Yet another great discover from Facebookland, Anais is a wonderful character we discovered hiding in The Phoenix Quill group. She joined the Writer’s Edge podcast one evening along with A.L. Mabry, and the friendship has been sealed since!
We are so honored to introduce you to all the loveliness of Anais Chartschenko in our exclusive interview below.
Anais Chartschenko hails from the Canadian wilderness. She has come to enjoy such modern things as electric tea kettles. Her published works include a book of poetry Bright Needles and a poem in the Love Magick Anthology. She is currently writing a series of dark fantasy stories.
- How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a child.
- What kind(s) of writing do you do?
Fantasy, poetry, nonfiction essays, romantic suspense, music… I just can’t stick to one genre!
- Why did you choose that particular field or genre?
Right now I’m working on a series of dark fantasy stories. What I love about dark fantasy is that it allows you to explore themes that might be unpalatable otherwise.
- What inspires you?
History is a treasure trove of inspiration. Humans have always been up to something.
- Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing, etc. come from?
It was innate. From my earliest memories, I was making up stories. One thing that may have helped me along was having tea times where the neighbors would gather. Everyone would share stories and consume large amounts of tea and crumpets.
- How do you find or make time to write?
I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go for jotting down ideas. I also try to give myself at least an hour every night to work on my writing. I’ll make myself some tea, put on my headphones, and write something. I’m a firm believer in the idea that it’s better to have a bad page of writing that you can edit than having nothing at all!
- Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
For me writing is a combination of the two. I keep different notebooks for plotting, lyrics, fiction, journaling… That helps organize my thoughts better. I plot my fiction, but I have written many songs that are stream of consciousness. I’ll set up my tape recorder, play the piano and see what happens.
- How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
I am very persistent. No matter how many times I’m told something is unrealistic, I plow ahead believing that we determine our own destinies.
- What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a dark fantasy short story, tentatively called Datura.
- What process did you go through to get your work published?
I submitted a piece to Francesca Lia Block, who was putting together an anthology- the Love Magick Anthology. I was absolutely thrilled when it was accepted, because she is one of my favorite authors.
I self-published a book of poetry, Bright Needles. Self- publishing took a lot of research, but I’m happy with the result so far. I’ve also had articles published online as part of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network. I had started commiserating with Jonny Scaramanga who runs the Leaving Fundamentalism blog. I wrote an article specifically for his website about my experience with the ACE education system. From there, I continued publishing articles on patheos and my own website.
- What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Formatting! All the technical aspects of self-publishing are the most challenging for me.
- What do you enjoy most about writing? Share your favorite work.
The best part of writing is being able to connect with people in a way I would not be able to without the art opening the door. I’ve found that when you are willing to be vulnerable it empowers others to give themselves the same freedom. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to help people be kinder to themselves. It’s hard to pick a favorite work! The dark fantasy story that I recently completed, Leila, is up there. The themes are trust and forgiveness.
- What is the biggest thing people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t true?
A lot of people assume fantasy is silly, which it can be at times, but using fantastic circumstances can allow people to explore topics that would be hard to bear if it were presented in a documentary, for example.
- What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they should?
It is very easy to relate to! You’d be surprised how much you have in common with the wandering half- elf mercenary!
- For those interested in exploring the subject/theme of your work, where should they start?
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman would be a great place to start exploring the themes of my work. I also feel a kinship towards The Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman. I often write about bleak circumstances. That does not mean there aren’t moments of laughter. There needs to be humor, even if it is black humor. I think being able to laugh in the face of tragedy is a great survival skill.
- What are some ways in which you promote your writing? Do you find that these add or detract from your writing time?
I have a website, I use twitter, youtube, and facebook. I have done a book reading, and given a speech. I don’t stress out about if it detracts from my actual writing time, because connecting and promoting are a vital piece of being an independent author. All these experiences also help provide material for the future.
- Who are some of your favorite authors? What impact have they had on your writing?
Leonard Cohen, Baudelaire, Philip Pullman, Francesca Lia Block, Neil Gaiman, Oliver Sacks, Carl Sagan, Jayne Ann Krentz, Richard Dawkins… I have a lot of authors I admire. What they have in common is a sense of humor, awe about the world around them, and the ability to make people care about what they care about. My hope is that my writing will have that quality as well.
- What makes your writing stand out from the crowd?
Because I am a musician, I feel that my writing has a rhythm to it.
- What are you currently reading?
Lucrezia Borgia by Maria Bellonci and The Prince by Machiavelli
- What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
I think people will continue to have a desire to share through reading and writing- whatever forms that takes as technology advances. Just think how far we’ve come from scratching at cave walls- now we have kindles! But the basic human need to tell stories and hear stories remains.
Thank you for answering our questions today! We wish lots of success on your journey.