Interview with Anne Baxter Campbell, Author
1. HC(High Cotton): Anne, thank you for joining us at High Cotton. Tell us about your writing background and preferred genre.
Anne: Frankly, most of my writing background is in technical writing. I retired in 2007 after many years of federal service as an Engineering Technician, administering contracts. The job included a lot of writing, but they were letters and specifications, none of which were fiction!
More recently, I’ve had two full-length historical fictions and three contemporary short stories published.
My preferred reading genre is one that will challenge and encourage my faith. Sometimes that winds up being women’s fiction, sometimes in a romance, and occasionally in a mystery.
My preferred writing genre is much the same. I want to walk people one step closer to the Lord—thus my motto, “One Step Closer” Fiction. I loved the research into first century history for The Truth Trilogy. Because of the research as well as the length, writing full-length historicals takes a lot of time, about a year. The contemporary short stories can take a couple of weeks to a month to write and less research so are much easier to write. Frankly, though, I haven’t really set myself on one particular genre.
2. HC: What is Summer in Sweetland about? How did you join forces with Kathi Macias in this endeavor?
Anne: Kathi and I have been friends for a couple of years. I’m not sure how we first connected, except that I really loved her book, Red Ink. Then she was looking for company on a road trip in my area, so I chauffeured her for a really enjoyable two days. Two years ago, I told her about a story I’d written and sent her a copy. I wanted to know if she had any suggestions where to send it. Later that year, she asked me if I’d like to write for a small publisher (which turned out to be Helping Hands Press). At first I said no, because I was being considered by another couple of houses. When a few more months had passed and I didn’t hear back from those publishers, I contacted her again. She was putting together a Christmas series, and I wrote with her there.
3. HC: Let’s discuss your installment to Summer in Sweetland.
Anne: I followed the same theme that the others in the series are following: life in a small town somewhere warmish in climate. Mine has to do with a family where the mother is still deep in grief two years after her husband passed away. One of her children is deeply concerned about her mom; one thinks his mother should just get over it; and one has distanced herself from the rest.
4. HC: Why are readers interested in the small town America that Sweetland portrays?
Anne: A lot of people who live in urban jungles wish they could break free and live a simpler life in a small town. That’s not possible for most people, because their jobs and lives are city-driven. This series allows them to live vicariously in a town where people know and care about each other; it also realistically tells them the story that small town people are basically the same as big city people—they have children they worry about; illnesses and deaths to deal with; and concerns over income, aging, and addictions.
5. HC: Without giving away your entire storyline, discuss your favorite character in your Volume 1, Mended by Mother’s Day.
Anne: The main characters are Arlene Smith, the grieving mother; Shellie Smith, the daughter still living at home, deeply worried about her mom; Will Smith, the son who thinks problems will go away if you ignore them; Molly Peele, the other daughter who lives far enough from the problem to stay uninvolved; and Zack Michaelson, Shellie’s suitor and sometimes adviser. My favorite? Maybe Will, although I grew to love each of them. Will is a little like my own brother in some ways.
6. HC: What part does faith play in Volume 1? The series?
Anne: I love that this series is written by a group of people who love God more than anything. Even when God is not directly mentioned, you can feel Him influencing the lives of the characters. In my story, you know that He is there
7. HC: I understand you work with seven other writers on this project. What have you learned from other authors? What do you feel they learn from you?
Anne: The main thing I hope they learn from me is that I love these writers. They are gifted storytellers, individuals who care about each other, and hard workers who put themselves into their stories. I hope that I can help them grow as writers, become respected storytellers among their fellow authors and readers, and encouragers of each other.
8. HC: What takeaway would you like to leave with your readers?
Anne: The most important thing I want them to take away is that God loves them no matter who and where they are.
10. HC: What will we see next from the writing desk of Anne Baxter Campbell?
Anne: Any day now, I expect to see a devotional I put together be published, again collaborating with several other gifted writers. It’s called Fear Not, and it will be published by Elk Lake Publishing. Over and over again, I have seen people afflicted with serious situations and diseases rise above their circumstances with God’s help. Sadly, I also see people beaten down by frightful life experiences. I wanted to offer hope in seemingly hopeless situations. This book is one where I will make no profit—all my royalties will go to the American Cancer Society.