Some Thoughts with … Anna K. Moss
Anna K. Moss
As you may know, as part of #GrimdarkTober I made a guest post on OneReadingNurse featuring my review of The Worthy, a rather unusual grimdark novel that is the debut of Anna K. Moss as author. I couldn’t let pass the opportunity of talking and asking some questions to another grimdark enthusiast, so here is, a little bit late, an interview with this fantastic author and editor (you can check more on this facet on her website).
1.- When did you start writing? Is The Worthy your first written novel or just your first published work?
I wrote a lot as a kid, but it wasn’t until I trained as a journalist that my love of writing really took hold. However, I found the world of news a bit too relentless, so I decided to escape into fiction. I’ve always been a fan of fantasy, so I was somewhat destined to write it, especially as it provided the escapism I yearned for. Dreaming up new worlds and fantastic creatures is a great way to remake life in new and interesting ways.
2.- What made you decide to self-publish it instead of going for a more traditional route?
While querying agents I joined Instagram and found the enormous writing community on there. The more I got to know indie authors, the more appealing the process sounded. Getting to retain all the creative control and setting my own deadlines seemed like a great alternative to traditional publishing, so I stopped querying and began to research self-publishing. The rest is history.
3.- The Worthy has an important feminist message. What inspired you to include it in your novel?
I consider myself very fortunate to live in a country where I have access to family planning services, am able to leave the house without a chaperone, can drive, can see friends, and can choose to have my hair uncovered. There are many women who don’t enjoy the freedoms I do. However, myself, and many women I know, have still been affected by our gender. I’ve been paid less than male counterparts for the same job, I’ve been in fear for my safety when walking home at night, and I’ve been assaulted. In The Worthy, the nation of Crell is essentially a medieval one, but really isn’t all that dissimilar to the modern world. By writing about strong, capable women who overcome all odds, despite the additional challenges they face, I hope to balance the scales and inspire others to tell similar stories. And the more stories which show gender equality, the more we change the narrative in the real world.
4.- Your novel could be considered low fantasy by the standards outside of The Sentilar, what made you include this element?
The Sentilar is a strange little being – it infects people with its emotions. If it’s happy and content, those around it feel the same. If it’s scared and angry, all hell breaks loose. However, it isn’t a magical creature, it’s simply evolved to project its emotions to survive. Like a dinosaur spraying venom or a chameleon changing its skin color. The real world is full of bizarre nature, so it didn’t seem too ‘high fantasy’ to include The Sentilar. He’s also a very lovable little thing when you get to know him.
5.- We are presented with two different countries in this novel, Crell, and Jintin, and sometimes it feels that both are made as a counterweight of the other. What inspired you into writing about these two nations?
Jintin could be considered a bit of a socialist utopia. Citizens from all walks of life are treated with respect and public wealth is paramount. Crell, on the other hand, is a war-mongering nation, led by jingoism. When the Brexit referendum happened, a rather revolting level of nationalism occurred in Britain. Crell is a reflection of those politics. It’s what happens when austerity is passed off as a necessity and open-heartedness is seen as weakness. It’s when private wealth is preferable to having functioning healthcare or kids with full tummies.
6.- Grimdark is a really special subgenre of fantasy, why did you choose it?
My favorite author, Joe Abercrombie, is a big inspiration for my writing. His grimdark books showed me a world of fantasy that wasn’t full of heroes, but instead shades-of-gray characters and hopeless situations. I like how grimdark reflects what I see as a more truthful version of humanity – flawed, desperate, but ultimately driven to survive. In that ache for survival, we find the little gems of hope and longing which make life worth living.
7.- In general, which ones would you say are the novels/films/art that has influenced you more to write The Worthy?
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie inspired the closing chapters of The Worthy – all the various characters are involved in a very large-scale battle – The Heroes does this brilliantly. The Terror (a BBC series about the real-life polar expedition in the ships called Terror and Erebus) was also a big inspiration. The desolation and psychological challenges the men on the ships faced were horrifying. The series captured the fear exceptionally well and I wanted to bring that element into The Worthy.
8.-Outside of writing, if I’m not wrong, you are also an editor. What kind of edits do you usually do?
I do everything from proofreading to full developmental edits. I’m very excited to have a couple of fantasy book edits over the next few months and I’ve just finished editing a great romance by Maeve Hazel. I like to mix it up with genres – it keeps my editing and personal writing fresh.
(Note: you can consult more about it on her website).
9.- Do you plan to continue writing in the future? Will we see a sequel or other novel in The Worthy world? What can you tell us about your plans for the future?
I’m currently working on a short story set in the world of The Worthy. It’s about the siege of Drenhaven (which is mentioned in an early chapter). I’ve introduced some new characters who will make an appearance in the sequel to The Worthy, including a very unlikely assassin called Eventime.
By my side, that’s all! I encourage you to follow Anna in her different socials, and to keep an eye on her, because she’s a really talented author (and editor).