Life Defined

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Guest Author: Anita Stewart - Woman of Many Talents

 Good Evening, Realm of Online Readership!

A glorious almost-summer-day it has been so far, don't you think? At least, in this part of the world. But regardless of Nature's mood, I've a talented figure to introduce to you today - a woman by name of Anita Stewart. Not only is she an author of several works, but she is also an artist and does some wonderful designs for covers and the like. And she has an imagination that spans entire worlds. Therefore, I simply had to sit Ms. Stewart down and ask her a few questions about herself and her talents. So hold off on the sun-screen (the outdoors can wait), and enjoy a few words and designs from a wonderful woman-of-the-arts:

Welcome, Ms. Stewart! Please – tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

Hi *waving* my name is Anita Stewart. I currently reside in Reading, England. I was born in Greensboro, N.C. and I write under AD Stewart. I create graphics under AnglisCreations. I’m a mother of three and wife to a very loving husband of 16 years.
I love to read, draw, write, build model cars, paint, collecting comic books and watching movies.

Reading, England, eh? What an appropriate name!

I understand you have written several series, including Ancient Breeds, Forgotten Shabtis, Guardians of Amirus, and Wishing. Can you tell us a bit about each of them – or your favorite one in particular?

To be perfectly honest, most of them are WIP. *laughing* I have a tendency to make the book covers before I actually finish the novel. Ancient Breeds is near and dear to my heart. I love everything about Egypt and enjoy creating stories based in the past and present. The series itself is about warriors from ancient civilizations waging war against the BloodSeekers, a vampire race that nearly ruled the ancient world. Each book continues the story and introduces more characters. You’ll meet Native American Indians, Mayans, Atlantians, Amazons, Egyptians and other breeds throughout.

The Shabtis series is Egyptian themed. The first book, Forgotten tells the story of Serik and Neenah. Serik was born with a God inside him. In order to protect him and his sister, their Mother had them placed within a small shabtis. Centuries later when the tomb is excavated, Serik is released in order to protect Neenah, the first daughter of Pharaoh. This series tells the course of Serik and his sister.

Guardians’ of Amirus is about men and women who become life-protectors to the rulers of the planets within the Amirus universe. Each planet has a Lord that rules under the High Planet Lord Kalor. The novels introduce us to their worlds and the changes that are about to take place within the Guardians’ way of life and all they’ve known.

Wishing is my interpretations of having my own Genie. In the first book, Dangerous, a work in progress, Jennifer Mannings finds a bottle within a shipwreck on the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. When she realizes what she’s found, she soon wishes Genie would find another master.

The rest of the series will follow suit with a man or woman finding a Genie and the dilemmas they get into with their wishes, which never seem to work out right.

Wow! You have quite the arsenal up your sleeve. Which series was easiest to write and why? Which was the hardest?

Ancient Breeds is easiest, those guys talk the loudest. LOL. And of course I know a lot about ancient Egypt and feel as if I belong there. Like coming home.
Short stories are the hardest for me. I need a large sandbox to play in and short stories seem to cause over spill. I kick sand out and make a mess. So I need more to work with. I hope that makes sense.

I agree; novels give so much  more room to expand upon worlds and concepts. The tightness of short stories oft times make writing them more difficult!

With so many stories you're working on, is it hard to remember which character belongs in which series?

No. I don’t have any problems with that. I have accidentally put the wrong name while I was trying to be clever and work on two stories at the same time. A reader pointed out to me one day and I was so embarrassed.

How many books does/will each series contain? Do you think there is such a thing as a ‘perfect length’?

Ancient Breeds is 17 books in total. The last book tells the ‘beginning’ of how it all started with the vampires’ (good and bad) creation so to speak. The Shabtis series is 5 books. Guardians’ of Amirus is set within My Worlds of Amirus series. It is an open/ending series. Wishing is 5 books. I also have another series, TideWars that I’m working on and I have no idea how many books will feature within that world.

Whew - seventeen books? That's enough to work up a sweat! But I like how the last book is sort of the prequel, in a way. Quite an interesting twist.

Do you tie history into any of your works? What sort of things do you research as you write?

Yes I do. I check dates and events to match up what happens within my worlds. I’m always on the net researching history. As for the Egyptian stories, I have tons and tons of reference books.

Do you use symbolism? What about an overall motif for an entire series?

I use hieroglyphics in my AncientBreeds series. Each one has a special marker to symbolize their ancestry. As for a motif, I use a pyramid with a cobra wrapped around it. I’m still working on that idea.

Ancient Egypt is so fascinating. I like how you've incorporated historical elements to your work.

Can you describe your writing style for us? What processes do you go through while writing? (i.e. outlines, character maps, index cards, etc…)

I’m rather boring. I sit by the computer with my hands poised over the keyboard. When the voices are ready to talk, then I type. I have been known to use two keyboards at once and my husband to this day says it’s the weirdest thing ever to see.
However, if I can’t get to my computer, I do have notebooks doted around the house so I can write down ideas. So yeah, I guess I do have something that keeps my notes so to speak.

Two keyboards would be quite a sight. I can honestly say I've never tried that one. *jots notes for later*

What would you say is one of your writing “quirks”?

All of my characters have favorite things. One character loves Krispy Kreme, another loves anything orange flavored (I can’t stand orange flavor so it’s not me). Another character will do just about anything for chocolate…we won’t go into what he’ll do.

I understand you are also an artist and have done designs for your own covers. Can you tell us a little bit about how you became interested in art?

When I was a kid I loved to trace coloring books, pictures from magazines and I’m sure that’s how it started. The coloring on the wall was ME warming up. LOL. It wasn’t until sixth grade that I got heavily into art. Comic books have always been a love for me and I really wanted to make my own.
The book covers I design for myself and others, is just a reflection of a scene in the book or an accumulation of characters and places.

Brilliant! Would you mind showing us any of your drawings, sketches, or designs?

No I don’t mind at all. Thank you for asking.


Thank you for sharing! 

So, which interest piqued first: writing or art?

I’m not sure drawing on the walls constitutes art and I’m sure my Mother didn’t look at it that way. LOL.  I think art was first, then the writing. I drew pictures and wanted to tell the story that went with it. The first story I wrote was first grade. I got a blue ribbon and I was so proud of myself. It was about crystal horses and castles.


What a wonderful memory! It always amazes me to look back and think how far one has come - how one's interests tend to blossom.

How important do you think cover art is to a novel overall? Are sales affected by it?

I think it is important. It’s the first thing the reader sees. I know the old saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but we all do it. I love fantasy and I’m going to head straight to the section with big dragons with women sporting wands and fiery spells. If the cover appeals to me, then I flip it over and devour the pitch. So yeah, I’d say it’s very important.
I would also mention that in reflection, if the cover is done well and is eye appealing, then you’re bound to sell more copies. However, if your style or voice isn’t clicking for the buyer, they may not return to invest in more of your work. So it’s a little of both. Great cover, even better writing and you should do well.


I agree. Both elements are key.

Would you mind telling us about your road to publication? Is there anything you regret or would do differently?

Oh yes! I regret the day I heard of a company called: AuthorHouse. These guys are a bunch of money sucking vampires!! If you want to self publish, do not go with these cowboys. They offer no rewards, nothing what so ever for your hard work. In fact, you DO all the work! And…they still sold my work (up until a few months ago) even after cancelling my contract with them in 2010. 

Usually I hear that authors and editors share tense relations. Tell us about your experience with editing. Do you enjoy the process? How well do you work with an editor?

My experience with editing hasn’t been a barrel of laughs. I’m very hard on myself to the point of getting angry and crying. I demand improvement and I think my editor wasn’t sure how to take that at first. For me, my logic is that nobody wants to read a book chocked full of errors, but I’m also learning that nobody is perfect and to be nicer to ME.
I do enjoy the process of editing. It’s time consuming and I’m learning new techniques as I go.
I have a wonderful relationship with my editor. She knows my quirks and is willing to work with me. She never orders me to fix or alter material. Always polite and offering help when needed and I always take her opinions seriously as she doubles up as a writer too.

Indeed - the process of a editing should be a mutual relationship between author and editor. It sounds like you have the right idea to be critical of your work - but not hard on yourself in the process. And it seems you have the ideal editor-relationship. Bravo!

 Do any of your characters reflect real people in your life? Are you mirrored in any of them?

I’m not really sure. I don’t think so. All my characters talk to me, literally. It’s hard to concentrate sometimes with all the noise going on inside my head. Now I sound crazy.

No - it's completely understandable. Characters tend to whisper to their creators. It's the whisper of the Muse.

Hm. I'm interested. What sort of creatures can be found in your work? 

Dragons big and small, winged cat like creatures. Genies with high sex drives, but I won’t go into that here. *laughing* Statues that come alive. Mermen. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts and the list goes on.

I'm intrigued. Such a vast collection of creatures! And statues that come alive? I want to learn more. Explain, if you will, how you use the concept of magic in your novels.

Some are born with it; others siphon it from other people, objects and animals. Usually there are rules within my worlds. No one has infinite power. To me that’s cheating and I’m sure the good guys are happy about that.

I understand you’ve created entire planets for your work. How difficult is it to construct multiple worlds? 

Oh it’s not difficult at all. Honest. *chews on pencil* I’ve had a ball creating worlds in my universe called: Amirus. You do need an understanding of science and how it all works. Or at least do some research to make it sound plausible. Planets tend to gravitate toward an orbit. Some are elliptic orbits and others are circular orbits.
The great thing about fiction is that you can create literally any person, place or thing. Rules do apply like I mentioned earlier, but you can have so much fun!

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, which genre(s)?

I listen to 80’s music all the way up to the present day. I love rock, pop, heavy metal, dance, techno and some rap. My favorite band to listen to while I write fight scenes is, Nightwish!!

How do you inspire the Muse when you’re having a bad day? 

I don’t really have bad days. I could sit by the computer and type until my fingers fell off. I guess I’m lucky that way.

I'm sure many are jealous of that trait. So is writer’s block ever an issue for you?

No. So far I’ve never had any problems with that.

Interesting. What do you do in your spare time?

Read, watch my Stargate DVDs in chronological order. Demand cuddles from hubby…bug my kids, cause that’s what Moms do.

Do you have a new project in the works? Can you tell us about it?

TideWars is my new series. It’s about two underwater races. The Dolphinites and Dolphinese. They hate each other thanks to their parents. The God Poseidon and his consort, their mother Amphitrite. Poseidon and Amphitrite divided their children up and raised them apart. Poseidon’s twin sons, Nicholas and Aiden he raised as demi gods called: Dolphinese. Amphitrite took the others, giving them dolphin bodies with the ability to change into human form. They are called the Dolphinites. This series is about their struggles and waging war which spreads to the human lands.

It sounds intriguing - and very involved. Would you mind sharing a passage from one of your novels?

He directed the wind like a giant hand, wiping away all traces of his footsteps as he stalked his prey. Stretching his arms out wide, he chanted a spell, making his presence undetectable. He was a lone warrior in a world full of violence. The one lesson he’d learned early in life was never to trust a human, never allow them the knowledge of his existence.

Thank you for sharing that with us! 

Now for some random questions. *rolls up sleeves*

If you could meet any figure from history, who would you choose?

Leonardo Da Vinci
If you could be transported into any story, which would you most like to visit?

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragons of Pern series.

If you could change your eye color, what would you pick?

Sea green

What is your favorite ancient civilization?

Egypt! What gave it away? *grinning*

Do you visit museums often? Which exhibits do you like to see?

The British Museum is one of my favorites. The Ancient Egyptian exhibits are one I revisit from time to time with my husband in tow. Poor fellow.

Tell us of an instance in which the movie version was better than the book.

The DaVinci Code

Who is your favorite villain?

Lex Luthor (superman)

Plays or short stories?

Short stories.

Black ink or blue ink?

Blue ink

Plotting or pantsing?

Plotting *makes an evil face*


Singing or humming?

Omg…humming. I can’t sing at all! Well not good anyway.

Favorite drink on a warm day? A cold day?

Iced tea. Hot chocolate with marshmallows. And a handful to eat. :)

Favorite word?


Favorite sound?

Children laughing

Thank you again for stopping by, Ms. Stewart! It's been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your work. 

Discover more about Ms. Stewart, her artwork, and her novels (current and forthcoming) on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.

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