Interview With Author Anna Emm
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am a South African author, living in Cape Town with my husband and two daughters. I grew up in a house surrounded by art, theater and literature, and have been writing stories all my life. I have a diploma in primary school education, and taught 8-years olds for four years. This was where I really discovered the value of stories, as I witnessed first-hand how books and stories transformed children’s minds, emotions and self-confidence.
In 2006 I founded my own production company through which I wrote and produced more than 3000 original children’s stories, most of which were recorded and distributed in audio format. In 2015, my company won the AfriGrowth Award for Small Business of the Year. By the time I closed the business in 2020, my children’s stories had become quite a household name in South Africa.
Although the children’s story thing progressed naturally from my teaching years, I don’t see myself as a children’s story author. My big passion is writing cross-genre novels for adults = something I take very seriously – and I hope to find international representation for my books.
Up to date I have self-published 5 children’s books, 17 young adult books, 2 collections of short stories, 21 romance novels, 4 suspense novels, and 38 novellas. I also wrote and produced 4 plays and 12 children’s theater plays.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest novel is a thriller called, “Bartholomew’s in love” (100k words). It is about a man’s quest to escape a cult community set on an isolated island, guarded by a vengeful siren.
The story was inspired by two real-life events: (1) the 1677 mutiny on a Dutch slave ship, Meermin, and it’s subsequantial stranding on the South African coast, and (2) the death of my mother earlier this year. I was thinking a lot about freedom, the people who inspire us to take on such a pricey journey, and the fears that stand in our way.
I wrote the first draft (100k words) of “Bartholomew’s in love” in 20 days locked away in a small hotel room overlooking a canal.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My routine with every book is different. Some stories require a dark room and a candle. Some wants to be written at night, some in the early morning. Some stories demand total isolation, and some craves the noise of busy coffee shops. Some stories flow pretty much everywhere – in the car, or sitting in bed, or even on some rock by the sea. The only constant is that I always consume gallons of coffee while writing!
What authors, or books have influenced you?
As a teenager I was greatly influenced by South African author, André Letoit, (aka Koos Kombuis), who was part of the anti-apartheid Voëlvry-movement. Crime writer, Agatha Christie, has also been a big influence because of her free, informal writing style, her maze-like plots, and her quirky characters and sharp dialogue. I read across genres and enjoy original voices that tell inspirational stories – no matter the style or setting.
As a young child my father took me to many theater plays and art exhibitions, and I think, maybe even more than the books I’ve read, these experiences have greatly influenced the way I tell stories.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a rewrite of my fantasy thriller, “Road To Un”, and also on a new novel called “Family Ghosts”. The latter is a whodunit with a paranormal twist.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Facebook works for me. I have always had a loyal following there. I sell a lot of books locally through my website, and also recently got myself hooked on Goodreads…
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read a lot. Read across genres and styles. It will help you discover what stories you like and what stories you don’t like, and it will help develop your unique style. You can not become an authentic voice when you’ve only been influenced by one kind of voice. Then you will become a copy of that one voice.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Sometimes it takes more courage to admit you are on the wrong path (to stop, and change direction to the right path), than it takes to keep on trying to make it work on the wrong path.
What are you reading now?
I am currently listening to “Daisy Darker” by Alice Feeney on audiobook, and I am about to start reading “The Central Line” by Saskia Sarginson. I finished “The house on Fripp Island” by Rebecca Kauffman yesterday.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I would love to find international representation for my books.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
“Night Watch” by Terry Pratchett,
“The Ten Thousand Doors of January” by Alix E. Harrow,
“A Bright Ray of Darkness” by Ethan Hawke
Author Websites and Profiles
Anna Emm’s Social Media Links