Interview with actor and author Annie Wood

cover of just a girl in a whirlToday’s special guest is actor and author Annie Wood. We’re chatting about her new young adult novel, Just a Girl in the Whirl.

During her virtual book tour, Annie will be awarding a lucky randomly drawn winner a $40 Amazon or Barnes and Nobel (winner’s choice) gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Bio:
Annie Wood is a Middle Eastern-American, neurodiverse, Hollywood native, a lifelong actor, writer and self-proclaimed creative-compulsive who is easily inspired.

As an author, Annie has three books out: Dandy Day, Just a Theory: a quantum love adventure, and her first YA novel, Just a Girl in the Whirl. (Speaking Volumes Publishing)

The web series she created, wrote, and stars in, Karma’s a Bitch, was Best of the Web on Virgin America inflight entertainment (anniewood.com/Karma) Wood was part of the NBC Diversity Showcase with her comedic scene, That’s How They Get You. She’s written hundreds of comedic scenes for actors that have been used by Emmy award-winning TV director, Mary Lou Belli in her UCLA courses and casting director, Jeremey Gordon in workshops all around Hollywood.

Annie’s also an Internationally exhibited mixed-media artist, a produced playwright, and was the third female solo dating game show host in the history of television with the nationally syndicated game show, BZZZ! that she also co-produced. (Which just re-ran in 2020 on BUZZRTV!)

Wood teaches courses on creativity on Listenable and Skillshare and offers meditations on the Insight Timer app.

She creates micro shorts and stop motion animations that have placed in film festivals and art exhibits. You can view them, and find links to everything at https://linktr.ee/anniewood.

Annie runs the Twitter account for the Women of the Writers Guild West @WoWGAW she is one of the first members of the Middle Eastern Committee at WGA, a Dramatist Guild Member and an Authors Guild Member.

Welcome, Annie. Please tell us about your current release.
Just a Girl in the Whirl deals with the complicated feelings that come up when the child feels more like the parent, like in Emery Lord’s novel, When We Collided. It also explores the complexities of having an addicted parent like in the film starring Mark Ruffalo, Infinitely Polar Bear and the exploring life through poetry like in The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Synopsis:
My eighteenth birthday is in 99.3105497 days away and then I’ll be free. At least, that’s how it should work. But, in all actuality I will most likely remain
 so
very
much
not
free.

That’s how Lauren feels about her life since her actor/addict dad bailed on them two years ago. After that, Lauren took it upon herself to step up as caretaker since her sweet but manic mom, Tessa, mentally checked out. One of Tessa’s quirks is reenacting the scene from La Dolce Vita and taking a dip in the public fountain at The Grove in Los Angeles. Lauren has her own OCD to deal with as well; her control issues and her counting. Two, four, six, eight bleached teeth are exposed when he smiles. Two, four, six…sets of headlights passing by.

Lauren can cook like a boss. She makes sure to keep her family on a tight schedule and well fed.

Our family may be broken,
but our breakfasts don’t have to be.

The one place Lauren can escape is in her writing. She’s a closet poet, actually she’s a bathtub poet. She writes in the bathtub when everyone’s asleep. She longs to to get into a summer writing retreat where she can write all day and not think about fixing anything or anyone.

With every breath I fear.

I breathe in and I fear that I won’t get what I want.

I breathe out and fear that I will.

I’m only scared when I’m breathing.

Things get even more hectic when dad comes back into their lives and when Lauren’s long time crush, twenty year old Enzo, starts showing an interest in her.

Just a Girl in the Whirl is a contemporary novel for young adults (12+) that deals with addiction, mental illness and following your dreams. All with a light touch and plenty of humor and poetry.

What inspired you to write this book?
I once overheard a conversation about a father who had a standing date with his young daughter. They would have dinner together once a week at a restaurant, just the two of them. I thought it was so sweet until my mind took off in many directions. I thought… what if instead of sweet father and daughter moments it’s the story of a father coming back after having abandoned his family? Then he wants to see his daughter (I changed it to three daughters) each week at a restaurant to reconnect and to receive forgiveness. I first wrote the story as a TV pilot called, The Tuesday Dad and then I wrote a screenplay called, A River in Egypt and then I used that screenplay as my outline for this novel.

Excerpt from Just a Girl in the Whirl:
mom

This grocery store is the most crowded one in the valley and it perpetually smells of bleach, which makes we wonder if this market is really a front for something more sinister than fresh cabbage. Maybe that bleach is covering up the splattered blood of the crimes that take place after hours.

Or maybe they’re just messy.

“Clean up on aisle three!” a guy says over the intercom, right on cue.

Matty puts a box of Oreos into the cart. “Nope. Wrong aisle,” I hand them back to her.

“Come on. We hate the stupid health-food aisle!” “Yeah!” Sara agrees.

“Don’t just agree with Matty, Sara. Think for your- self.”

“I am thinking for myself!”

“Okay. Then I guess you don’t want any more of those animal cookies—the ones with the elephants.”

“I love elephants!”

“Well, the elephants are only in the good aisle.”

Sara turns to Matty and says, “Take me to the good aisle.”

Off to the health-food aisle they go. Meanwhile, Mom is whirling around the store.

Mom took up whirling after we saw a documentary about a group of people in the Middle East who practice a religious dance by spinning around and around. They’re called Whirling Dervishes. Ever since, when the mood strikes, Mom whirls like the wind.

“Join me, Matty. It’s wonderful.” she says as she whirls her way up the canned food aisle.

“It’s okay. I’m good,” I tell her.

“A whirl a day keeps the doctor away!” she says. “I’m pretty sure it’s an ‘apple’ a day,” I say.

“That’s ridiculous. How could an apple do that?” At least an apple is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C. What does a whirl have? Other than the ability to make the whirler dizzy and the watcher of the whirler utterly embarrassed.

She’s whirling so fast now, she could possibly take off. Wouldn’t that be cool?

If she just lifted up and flew up high, right through the ceiling like the best scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Only she’s not inside of a flying elevator because she doesn’t need a flying elevator. She’d be Willy Wonka in this scenario—all knowing with a magical secret. My mom is the music maker and the dreamer of the dreams.

 

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on an illustrated YA novel called, Memory Ghosts. It’s about a teenager grieving the death of her mother’s recent suicide. Instead of a poet, this protagonist is an artist. I’m also an artist so all the artwork in the book will be my original drawings and paintings. Here’s a link to an excerpt.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I wrote my first story around age 6 or so. My dad is a playwright and he read to me all the time. I think I was born a writer and performer.

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’m an actor and a mixed media artist. I have an etsy shop and online art gallery and when auditions pop up, I stop everything and tape and send those in since they have a deadline. Other than that, my days are full of writing and art making. After yoga, meditation and coffee.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I recently realized that most of my stories never have more than 5 main characters. I can’t seem to focus on more than that. Maybe that’s why my stories are usually about relationships and families.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actor.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, please sign up for my monthly newsletter where I share my favorite things from that month.

And I leave you with one of my favorite Annieisms 🙂

Keep Creating. Keep Positive. Keep Showing Up.
Love and Good vibes, Annie Wood

Links:
Website | Writing | Twitter | Instagram | Art | Shop | Amazon

Thanks for being here today, Annie.

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