|Annalisa Daughety, an Arkansas native, won first place in the Contemporary Romance category at the 2008 ACFW Genesis Awards. She has four books releasing in 2009 and 2010. Annalisa currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee, where she works for the National Foundation for Transplants as a special event and marketing coordinator.
Favorite verse: Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Our Interview with Annalisa Daughety
How did you get started as a Christian fiction writer?
I’ve been writing since I was very young and have always wanted to be a published author. I’ve always known that my faith and my relationship with God would be a part of my writing. Once I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) I felt like I’d found a group of like-minded authors. My aunt, Christine Lynxwiler, is a Christian fiction author, and she really inspired me to submit for publication.
What inspired the concept for Love Is Monumental, A Walk in the Park Series #2?
The setting came first for Love is Monumental. I thought the National Mall in Washington DC would be a great setting—there are so many interesting monuments and places in DC.
Do you have a background working in a National/ State Park?
I spent time working as a park ranger for the National Park Service at Shiloh National Military Park. Shiloh is the setting for the first book in the series, Love is a Battlefield. I loved being a ranger and during my time at Shiloh, I gained a huge appreciation for National Parks. I think they are so important to our nation and hope that people who read my books will have a renewed interest in visiting parks.
Is any part of Love Is Monumental, A Walk in the Park Series #2 factual?
The setting is true to life. I included several monuments and locations people who’ve visited Washington DC will be familiar with—I always enjoy reading about places I’ve visited and hope others feel the same. There are bits of history scattered throughout the book, which are all factual.
How long did Love Is Monumental, A Walk in the Park Series #2 take you to complete?
I spent about six months working on the book, not counting the time spent plotting.
Do you have a favorite character in Love Is Monumental, A Walk in the Park Series #2? Why?
I think Vickie Harris is my favorite character in the book. She tries so hard to keep her life perfectly organized and orderly, it was fun to put things in her path that caused a little chaos.
How much research did Love Is Monumental, A Walk in the Park Series #2 take?
I traveled to Washington D.C. to research Love is Monumental. While I was there, I visited a number of locations that are in the book and talked to park rangers along the National Mall. Washington D.C. is such an interesting place; I wanted to make sure I portrayed it accurately. The input from the rangers was key—being a ranger along the National Mall is different than being a ranger at Shiloh National Military Park.
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Love Is Monumental, A Walk in the Park Series #2?
There were so many little tidbits that I learned! Probably one of the most interesting was that after the Library of Congress was destroyed during the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to Congress to restore the library. He had the largest personal collection of books in the United States at that time. Today, the Library of Congress has a wonderful display that shows Jefferson’s library. I was able to work that information into my manuscript, along with Jefferson’s quote, “I cannot live without books.”
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Juggling so many tasks at once! I’m used to multi-tasking, but it is easy to get overwhelmed. I’ll be writing one book, editing another, and marketing/promoting another--all in the same day. Sometimes it is difficult to jump back and forth between projects.
It’s also a challenge sometimes to find a balance. With most jobs, you can leave your work at the office at the end of the day. But as an author, I am constantly scribbling down ideas for future books or things to do to promote my current books.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
The creativity. I love creating the characters and figuring out who they are and what their individual quirks might be. I love the plotting and planning part of writing as well. This might make me sound reclusive, but I also like the solitude. I totally lose myself in the book I’m writing and there is a point where I am just immersed in the world I’ve created. I also love to hear from readers—just a simple e-mail from a reader who enjoyed one of my books has the ability to make my day!
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
Definitely somewhere in between! I do put together a detailed synopsis, but often my story veers a little. I end up making a list of certain scenes that I know need to happen for the story to develop the way it needs to. So I’m flexible, but I still always know where I’m headed. And one of the first things I write is actually the end of the book! Something about being able to see everything tie up at the end helps me.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Oh yes! When I first started writing, it really took me by surprise. I’d always heard other authors talking about their characters doing something unexpected, but didn’t really understand. One day I was writing and my characters got into an argument that I didn’t see coming. It was then that I knew they had their own personalities. When I was in Washington DC doing research for Love is Monumental, I called my mom to tell her that I’d found the apartment building where Vickie lives. Mom was really confused until she realized Vickie is a character in the book. So my characters take on such a life that one of them has an address in DC!
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
The third book in the Walk in the Park series, Love is Grand, releases in October. It is set at the Grand Canyon.
What message would you like your readers to take from Love Is Monumental, A Walk in the Park Series #2?
I think we can all identify with Vickie. She has a careful checklist for her life and always wants to be in control. Ultimately, she learns that life isn’t always going to go according to her plan—and that if she’ll learn to trust in God, her life will turn out better than she ever could have imagined. This is the theme of the novel and a lesson I think we can all use.
What is your greatest achievement?
I think at this point I would say my greatest achievement has been taking several leaps of faith that have led me to where I am today. There are so many times I’ve been faced with an opportunity that was scary—moving to a new city alone, taking a new job, traveling extensively overseas, etc. And each time, I’ve found the courage to go for it. I think that is what I’m most proud of—that I’ve never let fear of the unknown keep me from trying something new.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
I want to write stories that people connect with. I hope readers will identify with the characters and the themes. My characters aren’t perfect and they always have a lesson to learn. I also want to entertain and offer a bit of an escape—especially with the A Walk in the Park series, I hope each book feels like a mini-vacation to a National Park.
What do you do to get away from it all?
Sometimes I have to make myself step away from the computer and iPhone! I take my dogs to the park or to play in the backyard. I also love to work in the garden. My ultimate “get away” place is the beach, although I don’t get to go very often. I think it is important to take a little time after each deadline to recharge and reflect, even if it’s just spending an afternoon at the spa.