Below you will find the Ten +1 Questons from author Anne Montgomery. As I was loading the links into this post I found out about her Wikipedia page. I did some quick reading and I must her name may seem familiar to people. Why? Well you will see that she was at one time an anchor on SportsCenter on ESPN. So, without giving to much more away check out Anne’s responses to the questions below.
Question 1: When did you realize first wanted to be a writer?
The thought never occurred to me until I was in my late 30s. I didn’t read well when I was younger, as I’m a bit dyslexic, so I didn’t gravitate toward either reading or writing. In fact, I remember getting letters returned from my mother covered with way too much red ink, highlighting my spelling and composition errors when I was in college. No one ever mentioned my writing skills until I asked John Walsh, who was my boss at ESPN, why he hired me. He said it was because I was a good writer. I was shocked, but a seed was planted.
Question 2: How did your friends/family take the loss of your time as you wrote the book?
I did not have any children when I started the first book. As I’d been a TV reporter and anchor for much of my marriage my husband at the time was used to me be gone a lot. I now have three foster sons, all of whom came into my life as teenagers. They, I think, are not quite as needy as perhaps small children. So, I don’t think anyone feels neglected. The boys are probably glad that Mom has a distraction.
Question 3: What inspired you to write A Light in the Desert?
The dedication in my book reads as follows: This book was inspired by and is dedicated to my dear friend Sergeant Don Clarkson, a Green Beret who served in Vietnam with the 9th Infantry ARVN Soldiers from December 1968 to November 1970. Don died in 2010 from complications of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Agent Orange poisoning.
Don and I umpired amateur baseball together for five years. This was a time during which I was bemoaning the fact that I could no longer get a job in TV. After working at five stations, I was now too old to be in front of a camera. I was also going through a divorce and I couldn’t even get a job bartending. I was feeling pretty sorry for me. Then I met Don, a wounded Vietnam veteran with a wife and eight children. Despite his struggles with PTSD and Agent Orange poisoning, he rarely complained. Amateur umpires spend a lot of time before and after games talking. Don shared his stories with me and gradually I began to realize the triviality of my complaints and what a gift his friendship was. I wrote the book to help his children understand why their father sometimes behaved the way he did.
Question 4: During the initial writing process where did you get the idea for the book and its characters?
The sabotage of the Amtrak Sunset Limited, which remains a cold-case crime, occurred shortly after the Oklahoma City Bombing and, like that event, is considered to be an act of domestic terrorism. Since the crime occurred roughly 65 miles from Phoenix, the story was huge here and I became engrossed in the coverage.
As I explained in the previous question, Don was my inspiration for Jason Ramm, though he was not a sniper during his time in Vietnam. Most of the flashbacks in A Light in the Desert were actual events in his life. Jack Cooper is based on Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff Dave Woolley, a first responder to the wreck site of the Amtrak Sunset Limited, who graciously allowed me to interview him about the experience. It’s probably obvious that the too old, TV news reporter, Kate Butler, is me, though unlike Kate, I do not have a shelf full of Emmys. Still a girl can dream. The Children of Light are real people who allowed me into their enclave. Elect Sun is based on one of the women I met there.
Question 5: Who were some of the authors that inspired you as a child growing up and their books?
I did not read as a child. I hated books because I struggled with reading. (I still sometimes can’t tell the difference between a d and a b, but I digress.) My dearest friend growing up was a complete bookworm. When she found out I was an author, her first response was, “How the hell did you become a writer?” She has a point. Life can be odd. In the even stranger department, while I’m primarily a journalism teacher, I’m also a reading specialist. I taught reading to high school kids – some of whom read below the third-grade level – for five years.
Question 6: What was the feeling like when you saw the first completed version of your book?
I have never had any biological children, but I’m guessing the feeling is a bit like childbirth, without the inherent mess.
Question 7: Do you continue to write and in what genre?
I wrote Nothing But Echoes, which is historical fiction based in Flagstaff, Arizona, in which both Kate Butler and Jack Cooper play prominent roles. (The book was previously titled The Magician, and will soon be rereleased by Sarah Book Publishing.) I also have a novel called The Scent of Rain, which tells the story of a young girl who lives in the polygamous community of Colorado City, Arizona. My agent is currently shopping that one around. My books don’t fit neatly into a specific genre. What they have in common is that they are based on real people or events. Can’t take the reporter out of the girl.
Question 8: Whom do you imagine being the people reading your book?
I have worked hard to ensure the facts concerning the crime are as they occurred, as are the military bits. The characters – some of whom who you can root for, while others you might like to run over with a truck – are realistic and relatable. And the setting in the Arizona, desert and the plot are both intriguing, so I think A Light in the Desert should have broad appeal.
Question 9: Any good suggestions for those who want to try writing their own book?
Make time to write. Be patient. Revel in small steps forward. Have another job to pay the bills. Ask people who don’t already love you to critique your work and then thank them for their time. Have a thick skin. Criticism is your friend: learn from it. Have a sense of humor. And, mostly, enjoy the process. If you don’t, find another hobby.
Question 10: When not writing how do you like to spend your time?
I’m a journalism/multimedia communications teacher at South Mountain High School, a Title I school in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m extremely fortunate that I love my job and, with a few exceptions, look forward to going to work everyday. I also have quite a few hobbies that brighten my world. I’m an avid rock and mineral collector. (All of my books contain some rock references.) I am also a scuba diver, just the thought of which drops my blood pressure 20 points. I have a desert vegetable garden with which I constantly do battle and which I refer to as my Moriarty. I have been an amateur sports official since 1979. I have officiated football, baseball, ice hockey, soccer, and basketball games at various levels over the years. Today, I’m an Arizona Interscholastic Association high school football referee and crew chief. And, after thirty-five years, I finally picked up my old guitar.
The + 1 Question
If your book got turned into a movie do you have any actors/actresses you’d like to see play your characters?
I do have a screenplay for A Light in the Desert. Originally, I thought I’d like Ed Harris to play Jason Ramm. Glenn Close would be perfect as Elect Sun. Alas; I am too old to play Kate Butler. (Story of my life.) Everyone else would have to be unknown, because now the budget is blown.
Where to find Anne Montgomery Online
Find A Light in the Desert: