Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
Since I write both dark literary fiction and middle grade/YA I actually write under two different pen names. R. Anne Polcastro is the name I use for family friendly titles such as my Left Behind Trilogy. For my adult titles, such as Suicide in Tiny Increments and soon to come Jane, I write under the name Riya Anne Polcastro.
What got you into writing?
I started writing before I even knew my alphabet. I started out dictating stories to my great grandmother. They were usually about ponies and I would draw pictures to go along with the story. When I got to kindergarten there was an amazing teacher who would have us tell her stories that she would type up and then we would bind them with construction paper and yarn. And that was it, I fell in love with books and got the writing bug.
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
Left Behind Book One: The Forbidden Voyage began with a random thought: what if Earth isn’t the first place we humans have called home? What if aliens are people who turned green from some sort of environmental disaster?
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
Harlo is my favorite character. I can’t really say why without giving away spoilers but let’s just say that there’s a lot more to him than first appears.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
My favorite part is when the boys are swallowed up by the Monstruwhale on the Lake of Fire. They learn a lot from the Monstruwhale, who turns out not to be such a monster after all.
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
It’s just telling the story; the act of letting out. Most of my stories are like something trapped inside of me that is trying to claw its way out. So it’s kind of cathartic when it all flows into my laptop.
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
That really depends on the book. The Forbidden Voyage took a few months while Jane. took over a year. My writing process usually starts with a fresh composition book wher I usually just free write and try out a few characters. I also brainstorm settings and events and try to get a vague idea of where the story might go but it’s all very fluid, nothing set in stone. Then I turn on my laptop and give the characters the reigns. That probably sounds weird but most of the time I don’t really feel like I’m in control. I can’t force a character to do something that they don’t want to do. They are the story and they run it.
What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?
I love speculative fiction because anything can happen. Any world can exist. Any good, any bad you can imagine, you can build a realm around it. I love dark literary fiction because it lets me purge the creepy shit, the rage, the ghosts, everything. It also lets me explore perspective and satiates my fascination with mental illness.
Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?
Until recently I thought my biggest influences were Chuch Palahniuk and Leo Tolstoy (what a combo right?!), and they are, but I had no idea that Frances Hodgson Burnett was actually the single biggest influence when it comes to character development. After reading The Secret Garden to my daughter, however, I saw the striking similarity; our characters are jerks.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
Characters always have a life of their own. I’ve never found it very effective to sit down and create a character with certain attributes. For me, that’s a great way to get a useless, flat character. My characters just show up with their own personalities, styles, agendas, etc. But sometimes I am surprised by the choices they make, by how they steer the story.
Thanks for stopping by!