Our chat with Anna…
My parents were also crucial to this. They both love books and read to me a lot as a child, which I think is hugely important. I reckon Dad could have been a sci-fi writer if he wasn’t so sensible. I was always the child inventing stories, and putting on plays on holidays with family and friends in France and Southwest Wales. And then using the profits to buy sweets!
This specific story has been with me since I was sixteen – so a long time! It’s always been there bubbling in the background of my mind while I got on with other things in life: A-levels, university, falling in love, moving to another country, getting married… It’s wonderfully and totally surreal that this idea is finally tied up neatly in a book.
Before they both read the full book, I read sections of it to Lola while I was doing my MA. Months after, I thought she must have forgotten, but she asked me about the characters and remembered so much detail. That was so lovely to know that it had made an impact on her and that she was so keen to know more of the story. She even used the name Aribella in her own creative writing at school so I think it must have made a good impression!
I also love newer children’s writers like Katherine Rundell, Abi Elphinstone, Catherine Doyle and Jessica Townsend. All these ladies build such magical worlds in their books that are a treat to get lost in. I still read TONS of children’s books and believe everyone should.