Anna Erishkigal is her pen-name for writing Fantasy Fiction
Anna Erishkigal is an attorney by profession but loves fantasy fiction
Anna Erishkigal’s real name is top-secret because her day-job is attorney
Anna Erishkigal is an attorney by profession as her day-job. But her passion lies in writing fantasy fiction under a pen-name. A pen-name is important as her real name is top-secret because of her sensitive day-job. She wants to avoid her colleagues questioning whether her legal pleadings have any connection with fantasy fiction. She feels much of law turns out to be fantasy fiction. Lawyers prefer to treat it as passionately representing your client.
Anna Erishkigal creates fascinating fictional characters from the dark side of life. The characters that you would either want to put in prison, or write about. In fiction, facts can be waffled without bothering about the reality. That is the art of writing. That is her power of writing fantasy fiction. But in reality, in your profession, if your client deceits openly in front of the judge, you are helpless.
She would prefer to kill a character becoming troublesome in her fantasy fiction. But that is not possible in real life.
Welcome, Anna. I liked your peppy answers.
|Anna Erishkigal at ARISIA 2013 as She Who Is|
Your real name and pen name? Anna Erishkigal is my pen name. My real name is top-secret because my day-job is an attorney. I can hear the jokes now that I might endure if my 'writing hobby' became public. "Attorney So-and-so, is this your legal pleading? Or the rough draft for your latest fantasy novel?"
Please share some of the best memories of your childhood? Most people think of a dream trip to Disneyland or Wonderland, but my fondest memories tend to be little and silly. My uncle used to take me every Saturday morning to watch him play baseball with the local recreational league, and then after we would go to the donut shop. I would get a cream-filled donut with powdered sugar and spin around and around on the orange spinny-stool in front of the counter and lick the cream out of it while the baseball players all talked about their game.
About your education? I have undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and Psychology, and a Juris Doctoris (doctor of law). I am also an avid self-educator, so I devour graduate level courses on video and audio tape, and now via online classes.
|Anna Erishkigal and Sensei Donna sparring at a karate match|
What career did you plan during your education days? Originally I wanted to go into business, but life took me in a different direction and I decided I wanted to help people, hence the psychology and law degrees. In my spare time, I do a lot of work pro bono (without pay) for low-income battered women and teach a 4-hour seminar to teach them how to get away from an abuser. I have a legal self-help guide written under my real name, which shall henceforth remain undisclosed J
What languages you can speak and write? Some people are 'naturals' at learning a new language. Alas, I am not one of those people. I have always had to learn through pure, brute repetition, and the moment I am no longer using it, I quickly forget. I -do- speak 'tourist' in seven languages (i.e., enough to ask for directions, go shopping, and dine out in a restaurant. I consider it a sign of respect to make the effort to learn a bit of the language and culture of every country I have ever visited, even if people laugh at my pathetic attempts to speak. I do speak a bit of Irish and Scottish Gaelic which I pepper into my books, as well as some conversational Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese.
|Anna Erishkigal. Rick Silva. Greer Gilmore at a live reading at ARISIA|
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life? I have always been drawn to larger-than-life characters who live on their own terms, especially flawed ones. Tony Robbins (the lifestyle coach), Clint Eastwood (the movie star), Queen Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great, the Archangel Michael, Jesus (as a freedom fighter who took on Rome, not a martyr), Achilles, and countless other mythological and real-life heroes. I have a soft spot for people in the military as all of my great-uncles served in World War II and used to tell me stories and am a voracious reader of true-life war biographies.
What hurts you most in this world? I would almost say 'lack of civility' but that phrase has become so loaded these days to mean 'politically correct,' which I hate. It makes me sad when people can't have a conversation about the merits of an idea and still respect one another, even if they disagree. These days either you have to agree with the masses, or a roving band of social media trolls will lambast and shame you for entertaining a variety of ideas.
|Anna Erishkigal an Attorney Writing Fantasy Fiction under a Pen-name|
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it? I had a very difficult childhood. Not as bad as what many children experience who live in war zones or in extreme poverty, but difficult enough. I moved out on my own when I was fifteen years old and never looked back. I am constantly reinventing myself. If I don't like where I am, I acquire new skills and move on. It really is a science, overcoming challenges. No whining. No excuses. I just do it.
If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why? Catherine the Great. She was a brilliant strategist, compassionate, but ruthless when it came to her children and her throne. It would be fascinating to be her for a day and see the world through her eyes.
What is your favorite genre and why? I am an omnivorous reader with interests ranging from science fiction, fantasy, and romance. I also read a lot of non-fiction books for my day job (mostly dreadfully boring legal cases and economic treatises such as The Wealth of Nations). Once in a while, I read literary fiction, but for the most part, I find it pretentious (i.e., boring). I also enjoy true-life war biographies and thrillers.
|Anna Erishkigal and the Plot Bunnies writing group|
When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing? My first 'published' book was called The Spook Cellar in the fourth grade. It was about a chicken and a cat that chased a ghost out of a scary basement. I have always written, off and on, sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction things to help people. I joined an online writing group in 2007 and started writing fanfiction about superheroes as a hobby. After a while, people started telling me my stories were better than a lot of the commercially published fiction, so I tried my hand at it and enjoy it.
Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work? I write in several different genres, so perhaps it would make more sense if I explained each series? Sword of the Gods series is an epic fantasy/space opera series about genetically engineered super-soldier Angels who crash-land on Earth in 3,500 BC, spawning the myths of fallen angels and the Annunaki. Children of the Fallen is a contemporary fantasy about some of those same characters but in the modern day. Song of the River is my newest series. It is literary fiction set in Australia with a subtle hint of the supernatural. All of my stories weave myths from all over the world into the storylines, and also contain a bit of romance, because who doesn't like a bit of romance?
What are your forthcoming writings? I am currently working on Book 4 of the Sword of the Gods series called The Dark Lord's Vessel. That entire series is epic fantasy / space opera, so it has multiple storylines and character points of view, but the primary hero has to deal with his traumatic childhood and his PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It's a bit experimental because his chapters are all written first-person, present-tense POV, so when he has a flashback, you are right there with him, questioning what is real.
What genres you write in and why? Most of my stories have some sort of mythological, fantastical or supernatural twist. I also enjoy science fiction and military fiction, so whenever I can get away with it I like to weave some of that in.
What keeps you motivating towards writing? My imaginary friends, they just keep talking to me! Whispering. Plotting. If I didn't write, they would probably say I'm crazy and make me take a pill, but when you're a writer all you have to do is shout 'plot twist!' and you can get away with all sorts of peculiar ramblings.
If Writing a Book is taken as a project, what are the key essentials you take care of in Project Management? My first few books were pure 'pantser' experiments written for the love of writing. Boy, were those a nightmare to clean up! I look at my first book and cringe at some of the stuff I would never do now. I tried plotting, but it sucks the creativity right out of my work. So these days I try to plot out a rough outline and sketch out 'scene cards' as if they were for a movie scene (sometimes I'll even sketch it) and then I go back and fill it in. I tried setting a strict word count deadline for myself, but then my creative subconscious rebelled, so now I strive for a balance between the two.
How do you plan, schedule and monitor your writing commitments? For my day job I have these elaborate tracking calendars with deadlines for different legal pleadings, so for my writing 'hobby', I try to only set loose deadlines such as 'finish that scene.' When fiction writing is no longer fun, my muse goes silent on me, so I've had to learn to respect the muse and give her a lot more leeway than lawyer-me.
What are your future plans? I've got several new books already plotted out, waiting for me to go back and finish them after I finish The Dark Lord's Vessel. One is the third book in the Children of the Fallen series about a quasi-demon who encounters an Irish Traveller pickpocket. One is the next book in the Song of the River series. One's about a female former soldier mercenary in Africa sent to protect a wildlife park from poachers. And one is actually the first two books of an entirely new series about mermaids called Leviathan's Deep. So many stories! Not enough time!
What is generally your preference in reading – a paper book or ebook? And why? I grew up on paper books, so I still tend to prefer the feel of paper. But I like my Nook Simple Touch e-reader. I have a lot of indie author friends, so when I read a friend's book I usually read the ebook.
What four top most things you take care of while writing a book? First the rough outline, then the rough draft. Then I go through and revise it to look for places that drag (lawyers tend to be long-winded and use big words, so I try to weed those out). And then I usually go through to layer in setting, physical movement, emotion to add realism.
How much real life goes into a fiction writing? Any similarity any character or situation may have to any real-life opposing party, attorney or judge is purely coincidental (hence the pen name). Yeah … I work with battered women. Sometimes I have a lot of fun torturing a villain that eerily resembles somebody my lawyer counterpart knows in real life…
Is a high level of imagination important to have for an Author? Absolutely! Not only do you have to be able to imagine the fantastical, the implausible, or the likely outcome if any situation was carried to its extremes, but you also need to be able to reverse course mid-plot and surprise people.
Your dream destination on Earth? I would like to visit Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, and India. I have friends from each place who have described how beautiful these countries are. I would also like to visit the ruins at Assur, Iraq, where I set my Sword of the Gods series, but I don't want to get beheaded live on YouTube by some crazy bad guys, so alas, I may never get that particular dream. Usually, when I travel abroad, I like to research the local mythology and visit all the historic places. I'm not much into museums and shopping, but give me a vine-covered archeological ruin and I'm in heaven.
Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe? I'm American by birth, and so far I've visited Mexico, Canada, Netherlands Antilles, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland and most recently Scotland. When I travel, I like to stay at tiny little bed-and-breakfasts (inns with only a few rooms) or with friends who are willing to teach me the local history and culture. I prefer small and quirky when I travel, and love observing people and their culture.
Favorite time of the day? My favorite time of the day is also the time I hate the most. When I first wake up in the morning, often times I will have a scene in my head that I need to write down, but I also have to rush off to work and get my kids off to school, so a lot of the time I don't get to write until the evening.
Your zodiac/ sun sign? I'm an Ares with a Scorpio moon.
Your favorite color and why? This changes according to my mood, but I love red. I drive a little red Prius and have red hair. Sometimes I like green, though.
What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading? The last book I finished reading was Sniper One by Sergeant Dan Mills about the British siege of the CIMIC at Al Amarah, Iraq. Right now I'm divided between reading Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (a book about screenwriting) and Outlaw Platoon by Sean Parnell, another true-life war biography written by an Army Ranger in Afghanistan.
Your favorite book and why? This might sound silly, but I like to read the King James Bible, not for religious reasons, but because there are just so many stories in there. Whenever I feel blocked, I just flip to a page, start reading, and a lot of the time there's a seed-idea there I can run with. The King James version was written around the same time as Shakespeare, so it uses that beautiful Elizabethan version of English.
Your favorite movie and why? That depends on my mood. When I want a cult favorite, hands-down it's The Princess Bride. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You kill my father. Prepare to die…" When I need to overcome the odds, I love to watch Independence Day and Will Smith punch the alien, "Welcome to Earth!" And then sometimes when I want some light humor I love Overboard with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. "Bah-bah-bah, bah-bah-bah…"
Your favorite celebrity and why? Probably Robert Downey, Jr. I'm a huge Iron Man fan and he plays Tony Stark perfectly.
Your favorite food? That depends on my mood, but either Italian or Thai.
Your favorite sports? I'm a blackbelt in karate, so I enjoy a good sparring match. But not too rough! I'm the middle-age-woman version of kick-butt.
What is the force that drives you? I tend to be most motivated when I feel like I'm doing something to help people and the greater good.
What comes to your mind when you think of India? Bright colors and beautiful, smiling people. My Russian friend got me hooked on sappy Bollywood movies and I'm a fan of Arjun Rampal. I have a character in my books, Gita, who is loosely based upon Indian mythology.
-Sun or Moon: sun
-Laughter or Smile: smile
-Morning or Evening: morning
-Coffee or Tea: Coffee!!!
-Mountain or Sea: sea
-Long Drive or Short Drive: long drive
-Silence or Conversation: silence
-Water or Fire: fire
-Air or Earth: earth
-Mars or Jupiter: Jupiter
-Tulip or Rose: rose
-Red or Blue: red
-Left or Right: left
-Glance or Stare: glance
-Fame or Money: money
-Boy or Girl: girl
-Day or Night: day
-Tree or Plant: tree
-Love or Passion: passion
What three words come to your mind for each?
-Technology - useful, dangerous, prison
-Life - good, fun, live
-God - nature, everything, source
-Humanity - lovable, fallible, hope
-Terrorism - jihad, kill, Moloch worshippers
-Racism - sad, silly, why?
-Childhood Abuse - trauma, sad, scars
-Love - husband, kids, self
-Parenting - rambunctious kids, fun, argh!
-Old age - wisdom, frailty, revered
First thing you do in the morning after waking up? Coffee!!! I need at least two cups to be legally human.
The last thing to do before sleep? I frequently journal right before bed.
If one fine morning you wake up and find your sex changed to the opposite, what will be your first reaction? There was this excellent space opera series called Farscape where the hero, John Crichton, and his lady friend Erin Sung, got hit with this machine where they swapped bodies. Crichton goes to the mirror, opens his shirt, and stares at himself (Erin's body) jiggle, while Erin (in Crichton's body) decides to 'see what it's all about.' It's not graphic, just the insinuation of what they are doing, but it was hilarious. Yeah, I'd probably do something like that. Play with the new toys.
State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote - Anna Erishkigal, "I put my heroes through hell…" (hint: Ereshkigal is the ancient Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld).
The last line of your autobiography would be… Onwards, to Fantasia…
The title of your autobiography would be… My Daddy Drove a Harley Davidson
Links & other relevant details: I have seven fiction books out right now, so I will just list the first one, Sword of the Gods: The Chosen One (Book 1). You can download the first one free at most distributors worldwide or download the file directly from my website.
Publisher: Seraphim Press
Twitter handle: @AnnaErishkigal
Thank you, Anna Erishkigal for these peppy answers. Hope your fantasy fiction writing journey goes a long way.