Abigail here. Today, I’m thrilled to share with you my recent interview with
ANE MULLIGAN, the fabulous author of When the Bough Breaks, which I’ve just finished reading and highly recommend—a contemporary romance set in the political world of Washington D.C. that is not to be missed.
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. An award-winning and multi-published novelist and playwright, Ane is the creative director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a community theater and a contributor to Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her website at www.anemulligan.com or her Amazon author page.
Welcome Ane! So pleased to have you on the Mine today.
To begin, would you tell us a little bit about how you started writing?
I was Creative Arts director for my church and would write sermon starters and seasonal musicals. My very first script was published by LifeWay's National Drama Service, and every one after that was picked up by them.
The funny thing is, I had always been a storyteller, but never thought about writing. Now, when I look back, though, I can see myself working our elaborate stories with my dolls as a kid and later, onstage as an adult.
The move to novels was fairly easy. I say that with my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek, since I knew nothing about writing a novel, except for dialogue.
While reading When the Bough Breaks I enjoyed all the wonderful details about Washington. What drew you to write a story about lobbyists? Do you have any experience in that realm?
We lived for a few years in upstate New York, just north of its capitol, Albany. While there, I learned about Christian Coalition, a conservative, pro-family, pro-life group. Being new to the frozen north and without a lot of friends yet, I joined. Within 6 moths, I was enlisted to be the state legislative affairs director. That's a fancy name for lobbyist.
After several surprising successes in New York, the national director of CC would have me come to Washington, DC to help lobby certain things. I was there and involved in the Contract with America that Newt Gingrich spearheaded.
The opening chapter of When the Bough Breaks is a replica of my first day lobbying in New York. The issue was different, but the judge was real (different name) and so was her foot tapping on my chair.
When the idea for the story came to me, I decided to make Sienna a lobbyist and then have her lobby for her own demise. The funny thing is I had entered the story in a contest, and one of the judges told me Sienna was too naïve to be a lobbyist. She marked me down. However, I was that naïve lobbyist and it was that very quality that gained me entrée into opposition offices. God does work in very strange and mysterious ways. snicker.
Yes, He does. Sienna is a delightfully compelling character. How did you create her personality and backstory?
Some of her came from my own story. I'm adopted and have gone through much of my life never looking like anyone. After I started getting a bit older and experienced some body changes I never expected, I wondered whose hands I had—and a whole lot more. I could easily slide inside Sienna and know her thoughts. If anyone wants to read how I was found by my birth sisters, the story is on my website under the Adoption tab. There's a photo of me with 4 of my 5 sisters.
I also do an extensive interview with my characters, like a journalist would. I dig deep into their background to find the lie they believe about themselves. I write their backstory, most of which never reaches the book, but it builds who they are. We're all the product of our parents and grandparents' worldview. It molds ours. We either accept it or reject it. From that interview, I discover who my characters are, their fears, their secrets, and their motivations.
Was there anything that led you to write this specific book?
It was going to be a sequel to its companion book, When the Wind Blows, coming out in 2018. A young woman at church, who told me she was adopting a baby, sparked that story.
By that time, I had found my birth mother and knew I had sisters, but my mother didn't want a relationship. She told me nothing of siblings. A cousin, whom I found online, told me I had sisters. Again, that's on my website. When the young woman at church told me she planned to adopt, I immediately thought, "What if the child she adopted was the grandchild of one of my sisters?"
The "what if" changed slightly, but that began the first book. When I started to write the second one, the story of the daughter from the first book searching for her birth mother, I realized the timing was off. It would be too far in the future to be that child. And so, Sienna was "born."
From small towns to mysteries, what is your favorite genre to write? Or to read?
My favorite is women's fiction, whether it has a mystery in it, or a little suspense, or a lot of humor, my favorite friends helping friends get through life. I'm starting a new series set in the great depression. Each book features an ensemble cast of strong women helping each other make it through those years.
What do you love to do in your spare time?
I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understand that term. *wink* When I'm not writing, my other passion is theatre. I'm the Creative Director of a Community Theatre, Players Guild@Sugar Hill. My husband and I are both deeply involved there, from acting to directing – soup to nuts.
I lead a ministry at church, and then, the hubs and I also sing in a community choir of 150 senior citizens, that travels around north Georgia, singing in churches and wherever we're invited. We've even sung the national anthem at the baseball stadium. We have a blast!
Before you go, do you have any advice or encouragement for aspiring writers?
Motivation is the key to great characters. If their motivation is universal, people will relate to them. Sienna just wanted to belong. Everyone knows that feeling and has felt it at one time or another in their lives.
Secondly, always remember to factor God's timing into your journey. You may catapult into the publishing world, or God might hold you back for a while, like He did me. But His timing is always perfect.
When the Bough Breaks
Her dream job has a Catch 22—and time's running out
Rookie lobbyist Sienna O'Shea is determined to make a name for herself in New York's capitol city and use that influence to gain easier access to her birth records. For years she's searched for her birth mother, but when she's handed her first assignment—to lobby support for the permanent sealing of all adoption records—her worlds collide. Swept up into the intrigue of backroom politics, falling in love was not on Sienna's agenda, but the candidate for Lt. Governor runs a formidable campaign to make her his first lady. When an investigative reporter discovers foreign money infiltrating political campaigns, the trail leads to Sienna's inner circle.
Available on Amazon. Check it out!