Annie Woods is a Swedish author and the creator of The Angelheart Saga. With the second book, Forever Disguised, having been released in June 2018, we wanted to catch up with the author and ask a few questions.
Can you give us an overview of your books? What are they about and who are they aimed at?
The Angelheart Saga is a contemporary and romantic young adult series following 18-year-old Erica Lindell as an unexpected meeting changes her life forever. It’s a story about friendship, first love and the devastating consequences a mistake can lead to.
So far, the first two instalments in the trilogy has been published – First Came Forever and Forever Disguised.
When we first get to know Erica, in First Came Forever, she’s backpacking with her friends in Asia, but meeting the mysterious Sasha and falling in love with him sets her life on a new direction. But it’s not a typical love story as it focuses more on the difficulties when reality hits and how Erica struggles to make the right choices and stay true to herself. Should she give up her own life to be with Sasha or risk losing him forever? Where should she draw the line for what is worth giving up for love? And, as if that’s not enough, there’s also the mixed feelings for her team mate, Tyler, that intrudes on Erica’s mind.
Then in Forever Disguised, we once again meet Erica as she has to find a way to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart and live with the consequences of her actions. But finding the strength to go on with her life is not all she has to contend with. Soon, Erica finds herself in the midst of the evil feuding behind the attack on Sasha and she has to fight to protect herself and all that is near and dear to her. Amongst all of the confusion, pain and hurt, Tyler proposes a solution that may solve all of her problems. But will Erica go through with Tyler's crazy scheme?
What inspired you to write a young adult romance saga?
I have always loved teenage love stories, with all their intensity and all-consuming feelings; the coming of age and accepting who you are, and the characters you get to know and love and hope for a happy ever after, despite all obstacles in their way. So, I’ve always kind of known that I wanted to write in this genre, to tell a story for teenagers as well as for any adult who remembers his or her first crush and the emotions of it all.
Is your main character, Erica, based on you in any way? If so, how?
Yes, I have to admit that Erica is very much based on myself. But, as is an author’s privilege, she is a bit smarter and better looking…but besides that, she’s just like me: clumsy, a bookworm, something of 'an old soul', feeling out of step with her same age friends and being too serious for her own good at times; a kind of bad driver, but a great runner, finding peace and quiet and respite from all demands out in the woods with her running shoes on.
A lot of the first book focuses on Erica’s travels, which is where she meets the infamous Sasha – are Erica’s experiences abroad based on your own?
Yes, most of the places described in the books are based on my own experiences and my own visits. I really love Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as Chicago and New York (which is my second home), and I’ve done my fair share of backpacking in Asia, which I hope shows in the books.
Your books have been incredibly popular with bloggers – did you anticipate this kind of reception to the Angelheart Saga?
Having your book published is like sending your child off to school for the first time. I’ve been living with the characters in the book for years now, so I actually think of them as real-life people, like my children or old friends that I wish the very best for. So, I was devastatingly nervous to have the book published and wait for the readers' reactions, hoping that they would love Erica, Sasha, Tyler and all the others just as much as I do. I feel so blessed for all the positive responses I have received! It’s such an amazing thing to share your story with others; the thought that there are people out there reading my work and falling in love with and caring about the characters I’ve created is just overwhelming! The book community is so supportive and engaged and I’ve met so many wonderful people, and gotten so much encouragement since the release of my books. I really love the interactions with the readers and book bloggers, and how they reach out with positive feedback, suggestions for the story (if Erica should choose Sasha or Tyler, for example) and creating beautiful aesthetics for the books and so much more. The amazing response I’ve received is just unbelievable, nothing I could have anticipated at all!
How would you say your books stand out from other novels? What makes them special?
One thing that is special in the novels is that the love story – as the title First Came Forever suggests – is a kind of backward love story. It starts with the fairytale love already from the beginning (instead of getting Prince Charming as the end game) but showing how hard it is to get fairytale love to work when reality hits. It’s also somewhat different than most love stories in that the main character, Erica, is so ambitious and wants more in life than just getting married, and how she struggles to make the right choices without losing herself in the relationship.
The message that I wish to bring across to my readers is the importance of staying true to yourself and to make your own decisions. That you should live your life for you and not limit yourself because of other expectations or opinions. And for girls, that it is alright to be ambitious and to want something more in life than just marrying Prince Charming. And for anyone, that you have the right to be who you are and to be free to love whomever your heart falls for.
Can you give us any hints about what might happen in the third instalment?
Well, I can say that there will be some more tough decisions for Erica to make and some new unexpected plot twists. There will also be some more travel in this book, returning to some of the places we’ve visited in First Came Forever, but also some new ones. I can reveal that Erica will finally get to see Andonia and the royal castle, but this should not be taken as a hint that she chooses Sasha in the end (sorry to all you Team Sasha and Team Tyler, you’ll have to wait for the release of the book to find out if Erica chooses Sasha, Tyler, or maybe someone else…).
I’d love for all of the characters in the book to get their happily ever afters, but I’m quite sure I won’t be able to accomplish that. But who knows? The parts about writing a book that I like the most is when the characters take over, when they kind of create their own stories. So even though I have a pretty good idea, I don’t have the exact ending all sorted out yet, but am just as excited as the rest of you to find out what will happen!
Much like Team Edward and Team Jacob from the Twilight saga, many of your readers are torn between Team Sasha and Team Tyler, so we have to ask – which team are you on?
Oh no, I couldn’t possibly choose a team! It would be like choosing which of your children you love the most…
What advice would you give other aspiring authors looking to get published?
The best advice I can give is to believe in yourself and never give up on your dream! And to just get into the habit of writing a little bit every day. It’s really the hard work and actually putting the words in your head down on the paper that makes you a writer. Writing down the initial concept is so much fun, then after that, it is basically just a lot of hard work…but just keep in mind the story you want to tell, and that you will get to share it with others when the book is released, and it will be worth all the hard work!
Another piece of advice, once you have the manuscript completed, is to contact a well-reputed and professional publisher. There are so many things around a book publication that you probably have no clue about as a writer. I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received from my publisher, Pegasus, in every step of the process, from designing the cover to the marketing and everything in between.
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