#AuthorFeature with Anna Stephens @AnnaSmithWrites @HarperVoyagerUK

Today on Love Books Group I am so happy to have Anna Stephens stop by for an interview. I look forward to reviewing Godblind for the blog very soon. Enjoy!


Welcome to Love Books Group blog, can you can tell us a little bit about yourself and your publishing journey

My journey to publication was long, as most authors’ are. The first version of Godblind was written nearly 15 years ago and has probably be revised a dozen times. I’d rewrite it, send it to publishers, get it rejected, rewrite it, send it publishers, get it rejected. An endless cycle, or so it seemed.

Then, at Christmas 2015, a literary agent called Harry Illingworth tweeted his ‘Christmas wishlist’ for submissions and I thought, you know what, Godblind isn’t too far away from what he’s requesting. Why not?

So I submitted it in January 2016, Harry requested the full manuscript about a week later, and a week or so after that phoned me up and offered to represent me. No one was more shocked than me. And then it just got weirder.

We did a round of edits, and then he phoned me to say that Natasha Bardon at Harper Voyager had got hold of a version of it and wanted to see the full book. I was in the middle of revising it, it was covered in redline, but Harry said we absolutely had to send it off – this was Harper Voyager! But we had no idea where she’d got a version of it from – who’d given it to her? It wasn’t me and it wasn’t Harry!

And then … Harry said she wanted it, and not only that, she wanted to buy the whole trilogy! So in the end, Godblind was pre-empted before it even went out on submission to any of the other publishers.

It was a three-month whirlwind of total insanity and for a good portion of that time I was convinced it was all a very elaborate, very complex hallucination. Turns out it wasn’t, which needless to say I’m thrilled about.

  • Describe yourself using three words?  

Ridiculous, kind, driven

  • What inspired you to write your first novel?  

I think it’s fair to say the first novel I ever finished was that original version of Godblind, its origins lost in the mists of time. I do remember I wanted very much to write about female soldiers, about women on the front line rather than damsels in distress, and it came out of a realisation that there were very, very few novels with female fighters that I could read. Maybe it also had something to do with me being a huge Xena: Warrior Princess fan when I was teenager. That prime desire has never gone away, and while Godblind is an utterly different book to its first draft, women in combat is still a huge part of it.

  • What time of day do you like to write?

I write for an hour each morning before work, which is my only real free time during the week, but I’ll try and do three or four hours at the weekends, and on Mondays, when I don’t work (day job), I’ll aim for six hours. I write well in the mornings because I’ve done it for so long, but I’m lucky enough that if I’m inspired, I can write at any time. Friday nights with a couple of gin and tonics? Why not.

  • What is your favourite book and why?  

Impossible question! It’s probably better for me to comment on books I return to time and again, as they speak to a part of me every time I read them and it doesn’t matter that I know the story, the writing is powerful and the emotions I feel are strong no matter how familiar the books are to me:

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

Green River Rising, by Tim Willocks

The Lord of the Rings, but J R R Tolkien

The Ghost Road, by Pat Barker

The Colour Purple, by Alice Walker

Most Discworld books

  • How did you pick the title of your book?  

Godblind is a phrase I coined for the novel, which I took from the word ‘snowblind’, when people stare at the snow too long in the Arctic. In this case, the main character is forced to look on the faces of the gods for so long he cannot see anything else, is blinded to the real world.

  • Are the characters in your book based on real people?  

Not consciously. I’d say that some of the good guys – male as well as female – have traits of me in them, or aspects of their personality that I wish I had. It’s a way for me to live vicariously through them, I think. Other than that, the character Durdil is probably quite close to my Dad in his sense of humour and affected world-weariness.

  • What’s your favourite word?  

Agog. I like the way it feels in my mouth and it makes me smile. If you say it enough times, it starts to sound like an alien language.

  • If you were a colour what would it be?  

Red for passion, for heart, for blood

  • Do you plan your story beforehand or go with the flow?  

Another tough question! Because Godblind evolved over so many years, I didn’t really plan it out beforehand, though I did know where I wanted it to ultimately end. Now, with the sequel, I have a definite deadline and so I have planned it out, otherwise there’s no way I’d get it written in time.

  • Who is your favourite Author?  

I’m going to give a safe answer here, because there are too many authors whose work I adore. So I’ll say William Shakespeare. Tragedy, humour, magic, sexual politics, mental illness, power and corruption, love, sacrifice, nature. He had it all and he wrote it all.

  • If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?  

Oooh, what a great question. I suppose I need to choose a literary villain to start with. Um, alright let’s say Nev Agry out of Green River Rising. I’d like for him to have come to terms with his sexual orientation and also to acknowledge that you don’t have to be a psychopath or violent to be respected by other men, even in an extreme environment like a prison.

  • Are you working on a new project?  

I’m drafting Godblind’s sequel at the moment, so it isn’t so much a new project as a continuation. Then there’s the third novel. After that I might look at something completely new, or I might go for another book/trilogy set in the same world as Godblind.

 Connect with Anna 

Twitter –  @AnnaSmithWrites
Your Author Website –  www.anna-stephens.com


Fantasy’s most anticipated debut of the year

There was a time when the Red Gods ruled the land. The Dark Lady and her horde dealt in death and blood and fire.

That time has long since passed and the neighbouring kingdoms of Mireces and Rilpor hold an uneasy truce. The only blood spilled is confined to the border where vigilantes known as Wolves protect their kin and territory at any cost.

But after the death of his wife, King Rastoth is plagued by grief, leaving the kingdom of Rilpor vulnerable.

Vulnerable to the blood-thirsty greed of the Warrior-King Liris and the Mireces army waiting in the mountains…

GODBLIND is an incredible debut from a dazzling new voice of the genre.

Order your copy today ~

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