul because it is making a difference in peoples’ lives all around the world. So I’m not a full time writer. I do set aside an hour (sometimes more) 3-5 times a week to work/play on whatever current story I’m working on. I have discovered that a LOT can be accomplished this way!
Also, a few times a year I give myself a solitary writing retreat which consists of 3-4 days at my favorite little hotel on the ocean in Ogunquit, Maine.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I cannot write in a messy, cluttered room! Also, my mind has to be free from distractions so that I can fully focus. I find EFT Tapping helps me get my head clear so that my characters have more space within my imagination to really come forth and tell me their stories.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Writer from a very young age, and as I got ready to apply for college, I realized that it wasn’t exactly a financially secure position (!) so I decided to become a teacher to support myself and do the Writing on the side.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes! I really hope that readers find the story entertaining and uplifting, but also meaningful. Anyone who has ever “lost” someone to death will hopefully also receive comfort and peace as they read the story of how Savannah’s mother (and eventually her Auntie Zan) still play an important part in her life.
Thanks for joining me today, Anne Marie.