We spoke to Anna Larner about her books and her writing plans for the future.
(A) TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR LAST PUBLISHED BOOK.
My debut lesbian romance Highland Fling had the working title How Does The Sun Know How To Shine?
Without giving too much of the plot away, early on in the book, Moira Burns (one of the main characters) is worried about her lack of sexual experience and she seeks reassurance from her first love. Her lover responds by saying “How does the sun know how to shine, Moira?” “How does the wind know how to blow?” “How does the rain know how to fall?” helping Moira to understand that her sexuality is as natural as nature itself and is something to be cherished and enjoyed.
It is one of the key messages that I hope readers will take from Highland Fling, along with living your life for today, looking forward, free from regret.
(B) WHAT GOT YOU INTO WRITING?
I attended the ‘States of Independence’ Book Festival held in Leicester’s De Montfort University, back in 2012. Bold Strokes Books hosted a panel on that day, encouraging people to consider writing for an LGBT press. It was a proper lightbulb moment for someone like me with an overactive imagination and a passion for all things LGBT.
(C) CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR WRITING STYLE? HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON PLOTS AND CHARACTERS? ARE YOU A PLANNER OR A PANTSER?
I’m a writer with a lyrical, descriptive style who cares about the detail of things. Bringing to life a setting is important to me, evoking a sense of place and the particular mood of the moment. I’m also keen to portray the uniqueness of each character, what makes them laugh, what makes them cry, and sharing this with the reader.
I’m not sure I decide upon plot and character, it’s more that a place, a person or an event sparks a creative response from which a story begins to form. For example, the idea for my latest work Love’s Portrait came from a creative writing workshop focusing on forgotten female abolitionists. Their passion and courage in the face of opposition was so inspiring that I began to wonder ‘what if’…and how to weave that ‘what if’ into a contemporary love story.
As to whether I’m a planner or a panster…I’m a bit of both. I work to an outline which gives me direction but ultimately the details, the heart of the story emerges from the act of writing, which for me is where the magic lies.
(D) IF YOU HAD TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY?
No, I wouldn’t change a thing. Going back and seeking to change the path of your life feels a bit like flattening out the mountains – with the breathtaking ride of the highs and lows lost in favour of a more plain and certain view.
(E) WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT PROJECT?
I’m currently working on my second novel Love’s Portrait, a contemporary romance infused with a tragic love story from the past. At the heart of the plot is the mystery of a watercolour of a beautiful woman painted in the 1830’s.
Again not trying to give too much of the plot away, it is a love story between Molly Goode (a sweet, quirky, and passionate museum curator) and Georgina Wright (a confident, stylish, but somewhat closed off investment banker) who has inherited the painting through the death of her father.
The theme of the book is about the strength, compassion, and ballsy-ness of women whether it be during the fight for the abolition of slavery or in the fight for LGBT voices to be heard in mainstream society.
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Not long to go now…
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