I’m delighted to be joined by fellow YA fantasy author, Anya Josephs.
Anya Josephs was raised in North Carolina and is now pursuing a career in social work in New York City. When not working or writing, she can be found seeing a lot of plays, reading doorstopper fantasy novels, or worshipping their cat, Sycorax.
Anya’s writing can be found in Fantasy Magazine, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, and Mythaxis, among many others. Queen of All, a fantasy for young adults, is her first novel, available now in bookstores everywhere.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
A little bit about me—I’m 27 years old. I was born in Boston, raised in North Carolina, and now live and work in New York City. I studied English at Columbia University and UCLA, and am now a Master’s of Social Work student at NYU. My hobbies include Nerd Stuff (losing at Magic the Gathering, running Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, reading doorstopper fantasy novels), theatre (both attending and directing plays), and admiring my cat (Sycorax, the love of my life).
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Queen of All was the first book I ever started writing, when I was only twelve. In the meantime, I’ve written several—a really terrible vampire novel when I was 13, a portal fantasy that will probably never be good for anything except as the basis for the RPG campaign that I’ve based on it, as well as the sequel to Queen of All that’s coming out next year and a science fantasy retelling of King Arthur that I’m querying now. I’ve also just started work on a new project, a young adult fantasy romance based on Armenian mythology.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
Queen of All is a high fantasy novel for young adults. It’s about a fourteen-year-old girl named Jena, who thinks of herself as being ordinary in pretty much every way—so ordinary that no one notices her in the shadow of her far more beautiful and charismatic best friend, Sisi. But when Sisi receives a letter from the crown prince summoning her to the palace, Jena has to find a way to become the hero of her own story or risk losing Sisi forever.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
What inspired this book was really my love for other books in similar genres. I am a huge fan of YA high fantasy, and when I was a kid I would read basically anything I could get my hands on, so long as there was a dragon on the cover. But as much as I loved (and love!) These books, there was always something missing for me. I never got to see anybody like me as the hero. No matter how much I related to the characters, there was something missing, and I wanted to write a book for all the kids who might still feel the same way.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
The only way to improve at writing is to do it a lot. I wish there were some kind of cool tip I could give you that would catapult your craft to the next level, but the truth is that it’s an extremely gradual practice. Find ways to practice where you get frequent feedback and deadlines to give you accountability—work with a writing group where you’ll workshop each other’s pieces, write fanfiction so you can get comments, write short stories and submit them to journals—but mostly, just write a lot.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
I love creating characters! I really love a lot of the characters I’ve made, and getting to know them is my favorite part of being a writer. I know they aren’t real people, but in a peculiar way I feel very honored that they ‘trust’ me to tell their stories!
List three interesting facts about yourself
I can read about 4,000 words per minute—it’s called hyperlexia. I was only twelve when I started writing Queen of All, and it’s based on a game of pretend I used to play with my brother and a friend as little, little kids. I have more books than square feet in my apartment (about 600 and 315, respectively).
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
By far, developmental editing. And that’s with sincerest apologies to my editors, who are phenomenal and made this book so much better. But it’s so stressful to have to take the edits of someone you don’t know at all, on a timeline, feeling like the stakes are super high because your book is actually facing publication and this time you have to get it right.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Readers can do a lot more than they know to help a book succeed! Until I was getting published, I didn’t realize how intimate the scale of bookselling really is, but all it takes is a few small actions to help a book succeeds, and most of them cost you nothing except a couple of minutes. If you enjoy my book, please: ask your local libraries and bookstores to stock it or consider bringing me in for an event (they’ll be glad to hear from you!); leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads; post about it on social media; and, above all, recommend it to your friends! Thank you so much for your support!
What is your next project?
Well, Queen of All will have two sequels, so up next is the edits for Book Two. I’m also querying my adult science fantasy novel, which is a retelling of the King Arthur mythos set in a Handmaid’s Tale-esque dystopian patriarchal future. And I’ve just started writing my new book, which is a retelling of the Armenian folklore of Queen Anahid, diving into that part of my heritage as well as issues of gender, class, labor, and exploring writing about romance for the first time!
Connect with Anya here:
In a Kingdom once filled with the magic of the Goddess Gaia, fourteen-year-old Jena has never left her family’s tiny, failing farm. With an absent mother and an inattentive father, Jena’s only solace is her cousin Sisi, a girl renowned throughout the Four Corners of the Earth for her indescribable beauty. But when a letter arrives for Sisi from Prince Ricard, the man Sisi suspects is responsible for the recent devastation across the lands, the two girls find themselves thrust into a world far more extravagant, and dangerous, than ever before.With her cousin caught under the watchful eye of the Prince, it is up to Jena to uncover the history of the Kingdom and its forgotten magic. But scouring a royal library can unlock more than just history: where there are discoveries of the past, there are discoveries of the self. And for plain, unremarkable Jena, secrets and sacrifice may be the only way to save her cousin-and herself.
BUY your copy of Queen of All – https://bookshop.org/books/queen-of-all-9781952919398/9781952919398