I met Anna a couple of months ago at one of our torkidlit tweetups. Anna is a lovely person who has kept her talents and accomplishments under wraps. I love it when I find out awesome stuff about people from OTHER people. Especially when said person is in the same room. That’s the way it was with Anna. It wasn’t until someone else mentioned that Anna has two forthcoming kidlit novels (and a forthcoming baby, too!) that I realised this quiet individual who was sitting across the table from me has some serious goods!
Meet Anna Humphrey.
Please introduce yourself to us.
Hi there. I’m Anna. I’m an expectant author—by which I mean that my first two books are coming out later this year—and an expectant mother—by which I mean I’m having a baby in July. Currently, though, I’m a stay-at-home mom to an energetic three-year-old girl, wife to a really great husband and a freelance writer/editor who works for a variety of youth- and family-serving organizations on projects like brochures, annual reports and website copy.
Tell us what a typical day looks like for you. Er, if that even exists.
Not really. Each day of the week my schedule is a patch-work of blocks of time made up of either preschool-time, babysitter-time or naptime (the naptime’s not for me, unfortunately) which is when I get my writing done… as well as trips to the library, ballet lessons and playdates (all, again, unfortunately not for me).
Whatever a particular day ends up looking like, though, I usually get at least two hours of relatively uninterrupted writing or editing time, which is either devoted to freelance work or fiction, depending on what’s more pressing.
It’s so exciting that you’re having two books released this year! Tell us about them.
My first book is ‘upper middle grade’ fiction. It’s called Margot Button Makes a Bet. (Or, at least, I think it is. We’re still finalizing the title). It’s about a girl named Margot Button who doesn’t fit in for about ten different reasons. As seventh grade begins, however, she meets a charismatic (and slightly scary) new girl named Em who is determined to take down the popularity queen, which she and Margot do, with some near-disastrous consequences. It’s being published by Disney/Hyperion Books for Children and will be out in the fall.
My second book is technically a teen romance, but I think of it as more of a romantic comedy. It’s called Rhymes with Cupid and is about a girl named Elyse who, after a terrible heartbreak last Valentine’s day, has sworn off dating as well as celebrating the February 14th holiday. Both things are a bit of a problem, though, since a) she works at a gift & stationery store, surrounded by tacky, sparkly cards and annoying singing Cupid dolls and b) she ends up meeting this guy named Patrick who works in the same mall and is her new neighbour and her driving instructor and is really cute and incredibly charming… which, you know, might be okay except for the whole ‘sworn off dating’ thing and the fact that he seems to be into her best friend. That’s being published by HarperTeen and will be out December 8th.
Are you currently working on anything new?
I have a few projects on the go.
Can you tell us about them?
One is a more serious book with the working title How do you Say ‘I Love You’ in Pig Latin? It’s about a girl’s first love and its effect on her closest friendship. It’s kind of about manic depression, too, though, and finding the courage to do the right thing for the person you love, even if it could mean losing them. I’m also in the very early stages of another teen romance with the working title Lemons & Lies. It’s about a quiet, cautious girl who works in a giant lemon (inspired by my first summer job!). As a bit of an experiment, she comes up with a tough chick persona, and that same day meets a skater boy who develops a crush on the girl he thinks she is. And I’ve been working on a possible sequel to my first book.
How and when did you start writing?
I was really lucky to spend my teenage years at Canterbury Arts High School in Ottawa. It’s one of only two high schools in Canada I know of that has a creative writing specialty program. Every year, they let in about 20 kids, and the year I turned 15, I was one of them. If I know anything about writing, I learned it there. And because of the hours and hours of writing time I put in during those years—and the guidance of some great teachers and peers—I started publishing poetry and prose pieces in literary journals when I was about 17.
Was there anything that, or anyone who, particularly inspired you to write?
Back when I was in my early twenties, I met an award-winning poet named Adam Getty. When I asked him how he fit his writing in with his full time job and the rest of his responsibilities, he told me he wrote one poem a week! My first thought was, like, “Really??! Only one? That’s so lazy.” And then it hit me. I wanted to be a writer, too, and at that time in my life, I was writing no poems and no pages per week. So who, exactly, was lazy?
Since then, I’ve aimed to write something every day. At really busy times, that’s been one page… at less busy times it’s 4 or 5 or 6. But the point is, if you write something almost every day (even if it’s only a sentence or two), eventually you’ll have a book to show for it. And if you write nothing every day… well… All I wish now is that I’d started sooner!
Is there anyone who stands out as a mentor and/or strong supporter of your writing?
Lots of people, actually. My teachers at Canterbury (see above). My grandma. My dad. My mom. My friends. Also, the extremely talented Helen Humphreys (bestselling author of Leaving Earth, The Lost Garden, Afterimage and other books) used to exchange letters with me when I was a teenager. She took an interest in my writing after she rejected something I sent in to a literary magazine she was editing… partly because our last names are so similar. J That meant a lot. Just her taking the time. I hope I can do that for another young writer one day.
Looking back on your journey thus far, what advice would you give your pre-published self?
I think I’d tell myself that finding a publisher to work with is really great… but it’s not everything. I keep thinking the next step will make me feel like an “official author.” Whether it’s finishing a manuscript, finding an agent, signing a contract, meeting my editors, seeing my cover art… but, so far, anyway, none of it really has. The only part that makes me feel legit is sitting down and writing, and I had the power to do that all along, with or without a publisher.
Do you have other interests besides writing?
Ummm… no? Okay… maybe. I used to take hip hop dance classes. That was fun while it lasted. Sometimes, I like to sew, even though my husband would beg to differ (re-threading the machine makes me swear like a sailor). I read a lot but, honestly, besides that, I am hobbyless. One day, when I don’t have little-little children, I plan to have other interests again.
Can you share a favorite quote with us?
“Work is love made visible.” – Kahlil Gibran
At this stage of my life (like any newish parent) I don’t have oodles of time for myself, but I don’t mind because those words sum up how I feel about my “work”… by which I mean everything… my fiction… my freelance jobs… being a mom…. even (occasionally) the housework. Most days, I love it all, and it’s my sincere hope that the finished product—whether it’s a young adult novel, a youth organization’s annual report, or a batch of cookies I bake with my daughter—makes that evident. I feel really lucky to be where I am, doing what I’m doing.
Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us, Anna. And all the best on your three forthcoming arrivals! What a year!
Don’t you think Anna’s books sound great? I do! Make sure to look for them this fall and winter. In the meantime, you can keep up with Anna at www.annahumphrey.com