The August 2022 Priorhouse Interview is featuring my long-time friend, Ana Linden (here). Ana is a photographer, author, translator, nature lover, and blogger. Well that is my description of her – let’s move into the interview to see what she has to say.
PRIORHOUSE: Can you tell us about Ana Linden?
ANA: Every time my grandfather offered someone a greeting card, he would write a poem… a different poem. Rhymes seemed to come to him so naturally, sharp, hilarious ones that he would insert in his conversations, not bothering to write down any of them. I remember pretending to go for an afternoon nap, just to coax him into telling me “my story” – the fairy-tale he had concocted just for me. From what I know, he had no literary aspiration; it was just a gift he had, one that my grandmother derided, one that made many friends and relatives roll their eyes – what serious man his age comes up with silly rhymes?
- I was going to tell you that I’m a translator, that I have a BA in Foreign Languages and that my choice between languages and mathematics was one dictated by circumstances. Instead, I find myself blurting out memories about my grandfather… because I believe that the way his creativity was received by those close to him may have influenced my reticence to share my writing when I was very young.
- I had a wonderful middle school teacher who used to secretly send my compositions to literary contests and bribe me with good grades in order to get me to show her my work. That’s how I ended up winning a couple of prizes… and that’s how I learned I should take pride in my creativity.
- So I kept writing, mostly for myself. In spite of my educational background, I never seriously considered a writing career – this is something I do for me, because I love it, it’s part of who I am and it helps me.
PRIORHOUSE: Can you tell us about any movies, shows, or streaming series that you like?
Haha… I have a feeling you’re expecting me to say this, but I’ll say it anyway. Right now, I’m watching the HBO comedy-drama, “And Just Like That…”. I didn’t have high expectations when I heard about this show, but as a Sex and the City (SATC) fan, I knew I would watch it. I have been pleasantly surprised, though. I like the way the characters have evolved. And the shoes… and the dresses… sigh…
- I’m also watching “This Is Us”.
- I’m looking forward to the new season of “Killing Eve” and later on, “The Handmaid’s Tale”.
- As a general rule, “Friends”, “The Big Bang Theory” and “Ally McBeal” (the first seasons) reruns are always good for a laugh.
- As for movies, I plan on watching some Golden Globes nominees/winners that I haven’t seen yet, like “Belfast” and “The Power of the Dog”.
- My light-hearted, feel-good rerun is “Dirty Dancing”, the one with Patrick Swayze.
PRIORHOUSE: One of the many things we have in common, Ana, is that we both journal. I write almost every day. Sometimes I journal a lot, and sometimes I pause. Can you share about your journaling?
ANA: I’ve been journaling, on and off, since I was 11 or 12 years old. Back then, girls had diaries and boys (those who were uninspired enough to admit to it) journaled – no comment…
- There were years when I wrote nothing, there were years with only a few journal entries, and then there were years when I wrote almost daily. From pen and paper I switched to Word docs and then back to (almost only) pen and paper a few years ago. When I travel, I fully rely on my computer and so journal entries are digital. .
- I often write when I feel the need to vent or to put everything into perspective, to get stuff off my chest and figure out how I should feel. It’s stream of consciousness writing and it often has a therapeutic, cathartic effect.
- I try to write something at least once a month and I make a point of recording positive experiences as well, instead of writing only when I need to calm down or feel better.
PRIORHOUSE: Can you tell us about your “Writing Life” blog? It is linked in this post already, but I will share another link now – to a recent Wordless Wednesday post – here
ANA: I started “Writing Life” blog shortly before I published my first book. I had no clue about blogging, but since I’m not a great fan of social media, I found this to be the best way to try and promote my novel. I didn’t expect to enjoy it… or to keep it for this long. What was initially meant to be a blog about relationships and the means to showcase my novel, quickly became something else. I occasionally talk about my books and share excerpts or reviews, but the “Writing Life” blog is mostly a hodgepodge of memories, thoughts, opinions, and photography.
Images become words and words are easily transposed into images, and this is life – a sequence of characters and images, flashes of light and inspiration, where the one banal word can easily hide great love, tremendous despair, success, failure, pain, boredom or happiness, depending on the hand that “writes” it and the eye that “reads” it.
PRIORHOUSE: I love how you said this: “One banal word can easily hide great love, tremendous despair, success, failure, pain, boredom or happiness, depending on the hand that “writes” it and the eye that “reads” it” – that was so powerful!
It also reminded me of the blog phases some folks go through.
ANA: My blogging phases are usually influenced by everyday life.
- We don’t always have enough time to enjoy all of the activities that we love, so we need to prioritize. That’s when I generally take a blogging break – so far, that meant posting a photo here and there and not much else, but still trying to keep up with the blogs I follow. Then there are those times I just don’t feel like writing in general and I try NOT to put any pressure on myself.
- So having a blogging schedule is clearly not for me.
- I blog when I feel like it, about what I feel like sharing.
- My blogging phase has also included doing photo series and they are my way of keeping in touch with the WP community even when I don’t have much writing time or I simply don’t feel like it.
- Whenever I have quite a few photos on the same theme, but they’re just too many for one post, I create a series. I’ve had seasonal series, floral series, but my favourite so far is the “Worn Out” series.
PRIORHOUSE: I like how your blogging phases lead to some opinion posts, like this recent one, “So we can still be humane – We are not our leaders” – HERE –
And my favorite of your photo series might be from the Spring Joy theme. Here are a few to show readers.
PRIORHOUSE: Can you tell us something about you that is unique or not well known?
ANA: I’m not sure I can come up with something that’s unique… In my everyday life, most people I know would be surprised to find out I self-published four books. Ana Linden is a pen-name and while everything behind it is real, I choose to keep my writing life and my everyday life separate.
- Something that the readers probably don’t know… I used to be a decent amateur seamstress. I used to sew most of my dresses, skirts and jackets, even some trousers and tops back in high school.
- From early on, my dolls had impressive wardrobes; later, it was fun to know that some of my clothes were literally one of a kind. My grandmother was very keen on teaching me everything that, in her opinion, a woman had to know – cooking, baking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, gardening… People are usually surprised or incredulous when I mention I can do any of the above, expecting a woman able to do all that to look… different.
PRIORHOUSE: Can you share some favorites?
ANA: I’ll keep this short and sweet.
- I’m a dog (and bird) person
- Food? Lasagne and chocolate cake (in spite of endeavouring to have a healthy diet).
- Music? Bon Jovi.
- Writer? Franz Kafka (1883-1924) a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer. For those that don’t know the term Kafkaesque (it refers to a surreal, difficult situation, that could be nightmarish). This video is interesting:
- Travel? I think I could take countless trips to France and not get bored of it, but I believe that traveling anywhere new is an enriching, worthwhile experience.
- Favs for Refreshment? I enjoy writing, reading, photography, baking, walking, and, in a pre-Covid universe, occasionally going to a club and dancing ‘til dawn.
PRIORHOUSE: Can you tell us about your published books?
ANA: There should be no taboos concerning human behaviour – this is my belief. So through my books, I try to tackle the less than perfect sides of humanity, the flaws, the scars, the subjectively reprehensible actions from various perspectives.
- “Parallel Lives” deals with relationships from other angles than the happily-ever-after, love-conquers-all paradigms.
- Most of my short stories in “Albatross” and “Frames” focus on the why behind actions and reactions, on the triggers and humanity behind horrific moments.
- As for “Glass Slippers and Stilettos”… well, that was just a bit of fun, a light-hearted attempt at satire.
PRIORHOUSE: Do you have any tips for writers?
ANA: I vividly remember walking home one afternoon from this job I had accepted in my 20s in spite of feeling and knowing it wasn’t right for me. After all, that was the “right” thing to do if I wanted to “succeed”. From early on, society teaches us that we should lead a certain kind of life and… well… we go with it. In spite of all the other reasons for which I was uncomfortable with that decision, the sentence that was on repeat in my brain that afternoon was, “I will never write a book!” Shortly after, I quit said job and continued as a freelancer. No regrets. It was a few years later that I wrote my first book and felt amazing for being able to offer myself that kind of personal satisfaction… even if that isn’t what generally passes as “success”.
I’m not saying, quit your job and follow your creative dream – I’m too much of a cynic for that.
But I am saying, whether it’s writing or something else, don’t give up on your creative side.
Just because it might never pay the bills, it does not mean that it is not worth pursuing.
Pursuing your creative outlet can add balance to an otherwise hectic existence, which we can rarely control; pursuing your creative side provides an endless opportunity for growth and self-discovery… not to mention the great escape it represents in certain difficult moments with which one might otherwise not be able to cope.
PRIORHOUSE: Speaking of published books, thanks again for being part of Lady by the River.
For readers that do not know about this book, the Lady by the River master page is here. As the editor of the book, my goal was to create a wellness resource. The idea started when I spent an afternoon on the Indian River in Florida. I was visiting with a lady who was angry and frustrated. I tried to find a wellness book to give her and when I couldn’t find the right one, I decided to create my own resource. I reached out to some of the authors I had chemistry with (who I also knew had experienced some trials and had grit) and the book project flowed like a river – ha – and the end product was an encouraging resource for anyone (even those who are not angry or frustrated).
ANA: I am glad to be part of this book. After getting over the initial flattering surprise of receiving the invitation to be part of the “Lady By the River” project, I thought, “this is outside my comfort zone”. It wasn’t so much the opening up and sharing some difficult memories part, but the collaboration with other writers – I’m a lone wolf when it comes to my writing.
- Then it was exactly this collaboration aspect that made me realise that the book was a really good idea.
- I realized Lady by the River was an interesting and potentially useful and helpful project.
- All those various voices sharing their very different experiences can reach people with diverse issues. But above all, the timing of writing a chapter for Lady by the River was perfect for me.
- The timing to participate in such a project was good and I believe there is a right time to share a certain story.
PRIORHOUSE: It is interesting how you noted that “there is a right time to SHARE a certain story” – because I was just reading how author Margaret Atwood said there is a right time to READ a certain story. Timing matters in what we share but also in how we receive what we read.
I guess Atwood was reflecting on how she read Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” book and was disappointed with the entire story. Atwood then read the book – 43 years later – and noted that the characters and story “fell into place” for her and the book resonated.
Margaret Atwood said, “Some books have to wait until you’re ready for them.”
And for me, I find that I take away different things each time I reread certain books I love. For example, as a teenager, Hugo’s Les Mis was about finding true love. As a young adult reading the book again, my takeaway related to growing in faith and I soaked up Javert’s lack of grace and the Bishop’s generous investment with the candlesticks. Then, during my gardening years, reading Les Mis became an exposition on nature and the human refueling offered from God through beauty in this world. Then reading it as a maturing adult, I could relate to themes of agape love and the full heart that comes from unity – and more of the side stories spoke to me – like the struggling entrepreneur, the CLOTHING and materials of the drapes, the constant conniving scoundrel in the main antagonist Thénardier, etc. Anyhow, timing of sharing and timing of reading changes so much.
ANA: Timing does matter in so many different ways. And by the way, Margaret Atwood is on my To Be Read (TBR) list.
PRIORHOUSE: What are you reading right now and what else is on the TBR?
- I’ve recently finished reading “Less Is More” by Jason Hickel… and it made an impression, even if I was already aware of some of the facts in the book. I’m mentioning it because I believe it’s a must-read, given the current climate issues.
- Right now, I’m reading Pascal Bruckner’s “Un An et Un Jour” (I’m not sure it was translated into English, but “A Year and A Day” would be an appropriate translation for the title). I’m getting a Kafkaesque sensation from it, which I like.
- I’m not sure what I’ll read next. As noted, Margaret Atwood’s works are on the list and Ian McEwan’s “Saturday” is quietly waiting for me.
PRIORHOUSE: Any Works in Progress (WIP)?
ANA: My WIPs are mostly at a percolating ideas stage, with some general notes. There’s a novel about mothers and daughters, a satirical collection of short stories, as well as an autobiographical work, the shape of which is still somewhat unclear to me. I generally know what I want to put in all these books, I can already see the characters and their stories, but I have no idea when I’m going to seriously start working on any of them or which one might get written first.
PRIORHOUSE: Do you have a favorite quote or phrase?
ANA: I’m currently going through a “sorry, not sorry” phase. I don’t have a favourite quote, even if I used to write down quotes from every book I read and I still highlight passages. But since I mentioned the book earlier, I’ll leave you with the closing sentence on Hickel’s “Less Is More” –
“There is nothing more powerful than a question.”
PRIORHOUSE: Let’s wind down with tips for bloggers. Do you have any tips to offer about blogging?
ANA: I started blogging without knowing too much about it, but the blogging community – at least the blogging community that I interact with – is very friendly and helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask for help or clarifications, many bloggers will happily share their knowledge and personal experience. In your turn, perhaps try and do the same, once you’ve gained some experience.
Blogging Success depends on one’s reasons to blog. When it comes to making money from blogging or gaining an incredible number of followers, views and likes very quickly… I have NO IDEA how to do that.
However, if blogging is only a hobby or a way to interact with other people with similar interests, here are a few of my guidelines:
- Be respectful of other people’s opinions – other kinds of social media are better suited for controversy and constant bickering, if that’s what you’re looking for.
- Be respectful of people’s time. I remember this person bitterly complaining that posts containing a single photo got far more likes and views than their lengthy, wordy posts… My posts – those containing more than a photo – are also on the lengthy side, so I know that’s true, but we also need to be considerate of our readers’ time. We all have a life outside our blogs, we can’t always read as much as we’d like or engage in all the conversations. So don’t feel offended if your comments aren’t answered immediately or if that amazing post you’ve written doesn’t spark as much engagement as you think it should.
- Get ready to accept that not all your followers are really “your followers” – yes, lots of people will like or follow you only to get you to follow back. Don’t get upset, that’s the game. It quickly becomes obvious who reads you posts on a regular basis.
- Join some blogging challenges. Lots of bloggers host challenges on various topics and participating is a great way to discover bloggers with similar interests and get discovered yourself.
- Thick skin is sometimes necessary. While I find this little WP corner to be friendly, supportive and warm, there’s still the occasional troll. Don’t take it personally and if possible, try not to get caught up in it; they’ll go away if instead of angrily antagonising them you tactfully state your view and fail to fuel their issues.
- Try to give back. It’s fun to be your readers’ reader, so visit their blogs when you can. I’ve discovered lots of blogs with great content this way and there are many learning opportunities out there.
- It’s only blogging, don’t take it so seriously.
- If this is only supposed to be a hobby, an outlet for your creativity, why turn it into yet another source of frustration and pressure? We have enough of that in our lives, there’s no point in stressing over our blogs as well.
PRIORHOUSE: Thanks for the blogging advice. I especially agree with “not taking it too seriously” – and will also add that we should never compare our blog to other blogs. We will either get puffed up or deflated – and so just let your blog simmer and brew – so it can represent you – don’t compare stats and try to enjoy the gift a blog can be – and take lots of breaks if needed.
Okay Ana, how can readers find you online.
ANA: The best place to get in touch with me online is through my blog – https://analindenblog.wordpress.com/
- I am also on twitter @AnaLindenAuthor (though I don’t spend too much time over there) and there also are my
- Amazon Author Page:https://www.amazon.com/Ana-Linden/e/B089FJL8Y5
- Smashwords.com Author Page:https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/analinden
ANA: Last but not least, I want to thank you, Yvette, for inviting me to take part in your author interview series.
PRIORHOUSE: It has been fun and thank you, Ana, for saying yes to the interview.
ANA: As always, it’s been a pleasure, and you’ve been a wonderful, understanding, and accommodating host.
PRIORHOUSE: As we were prepping for this interview, it brought back good memories of when you and I worked together on Lady by the River. You were so available and such a big help with changes and updates (that had nothing to do with your chapter). 🧡 I appreciate your flexibility and your love for writing continues to inspire me.
To all the readers, THANKS for joining us.☀️😊☀️
I hope you had a few takeaways from this interview.
One of my favorite takeaways from this interview was from the section where I asked Ana for tips for writers.
Ana reminded us of the value of pursuing our creative side. Ana noted that this pursuit is crucial for wellness because it “can add balance to an otherwise hectic existence” – while it can also nurture and offer a “great escape” so we get refreshed.
So as you leave this interview – maybe it is time for you to assess how you are doing with some of your creative pursuits. Maybe you are doing fine with this area, but maybe it is time for some of us to spend an hour a week exploring a new creative project that has been whispering to us for a while. One hour? Come on, you can do it.