Thursday, July 21, 2011

Author Interview: R.J. Anderson

This year, I’ve read many books. Many amazing, wonderful books. I can honestly say that it has been a fantastic reading year for me, filled with several new favorites. One of the absolute bests I’d managed to pick up- a galley through NetGalley- was R.J. Anderson’s Ultraviolet. I was so unbelievably stunned by the sheer beauty of it, I just couldn’t put it down. And when I was finished, I was craving more, more, more. It was my first time reading anything by Ms. Anderson, but I was sure to put anything that had her name on it immediately on my TBR pile. And I’ll definitely be purchasing a hardcopy of Ultraviolet to proudly display on my shelf and continuously reread come September 1st when it is released in stores in the U.S.

Recently, I was very honored to have the lovely R.J. Anderson join me for an interview.

So, without further ado, welcome to R.J. Anderson at The Bookaholic! It is so good to have you here!

Tell us a bit about yourself first:

Where are you from?

I'm Canadian, and I currently live in southwestern Ontario with my husband and three young sons.

What are your favorite colors?

Blue and purple. (Oh, THERE's a surprise.)

Favorite music?

All-time favourite artist has to be Talk Talk (obscure 80's band that just got stranger and more experimental until their record label gave up on them), but recently I've been enjoying some great indie artists like Andrew Bird, Aqualung, and Eisley.

Do you have any pets?

We have a calico cat named Snickers.

Five favorite authors?

I'll mix it up old school for this one: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Sayers.

I’d love to learn more about your own writing and work:

When did your interest in writing begin?

I was eight when I sat down to write my first story -- not to show to anyone, not with a view to publication, just because I wanted a certain kind of story and nobody would write it but me. (Understandably, as I was the heroine, and the other characters were my eighteen magical, talking, fabulously wealthy cats who lived in an underground palace. Bit of a niche market.) But I was twelve when I decided that I wanted to write a novel that other people might read someday, and nineteen when I finally finished my first manuscript. Writing something good enough to get published, though -- that was another matter!

Have you ever had writer’s block? Do you have any advice for overcoming writer’s block?

I have it on a semi-regular basis, and for me it almost always means that something's wrong -- either with what I've written up to that point, or what I'm planning to write. So I either have to go back and rework what came before, or I have to reconsider what I was planning to do next and try something different. But there are many different kinds of writer's block, and it's different for every writer. Sometimes it's just laziness that's holding you back, and the only answer to that is BICFOK (Butt In Chair, Fingers On Keyboard). Or it could be fear of failure, in which case maybe you need to play around with "just for fun" writing that only you're going to see for a while. Sometimes it's that you don't really know your characters or setting well enough to write them, and you need to slow down and think things through. Sometimes it's that you're nervous about writing something emotional or controversial or challenging that you know is coming, and you're looking for ways to avoid it. There's really no one-size-fits-all answer to identifying writers' block or curing it. If there was, I could make a million dollars selling the secret to other writers! :)

What was your inspiration in writing “Ultraviolet”?

There were a lot of ideas that went into the story, but mostly it was the idea of synesthesia, and wondering what it might be like to have an exceptionally strong version of it. It seemed to me that in some ways it would be like having superpowers, but it could also be scary and overwhelming. So that led me to the idea of my heroine ending up in psychiatric care, and the rest of the story sort of blossomed from that.

Are any of the characters you create (from any of your books) based on any real people you know?

I often draw on my own experiences and the experiences of others to make my characters more real -- I think every author does that. But I don't generally base my characters' appearance or personalities on real people, no.

Two things that you have in common with Alison (the MC of “Ultraviolet”) if any?

We both play the piano, and we both went to high school in Sudbury, Ontario. In some ways this book is a love letter to the often-maligned northern mining town where I spent my teenaged years -- all my peers who were born there couldn't wait to get out of the city, but I loved it. I haven't lived there for twenty years now, but still every time I visit it feels like I'm coming home.

Synesthesia is a real, rare ‘disorder’ found in some people. This was the condition found in Alison in “Ultraviolet” and it was extremely unique. Could you explain a bit about it please?

It's not as rare as was once believed -- about 4% of the population have some form of synesthesia, according to the current estimate. It means "joined sensation" -- a kind of cross-talk between the senses, such as tasting words and seeing sounds. One very common form of synesthesia is associating colours with letters and numbers, such as perceiving redness when you look at or think about the letter A, for instance. But to the synesthete this seems perfectly natural and ordinary, and many synesthetes don't even know there's anything unusual about their sensory perceptions until they talk to other people who don't see the world the same way. It's really not a disorder (even though it can be overwhelming at times -- but then our ears and eyes can be overwhelmed by sudden noises or bright lights, too), just a difference in the way the brain processes information. I find it utterly fascinating, and wish I had it!

Do you have any current projects that you’re working on? Upcoming releases?

I've just finished the first draft of SWIFT, which will be coming out in the UK in spring 2012 -- it's the start of a new series related to my earlier faery books, and involves the piskeys of Kernow (Cornwall). I'm excited about this new world and new set of characters, especially as it gives new readers a chance to jump in without getting lost in the continuity of the previous three books. But there are also some special rewards for readers who have been with me since the beginning -- or at least I hope they'll see it that way!

Sounds amazing. I love faeries. ;)

And last but not least:

If you’re allowed to tell me this, will there be any sequel to “Ultraviolet”?

Yes, there will! It's tentatively called QUICKSILVER, and it's scheduled for early 2013 in both the US and the UK.

Ah! That probably just made my year hearing about the Ultraviolet sequel! Thank you for sharing that information!

Thanks for the interview, Pixie!

All best,
(R.J. Anderson)

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to interview. I really enjoyed reading your responses!

For more information about the author and books, and to follow along with R.J. Anderson’s blog, you can visit her site:
Also follow on Twitter: @rj_anderson
On Goodreads:

Ultraviolet Trailer:

Release date: September 1, 2011

Read my review of Ultraviolet HERE.

Thank you again!



  1. Nice interview. Her writer's block answer was my favorite it was very informative.

  2. Great interview :) I can't wait to get Ultraviolet! She seems like a really nice and down to earth person, and she has good taste in authors ;)


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