Friday, March 11, 2011

Get to Know the Author: Anna Laurene Arnett

If you haven’t met Anna Arnett, you’ve missed out on a treat! I’ve had the privilege of not only meeting Anna, but of rooming with her at two ANWA writers retreats. She’s an amazing lady, and she has amazing stories to tell. And she does just that in her book of memoirs, Lolly’s Yarn. I’m excited to interview Anna today so that you can get to know her a little bit, too. (And you can learn even more about her by checking out her book!)

JDP: Welcome, Anna! Did your mother read to you as a child?

Anna: I’m sure she did, though my pre-school memories are rather skimpy.  My mother had trained at Brigham Young Academy in Logan, to be a kindergarten teacher.  She invited neighbor children in to play school with me.  I have snatchy memories of this, but was an adult before I realized what she’d been doing.

I remember my mother and I discussing our separate readings of The Children’s Friend as we washed dishes and did other household jobs together. There were always wonderful stories there, and always a continued story in each issue.

Later, we compared thoughts about stories in the Ladies Home Journal, or McCalls, or Woman’s Home Companion, or Good Housekeeping. Popular novelists of the day first published their books in installments in these magazines.

JDP: What fun memories! Do you remember a favorite book from your childhood?

Anna: Oh, yes I certainly do.  I absolutely loved Tah-Kee, the Boy From Nowhere, by Carl and Grace Moon.  I still remember the first sentence, “Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk,” repeated for a couple of lines. The young boy followed a woman on a silent journey to the river, where she gave him a large, waterproof basket, a small supply of food, and bade him go downriver in search of his mother.  His little dog, Yip, joined him in a series of exciting adventures until some three hundred pages later he finally finds his widowed mother and her new husband from a different tribe.

My father, then Superintendent of Schools in Rigby, Idaho, brought home a big box of books sent by a publisher with “Sample, not to be sold” perforated into the hard covers. He wanted Don and me to read them and make our recommendations about buying them for the school library.  I took that assignment very seriously. I was probably in fourth grade at the time.

JDP: What a great way to choose books for a school library. Using children as reviewers! Do you have a favorite author as an adult?

Anna: How can I name just one?  In terms of how many books I’ve read from a particular author, I’d have to list Louis L’Amour and Barbara Cartland.  But my most-re-read author award has to go to Jane Austen.  I’ve read and re-read each of her books multiple times, but Pride and Prejudice is my favorite, and I’ve read it once a year for the last fifty or sixty years.  It still delights me. I rewarded myself with a delightful re-read during this past Christmas season.,

JDP: Share a book you’ve read multiple times.

Anna: Oh, I just did. I’d like to add books by Joyce DiPastena ( thanks, Anna!), Donna Hatch, Joan Sowards and a few others I read in ms form and again read the published novel.  But the single most read book (other than Jane Austen) has to be—as any author would agree—my own Lolly’s Yarn. I’ve read and reread, edited and read again, agonized over sentences, paragraphs and chapters, read aloud and silently felt both joy and despair, and finally great relief.

JDP: Oh, yes, I think all writers can definitely relate to this experience! Now, next question: Kindle, Nook, or good old hard copy?

Anna: Hard-copy, especially paperback.  I don’t own a Kindle or a Nook, but I do have an iPad.

JDP: What’s your favorite place to read?

Anna: Up until a couple or so decades ago, I loved to read on my bed, pillows propping up my chest, elbows bent to accommodate holding up my chin and turning pages. knees bent, legs in the air, and a bag of chocolate near at hand. Now I read in my recliner, book held by a lap-desk, and a pillow behind my head to steady my head when I fall asleep.

JDP: What are your three favorite reading genres.

Anna: They keep switching places, but I like children’s literature, romance, westerns, historical, classical, and my favorites are always the ones I’m reading at the time.

JDP: What’s the last book you read?

Anna: Right now?  Pride and Prejudice.  At least that’s the last novel I’ve read.

Since then I thoroughly enjoyed reading and critiquing a small book by Carl Douglas, called The Baltimore Principles.  It traces the origins and development of our bicameral government, with its checks and balances, and points out when and how we lost much of our say in government.

JDP: What are you reading now?

Anna: Main Street by Sinclair Lewis.

JDP: What’s next on your reading list?

Anna: Persuasion by Jane Austen

JDP: What you would like to read more of? (author, genre, etc)

Anna: Whatever strikes my fancy. I haven’t read the Newbury award winners for several years now, though I’d read all of them awarded in the 20th century, and some since. There are many classics I haven’t read, and many I’d like to re-read. I’m very interested in reading books published by authors I know personally, or through email and ANWA.  Bottom line? There are too many books and too little time.

JDP: Share a favorite book that you’ve read in the last 12 months

Anna: That’s about as fair a request as to ask me to choose just one of my seven children as a favorite. I simply do not have the time to share (nor you to read about) all the books I’ve read in the past twelve months, though I must admit there aren’t THAT many.  I seldom keep reading if the book is not a favorite at the moment. I thoroughly believe that the only way I can judge a book, or any other piece of writing, is how it grabs me intellectually and emotionally at the time I’m reading it. I also believe this is true with every reader.

JDP: I absolutely agree with you there! Thank you for joining us today, Anna.

More about Anna! : I was born in Rexburg, Idaho, married a man from Duncan, Arizona, but we met in Indianapolis, Indiana. The third time I saw him was on my 19th birthday when I pinned his wings on his new officers uniform at his graduation from cadet training. The next time we saw each other was twenty–one months later—a week after he proposed, and three days before we married.  He’d been shot down on his third bombing mission and been a POW in Germany for nearly a year.

Our marriage lasted almost sixty-three years, twenty-six moves, seven children, twenty-eight grandchildren and about three dozen great grandchildren before he moved on to the next stage of life, where he awaits me.  My book, Lolly’s Yarn, tells much of this story, but it will take me at least three more volumes to tell it all.

My children and grandchildren are amazed and pleased.  “You really do know how to write!”  I just hope I can get everyone else to agree.

Lolly’s Yarn is my first book-length publication.

Learn more about Anna at

Summary of Lolly’s Yarn (by Rachel Anderson):

Lolly's Yarn by Anna Arnett is a delightful breath of fresh air. Arnett has a way of making the reader feel like you're in her living room visiting with a tall cool glass of lemonade. She highlights her romance and sixty-two-year-plus marriage to Charles, the love of her life. The details of her life and descriptions of the places their family goes are given in humorous detail. I learned a lot about life before I was born from her story.


Mary L Walling said...

63 years~amazing. Had my mother lived, my parents would have been married 60 years. She awaits him on the other side and after 30 years, he still loves her as much as he did when she was here. I think your book sounds wonderful and I can't wait to read it.

Anna Arnett said...

Thanks for posting this, Joyce. You're a wonderful friend.

Thanks, also, Mary Walling. Today is the third anniversary of my husband's passing. How appropriate to read your comments today.

I hope you get to enjoy Lolly's Yarn, Mary. So far, to my amazement,it seems that everybody who told me they read it used the same words, "I love it." (Maybe it's just that those who don't love it don't comment.)