Interview with Anneke Campbell, author of ‘Slouching Towards Bellingham’

Anneke Campbell has worked as a midwife, nurse, masseuse, prenatal yoga teacher, college teacher of English, and writer in a number of genres. She has won awards for poetry, for one piece of journalism and one television script. She writes and co-produces videos for environmental and social justice organizations, and co-wrote a manual for activists, “Be The Change: How To Get What You Want in Your Community.” In 2010 she edited an anthology on women’s leadership: “Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart.” She is currently a doctoral student at the California Institute for Integral Studies. An earlier version of her novel Slouching Towards Bellingham appeared in print in 2004, under the title Mary of Bellingham.

You can visit her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/annekecampbell and facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Slouching-Towards-Bellingham/183127415036037.

About Slouching Towards Bellingham

When a pregnant girl named Mary waddles into Bellingham, Indiana, she also wanders right into the hearts of its townspeople. Not to mention their imaginations: Because Mary’s a virgin!

Joe the postman is the first to spot her, struggling bedraggled and dirty down the road into town. He introduces her to Violet, the waitress at his favorite diner, who has her own reasons to be kind. Next thing you know their friend Dr. Bob’s examined her and proclaimed her a virgin.

And then the whole world wants a piece of her.

News stories are written; websites built; roving gangs of paparazzi set in motion.  Throughout it all, Mary maintains sacred silence.  Juggling a townful of characters, each with his or her own agenda, not a single one selfless or blameless, Campbell makes Bellingham come alive as she shows how each is changed by the apparent miracle.

This good-natured tale about an extraordinary event in an ordinary town pulls off the rare trick of being satirical, funny, and very, very real without ever sinking into the cynical. A great gift for anyone who reads—especially if they’re a mom.

 

Q: Thank you for this interview, Anneke. Can you tell us what your latest book, Slouching Towards Bellingham, is all about?

 

It’s about a pregnant homeless girl named Mary who waddles into Bellingham, Indiana. Joe the postman is the first to spot her, struggling bedraggled and dirty down the road into town. He introduces her to Violet, the waitress at his favorite diner, who has her own reasons to be kind. Next thing you know their friend Dr. Bob’s examines her and proclaims her a virgin. And then the whole world wants a piece of her. News stories are written; websites built; roving gangs of paparazzi set in motion.  Throughout it all, Mary maintains sacred silence. A town full of characters, each with his or her own agenda, not a single one selfless, they come alive as each is transformed by the apparent miracle.

 

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

 

This was not my first – I completed a novel for my MFA thesis two decades ago, which was about a young mother and the little Jewish girl whose life she saves during the Hunger Winter in Amsterdam in 1944, in war time. When I think about it, there are a number of themes in common: a long birth sequence, and how people come together to deal with difficult circumstances. “Slouching Towards Bellingham” has a lighter touch, but sometimes I think I should go back and see if I can get it published now.

 

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do? 

 

I don’t experience writer’s block, but the first draft is always somewhat painful and slow-going. Once I have something on the page, rewriting is quite enjoyable.

 

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

 

I have on occasion woken up to a wonderful review written by someone I don’t know, which feels fabulous. I hope to have more experiences to share.

 

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

 

In the early stages, I write anytime during the day that I can, and for short periods, but once I have a draft of something, then I start first thing in the morning and keep going until mid-afternoon.

 

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

 

Cook, walk, garden, read, talk with my friends.

 

Q: What book changed your life?

 

Little Women when I was a child. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, when I was a young adult, and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, by Milan Kundera.

 

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

 

Belonging everywhere and nowhere.

 

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

 

There isn’t any one thing. There might be specific things I want my husband or family to understand, but they are preferences that are hardly important in the overall scheme of things. The one thing I wish people would understand in general is that our simplistic thinking doesn’t begin to describe reality, and that evolution is a beautiful thing and I hope we humans do it fast.

 

Thank you for this interview. Anneke.  I wish you much success on your latest release, Slouching Towards Bellingham!

Giveaways, Contests & Prizes!

In celebration of Anneke Campbell’s new release, she will be appearing at  Pump Up Your Book’s 1st Annual Holiday Extravaganza Facebook Party on December 16.  More than 50 books, gifts and cash awards will be given away including an e-copy of of Slouching Towards Bellingham!  Visit the official party page here!

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