Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Annie Woods author of First Came Forever (The Angelheart Saga, Book 1)
Hi Annie, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Thank you, Laura, it’s my pleasure. I’m so honored to be interviewed by you!
As for my background, I grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the USA and UK. Currently I am partly living in the US, dividing my time between Stockholm and New York. So, even though Swedish is my native language, I write my books in English.
Reading has always been a big part of my life. I can still remember the feeling when I learned to read and was so blown away by this whole new world that opened up to me. So, my childhood was mostly spent in libraries and book stores… I’m so thankful for my parents who always came along to all the bookstores I dragged them to, without ever complaining. I still love reading just as much, and how you can travel through books and go see magical places and be someone else for a while.
Besides travelling though books, I also love to travel “for real” and have travelled quite a lot with my family. I love to experience the world together with them and to do outdoor activities, like hiking, surfing or skiing. Generally, when I’m not reading, I like to be active. I’m especially into running, so I’m spending quite a lot of time with my running shoes on in Central Park or along the eastside of Manhattan over to Brooklyn, or on trails in the forests around Stockholm. I also have a dog to go for walks with (but mostly to cuddle with).
A quirky fact about myself is that I’m super clumsy. I always drop things and spill food and drinks on my clothes. It even happens that I walk into walls, missing the door opening…
So, what have you written?
My very first novel, First Came Forever, was published last year. Even though I’ve dreamed about being a writer since I can remember, I never dared to follow my dream until now. Instead I went on to study other things and pursued another career for years. (In that profession I have written a lot of non-fiction work, and have even won some awards for it, but that’s another story…)
Where can we buy or see them?
First Came Forever is available from Amazon worldwide and many other places like Book Depository, Waterstones etc. in both paperback and Kindle format. Here are some useful links:
Amazon.com (paperback): https://www.amazon.com/First-Came-Forever-Angelheart-Saga/dp/178465261X/
You can also get the book directly from my publisher here: https://pegasuspublishers.com/books/teen-young-adult/the-angelheart-saga-book-1_-first-came-forever
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
The main character is 18-year-old Erica Lindell. She’s always been something of “an old soul”, feeling out of step with her same age friends. Where they are mostly interested in partying and flirting, she’s more of a reader and thinker. (I have to admit that Erica is very much based off myself. Erica is just a bit 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.)
When we first meet Erica she’s backpacking with her friends in Asia, but an unexpected meeting there sets her life on a new direction. During the Angelheart Saga trilogy we then get to follow Erica as she tries to find out where her heart and future lie and her struggle to make the right choices and stay true to herself in the wake of an overwhelming love story. Shall she give up her own life to be with the boy she loves or risk losing him forever? Where do you draw the line at what is worth giving up for love?
What are you working on at the minute and what’s it about?
I’ve just finished the second book in the Angelheart Saga trilogy (the final proofread was returned to my publisher last week) and am so much looking forward to sharing it with my readers! As those of you that have read First Came Forever know there was some really huge questions that were left unanswered. It’s been so good to follow up on those now and drive the story and the characters further. I cannot go into details, of course, but there is a lot going on in the second book as well; some unexpected twist, some truly heart-wrenching decisions, and Erica’s life will take yet another change of direction. I’ve also added some new characters that I hope my readers will all take to their hearts too.
So, at this very moment I’m about to start working on getting the manuscript for the third book in place. 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!
What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
The Angelheart Saga is a romantic YA series. I have always loved teenage love stories, with all their intensity and all-consuming feelings; the coming of age and accepting who you are, and the characters you get to know and love and hope for a happy ever after for despite all obstacles in their way. So I’ve always kind of known that I wanted to write in this genre, to tell a story for teenagers as well as for any adult who remembers his or her first crush and the emotions of it all.
When did you decide to become a writer?
In a way, you could say that the story in the Angelheart Saga made that decision for me… Even though books have always been such a huge part of my life, and even though stories of my own have been popping up in my mind since I was very young, I never truly believed that I could be a writer. So until First Came Forever I didn’t write the stories down, or if I did start to write something I never finished it. 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 back home 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. 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.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Only part-time unfortunately. I have another full-time job, so I have to try and write whenever I can between work, being with my kids and driving them to activities, walking the dog and my own running practice. Often I get the ideas 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. 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.
Where do your ideas come from and how much research do you do?
Often the ideas pop up when I’m out running or on the subway, but they can come from just about everywhere; from books I’ve read, from movies, from things that have happened in my own life… So far I’ve written about things I know without much research, like places I’ve visited or things I’ve experienced myself. But I guess there will come a time when I’ve used up all of that and I will have to do more research (or travel some more…).
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest thing was definitely that this book was a sequel. Since a lot of readers had loved the first book, I felt so much pressure to not disappoint them I have really struggled with writer’s blocks and anxiety this time.
What book/s are you reading at present?
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I read the first book, The Raven Boys, when I was away skiing two weeks ago, and was immediately hooked, so it’s been an agonizing wait for the remaining books in the series to be delivered by Amazon. But yesterday they finally arrived, so now I’ll probably binge-reading all three of them during the next couple of days.
How do you market your books?
My book is published by an indie UK publisher, so I get help and support from them. But obviously they do not have a huge marketing budget like the major publishing companies, so it’s a lot up to you as an author to be active yourself. So what I try to do is to reach out to book bloggers that I like and follow myself and to use social media. I should probably do much more, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day… But I’ve been very lucky to have met so many wonderful persons in the bookworm community. Like yourself, Laura. I really enjoy our contacts and our shared love for books and reading! All the love and support and the new friends I’ve made have definitely been the highlight of having my book published!
I would love for my book to be available in physical book stores as well, and both I and my publisher have tried to contact different book stores, but no luck so far. It’s also a bit difficult when you’re using a pen name as I am. I can’t really do book singnings or radio interviews… But someday hopefully!
I also have a thing that I do for fun to try and find new readers and that is my #AnnieWasHere-meme where I take a copy of my book with me every time I travel and leave behind for someone to find randomly.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Well, I guess my best advice is simply to try and get as many reviews as possible. And to be as active on social media as you can and to join author-reader communities. For example, I’m a member of a really great initiative called The Book Robin Hoods that connect authors with selected book bloggers. I can really recommend to check it out!
What do you do to get book reviews?
My publisher has some reviewers they use to work with and then I have contacted quite many myself. I have also arranged for giveaways, hoping the winners will write reviews. I’ve also contacted most of the featured reviewers in The Book Robin Hoods group.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Surprisingly good! All the contacts I’ve had have been so nice and most of the bloggers I’ve contacted have both been interested in reading the book and have written reviews for it. So I’m really grateful for that!
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I must say, that so far I’ve been lucky to only get good reviews. And with good reviews I mean honest reviews that are made with respect for the book and the author, not necessarily five star ones (even though those are the best of course and I’m really happy about the Goodreads average rating of 4,55 for my book…). Just as long as you can feel that you’ve reached out and that someone has really read and taken your book to his or her heart it’s more than enough to make me happy!
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I would like to thank you, Laura, very much for the wonderful support you give authors. And also to make a small request to you readers out there to try and help authors by giving reviews if you’ve read a book that you like. It means so much to authors and could really make a difference!
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Thank you, Laura! This interview series is really wonderful, I’ve enjoyed so much to read the previous ones and have sure found some new authors and books I must check out.