By The Book welcomes Zann Renn, author of Away From. Here is a little about her.
By The Book — Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?
Zann Renn — I honestly cannot recall since I began creating stories and poems earlier than I can remember. My mother tells me that I was an articulate child who understood and was moved by poetry in particular. The rhythm and meter of words mesmerized me, and my earliest journals and poems were written in a preschool hand with misspelled words.
BTB — Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing.
Zann — My mother was my first and best encourager. She used to reward my good behavior with empty journals and time alone in my room. Often she would show me interesting photographs taken by famous photojournalists then ask me to weave a story around what I thought was going on in the picture. She read me poetry, taught me about meter and rhyme, and helped me craft lyrics. Later on, particularly at the university level, there were two or three professors who inspired me and opened up the world of great literature for me. However, by then the groundwork had already been laid by my mother.
Zann – This book was not so much a decision as it was an impression. This particular novel came to me quite literally in its entirety in the middle of the night. Though it took several years for me to flesh out the characters and solidify the plotline, the story was all there from the beginning. I had never really intended to be a novelist, my forte is poetry and lyric writing, but this experience opened a new door for me that will lead, I hope, to subsequent fiction. My faith informs nearly everything I do. My guess is that a faith philosophy, or lack thereof, informs what most people do. Though I don’t agree entirely with any one of the characters in this book, and though I don’t even particularly like some of them, I am trying to present a Christian story as an insider rather than as an outsider. I have always been a bit of a renegade in most Christian circles, but all of these “characters” are my brothers and sisters in the faith, nonetheless. I love them for their convictions, for who they are, and for who they are not.
BTB — What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?
Zann — My academic background has certainly taught me some degree of structure and discipline. At some point you just have to “jump in there” as a writer and get something on paper, even if you never end up keeping it. On the other hand, at least for me, there needs to be a certain amount of inspiration moving me to sit down and write. Otherwise, I think my prose ends up feeling a bit flat and lifeless.
BTB — Away From is a dystopian novel set in the future. Why did you decide to write in this genre.
Zann — Any futuristic writer, whether it is Orwell, Wells, Bradbury or Huxley, is trying in some way to give his or her readers a glimpse of a possible future. Most of the time these “glimpses” in futuristic fiction are not all that idyllic, so this kind of writing becomes somewhat of a warning to those who might be considering heading down certain paths. This novel deals in particular with marginalizing groups of people through semantics, majority rule, and popular politics. At the least, I hope this book will provoke thought and discussion about how we can protect and preserve the rights of all people.
BTB — What types of research did you do in preparing to write this novel?
Zann — I had to research everything from the geography of the United States to hot air balloon operation to ship building, not to mention the early American history I reviewed as well as the wording of early American documents and journals. Thankfully, I had some gifted editors who gave me wonderful suggestions and revision advice.
BTB — What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing Away From?
Zann — I hope that this novel will unsettle people a bit, that it will make readers think, reflect and discuss. I also hope that the story will make Christians think about what is important and essential in our faith and what is not, what is worth fighting for and what needs to be compromised.
BTB — Readers are always curious as to what a writer is working on or just what is next to be published. Can you give us a glimpse of current works in progress?
Zann — The working title of my next novel is Craving Beauty, which is about a small group of people living in the same small town in the Midwest who travel together to an exotic castle in a Mediterranean location to discover the true meaning of beauty.
BTB — What would you like to share about your personal life?
Zann — I know exactly two facts about Canadian geese . . . and they are both wrong.
Thank you so much for sharing with the readers of my blog.
Away From by Zann Renn — With the moral fabric of America deteriorating at a rapid rate, the final straw was the passing of an amendment that limits religious freedom. In this dystopian novel, two American families flee the country looking for a better life. Along the way, they meet other believers who, too, have been marginalized by the system. As if being on the run wasn’t enough — narrow escapes, adverse weather, and the new required bio-chip make this pilgrimage to a new world next to impossible. Can this ragtag group of believers, in the end, learn to tolerate each other and appreciate one another and make it to the new world far from their native shores?
Zann Renn was born in the 1960’s and grew up in a small town in Indiana. Raised in a Christian family, within a creative environment filled with music and lively discussions, Zann attended a liberal arts college for undergraduate work in English, and later graduated with a Master’s Degree in English from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Away From, Zann’s first novel, has been endorsed by New York Times Bestselling authors Andy Andrews and Ken Abraham.
Zann is married, has two grown children, and lives near Nashville, Tennessee.