Ann Whitely-Gillen resides in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where she is a full time communications advisor and freelance writer. In the 1990s, Ann lived in British Columbia, Canada and Australia where she volunteered her writing and public relations expertise to organizations including Greenpeace. She is also an accomplished musician and vocalist.
Ann has always wanted to write a screenplay and, in fact, Last Train to Omaha started out with that in mind. After forty pages of writing, Ann decided to turn the screenplay into her debut novel as she wanted to delve deeper into James Milligan’s personal journey and enrich the ensemble cast of characters. Ann’s next project is a toss up between writing the prequel to or the screenplay for Last Train to Omaha.
Ann Whitely-Gillen happily lives with her husband and four children, who she loves to spend time with along with their family dog. In her leisure time, Ann can be found watching an independent film or reading a good book with a glass of red wine!
Official Website: www.anngillenbooks.com
1. Let’s talk writing routine and schedule. When and where do you write?
I like to write first thing in the morning with the day’s early light and a nice cup of coffee. I have a beautiful formal living room area with lots of windows and a fireplace where I tuck myself away from everyone (except for my dog and cat!). If I pick things back up in the evening, I tend to curl up in the same place with a glass of red wine.
2. How long does it take you to finish a book from that spark of an idea to a final draft?
Well, let me start by saying that Last Train to Omaha is my first novel. But looking back, it took me about a week to work out the storyline and then a good few weeks to map everything out. I used recipe cards to write down my plot points and shuffled them around until everything was moving in the right direction (I learned this trick from Syd Field’s Screenplay: Foundations of Screenwriting). The writing and editing process took months. I think it was six months before I had my first draft ready to share with my amazing editor, Elizabeth Bond. After endless weeks of fine-tuning, it was just under a year from start to finish.
3. Name your three favorite authors.
That’s a tough one. I don’t tend to hook onto one author – except for D.H. Lawrence. I really enjoy Wally Lamb, the many works of Charlotte Bronte, and I absolutely love Canadian author, Beverley Stone—No Beautiful Shore is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s so beautifully scripted.
4. What inspires you as a writer?
People inspire me. People are so fascinating, physically and emotionally. Life is a bizarre journey made up of many different characters that need to be explored!
5. What do you think is the number one trait necessary to make it as a writer?
To make it as a writer, I would say it’s necessary to be honest and pure. Those who tend to write about what they know, or how they feel, seem to be the best writers in the world.
6. Your three favorite books of all time?
That’s easy. Sons and Lovers, Life of Pie, and No Beautiful Shore.
7. Last but not least, what is your favorite drink? (If it’s not tequila, I promise we can still be friends.)
As luck would have it, Tequila is right up there next to a nice robust glass of Merlot.