Friday, June 12, 2009

Interview with JoAnn Arnold - Author and Artist by Michele Ashman Bell

I'm so excited to have a chance to share an interview with JoAnn Arnold with you. I recently had a chance to meet this incredible woman and was so impressed by her warmth and energy. She is so accomplished and talented, I am amazed that so much creativity is packed inside this one individual.

Here's a short bio about JoAnn that explains a little about her and her writing journey.

My writing career began long before I became serious about publishing. Children's musicals, Christmas plays, melodramas for Community Theatre, and my favorite, a musical about the life of Joseph Smith, as well as a play about his martyrdom. In fact, I began my professional writing career with the book, "Miracles for Michael," a novel that evolved from a Christmas play I had written for my community theatre, In Emery County, Utah, a few years before.

"Journey of the Promise," my first mystery, was so incredibly fun to write. It was almost as if it wrote itself and I just went along for the ride. So, I decided to write another mystery, Ideas flowed and "Pages From the Past," came into being. But it needed a sequel, so I followed with "The Silent Patriots".

When I'm not writing, I'm painting, singing with the Southern Utah Heritage Choir, searching out my ancestors, and serving in the St. George Temple with my husband, Brent. The rest of the time is taken up with traveling to see, or entertaining our four sons and their families when they come to visit. There are 15 grandchildren who have decorated our family tree. Oh, what a beautiful tree.

I've always wanted to write a Fantasy because there are no boundaries as to where the imagination can take you.

Her newest book, Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient is a fantasy and filled with exactly that . . . imagination!

Synopsis to "Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient"
Feladelphia was the only relative Etcheon had, as far as he knew. The little village of the Meadows was the only place he had ever lived. But in his seventeenth year, his Granna Fella (as he called her) died, leaving him alone in the world, or so he thought

The people of the village were very kind to him, that day, as they were every day, and wished to take care of him, but the little cottage he called home, waited for his return.

It was on his return to his cottage that a soft light and a gentle voice drew him to the forest near the road. It was there he first met Tarainisafari and her family which consisted of an owl, a panther, a horse, an eagle, two large Danes, and a two-headed lamb.

It was like a dream and he considered it a dream when he found himself suddenly in front of the cottage without knowing how he got there.

Then came the visit from a stranger, dressed in an odd apparel of suited clothes, and carrying a satchel at his side. From his mouth came the most unbelievable story, though it was true. From inside his satchel, came letters and documents that would reveal Etcheon's true identity and direct the rest of his life.

Soon Etcheon found himself swept into another world inside the world he knew, and another time, not knowing if it was the future of things yet to come or the past of what already was. Or was he entwined in both? Whatever it was, it was the true beginning of his life and his destiny.

Here's my interview with this wonderful woman and author, JoAnn Arnold.

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

JoAnn: I think I first got the idea when I began to write Road Shows for the MIA (remember those?). Then I wrote three Children’s musicals, a Christmas play for my Community Theatre and was the ghost writer for two books for a gentleman in California. I found I enjoyed writing, whether it was plays or books, and the desire became a reality.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

JoAnn: I turned the Christmas play into a book. “A Christmas Full of Miracles” and sent it to Covenant. Though they liked my writing style and said they would like to see more of my work, they rejected the manuscript. I made a few changes and sent it to Horizon Publishers. Mr. Crowther called me about three weeks later and said they would like to publish the book, but he wanted me to add one more chapter, taking the story into the spring, and changing the title to “Miracles for Michael.” I did, and it worked. Mr. and Mrs. Crowther were both so good to work with.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

JoAnn: Horizon merged with Cedar Fort a short time later and I had a new editor and Public Relations director. They were so good to me. They kept in touch with me and updated me on what was happening with my books. But then, a few years ago, they both quit, and I felt a little lost, not knowing what to expect next. But I do manage to bug Bevan and Heather every once in a while.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

JoAnn: Sometimes I write until 2:00 a.m., and sometimes I get up at 4:00 a.m., depending on what’s happening in the story. There are some days when I spend several hours at the keyboard and other days, only a few hours. When my husband and I travel, I climb in the backseat with the laptop and he climbs in the front seat with the I-pod.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

JoAnn: An idea will work its way into my head and scatter hints for a story. Whether the ideas come from my imagination or through the subconscious which may have been storing things I have read or heard at one time or another, I don’t know. But it’s fun.

One idea that wouldn’t let go, posed the question: Could it be possible for someone to design a computer chip that would alter a person’s mind, and then plant it inside a computer game without anyone knowing about it? So, I called my son, who designs computer chips and asked him. He said, “Yes.” I asked, “how?” He told me, and it became the idea behind “Pages From the Past” and its sequel, “the Silent Patriots.”

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

JoAnn: If you really have the desire to become a writer then you have the gift to become a writer. You just have to work hard. You have the read works of other authors so that you can learn from them. We never quit learning as authors, and we never quite learning from each other.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

JoAnn: I start with an idea then sit down and write, letting the imagination do its thing, and waiting for the characters to introduce themselves. I’ve never done an outline, but I do keep track of each chapter on paper so if I need to go back to make a change, I know where to go.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

JoAnn: I close the lid to the laptop and walk away for awhile. I might work on a painting or watch one of my recorded Stargate shows on TV, and eat a snack. Or I might start a conversation with one of the characters. (I know that sounds strange, but it works).

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

JoAnn: I have a quiet room that I work in, or I sit out on the patio when the weather’s nice. I sometimes listen to quiet music and sometimes I just need the quiet.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

JoAnn: I know this sounds crazy, I loved doing theatre, taking on the personality of the character I was playing. That’s what I do when I write. Sometimes I take on the personality of one of the characters, viewing the plot from his/her point of view, then change and become another character. I laugh at myself when I’m finished being the villain.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

JoAnn: My husband, Brent. He cleans the house, helps with the laundry and the meals, while I write. His is my greatest supporter.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

JoAnn: Duane Crowther told me that I should have at least four people read my manuscript before I submit it. It was very good advice and I have followed it. It isn’t always the same four, except for one person, Don, who is not afraid to tell me if the story needs work. Comas and I do not get along so I leave the coma corrections to Brent and Don, as well.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

JoAnn: I have five published books, Miracles for Michael, Journey of the Promise, Pages From the Past, The Silent Patriots, and Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient. And though it was while I was writing “Journey of the Promise” that I learned to listen to the characters, to let them tell the story. But I don’t think I really have a favorite. Each story is a part of me, and I care for each of one my characters, even the villains, most of the time.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

JoAnn: I’d like to share the words of Alfred Kazin, He said, “The writer writes to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself. The publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax.”

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

JoAnn:.Barnes and Noble, Seagull Book and Tape, Deseret Book, Borders,,,, and


Personage said...

That sounds like a cool book!!!

Cheri J. Crane said...

I've read most of JoAnn's books and enjoyed every one of them. She is a talented woman! =)

Shirley Bahlmann said...

I love JoAnn! I read her first book and was mesmerized by it. This new one looks fresh and exciting!

Sheila said...

Oh Michelle, I loved that interview with JoAnn. I also had the pleasure of finally meeting JoAnn at the Storymakers conference. She is a very delightful lady. I am looking forward to reading her fantasy book. Thanks for a great interview.

Ashlyn said...

Sending Ainsley something is a great idea! She got a Sharpay doll and Sharpays pink mustang the night she got stitches. Thanks! She will be so happy!

Ashlyn said...

Why I got a laptop is because I don't always have access to the home computer.

JoAnn Arnold said...

Wow Michele, you give a great review. You make me feel like a celeberty. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for everthing.

Rebecca Talley said...

Great interview. I loved learning new things aobut JoAnn. Thank you.