Anne on writing:
It's an open secret in the book world that nobody knows what makes a bestseller. Nobody has a clue. And that's good. Writing is the most democratic of all creative fields, providing room for Franz Kafka and Fifty Shades of Grey.
Any writer who sets out to imitate bestsellers is missing the point. What makes the top of the bestseller list over and over again is complete unanticipated originality. If publishers knew what would succeed they wouldn't need us. They don't know. And usually when some surprising book comes out of nowhere to sell millions, there's a list behind it of agents and editors who turned it down thinking it didn't have a chance.
All this is great -- great for the individual writer out there struggling to mine her own obsessions, visions, dreamworlds, for the story that feels inevitable, no matter how peculiar.
Now and then a publisher foresees a greatness in a manuscript and is correct, as in the story of Gone with the Wind. But for every score like that, publishers can tell you about their abysmal failures. Again, this is all good, good for the guy in the garage office or the woman typing away on her laptop on the kitchen table -- for every writer with no inside connections, or clues as to how to "succeed" who just goes on writing.