Good morning and happy New Year to you all! May all your best wishes come true this year. Today I have author, Annette Mori (‘Locked Inside’) here to chat with us. Annette is a passionate woman who has a heart of gold. Pull up a chair and join us and feel free to ask our guest questions.
“The last of human freedoms, the ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
Who is Annette Mori? Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Oh wow that is a very broad question. I’ll try not to bore everyone and just hit the highlights. I am a Human Resources Executive for a health system and have been doing that as my job that pays the bills for over twenty-five years. Let me just say that not all HR Directors are like Catbert, the evil HR Director. I didn’t start writing until later in life (fifty-four) and it’s only recently that I feel like I can legitimately call myself a part-time writer. I am happily married to a wonderful woman who puts up with my compulsion to write at all hours of the day and night, even during “our” weekends. Since we live apart during the week because our jobs take us in opposite directions, the weekends are the only time we have for us.
What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends – during the winter?
Spend time with my wife, cross country ski, and read and write in front of the fireplace. We also like to go out to eat on our “date nights”.
What is “Locked Inside” about?
My publisher doesn’t generally like me answering this question because apparently I do a very sucky job of it. When I was trying to explain the plot before I sent them the manuscript…well let’s just say they forbid me to do that again because it didn’t sound all that appealing. How about if I encourage you to read Chapter 1 on the Affinity site and tell you that it is an uplifting book about Belinda who is a young woman with Locked Inside Syndrome. She forms an unusual bond with a very special young woman, named Carly and manages to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. From all the feedback from those that have read the book it is hands down my best work and I would have to agree with that. One of the reviews probably summarizes the book far better than me. Here is one of my favorite reviews: “The mark of a truly good story is that it is capable of invoking emotion well after the last chapter is finished. It must have been very difficult to put into words what it’s like to wake up and find out you missed the last 6 years of your life, that you can’t move or even speak. Belinda’s tale of recovery after a 6 year coma is truly the stuff of inspiration and we are allowed to follow along in her arduous and amazing rehabilitation. A tremendous amount of talent and polish went into writing this story and the friendship and love affair between Belinda and Carly was oh so sweet. I would love to see this story re-released in an expanded version with more dialogue between Belinda and Carly especially when Belinda regains her speech and the ability to walk. What a wonderful story. I definitely put this one near the top of my favorites in this genre.”
Me: Take a few moments to listen to Annette’s audio teaser for ‘Locked Inside’.
Recently you were “On the Grill.” Can you tell about the experience and what it meant to you?
I had an absolute blast. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the questions or I would sound like a complete dork, because I am one in real life, but the women were so kind, encouraging and supportive that the experience was magical all three times. As a result, I’ve gotten to know a little bit more about some amazing readers and authors who took the time to continue to follow my Facebook posts, blogs or e-mailed me later on. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with readers and authors almost to the point of distraction. I’ll fart around on Facebook now for hours each night.
Click below to read Annette’s Grilling. A special thanks to author Dawn Carter for featuring her.
What was the deciding factor for your book title?
Every book except for my debut book, the title just popped into my head. No magic, no special story around the title, just bam, that’s what I want to name it. For my first book the title would have given away the surprise in the middle, so my Publisher suggested a different title and I agreed.
What traits were you looking for when you were creating the main characters?
I prefer to create flawed characters that people can’t help liking despite their imperfections. People are imperfect – that’s life. Sometimes I want the readers to admire their strength, sometimes I want them to identify with their insecurities, and sometimes I want the reader to feel their pain or challenges. Hopefully I’ve done that. If you don’t like a character, you can’t root for them and I always want the readers to root for my characters. I hope I’ve managed to do that with my main characters.
Have you received any awards or recognition for your work?
Nope. My debut book just came out in April of 2015. My Publisher nominated several of my books for a Goldie. I guess I’ll see if what the readers say matches what the panel at GCLS says. I’m hopeful, of course.
If you were to write a biography, who would it be about and why?
I haven’t ever tried to write non-fiction because I like the freedom to make sh&% up. I don’t think I’d be very good at it, but if I had carte blanche, I’d write Mary Magdeline’s story and probably piss off several devout Christians with my unconventional take on her life
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I am so touched and humbled every time a reader takes the time to write me or compose a review. I never in a million years would have guessed that I am able to touch people with my stories. I am profoundly indebted to every single person who purchased one of my books and took a chance on a new writer.
Me: Be sure to check out her blog, which has more exciting things about her life. Feel free to follow the blog.
Have you ever done volunteer work for an animal rescue agency or fostered cats. If so how was the experience for you?
I haven’t officially volunteered for an animal rescue agency probably because I struggle to find enough hours in the day right now. However, that is something I would love to do when I retire. My wife and I have fostered cats before and also started to foster feral cats who eventually became part of the family. We feed numerous wild cats at both our places. I love cats and have to keep myself from adopting a ridiculous number. Currently we have five after rescuing two kittens from the engine of a car. We have a dog house with blankets set up at both our residences as well as a heated water bowl at the condo. I peek out the windows and often catch a stray cat or two nestled inside and it brings a huge smile to my face.
Me: Here is an adorable video that is a much watch.
When your book is made into a movie, who would you like to see in the cast as the main players?
I’d love to see Ellen Page as Belinda and Jennifer Lawrence as Carly. I think both of them would do a fabulous job. If only that were possible!
What types of music do you like to listen to when you are writing? Or – do you prefer silence?
I don’t prefer silence, but I don’t specifically turn on music either. I am like the absent minded professor when I get on a roll and don’t take the time to do much of anything besides boot up my laptop. When my wife puts on music, I enjoy listening to female artists such as Alanis Morrisette, Missy Higgins, Tristen Prettyman, Sarah McLaughlin, and Brandi Carlilse.
What is your favorite part of being an author? The least fave?
My favourite is the opportunity to create a love story that will take people on a journey away from the irritations and problems that everyday life throws in their direction. I’ve always loved digging into a good romance and letting the story take me away. He he, I’m thinking of the commercial, Calgon take me away…a good book is like a nice bubble bath.
My least favourite is writing the blurbs and marketing. My publisher says I am doing all the right things with marketing, but it is so against my nature. I’d really prefer to have people find my books without having the need to promote, but it just doesn’t work like that for new authors.
Me: One thing all authors love and appreciate are reviews. So please leave one for Annette when you are finished. Below I have a 5 star review from one reader for ‘Locked Inside.”
By carrie r camp on December 28, 2015
This is my first Annette Mori book to read and all I can say is WOW! This book is not your typical lesbian fiction/romance novel…which is very refreshing. The main character Belinda has “Locked Inside” syndrome and has lived that way for 6 years until someone took the time to realize she was “there” all along she just needed someone to notice. Thank God for Carly and her amazing heart to see Belinda for a real person who deserved the best out of life just like everyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the amount of details the author put into the story. At some points, you yourself just want to scream out with frustration on Belinda’s behalf. I think if an author can get you that involved and make you that emotional, she’s done an outstanding job of writing. Great book! Would definitely recommend it!
Here are some links to reviews for her other books. Take a few to check them out:
What is next for you?
I’m having a lot of fun creating new stories so I suspect I’ll continue to write well into retirement. After I retire, my wife jokes about driving the RV while I pound the keys. She asked me if we could write the RV off while we travel the country looking for opportunities to do book signings. I laugh and tell her, you do know that lesbian romance is a very niche market….
Fall of 2008
Awareness came slowly to me as the blanket of fog that smothered all signs of intelligence rolled back. I imagined an intricate spider web in my head tangled with fine silk strands as Wonder Woman slices through them like an adventurer hacking through a jungle.
I was still confused about where I was when I heard giggling. At first, I thought my sisters were invading my sacred space.
“Shhh, come in here and tell me every little detail,” a girl’s voice said.
“I don’t think we should be in here, Tammie. We’re supposed to be doing our volunteer hours, not screwing around in a resident’s room,” a different voice huffed.
I opened my eyes and a fuzzy picture began to emerge. Two strange teenage girls were huddled in the corner of a foreign room with sterile white walls. I wasn’t in my bedroom at home and I began to panic.
It’s probably hard for people to truly appreciate the terror that I experienced at this particular moment in my life. I had no idea where I was, who these strangers were, or what had happened to me. I would later discover that I’d forfeited six years of my life while hovering in a semi-comatose state. They never did figure out the origin of the illness or why I went into a coma and by the time I showed any awareness six years had passed and my family had accepted the original prognosis that I would never recover.
The tall skinny one with red hair shrugged, “Don’t be such a tight ass, Carly.” She pointed in my direction and giggled. “She’ll never tell.”
“That’s just mean.”
“What? She’s a vegetable, but right now she’s kinda creeping me out. Look, her eyes are open and it’s almost like she’s listening to every word we say,” the redhead blurted out.
The other one looked at me and frowned. “I think we’re upsetting her. She’s breathing really heavy now and I think she can hear us. Something is wrong. She looks terrified.”
I was trying to move my head, my arms, my legs, anything, but none of my body parts would cooperate with me. I felt my breathing quicken and I desperately wanted to communicate with them. I wanted to know where I was and why I couldn’t talk or move.
“She does look kind of agitated, Carly. Maybe we should get your mom.”
They left the room and I tried to move my head. I managed to move a couple of inches as I took in my surroundings. I was able to shift my eyes from side to side as I noticed a TV mounted high on the wall in the center of the room and a single bed with a simple nightstand on my right. It looked like a typical hospital room, but I wasn’t positive. In my mind, I was still ten years old and my parents were nowhere to be found. I wanted my mom. I wanted reassurance that everything would be okay.
I heard the click click click of heels on the linoleum floor and watched as an attractive dark haired woman entered the room. She had a stethoscope draped around her neck and one of the teenagers followed her into the room. They had similar features and I wondered if she was the mom the redhead referred to earlier.
“I’m sorry, Mom, Tammie dragged me in here. I didn’t mean to upset her and she looked like she was trying to say something. Her breathing got kinda fast like she was having a panic attack or something,” the young woman confessed.
Well that answered that mystery for me. The young woman must have been the one the redhead, Tammie, called Carly. As each minute passed, I was becoming more aware of my surroundings and remembering little details like the names of the young girls.
“Carly, it’s not like you to get sucked into Tammie’s harebrained ideas. I taught you better than that. Belinda is a very special case, but I don’t think she actually heard you or that you upset her in any way. She’s been completely unresponsive for nearly six years. Unfortunately her illness caused severe brain damage.”
“I know she reacted to something,” Carly insisted.
“Okay, let me check her out.”
The woman grabbed her stethoscope and I felt her hands push aside my clothing as she placed the cold silver end on my chest. Her hands were gentle, but the stethoscope was cold and I must have had some small reaction—although it didn’t feel like any part of my body would obey.
“I’m sorry, Belinda, did you feel that?” she asked.
Carly stepped up to the bedside and I could feel her touch my hand.
I looked down at my curled up hand, which resembled some kind of deformed claw.
“My mom’s a doctor, she won’t hurt you,” Carly soothed.
Since I wasn’t able to move any part of my body but my eyes and my head in incremental movements, I concentrated all my energy on letting them know there was someone locked inside this useless body. I wasn’t a vegetable.
“Hmmm, in all the years I’ve looked in on Belinda, she’s never reacted like this. She does respond to certain stimuli. We’ve always been able to feed her as long as someone touches her lips first. This is new, though. Her heart rate does appear to be elevated and there is definite movement in her eyes. Perhaps she is reacting to your voice.”
Yes. It was a start. I had to find a way to communicate and let them know I was aware and present.
Me: Here is an excerpt from ‘Out of This World.’
Out of This World:
Celeste had an uncanny ability to find the beauty in not only the wildflowers, but also the weeds. In a way, I felt like that weed she noticed and pointed to, bringing out the beauty for others to see. She knew the names of most of the plants that Sydney drew our attention to. I could tell by her grin that she already knew what they were when Sydney would proudly point them out, but she never revealed her knowledge. She was content to let Sydney be her guide. When we came across a Purple Dead Nettle she asked about it.
“Oh that’s just a weed.” Sydney waved her hand away as if the weed was not worthy of a name.
“The weed is beautiful. Why do you wave it off with disdain?” Celeste asked.
Sydney squatted next to the purple flower. “You know, you’re right, this Purple Dead Nettle is beautiful. I guess we are extremely arbitrary and capricious when determining which plants are beautiful flowers and which are noxious weeds.”
“I like your saying, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If a person on your planet is not considered beautiful, are they also considered unworthy?” Celeste asked.
I want to thank Annette for stopping by to chat and share her amazing story. For more on her, please check out her links.
Annette’s Twitter – Give her a shoutout!
Annette’s Goodreads Page – Don’t forget to follow her.
Until Next Time,
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Printed With Permission 2016.