Us: Your writing is absolutely beautiful-- how do you come up with the vivid imagery to transport your readers to a specific era?
Anna: Thank you so much! One of the wonderful things about writing historical fiction is that every book is an opportunity to do more research, to learn more about another time. And I find novels from other eras, not to mention all the ephemera of the past, really interesting. So much of what I do with my day is let my imagination take that evidence of what it was like to live then and run with it. I want to look at an old black and white photograph and obsess over it until I can see it in color, I want to make that real for myself in my mind and then for my readers in language.
Us: Of all your characters, who was the most fun to write and why?
Anna: Either Astrid or Penelope. Astrid’s whole m.o. is to be light and breezy, so that’s a total pleasure to write. But then it was fun to go, with Penelope, into a kind of pure and stylish villainy.
Us: The book covers for both The Luxe and BYT series are gorgeous! What goes into the process of making an amazing book cover? Did you have any say in how they would look, or get to see the models’ photo shoots?
Anna: Aren’t they just perfect? I don’t have much to do with them, but I’ve gone to the shoots for both series, and they are pretty full on productions! A whole team of very busy and glamorous people put together a set and call in dresses and get the models all done up in hair and makeup. Really fun stuff. And with the LUXE books in particular, I think the covers are seductive and eye-catching, but then they are also a perfect metaphor for what the books are about—how these tender young girls are almost overwhelmed by their luxurious world with it’s lavish interiors and over-the-top dresses, which are both seductive and a trap.
Us: I've heard that you're thinking about writing a book/series that takes place in modern-day times. Is there anything in the works yet? Any ideas for other YA books?
Anna: I would love to write something set in our time someday—I think that’s such an important thing to do for a writer, to use language to describe what you see with your own eyes— but I don’t have anything in the works yet. I’m only half way through the Bright Young Things series!
Us: What do you think would be the best and worst part about living in the 1920s?
Anna: The 1920s were a fun era in so many ways—the clothes, the music, the whole tone of the culture. And so much was being turned on its head—conventions in social behavior, conventions in art. But I think there was also tremendous amount of instability in everyday life, inequalities of income and health care and all these things that could be really devastating to those in a vulnerable position.
Us: I really, really wish The Luxe would be made into a movie or TV series!! Is there any chance of this **maybe** happening some day??
Anna: Me too! Yes, some folks have done some talking about making a movie out of The Luxe, and though it’s always hard to know with Hollywood, I think it would be wonderful if it happened! Let’s both keep our fingers crossed.
Us: Salty or sweet: Which is your fave food craving?
Anna: Salty all the way.
Us: What is your favorite historical fiction movie?
Anna: Probably McCabe and Mrs. Miller, which is so sad and beautiful, but also turns the conventional Old West movie on its head. Plus, it is not afraid of a little anachronism (which I always applaud), with the great Leonard Cohen music. And it’s Beatty at his most yummy.