Author Interview: Anna North

sidebar_annaAnna North, author of The Life and Death of Sophie Stark joins us today. Thank you for joining us Anna. First, Do you have any writing rituals/habits?

I like to write either in a chair by the window in my apartment, ideally with a cup of tea and maybe a candle burning, or at a coffee shop in my neighborhood, again with a cup of tea or maybe a cappuccino. I write all my first drafts long-hand in a journal; I feel like I’m much more imaginative writing this way than at a computer. I try to write for about an hour in the early morning each weekday, and again for an hour or a little more on Saturday or Sunday (depending on the week, though, I might write a little more or a little less).


Which fictional character would you like to swap places with for a day and what would you do?

Maybe this is cheating because it’s TV and not books, but I’d trade places with the Doctor and travel through time and space. I’d go back in time and visit Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare, and then go to Gallifrey and hang out with the Time Lords.


Sophie starkYour book is called, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark. Can you tell us a little about it and how the idea originated?

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is the story of a brilliant and enigmatic filmmaker, told by the people who loved her most. I had wanted to write about a filmmaker named Sophie Stark for years before I started the book; I even wrote a few pages, but then put them aside. After I finished my first book, America Pacifica, I started trying to write about Sophie again in earnest, and that’s when I got the idea of writing the book from multiple perspectives. Once I realized I could tell Sophie’s story through multiple points of view, the book started to come together.


What’s your favourite word?

I don’t know if I have a favorite word, exactly, but I have some words I use a lot (maybe too much). In America Pacifica I used the word “filthy” a lot — in my defense, the post-apocalyptic world I was describing was really filthy. In The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, my editor pointed out I used the words “mad,” “sad,” “bad,” and “whiskey” more than was strictly necessary, which I guess says something about the mood of the book. I ended up replacing some of them; now the characters occasionally drink wine instead of whiskey, and get angry instead of mad.


What’s the best and worst part of the writing process for you?

The best part is probably writing the first draft, with my journal and my cup of tea, spending that time in my own head just slowly coming up with the story. The worst part is probably typing it in; that’s the price I pay for not typing it in the first place. Revising can also be scary. First drafts feel low-pressure, but then when I’m revising, especially on deadline, sometimes I’m scared I’ll never get it right.


What’s your planning process before beginning a novel?

I actually plan very little before I write a novel. For The Life and Death of Sophie Stark I did read some books about filmmaking and talk to some filmmakers, but I didn’t write an outline or anything like that. I don’t really know what’s going to work until I start writing, so planning and outlining don’t help me much — once I have a basic idea, I just have to jump in.


What would your superhero name be and what would you choose for your superpower?

I think I’d like the powers of a falcon — I would fly super-fast and also have super vision so I could spot enemies and hazards from hundreds of miles away. Maybe my name would be Falcra.


Which five fictional characters would you like round for a dinner party?

Odysseus, Nell from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, Lessa from Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, Ariel from The Tempest, Mrs. Dalloway (she can host).


If you could cast your book for a film, who would you cast?

For Jacob, maybe Oscar Isaac (his character in Inside Llewyn Davis is a little like Jacob). For Allison, maybe Romola Garai. Sophie would be the hardest one to cast — I actually think Kristen Stewart might do a good job, although she’s a little too conventionally beautiful for the role.


Which five pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  1. Write as much as you can.
  2. Read as much as you can.
  3. Read lots of different kinds of books, not just the kinds of books you think you might like to write. And read poetry and nonfiction too, not just fiction.
  4. Try writing poetry. Even if you only want to write fiction, poetry will give you a feel for rhythm that nothing else can really teach you.
  5. Try to find a way to enjoy writing. Then you’ll always want to do it, even if you don’t really have time.


If you were told you could only own three books, which three would you pick?

The Odyssey, The First Five Books of Poems by Louise Gluck, Infinite Jest.


The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is available from most major bookshops. Click to view on Amazon UK, Amazon US and iBooks.

sidebar_annaAbout Anna: 

Anna North is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her first novel, America Pacifica, was published in 2011, and her second novel, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark will be published by Blue Rider Press in May 2015. She has been a writer and editor at Jezebel, BuzzFeed, and Salon, and is now a staff editor at the New York Times.

For more information about Anna, visit her website: and she’s also on Twitter:


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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