Interview with Aña Anne: Author Extraordinaire.
I had the opportunity to interview the brilliant Aña Anne about her writing background, her personal interests, and what makes her such an interesting person. She is an active member of Wattpad and Tapas, who also has recently started up an Instagram writing account. She is a fantastic writer and poet, in addition to being extremely thoughtful (and hilarious). Aña Anne is a dear friend of mine and It was a true honor to interview her, twice. The second interview is about her book It's Better to Burn. It also up on this blog, right now.
Sit back, relax, and be prepared to discover your new favorite writer!
L: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! Without any beating around the bush, tell us a little bit about yourself!
A: My pleasure, thanks for having me! And oof, that’s a loaded question! I guess to describe me in the most simple of terms, I am a goofy wannabe author who makes too many references for her own good. I like to read and write (obviously), study psychology, dance, and a bunch of other stuff.
L: Not a wannabe, no chance. Now, I thought we could do this interview in three parts. I’d first like to ask about your influences and inspirations, then about your current WIP and some writing advice, and finish off with some lighting questions. Is that alright?
A: Sounds wonderful!
L: How long have you been writing? Are you one of those writers who has been penning stories since kindergarten or did it come to you later in life?
A: Oh, it definitely started when I was younger. As a toddler and basically ever since then, my mom worked all night and slept all day, so little me turned to her imagination for company. Ever since I can remember I’ve been creating stories, to pass the time or to let free something that was building up.
L: What are your genres of choice? What do you love to write the most?
A: I love to write in almost every genre, exploring my range is definitely something I’m interested in. But as far as the most common genres in my stories go, I’d say something along the lines of fantasy/romance/realistic fiction. I can never really tie any of my stories to one type, but they all definitely have hints of magic, love, and real life issues. That’s definitely something I find myself gravitating towards in writing.
L: What are some of your influences? Are there people, books, shows, that have shaped the way you think about writing?
A: For sure! My first real influence was Leigh Bardugo and the Shadow and Bone series, which I love to pieces. Nowadays, I get inspired the most by her, Neil Gaiman, Adam Silvera, all of my other favorite authors, and even some directors, like Tarantino. Regarding actual media, every story I consume teaches me different things about writing. “Oh, this book has a strong plot.” “Oh, this is too much detail in this paragraph.” “Oh, that scene was unnecessary.” Just little things like that.
L: Those are some amazing influences. Bardugo, Gaiman, and Tarantino definitely have reach over me as well. Drifting into another question, how would you describe your writing style?
A: Simple, full of feeling, and very modern.
L: You’re an active writer on Wattpad and Tapas, currently sharing your novel It’s Better to Burn. Can you pitch us this book?
A: Sure! I suck at summaries, so excuse me if this is horrible, but here it goes:
“Orion the constellation isn’t what the myths say, in reality he is far from the brave and humble hero you learned about. He is cocky, narcissistic, and as most would call him: evil. When he is banished to Earth for his horrid actions, he will use this evilness to do everything in his power to get back to space, where he belongs. But when an anxious and surprisingly tenacious human named Mikael enters his orbit, he’ll find that his goals are going to be a lot harder to reach than he previously thought. With Mikael, a council of Gods, and the whole of Earth against him, who knows when or how or if he’ll ever get home. That being said, a little roadblock never bothered him.”
L: Everyone needs to read It’s Better to Burn. It is a great book, one of the best on Wattpad and Tapas.
What was your inspiration for this? Also, do you get ideas for plot or characters first?
A: First off, thank you! You flatter me! Secondly, the inspiration I got for this book happened a long time ago, originally. I think I was about nine when I first came up with this idea of a town that the constellations would visit. I never did anything with it for years and years, until I was in the hospital, and I suddenly remembered this idea that I had. Having had nothing else to do, I got to writing. First, I came up with the plot (which would later be heavily changed) and then I came up with the characters. The first idea back in March is way different than it is now, but in a good way! I hope.
L: Can you talk to us about your characters, especially Orion? It is interesting how you play with the idea of constellations. Orion is strong and beautiful, but he is the villain. How did you decide what kind of people these characters would be?
A: Oh, yes, Orion is certainly a character. With him, I really wanted to show a different side of the villain trope, you know? Like, no one ever thinks “hey, the villain might be acting this way as a coping mechanism” which is always the reason for Orion being… So Orion. Not that that is an excuse, but it’s an interesting way to dive deeper into this evil character type, and way deeper into their psyche.
Like I said, Orion acts the way he does because it’s how he copes, how he ignores the truth. I decided ever since I created him that I wanted that to be his staple: the villain that isn’t just evil, or isn’t just a killer because. As we all know, that’s not how it works in real life. “Bad people” are bad because they think their actions are just, all the same with Orion. That’s what makes him so interesting, I think. You can’t say he’s good and you can’t say he’s completely bad either, which is very human of him.
L: You have another main character in Mikael. They swap POVs throughout the book. What are some challenges that arise from juggling two main characters? For other writers who are using multiple POVs, what are some tips you want to share?
A: Challenges? Luckily I haven’t bumped into many, but sometimes deciding who is going to view what scene, how it will fit with the back and forth change, that can be a little annoying. Same thing with character voices, if I’m in an Orion state of mind, sometimes it’s hard to write in Mikael’s very different voice, and vice versa. As for tips, I recommend:
1, starting out with really unique character voices. To accomplish this, I suggest thinking long and hard about a character’s viewpoint. Really put yourself in their shoes. What are they thinking? What are they feeling? What are their motivations? Then, once you’ve created very fleshed out characters, it will be easy to spot the difference between them.
2, stay true to the character’s motive. It’s easy to mix up the personalities of your characters when switching POVs, but constantly reminding yourself of the character’s motives, world view, and relationships really helps. Don’t make one character seem too much like another.
3, make sure both (or all) characters have equally important and interesting story lines. If one character is more captivating than another, readers will want to skip. Your readers should never want to skip ahead.
L: Sage advice...I’ll personally keep all this in mind! One last question about your book, before we move to the lighting questions. What do you hope readers will get from reading It’s Better to Burn?
A: A lot, really! I’d like them to know more about what it’s like to be transgender and/or queer, I’d like them to know more about mental illness, and I’d like them to be able to get lost in the story! Most of all, I just hope they enjoy it. Books have always been my safe space, and I would really like to provide that for someone else!
L: I think one can truly benefit from reading your book. There is a lot to be gained from it. Now...here are some fast questions, to give readers more insight into the person behind It’s Better to Burn.
First question: Book that changed your life?
A: Oh gosh, there are so many. I think the first book that changed my life was Shadow and Bone, it introduced me to a whole new world of fantasy. But I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson has definitely changed my life too! It opened my eyes to a new form of writing.
L: Literary trope you hate?
A: Oi. Don’t get me started. My least favorite is probably the damsel in distress. Or the “boring” girl who turns out to be special and all the hot guys want to be with her for some ungodly reason. Been there, done that.
L: One famous book you’ve never read, but want to read?
A: The Picture of Dorian Gray. I am a huge Oscar Wilde fan, despite the fact that I haven’t read that book yet.
L: If you could have written any book, what would you like to take credit for?
A: Interesting! Probably Game of Thrones, honestly.
L: Maybe then you could finish the series, unlike Martin. Anyway. What are three songs that are in your writing playlist?
A: And I would do a smashing job! Mmm… I don’t really have a main writing playlist, but here are three songs I shuffled in my regular playlist (that I sometimes use for writing):
Do It All The Time by IDK HOW
Supermassive Black Hole by Muse
EASE by Troye Sivan
L: What are your plans for after It’s Better to Burn is finished?
A: Well, first I plan on starting the sequel, if another project doesn’t distract me momentarily. But you can always find me writing poetry and other books on the sidelines. Because what’s a writer without her attention grabbing side projects?
L: That is completely understandable. Thank you so much for answering all these questions and letting everyone know a bit about yourself! Her interview that goes in depth about It's Better to Burn is also up here on Making it Up!
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