Hello again! How did you like the previous interviews? Did they give you a bit more insight about the author and made you want to read there books? I hope so…otherwise I’m doing something wrong!
This weeks interiew is with Annie Woods! I asked Woods if I could interview her because I’m currently finishing the review copy of her book, First Came Forever, that she was so nice to send to me. Be on the lookout for a review to come!
Before you continue reading I must warn you…Most of Woods’s answers are very long but I feel like you get to know her through them, so I hope you keep up with them!
• What makes you want to write?
I can still remember the feeling when I learned to read and this whole new wonderful world opened up to me. I was so blown away! Since then books have been such a huge part of my life, first by reading of course, but also by writing small stories myself. In school I had some wonderful teachers who encouraged me a lot to write. And then there was my grandmother who was a painter, but who’d never dared to follow her dream and instead only painted ‘for fun’ at home, who taught me the importance of being brave enough to pursue your dreams.
But even though I’ve dreamed about being a writer since I can remember, I never dared to follow my dream until I wrote my first book, First Came Forever, about four years ago. So I’m a really late bloomer when it comes to pursuing my writing dream… I never truly believed that I could be a writer, so even though stories have been popping up, I never did any serious attempts to write a whole book. But when the story of First Came Forever came to me about four-five years ago on a vacation in California, I felt that it was so strong that I just couldn’t let it go but had to try and write it down. So I started writing the outline for the book already on the plane and then I just kept going. I instantly fell in love with all the characters and wanted to know what would happen to them, so not finishing the book was never an option this time. So, I guess that you could say that it was the story itself that inspired me to dare to write it down!
And the feeling when I held the first copy of the book in my hand was so overwhelming, I can’t even try to put it into words. I wish so much that I could go back in time and tell the younger me to believe in myself and pursue my dream to write much sooner, not to wait this long to do it.
• What does being an author mean to you?
Foremost, I see it as being a story teller. And a bit of a magician, bringing life to characters and stories. The thought that there are people out there reading my work and falling in love with and caring about the characters I’ve created is just overwhelming. It’s such an amazing thing to share your story with others, and getting positive feedback is just magic! I love the bookworm community and all the wonderful contacts; I’ve gotten so much love and support and encouragement, it’s just unbelievable!
I still have a hard time calling myself an author though. I’m nowhere near being able to live on my writing, so besides being an author, I also have another full-time job. This means that I have to try and write whenever I can between work and being with my family. I guess that you could call me a “night-and airplane-writer” as I do most of my writing when the rest of the family is asleep or on the flight between Stockholm-New York. I think I will be able to see myself as a ‘real’ author when I can actually spend full days just writing at my desk. In daylight…
• What inspires you while writing?
Just about anything, really! Reading books and watching movies. Overhearing a conversation on the subway. Remembering something that have happened in my own life. Often the ideas pop up when I’m out running and then I stop to write notes on my iPhone, so I remember the ideas and can write them down in the evening. But mostly it’s the characters themselves that inspires me to write about them. I’ve been living with the characters in the book for years now, so I actually think about them as real-life-persons and in a way they kind of live their own lives, so I need to keep on writing to know what will happen to them…
• What motivated you to keep writing when you had a hard time (if you had one)?
Yes, I’ve definitely had a hard time when writing the sequel in the Angelheart Saga. It was so much harder to write the second book than the first one. I absolutely love all the wonderful contacts with readers and all the discussions and suggestions for the story and questions about what will happen to the characters, it’s one of my main inspiration for writing. But no matter how amazing it’s been that so many readers loved the first book and reached out to tell me, when it came to writing the sequel it made me so afraid to disappoint them that I have really struggled with writer’s blocks and anxiety this time. But when I hit my lowest point and almost gave up, I thought about how disappointed they would be if I didn’t finish the book, so that really motivated me to keep writing. And also the fact that I wanted to know myself what would happen to the characters…
• Is there a concealed or in sight message you tried to bring across to your readers?
I don’t think there’s any hidden message (not an intended one at least), but the message that I wish to bring across to my readers is definitely the importance of staying true to yourself and to make your own decisions. That you should live your life for you and not for someone else. And for girls that it is alright to be ambitious and to want something more in life than marrying Prince Charming. Another message that I hope is evident in the book is the right to be who you are and to be free to love whoever you want.
• Were there people or moments in your life that the characters and situations were inspired by?
Well, I have to admit that Erica is very much based off myself. Erica is just a tiny bit (oh, alright… a lot) smarter and better looking and with way more integrity. But, just like me, she’s clumsy, a bookworm, too serious for her own good at times, a kind of bad driver, but a great runner finding peace and quiet and respite from all demands out in the woods with her running shoes on.
But Tyler on the other hand was not based off any person, he was just supposed to be this secondary character, the stereotype High School bad boy/jock that was not meant to play such an important role in the story at all. But when I started writing the book that changed completely. Or rather, he worked his magic on me… He really made me so interested and intrigued that I just wrote more and more about him, so in a way Tyler created his own character.
Also, most of the places described in the book are based off my own experiences. I’ve been to all places described myself, and I really love Cambodia and Vietnam, which I hope shows in the book.
• If you could choose one of your characters to explore and find out more about, whom would it be and what would you like to uncover?
Besides Tyler, who I’ll most likely will keep on exploring, I would choose Jordan. I’d like to focus more on his situation as a gay jock and on his background, how he became the person he is when we get to meet him in First Came Forever. Maybe a spin-off story about him and Danny?
• Can you tell us a bit about your favorite part of First Came Forever without spoiling it for the people who have still to read it?
The first part of the book when Erica travels through Asia was so great to write as I got to relive my memories from traveling there myself. I really tried to describe the places and the atmosphere, so that the readers could get to see them too and almost smell and hear the sounds, the way I remember them in my head. I hope that the readers at least will get a feeling for how much I love the places described in the book, and perhaps even want to visit them themselves.
I also loved to write about running and trying to explain how much running means to me. How it makes me feel relaxed (I can literally feel my shoulders drop when I put my shoes on) and free and strong. So the running scenes, especially the ones where Erica and Tyler competes, were some of my favorite ones to write.
• If you could give your main character some advice, what would it be?
Oh, this is a tough one. Maybe to believe in herself some more? And sometimes to loosen up and not be so ‘good’ all the time? (Feels like I’m giving advice to myself here…) And yes, to take more driving lessons, lol!
• What is the biggest emotion you want your audience to feel while reading?
A lot of the readers have described that the book is a rollercoaster of emotions, so I guess I want the audience to feel ALL emotions… But overall I want the readers to get involved and care about the story and the characters. My highest wish is that the readers keep thinking about the characters long after they’ve finished reading the book and wonder what will happen to them.
• Can you name one of your pet peeves while writing or reading?
I have two big pet peeves. Number one is being out of coffee. I’m a serious coffee addict, and since I write mostly during late evenings or nights I NEED my coffee!!
Number two goes for both writing and reading, and that is to be interrupted. Especially by someone who looks over your shoulder to see what your writing or to start reading in your book. (Why does that always happen when you’re reading a hot scene by the way??)
• As a reader, what is your favorite cliche?
I do have a sweet spot for love triangles. And the misunderstood bad boy with a good heart.
• Are there authors that you look up to?
Oh, yes, there are so many amazing authors out there! I love YA authors like Becky Albertalli, Rainbow Rowell, Mackenzi Lee, Marie Lu, Cassandra Clare, contemporary authors like Maggie O’Farrell, Curtis Sittenfield, Nobel prize winners like Toni Morrisson, Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing… And an all time favorite is Joyce Carol Oates. I also have to mention Stephenie Meyer, since the Twilight series was the series that really opened up my eyes for the YA genre, even though I’m not sure that I would love the series quite as much if I reread it now.
But if I have to choose one author and one book or series, it would have to be J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. To me, those books are pure book perfection! The way J.K. Rowling has created a whole universe on her own and all the characters that you love and carry with you in your heart forever. With Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling has also helped so many troubled and lonely children, giving them hope and bringing them joy, it’s utterly amazing. There’s even a research study proving that the Harry Potter books help children to be more accepting of LGBT persons, so the books are literally making the world a better place!
• What would you put on top of your bucket list if you had to make one of the spot right now?
I seriously love traveling, so on the top of my bucket list (yes, I have one already) I have walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Number two on the list is climbing the Kilimanjaro. (One can always dream, right?)
• What more would you like to achieve from here on?
I’d love to be able to be a full-time writer, to have the luxury to only focus on my books and my writing. And to have my books represented in the major book stores.
Also, I’m just about to start working on getting the manuscript for the third and final book in the Angelheart Saga in place, so my highest priority now is to get the story together. I’m kind of procrastinating it a bit though… I know it will be a tough job, as I have to wrap everything up then, not leaving any loose ends and, potentially, have to break a heart or two. I’d love for all of the characters in the book to get their happy ever afters, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to accomplish that. But who knows? The parts about writing a book that I like the most is when the characters takes over, when they kind of creates their own story. So hopefully this writing journey will surprise me as well!
• As an author, but also a reader, what do you think is important in a book/story?
I think the most important thing is the characters. That you immediately like them and care about them and desperately want to know what will happen to them. Or if they are villains, that they have depth and are not just evil, but have other sides too that make you able to relate to them anyway. No matter how great the story is, if you don’t like or care about the characters, you most likely won’t like the book either.
• Love triangles or falling in love with the best friend?
I do have a sweet spot for love triangles, so… love triangle it is!
• Insta love or Hate to Love?
I would have to go with hate to love, I think. Those stories are often better written and more believable. And I love the tension when you as a reader understands that they love each other before the characters do themselves…
(In my own book there is something of an insta love though, so maybe I’m the pot calling the kettle black here… But in First Came Forever the premise is more about exploring the reality after the ‘love forever’ so not quite insta love either. And there’s also some hate to love, so I think I can go for that choice anyway, right…?)
• Fantasy or Contemporary?
Both! It depends entirely on the story. I love all kinds of stories as long as they are good!
• Plotholes or no character development?
Neither, please… If I have to choose I’d go for plotholes, since no character development at all would be too boring. But I’d rather have neither. I really hate plotholes, they kind of makes you lose the magic of the story and the world building.
• Bad Boy or Boy Next Door?
Definitely bad boys in books! I love the misunderstood villain, who secretely is kind and caring and has a heart of gold that he only is able to show to the certain girl… But in real life, I’ve always fallen for for the boy next door…
• First or Third person pov?
Often I prefer third person pov, but it depends on the story and the main character, I’d say. For example, I loved Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which has a first person pov and which would not have been the same if it had been told from a third person. (Actually though, this book kind of has two first persons pov with Blue’s emails.) But more often than not, I like a third person pov best.
• Would you like to say a few words to certain people or your readers in general?
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the readers that have reached out to me and shown their support. I’m so happy that so many have taken the book to their hearts! And, to answer the most frequent question: book number two will be released at the end of June! So not much longer to wait now!
For those who have not read it yet, I’d like to recommend to try it out. This series follows heroine Erica Lindell as an unexpected meeting changes her life forever. It’s a story with several twists, including a love triangle and an assassination plot, where Erica is pushed to question her own aims and choices and make the hardest decisions of her life. Shall she give up her own life to be with the boy she loves or risk losing him forever?
Did the long answers help you get to know Annie Woods? They did for me! Let me know what you thought about the interview and if you have any questions or just want to keep up with woods, you can follow her on instagram here!