I first met Anna through KiwiWriters, and then SpecFicNZ. She seemed to be everywhere, writing, editing, producing books – how does this busy woman manage?
I think I was about five when I won second place in a writing competition organised by a local bookshop, writing a story about Mogg the cat (from the Judith Kerr series) pretending to be a horse. I drafted my first novel at ten, about German children hiding in Wales during World War II. It was heavily plagiarised, awful enough for me to wish I had a copy to laugh at, but nevertheless a novel.
There have been times in my life I haven’t written much, or have found it hard to write at all, but I can’t remember a time a love of writing didn’t exist in some form.
There is a large list of published work on your website – which one are you most proud of and why?
That’s a really tough question. I think I’m proud not necessarily of the best works, but of those I really needed to push myself to produce. ‘Blueprints’ (published in Fat Girl in a Strange Land) not only covered some topics I didn’t find exactly easy, but also represents a real change in my writing style, where I stopped being so bogged down with detail and really found the voices of my characters coming through. And then there’s Tales for Canterbury where I really surprised myself not just with the speed we managed to put it together, but also the number of people who came on board. I’m not the best person at approaching people, to put it mildly, but I’m glad I pushed past that.
What made you decide to be part of an editing team as well as writing?
I can’t remember how I came up with the idea for A Foreign Country, but I felt there was a place for it. I talked over it with my partner (who is an editor but not a writer) for some time before we put the ideas into action.
I thought that was going to be a one off, but then Tales for Canterbury happened. It was February 22nd 2011, and I was sitting at work, achieving precisely nothing besides signal boosting a few tweets. Then Cassie (she of excellent ideas) sent me an email which, to quote in part, said “So I had the idea that I could get a bunch of writers to put in stories for an anthology and donate all earnings to disaster relief.” That evening, I emailed to say I was in.
I’m currently editing a sequel to A Foreign Country, Regeneration (due out in July) and last year I was on the editorial board for JAAM #30. Maybe next year I won’t edit anything and just concentrate on writing!
What is different about your writing from general writing and why?
I’m not so sure what general writing is, but one of the features of my writing is having characters who make unusual decisions, and making those decisions make sense to the reader. At the moment, I’m particularly interested in exploring non-normative bodies, and how they interact with the world.
Do you find it hard to write Speculative Fiction or does it come easily for you?
Can be either really. I mull stories a lot before writing, so sometimes I can just sit down and write short in a couple of hours which needs very little editing. That’s rare though, and at the other extreme, I can often get really stuck on plot points, or even a plot at all (I tend to start from characters and setting).
What are you working on at the moment?
Lots of things! I’ve just finished the edits on a novella (‘This Other World’) to be published in a Crossed Genres anthology later this year. As my writing group has determined 2013 to be the Year of the Novel, I’m working on a scene by scene plan of the novel I’m tentatively calling ‘Liquid City’. The best way I can describe it is space opera meets steampunk and becomes something else entirely. Then there are a couple of short stories in the works – on a space-colonisation story, the other near-future science fiction with some cyborg-like elements.
Anna has a website at www.annacaro.org