I’m thrilled to welcome today’s guest, author and friend, Anna Kittrell. Anna is one of my favorite people in the world. She’s a talented writer, she’s beautiful, inside and out, and she’s soooo much fun. (Boy, do we have some stories! :)). She’s a member of my local RWA chapter, OKRWA, which is awesome, because I get to hang out with her often. I adore her and I’m so pleased to introduce her today with a new release that sounds amazing! And, a great interview. Take it away, Anna…
Where did you get the idea for your book?
The premise for The Commandment approached me somewhat like a dream. I kept picturing a girl lying in a hospital bed, coming out from under anesthesia. A doctor asked the girl if she “still remembered,” and she replied, “yes.” This made her mother sob hysterically. I kept wondering why the girl’s mother didn’t want her to remember. What exactly was it that her mother so desperately wanted her daughter to forget? It seemed like a reverse-amnesia situation, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what was taking place until I began to outline and the story started to take shape. As it turns out, the book takes place 35 years in the future, and is the story of a girl who faces elimination on her 18th birthday because her body rejects a mandatory, God-erasing vaccine.
Where did the title come from?
In the story, the government is attempting to “level” the thought process of all U.S. citizens by removing God (therefore, sin) from the brain. By order of The Commandment, all references to God have been erased from society as well as cyberspace.
Why did you choose this genre?
Actually, the genre chose me. I’ve never written futuristic scifi before, and to be honest, neither have I read books from that genre. As the story unfolded, I just went with it. If I would have put too much thought into genre, I would have probably talked myself out of writing the story!
Was there anything unusual about the book that you’d like to share?
There are so many unusual things in this book, I’m not sure which to share! Guess I’ll go with the first one that comes to mind. Main character Briar Lee’s brain is resistant to SAP, a serum formulated to numb the area of the brain that holds all God-related thought and emotion. While doing story-related research, I learned that there really was, in real life, a research tool invented to investigate the brain’s role in religious experiences called the “God Helmet” (originally known as the Koren Helmet, after its inventor, Stanley Koren.) Apparently, some people had “visions of God” while participating in experiments with the helmet. The helmet applies complex magnetic signals to the head of the person wearing it, exposing them to a very weak magnetic field near the temporal lobes.
What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?
Time constraints. Hands down. Although I prefer to write in large blocks of time, working full time and helping to raise my four-year-old grandson rarely allows that luxury. I’ve learned to write in tiny snatches instead— before work, during my lunch hour, and on the occasional free weekend or holiday break. In doing this, I’ve discovered, with amazement, how much I can get done in those small snippets. At the time, it feels I’m crawling at a snail’s pace, barely getting the keyboard warmed up before snapping the laptop closed. But before I know it, I have a completed outline, rough draft, and then novel—one lunchbreak at a time.
What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?
My daughter-in-law passed away tragically while I was in the middle of writing The Commandment. She was like a daughter to my husband and I, and was the mother of our only grandchild. My story stopped cold. I couldn’t eat or sleep, and certainly didn’t feel like writing. Three months later, I trudged back to the keyboard. In another three months, the book was finished. The Commandment is a testament to how God’s gifts (in my case, writing) give life purpose and bring healing to the broken. This is my “one word at a time, sweet Jesus” book.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and how do you like it?
I have worked as a secretary in my hometown middle school for the past 17 years. Middle school children are unique—some look (and sometimes act) like itty bitty babies, while others tower over me like grown men. I enjoy my job, and often refer to my office as the “funnest” place on earth this side of Disney Land.
What is one word you would use to describe yourself?
What is one word you think others might use to describe you?
What would you want readers to come away with after they read your book?
I hope readers come away with an awareness about themselves as well as society. That they might take spiritual inventory, to determine what beliefs they would or would not compromise, if faced with “The Commandment.” I also hope readers find it fun and enlightening (as I have) to ponder the “what ifs” of our future.
What is your favorite quote?
I have two:
“Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”
“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”
Loved the interview, Anna, thank you so much for joining me! Now, please tell us about your book.
Ten years ago, Briar’s body rejected a government mandated vaccine known as SAP (Serum to Advance Progressivism), formulated to erase God from the mind. Briar was seven years old. She’s been on house arrest ever since.
Now, just weeks from becoming a legal adult, Briar remains non-responsive to her mandatory SAP injections. Along with her rapidly approaching eighteenth birthday looms a grim reality: by order of the Commandment, adulthood means institutionalization for those resistant to SAP.
In a matter of days, Briar will become a permanent resident of the ARC—a facility shrouded in dark rumors of torture, experimentation, and death. Her only alternative is to accept a last minute ultimatum to become a laboratory test subject for a new God-dissolving serum.
With a decade of solitude behind her and a lifetime of confinement before her—what does she have to lose? Except maybe her soul.
Briar turned from the scalpel cuts crisscrossing the old woman’s spine like mountain switchbacks. Tears, hotter than the rinse water stung her eyes. How could this be happening? They were human beings. Flesh, blood, and bone. Their only crime—a predisposed ability to believe in God. Something no one had any control over.
Barnes and Noble: https://goo.gl/UWgq3Y
Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember, and still has many of her tattered creations—stories she used to sell on the playground for a dime, written on notebook paper. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.
Website: annakittrellauthor (https://sites.google.com/view/anna-kittrell/home)
The Commandment Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRLTQp4S-aA
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AKittrell
The Commandment FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheCommandment2017/?ref=br_rs
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009OWBPMM