Wednesday, April 25, 2012

INTERVIEW WITH ANN WERNER & KIMBERLEY JOHNSON

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS, ANN WERNER & KIMBERLEY JOHNSON

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Hello Ann & Kimberley, I want to thank you both for allowing us to interview you. My first question has to do with how you began this mother & daughter writing team and is it hard to write together or do you find it easy?

Ann: We started the company when Kimberley moved to Northern California. We had this great project - The Virgin Diaries - but nobody knew what to do with it. We did! So off we went! We really don't have a difficult time working together. Each of us has strengths and we divide the work according to those strengths. Kimberley has social networking down cold. I still struggle with it. She's also the one with the ideas for our non-fiction projects and she can whip up a blog faster than I can log onto mine! I'm good with numbers, so I do the bookkeeping. I write fiction and I rely on Kimberley to read over what I've written and give me feedback. She's come up with some real gems that I'd never have thought of when it comes to nuances in a character. When we're working on our non-fiction projects, we bounce ideas off of each other until we come up with something we both feel will give our readers the best experience.

Ann, you have worked in a lot of areas throughout your life. One that I found most intriguing was the fact you played the maid to one of the characters onDays of Our Lives can you tell us more about that.

I have watched Days of Our Lives on and off since the late 1960's and still marvel at the fact that of all the soaps, that's the one I wound up working on for over seven years. Both Kimberley and I were members of Dvorak & Company Acting Studio in Los Angeles. We had graduated the two year course teaching the Meisner technique and were in the Professional Level, where we met with casting directors. Both of us lobbied our coach to have Fran Bascom come to the studio and he finally invited her. She came with her assistant, Ron Sperber, and the group performed audition pieces. I got a call the next morning for the role of Eliana and Kimberley was called in about a week later. As a matter of fact, Fran hired just about everyone from the studio but Kimberley and I were the only ones who wound up getting roles that latest for years.

Now Kimberley, you as well played on Days of Our Lives as a cop, I can only imagine that was interesting. Tell us about your experience.

It was indeed interesting and great fun. I started watching the show when I was nine years old. I was flipping through the channels one afternoon and happened upon a scene where two teens were about to engage in first time sex. I was very curious and it's ironic that the first book I put out was on virginity loss.

As a fan of the show for many years, it was an amazing experience to have the opportunity to work on it. I felt comfortable from the start, as I felt like I knew the characters and story lines. Everybody was friendly and I almost always enjoyed myself. Every once in a while, the hours were long and work days took a toll but that can be said for any line of work. I count myself fortunate to have worked on a national television show and will always be grateful.

Have both of you ladies found that your acting has helped with your writing at all as in inspiration?

Kimberley: Acting provides a new way of looking at something. Sometimes the character you play has a different perspective. I focus on Reality Books in which I collect stories from others rather than write stories. I believe the way acting helps is that it helps me to step outside of my own perceptions and ask questions that I might not have thought of otherwise.

Ann: Acting definitely has helped me with writing. I dedicated my most recent novel, Dreams and Nightmares, to Wayne Dvorak, our acting coach. When I write, I become whatever character I'm writing. So if I'm scared on the page, you can bet I freaked myself out while writing the scene. The most fun characters to write (as well as to act) are the badass characters. You get the license to do things you would never do in real life. The thing I love about writing is I get to be all the characters and I get to call all the shots. I think it must be my Triple Aries personality.

Tell us more about The Virgin Diaries what was the inspiration behind this novel and how did you both decide to write it?

Kimberley: I came up with the idea off the top of my head. Together we discussed the direction. Initially the questionnaire only went to women. A response came in from a gay woman and because of it, we opened the questions to the gay community. Eventually, we decided to interview men as well. We are so glad we did. Losing virginity is a universal subject and men have a very unique take. The stories they provided were thoughtful and sometimes very surprising. The most important aspect of this book is that it was created specifically for virgins. I knew of no other book like it and wanted to make it for those who have questions about the emotional aspect of first time sex. It was important for us that no commentary was provided. We didn't want it to be like a text book. The idea is people simply sharing what it was like for them. The readers can form their own conclusions

You also have other books you've written together such as Ain't No Sunshine: Men Reveal the Pain of Heartbreak I find this title specifically intriguing as there aren't a lot of women that write about the heartache of the opposite sex, tell us more about this endeavor.

Kimberley: This book came about because of a conversation I had with a girlfriend. We were talking about men and what's it's like for them when they suffer a break-up. We agreed that we thought men had a harder time, yet many women state they think it's much easier. The more I thought about it, the more I became intrigued with the idea. I discussed it with with mother and we weren't sure we would get men to open up but fortunately with the protection of anonymity, the men really let it out. We received stories about all kinds of heartbreak from death to betrayal to divorce and more. The men's ages range from their 20's to their 70's. The result is a fascinating glimpse into how men feel about love in general as well as how they handle heartbreak. Some of the stories are quite sad but there are some that happened years ago and these men are now in happy relationships. The reviews from women have been stellar and one woman even said that after reading it, she softened her ideas about men and decided to give dating another go.

Both of you seem to be extremely busy and have had full lives. Do you find that writing is more relaxing and does it seem to be a good bonding experience for you both?

Kimberley: Ann is the "writer." I do write blogs and I enjoy that immensely. My forte is pulling stories out of people, asking questions and then formatting the answers into a story. I have recently started a new blog for teens and virgins of all ages to express whatever they wish about sex and virginity. It's a bit of a follow-up to The Virgin Diaries but the goal is to have a forum that allows discussion with no judgement. We usually don't write as a team though, I read her novels and give her my feedback. I'm happy to report that for the most part, she includes my suggestions to either tighten or expand on what she's written.

Ann: Writing is a lot of things but relaxing isn't a word I'd apply to the process. It's fun, it's frustrating, it's exciting, it's scary but it's never relaxing!

If you had one piece of advice for mother's and daughter's out there that are interested in starting a joint endeavor together what would it be? Also tell us more about ARK Stories and how it came about.

Kimberley: We have a unique relationship. We've discussed that we are probably soul mates and have always been friends as well as the mother/daughter dynamic. Of course there are times when we argue and disagree but we always find a way to cool off quickly and figure out a solution that satisfies us both.

It's important when embarking on any partnership that you have a common vision. That you realize there will be disagreements along the way and that compromise is key. May sound cliche but it's true. Our relationship has always been good. That's a huge part of it. Eventually, our vision is to split ARK Stories into Ann's fiction side and my nonfiction side. We will always work together on subject matter, storyline ideas and overall content. For now as we build our brand, we choose to work more closely. Ann is the editor. She was an A student and has been a life-long avid reader. Her editing skills are far superior than mine and frankly, I need her.

ARK Stories was created when we launched The Virgin Diaries. We needed a web site and always knew that we would be building our own library of books we wanted to write. Ralph Faust was instrumental in the formatting and cover art for TVD. We came up with ARK from our names. Ann. Ralph. Kimberley. It had a good flow so we decided that was our company name. Ralph also designed our logo and all of our book covers. He is very talented and great to work with. Most importantly, he is kind and sweet when we get obsessive and bossy. Who could ask for more?

Ann: I have nothing to add to that! (Except that Kimberley is the obsessive, bossy one! :~))

Do either of you have any advice you'd care to share with other authors?

Kimberley: The advice I have is what I must remind myself of on a daily basis. Taking the creative road can be an incredibly rewarding experience but it's also a gamble. There will be those that don't like your work. An artist is always vulnerable to negative comments but it really does go along with the territory. There is no greater thrill than when someone loves your work, sees the value in it and shares it with others. I recently saw a quote on Twitter: "No one ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have tried while trying to write one." - Robert Byrne This made me laugh. Creative people are dramatic and sensitive. It's important to always remember that there will always be highs and lows. You create books because it's your passion. There will be a crazy ride. Just like life.

Ann: Have fun when you're writing. If you have fun, so will your audience. Don't be afraid to get rid of things that just aren't working, even if you've worked on them for a long time. Sometimes it's just got to be done. Do it and don't look back. If you're a writer, you also need to be a reader. How can you write a great book if you never read? Above all, don't expect to become an overnight sensation. Prepare to work and to work hard. Like Kimberley said, it isn't easy and it's a gamble. To put yourself out there for everyone to see - and criticize - isn't for the faint of heart. But when you get it right the feeling is SO worth it!

Please leave us your links so we can get to know more about you and your works!

Kimberley:
In My Head Blog: http://authorkimberley.blogspot.com/
The Virgin Diaries Blog: http://authorkimberley.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @AuthorKimberley https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorKimberley

Kimberley & Ann
www.bodyandselfimage.com
http://arkstories.com

Ann:
Inside the Mind of Ann Werner Blog: http://insidethemindofannwerner.blogspot.com/
Twitter: @MsWerner

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