Anna is a novelist, poet, essayist, short fiction writer, copy editor and writer, proofreader and a secondary English teacher, tutor and mentor, mental health advocate and mum of 3 (9, 16 & 19, including ongoing additional needs). 2020 saw the publication of Anna's third novel, Saving Lucia (Bluemoose) and a first short story collection, Famished (Influx). Anglo-Welsh, she splits her time between Wiltshire, Wales, and the Southern US. She is currently finishing a new novel and working on her first non-fiction book, while a further novel and short story collection are on the desk. Anna’s essays, reviews, articles, and features have been featured widely online and in print. She is represented by Kate Johnson of MacKenzie Wolf Literary Agency in New York City.
Who and what inspires you?
Other people. Those who struggle and push on trying to prevail and those with big hearts who are behind them, helping and willing them on. Reading - very widely - and conversations with writers and readers and being in the natural world. Now, because of something I am working on, it is the sheer volume of writers and creative people who have chronic physical and mental health conditions. I have learned so much. I am very open about my rather exciting mental health history, but it was actually the experience of long COVID-19, with which I have been poorly for ten months, which has led me to so many inspiring and supportive people. I feel that my whole life is changing in the most fundamental way.
How do you find time to write as a parent?
I hide and wear headphones but nonetheless it is a bit ragged. Do not wait for ideal conditions. During home learning and lockdown, I have had to ask my older ones to pitch in with my youngest a good deal more and we are on a rota for help about the place, which works some of the time. Young people have had their worlds turned upside down during the pandemic, and there is much to look out for in our own and in supporting other families. My eldest was seriously ill before the pandemic began, however, and I found time to write during the hardest times because I found support for me and us. I found that by asking for advice through twitter over a two-year period when agencies and school had failed us for various reasons. I think that, for me, if I am managing stress and worry, I do not need as much writing time as I think because my mind is clear and focused. Also, an important thing to remember is that writing is also reading, thinking, and daydreaming; that is the work, too. When you compute that, you realise you have been way more productive than you thought.
Which writing activities kickstart your writing when you're struggling?
I just start! It will probably be rubbish and I will cross it out. But I have started, and something will, I am sure, have come of it. I think inspiration generally strikes when you are writing and not before (obviously there being exceptions). Sometimes I doodle or cross hatch, sometimes I stand up and write or play loud music, which is generally cheesy 80s stadium rock for this circumstance! Or I drop everything and go and read or go for a walk or exercise (I like Pilates and yoga) if there is space. Another thing I do: SPAG checks, reading bits aloud, writing a bibliography or some sort of preface…in other words, bits of admin and housekeeping. I feel like I am doing something useful on the book and, quite often, an idea occurs, or something catches my eye, or a problem suddenly resolves while I am doing this.
Find out more about Anna on her website or find her on Twitter: @BookwormVaught
Places to buy Anna's books:
Mrs B's Emporium