Monday, October 3, 2011

Author Interview: Donna Anastasi

Today we learn a little about Donna Anastasi, author of Spin the Plate. Donna is on tour with Walker Author Tours, so stop by her tour page to learn more about her, the book, and the tour stops.

Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and your book?

Donna Anastasi: On the book website

Jennifer Walker: Where can we buy your book?

Donna Anastasi: Black Rose Writing publisher:


Barnes and Noble:


or email me at

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.

Donna Anastasi: Spin the Plate is the story of Jo, a woman who has come through a traumatic childhood not battered and broken, but powerful and enraged. A tattoo artist by day, she roams the streets of Boston nightly to forget her past and feed her two passions: rescuing mistreated creatures and inflicting bodily harm on their perpetrators. Unassuming and unafraid, Francis, a man harboring his own back story, is the one person Jo can't seem to scare off. Right from the start, he sees clearly the caring soul buried deep within Jo's hard exterior and puts into motion a succession of life-altering happenings for them both.

GOLD MEDAL WINNER, Women's Fiction, 2011 Living Now Book Awards

SILVER MEDAL WINNER, Contemporary Romance, 2011 Readers Favorite Book Awards

International Book Award Finalist, Romance

International Book Award Finalist, Women's Literature

Jennifer Walker: What is your greatest writing challenge?

Donna Anastasi: In general…words seem to flow out of some writers like water from a babbling brook, for me, especially when it come to fiction writing, it feels more like coaxing well-water from an ancient hand pump.

For this story in particularly… Normally lead characters have to be likable, but Jo at the start is unlikable by design. That’s why I added the flashbacks at the start to help see the world from her perspective. Jo’s defenses for not allowing people to get close are having an acerbic personality and a foul mouth, which changes over time with Francis’ love. The hope is that when it comes to the reader’s feelings towards Jo, he or she will experience a “plate spin” shifting from disdain to empathy to a love of the character.

Jennifer Walker: What do you find most rewarding in writing a book?

Donna Anastasi: Getting readers to see these characters as real people. Knowing there are people all over the country curled up on their couch, or outside on a beach, or in a plane reading the story and having the same experience I did when it first hit me is amazing.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your previous work.

Donna Anastasi: My other published works are non-fiction books on small animal care published by Bowtie Press. The first of these, the still popular “Care Made Easy: Complete Guide to Gerbil Care”, was published in 2005 and will have a second printing in 2012, including a chapter on training gerbil agility. Oh, yes they can. Check out my friend “Herman the Show Jumping Gerbil” on youtube if you have any doubts. [Note from Jennifer: watch the video. Oh, so worth it.]

Jennifer Walker: Do you write full time? If so, tell us how you manage it. If not, what is your day job?

Donna Anastasi: I am a part-time writer, jotting ideas in a small journal I always carry as they come to me and taking off an evening or a weekend day as I can to write. My day job is as a user experience/web designer - currently I work for Fidelity Investments in Boston. Writing proposals, technical reports, and user guides for my job has helped me not only to author non-fiction hobby books but also with fiction writing. Design is a highly collaborative process requiring the combined expertise of many different skill sets. I bring the same type of team approach to my writing, providing ideas and drafts to a wide and diversified audience, gathering feedback, and improving the content and presentation through many iterations. One of my goals was for Spin the Plate was to be vetted sufficiently pre-publication, so that once released there would be no major surprise problematic reader-reactions.

Jennifer Walker: Do you work with a writing group or mentor? Why or why not? If you do, what do you get out of it?

Donna Anastasi: By far my biggest asset in writing the novel was my husband Tom Anastasi, a professor and playwright. Tom is a master of conversational dialog and a font of basic knowledge and useless trivia on just about any topic

My mentor was Holly Robinson, a professional writer and author of “The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter,” who read endless drafts and helped set me in the right direction, e.g., “you need to slow it down…”

Jennifer Walker: What have you done to develop your writing craft?

Donna Anastasi: I read a lot and am a film fanatic. I also enjoy writing reviews of whatever I read, which usually is some combination of non or realistic fiction-animal-spiritual-love-friendship-loyalty-sacrifice-off beat-growth-Christian-healing theme. You can see what I’ve read and watched in the past few months here:

I also write amazon lists of my all-time favorite works, and when appropriate include Spin the Plate on a list.

Jennifer Walker: What have been your most successful marketing techniques?

Donna Anastasi: I am constantly pounding the keyboard in search of publicity opportunities. In addition to doing this book tour, entering the book in indie award contests, and soliciting reviews I try to get creative about spreading the word. My most unusual marketing idea was to link the free Short Story version of Spin the Plate in an inexplicitly popular youtube video of my baby rat Muzzy on who the lead-rat-character in Spin the Plate was based:

Jennifer Walker: Is your family supportive of your writing?

Donna Anastasi: Yes, my family is supportive about letting me forgo my home-responsibilities to go off and write. Plus my husband is always at the ready with facts and dialog, or even to do some onsite research for me, like visiting a tattoo shop, when I get stuck or am up against a deadline.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

Donna Anastasi: Favorite genre to read and write is animal-spiritual-love-friendship-loyalty-gritty-sacrifice-off beat-growth-mind-expanding-important truths-healing-Christian themed, with non-gratuitous romance and violence. I like works that I can read in one setting, which is why I watch a lot of movies and am reluctant to start a fiction book that is over 1 1/2 inches thick. I’ve been known to read six or 10 hours straight sometimes staying up half the night to finish a book. I can read non-fiction over time, but if I love a fiction book I will finish it in two days at most, no matter what the length.

Jennifer Walker: If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?

Donna Anastasi: Truthfully, right now, I could use a restful trip. It would be a late Spring cruise right out of Boston to Bermuda (one of the cleanest, lowest stress, and most beautiful places in the world) where absolutely no demands would be placed upon me. I’d go with one other person, either my husband, one of my teenaged daughters, or a best girlfriend. And not pack much more than a bathing suit, a camera, a book, and my journal for writing!

Thanks to Donna for stopping by, and be sure to listen to her live on the radio tomorrow at 3:30PT at

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