Publication Day: Introducing A.F.E. Smith!

It’s A.F.E. (Anna) Smith’s publication day for the truly enrapturing Darkhaven, the first in a sumptuous new series. We’re very proud to introduce you to Anna! In October 2012, HarperVoyager signed 15 full-length novels from mostly unagented writers, gathered in a two-week open submissions process. A.F.E. Smith’s DARKHAVEN is one of these novels, chronicling the trials and tribulations of Ayla Nightshade, heir to the shapeshifting Darkhaven family line. Here, as part of our series of interviews with these debuting HarperVoyager authors, we talk to Anna about the writing life. Hi Anna, thanks for talking to us. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. I am an editor of academic texts by day and a fantasy writer by night. So far, I haven’t mixed up the two. I live with my husband and our two young children in a house that someone built to be as creaky as possible – getting to bed without waking the baby is like crossing a nightingale floor. Though I don’t have much spare time, I make space for reading, mainly by not getting enough sleep (I’m powered by chocolate). My physical bookshelves were stacked two deep long ago, so now I’m busy filling up my e-reader. What was your first ever job? I got my first ever paid job when I was 16, and as it happens, it was a writing job. I had to keep a diary of my sixth form experiences for an educational supplement. I felt like I’d properly

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started my writing career and I’d be publishing novels in no time. Of course, as always, the path ahead turned out to be a little twistier than that. Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up? I’ve always wanted to be an author. Or at least since the age of six, which is as young as I can remember wanting to be anything. That was when I wrote my first ever book. It was about Superabbit, a flying rabbit who went around saving people from the clutches of his evil nemesis, Superfox. I still have it somewhere. Liveship What was the inspiration for your novel? It started with a vivid scene that crept into my head: a young woman escaping imprisonment at night. I knew she was a shapeshifter, and I knew she’d been accused of murder, but that was all. The plot, the rest of the characters and the city of Arkannen itself grew from there. What is the best advice anyone has given you about writing? ‘Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.’ Actually I think it was Picasso who said that. But it’s still the best writing advice I can think of. Aside from writing, what is your favourite thing to do? I want to say something cultural and impressive, but in all honesty, the thing I probably spend most of my limited free time doing is procrastinating on the internet. You know how it is: you check in to Facebook for five minutes and before you know it three hours have passed. I also read vast quantities of books, of course, and watch movies, and eat snacks (I’m very keen on snacks). I spend a lot of time with my husband and my children. And occasionally, I have been known to solve mathematical equations for my own entertainment. Earthsea What are your top three SFF books and why? Only three? That’s a tricky one. I’m going to cheat and go for three series, because who can pick just one book out of a series? So here goes: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books. Some of the first fantasy novels I ever read, and they left an indelible mark. They’re complicated and real and they never go in exactly the direction you’re expecting. Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders Trilogy. I love all Robin Hobb’s books, but I particularly like the Liveship books because they interweave so many different storylines so beautifully. Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy. These books are a perfect example of young adult fiction that’s both thought-provoking and exciting. They were some of the first books I read on my e-reader rather than in print, and I just couldn’t stop clicking through the pages. Seriously gripping. But those three are just the tip of a very large iceberg! Chaos Walking If you could ride off into the sunset with a fictional character, who would you choose and why? Inigo Montoya. After spending the majority of his life focused solely on revenge, he deserves a break.   Find A.F.E. Smith on Twitter @AFESmith and online at

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