Ane Mulligan has worn many different hats, from hairdresser and legislative affairs director, to drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and finally a novelist. It’s those experiences that have provided fodder for what Ane calls ‘her Southern-fried fiction.’
The President of popular literary blog, Novel Rocket, a dozen years ago Ane left her job as a business manager (yet another hat) and—with her husband’s encouragement—turned her hand to novel writing.
Ane resides in Suwanee, Georgia, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two very large dogs.
How long have you been writing—and what sparked your journey?
Forever! I actually started writing novels on Jan 1, 2003. Yep, New Year’s Day. I figured it was a good resolution, and the only one I’ve ever stuck with. I’m so glad I did, too.
A young women at church told me when she married, she didn’t know she should have prayed for the husband God had picked out for her, so she was going to get a divorce and go look for that other man.
I talked her out of it, but it stuck with me. If one woman thought that, there had to be others. So I decided to explore what would happen if a woman in her forties, who had been married for a long time just learned about it.
How does your faith play into your work?
Funny you ask. It’s the main theme behind all my writing. God is faithful with our dreams, our hopes—our lives. He’s proved it over and over in mine. One thing I’d always wanted was a sister. If anyone wants to read that story, it’s on my website under Adoption Story.
But that wasn’t the only dream God held fast for me. About three years into my writing journey, I went to committee. I was ultimately turned down, but my spiritual ears heard Him say, “Not yet. Not there. Trust me.” He didn’t give me another choice so, smart girl that I am I chose to trust.
Let’s talk about Chapel Springs Revival (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, September 2014), your debut novel! Please tell us about it.
Chapel Springs is filled with quirky and lovable characters with whom I’ve come to adore. And what characters they are! This first book of the Chapel Lake series is a romp through miscommunication in marriage. I think we’ve all been there at one time or another, so I’m hoping readers will relate. Claire and Patsy, my two protagonists, have been BFFs since kindergarten. Patsy spends her life trying to keep Claire out of mishaps. Fortunately, she often fails.
With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel. Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It’s impossible not to, what with Claire’s zany antics and Patsy’s self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.
With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs—and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.
God often uses our stories to teach us something. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?
You can’t get sweet and bitter water from the same well. I’ve known that for years, but once in a while, I forget when caught up in the tyranny of the urgent—especially deadlines. I mean, why isn’t everyone bowing to my every need? LOL What a dunce I am. As soon as I repent of that, things smooth out. And once again, God proves faithful.
Writers love to write plot twists into their stories, but a writer’s life can also have a few plot twists of its own. Some are “divine detours” written into our lives to bring about unexpected blessings. Have you ever experienced such a “divine detour”?
We moved from SoCal to Atlanta in 1990. I loved it. I immediately threw down roots, only to have them ripped up in 1991 and transplanted in upstate New York. New York?? It ended up being a great time for me. There I became a lobbyist for Christian Coalition, which would eventually turn into a novel.
Then, in 1995, we moved back to Atlanta. I was beginning to feel like a nomad. I kept hearing that song On the Road Again playing in my head.
We settled back into Southern life, and I took a role of creative arts director for my church. That’s when I started writing. My pastor liked to illustrate his sermons with a dramatic sketch.
When that pastor left, the drama department wasn’t on the new one’s radar and we disbanded. It was shortly after that when my Hubs told me I should write a book. The minute he said those words, God slipped an idea into my imagination.
As you mentioned above, you share a beautiful adoption and reunion story on your website. What has been the best part of getting to know family members you had never met?
I went most of my life not looking like anyone. People tried to say my adopted mother and I looked alike, but we didn’t really. When I first saw photos of my birth mother, of whom I’m a clone, and my sisters, it was so amazing I couldn’t do anything but stare at the photos. They had my face.
When I first met them, Cindy, my youngest sister, grabbed my hands and looked at them. She cried and laughed at the same time, saying I had the Mullvain hands.
What I found so astounding is the things I thought were traits brought about by environment, were in fact imprinted on my DNA. My sisters and I have so many mannerisms and traits alike, my brothers-in-law look at their wives and say, “She is so your sister!”
We never really had to “get to know each other”—we merely had to catch up on a lifetime. I couldn’t believe how quickly you can love someone. It must be in the blood.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
If the words aren’t flowing, I grab more coffee. If they are flowing, chocolate, what else? I allow myself one M&M for every forty words written. If I double my word count, I get chocolate covered caramels. After all, coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups and necessities of life—at least for a writer.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
No, I’m not that talented. However, Hubs and I sing in a community choir made up of 130 senior citizens who have never grown up. We have a blast! We tour Georgia, giving concerts wherever they’ll have us.
Community Theater is my other passion. In fact, this year I helped start up a group with the backing of the City of Sugar Hill. We performed our inaugural play two weeks ago.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
Ragtime or Bluegrass.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Uh . . . think Lucille Ball. That’s me.
I’m a dog lover, and I know you are too. Please tell us about your dogs.
I have two dogs of Biblical proportions. Both English mastiffs, Shadrach is eight years old, and Oliver Twist is almost two. Shadrach is half marshmallow and Oliver is half porpoise. Shad is afraid of everything and Ollie is always wet.
If your readers are following my blog tour (and gain points for the drawing for the reproduction of the painting Hubs did for my book cover, they can read more about Shad and Ollie—that sounds like a comedy duo, doesn’t it?—on other blogs).
Thank you, Ane! It’s great to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be a guest. May the Lord direct your DivineDetour dramatically!
For more information about Ane, visit her website.
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