Interview with Anna Stephens!

1. What was it like after publishing your first novel, Godblind? And from those years of rejections, with 37 rejections, what lesson would you want to share with us?

Finally seeing Godblind in bookshops as a real book was one of the best moments of my life, without doubt. There were a lot of years of rejection and struggle to get to that moment, so I was determined to enjoy every second of my publication day. I was quite nervous before the launch party, but everyone was there to cheer me on and it was just a fantastic experience.
I’m glad, in a way, that Godblind was rejected 37 times, because every one of those rejections made me work on the book again to make it better – if it hadn’t been rejected so often, I would never have been so determined to make it the best book I could.
2. I know this question would be a total cliché but what inspires or motivates you to achieve your lifelong dream to become an author?

 I’ve always been a writer, ever since I was a young child. I’ve always made up stories, so it wasn’t really a question of whether I would write, it was whether I would get published, and those are two very different things. Even if Godblind had never been published, I’d never stop writing. I’m just incredibly lucky that people want to publish my work and other people want to read it! I can be extremely stubborn as well, so every one of those rejections just encouraged me to try even harder. I learnt a lot about myself as a person and as a writer over the years of rejections. They made me a better person, I think.

3. There are a lot of genres out there. Your first book belongs to the Dark Fantasy genre. Is this your preferred genre in the first place to write?

I do love the genre in which I write, but I like to read a wide variety of genres as well. Fantasy and historical fiction were my two first loves, but I’m not sure I could ever write a historical fiction. You have to stick to too many real life events for my liking. I would like to write sci-fi or alternative reality at some point; many of the short stories I produce for my writing group will be set anywhere other than a traditional fantasy setting. They’ll be an alternative now, or a far-future spaceship or a monster-ridden Victorian England. I like to experiment with different settings and places, but fantasy is definitely my first love and everything I write has an element of fantasy in it.

4. Random Question: If you are going to date someone, fictional or not, dead or alive, who would it be and why? What are you going to do on your date?

Tough question! I think I would go on a date with William Shakespeare. We would row along the River Avon and have a picnic and I’d ask him how he wrote all those marvellous plays – and where he gets his ideas from!

5. If you are going to give an advice to your 10-year old self, what would it be?

10-year old me was a book nerd, so I’d definitely tell her to keep doing that. But I’d also tell her to get outside more and play more with her friends, so that she doesn’t lose touch with other people and doesn’t get bullied for being such a geek.

6. I actually love the names of your characters; Dom, Durdil, Crys, Rillirin, Mace, Tara, Galtas, Rivil, Janis, etc. Are those made up or are they inspired by people in real-life? How did you pick the names of your characters?

For me, characters always arrive in my head before the plot does. So someone will walk up and tap me on the shoulder (in my head) and introduce themselves. I’ll get a sense of their appearance and main character traits, and then I’ll start thinking up random collections of letters – there are a lot of names in Godblind that contain the letters R and L, because I like the way they sound and the way your mouth moves when you say them. None of the names were inspired by real people, though I realised afterwards that Janis is spelt the same way as Janis Joplin, which is pretty cool.

7. Describe the next installment in ten words!

If you thought things were bad before, you were wrong!

8. What made you decide to write your book in multiple perspectives? Is there a challenge on writing it in multiple POVs? 

I don’t recall there being a conscious decision to write it in multiple POV – it was more a case of there were so many characters and all of them had unique ideas and voices and actions, that I couldn’t just pick one of them and write the story from their perspective. Who would I pick, anyway? Rillirin? Dom? Corvus? Durdil? They’re scattered across two countries and I very definitely wanted at least one POV in each place/camp so we could see what was happening there. Then it just grew and grew!
There is a challenge to writing that many POVs – the first is how your audience will respond to it. Many reviews have indicated they struggled with the number of POVs to begin with, and some have said they thought there were too many. The other big challenge is making sure every character has their own voice, their own way of speaking and looking at the world. Because we’re following things through their eyes, each of them has to be as individual as each of us.
9. There are quite a few sensitive themes that were mentioned in your book such as sexual violence, misogyny, homosexuality, and racial discrimination. If there are harsh criticisms towards your book or to you in person, how do you handle them?

Some people haven’t liked some of the content, and I absolutely understand that. There are some nasty things in there. I try to understand that some people may be upset by some of the events and of course I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. People who don’t like it because they hated the plot or found the characters boring … well, that’s a little harder to understand! But reading is a very subjective thing – if I hate a book someone else loves, then I can’t expect that no one will have that same reaction to mine. Mostly, I just try and avoid the bad reviews!10. Lastly, What was your favorite quote or phrase from your book and why is it

10. Lastly, What was your favorite quote or phrase from your book and why is it stand out from the others?

Another tough question! I think the one I always come back, that really sums up the character in question, is a little exchange between Crys and Durdil at their first meeting. Durdil tells Crys that right and wrong is for his superiors to decide. Crys replies that right and wrong is for every man to decide. I like that he recognises that although he is a soldier and has to take orders, he can still decide for himself whether those orders are correct.

Check out my book review of Godblind, here.


3868039Anna Stephens is a UK-based author of gritty epic fantasy. Her debut novel, Godblind, is published through Harper Voyager in June 2017, with the sequels coming in 2018 and 2019.

They say blood begets blood. In the country of Rilpor, if you spill enough of it, blood begets gods.

Anna has a BA (Hons) in Literature from the Open University and has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She much prefers the worlds she makes up to the real thing, even if most of her characters meet sticky ends.

Anna lives with her husband, a huge book, music and movie collection, and no pets. She intends to remedy this lack of furry friends as soon as fame and fortune strike.

You can help her realise her twin dreams of being an author and a proud dog-walker by buying her book. Thanks.


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