Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on H.A. Raynes, who will be part of our Road Trip of a Lifetime or Edge of War event on March 19th from 3:00 – 5:00 PM. She’ll be signing books, reading, and chatting with author Caitlin Avery. We are thrilled to have her here to talk about her novel, Nation of Enemies.
Welcome to our blog, Holly! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
I’m parent to two kids and a cockapoo. I’ve had a long career as a producer in advertising. Learned to swim at the age of 32. Played spin-the-bottle with Nicolas Cage. And have jumped out of a plane. Writing is much more my speed than the latter two. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. For me, it’s equal parts fun and sanity. In the busy world we live in, both fun and sanity can be hard to hold onto. But no matter what, I know they’re mine for about 8 hours every week.
What kind of research went into writing Nation of Enemies? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
Mostly I write from my imagination and, knowing this would take place in the future, I figured the research would be minimal. The joke was on me. I chose to write about an emergency room doctor, an FBI agent and a presidential candidate. Not to mention militias, hackers and funeral directors. Needless to say, I spent hours working to hone my characters and their environments. I had some liberties since Nation of Enemies takes place in 2032, but for that I had to research future predictions for medicine and technology, among other things. I learned so much and I enjoyed it all…with the great exception of learning how much hate exists in the world. I was disheartened to discover how many militias (homegrown, not ISIS or any radicalism from outside the U.S.) exist within the confines of our country. And the number is growing rapidly.
What was the inspiration for Nation of Enemies? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
My inspiration was a five-foot tall, white haired eighty-year-old named Beatrice, my husband’s grandmother. Several years ago we were talking and she was recounting the story of her family fleeing Poland during WWII. Everything and everyone she knew was suddenly gone. The houses and streets were empty. Regardless of their hopes and fears they had to escape. In what must’ve been a whirlwind, they emigrated to the United States. Now, I’ve heard stories about WWII, seen the movies, as we all have. But something about her story resonated with me. She looked directly into my eyes that day and asked, “Imagine that? Everything you know, just gone one day?” And I did. I brought the war home to the United States. Imagined people emigrating en masse from this powerful, “safe” country of ours. And Nation of Enemies was born.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I just love to write. Pure and simple. My writing life has been very private, almost secretive for years. People I’ve known for ages had no idea I write. I was apprehensive about sharing my work initially – writing is so personal, you really are exposing yourself when you share it, like any art. I think my greatest pleasure so far in the publishing process has been the overwhelming support I’ve received since the release of Nation of Enemies. Friends, family and strangers have reached out and expressed their support of me and their love of the book. The feedback has been so positive and it’s been amazing to finally be recognized for my writing. As for the lessons…there have been many. And mainly to do with the publishing process. But that’s another question. : )
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Make time. No one will give it to you. It should be a priority so be sure and schedule it on your calendar. Don’t answer your emails or phone calls or texts. Even if it’s just an hour or two once or twice a week. Be devoted to your craft during that time. It doesn’t matter if you’re researching or playing around with an idea, it will open your imagination you’ll be pleasantly surprised what happens. So put down the remote and write as much as you can before you have two children and can only squeeze in eight hours a week!
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
My favorite café. There I am surrounded by lattes, curries, and scones. There’s a back room and the owner and staff all know me (and I them!) by now. Just walking over the threshold calms me and gets me mentally in the writing space (no pun intended!).
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
If they can’t find it at ABSW, they have several options. If they don’t find it at their local independent bookstores or libraries, they can (and should!) request it. Online it is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all online booksellers. Here is the link for Amazon (ebook format is available here as well):
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Stalk away! Here are my social media and blog links:
Thank you so much for joining us, Holly! We look forward to seeing you at our Road Trip of a Lifetime or Edge of War event on Saturday, March 19, from 3:00 – 5:00 PM!