Hello there, lovelies!!!!😍 Today I am sharing with you my interview with Annie Woods! Annie Woods is the author of First Come Forever which is the first installment in the Angelheart series! I met Annie last year and was thrilled to read her book and LOVED it! You can find my review here. Not only was her book fantastic, she is a kind and supportive author. Annie gets involved with her readers, posts her own book reviews and goes the extra mile by featuring her reviewers and other special book enthusiasts on her website. You can find my Sunday Spotlight post I made about it here. Annie has been an inspiration to me and turned out to be a great friend!😍 Now let’s get to part where we learn more about Annie and First Came Forever!📝💖🌠
Backpacking with her high school friends, Erica Lindell’s life takes a thrilling new turn. Meeting the fascinating Sasha Ailes, she can’t help but fall completely and irrevocably in love with him. When he feels the same way about her, Erica finds herself drawn into a fairytale love story that will set her life on a new direction. But Sasha has kept his true identity a secret. Finding out who he really is, Erica must overcome the betrayal and make the hardest choice of her life. Can she give up her own dreams to live in his world, or leave and lose him forever?
First Came Forever is an enchanting, heart-wrenching story about finding true love and the devastating consequences it can lead to. What price is too high to pay, even for love?
Will you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, but I’ve spent a lot of time in the USA and UK. Currently I am partly living in the US, dividing my time between Stockholm and New York.
Reading has always been a big part of my life, I love to read and travel through books! My favorite genre is definitely YA, both contemporary and fantasy.
Other things I love are Italian food, champagne and, embarrassingly enough, Cosmopolitan drinks (yes very 1990s and Sex-And-The-City-ish, I know…)
I’m also kind of always freezing (you know, always wearing twice as much clothes as anyone else…), so I love the sun and being in warm countries. Funny, considering that I live in cold Sweden most of the time and in NY during winter, which is also as far from warm as you can get… My favorite thing is when it’s warm enough to lie under a sunshade (preferably in a hammock under a large tree) reading books without being cold. I love the feeling of being outdoor and healthy, when in reality you’re just lying still and reading…
Another “fun fact” about me is that I am super clumsy. I always drop things and spill food and drinks on my clothes. It even happens that I walk into walls, missing the door opening…
What are your hobbies?
Besides books I also love music, theatre, dance, art and movies; anything that brings magic to your life, really. And I love to run, so I’m spending quite a lot of time with my running shoes on.
I also love traveling with my family and experiencing the world together and doing outdoor activities, like hiking, surfing or skiing. On the top of my bucket list I have walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, climbing the Kilimanjaro, exploring the Great Wall and seeing the cherry blossom in Tokyo. I hope to be able to check some of those things off the list soon. (One can always dream, right…?)
Can you tell us about your new novel, First Came Forever?
First Came Forever is my first novel and it means so much to me! It’s the first book in The Angelheart Saga trilogy following 18-year-old Erica Lindell as an unexpected meeting changes her life forever.
It’s a story I’ve been carrying with me for years. The image of Erica and how she moved to US for love came to me on a vacation in California over four years ago. Driving along Highway 1 the plot and the other characters crystalized; how she meets Sasha and falls heads over heels in love with him, but how difficult even such a strong love can be when reality hits with their different worlds and the mixed feelings for Tyler that intrudes Erica’s mind. On the plane back home I started writing this book. Then it was the song Moonlight by Stevie Nicks that gave me the final direction for the book, and the courage to start writing it. When I learned about how the song is a combination of Stevie’s own personal relationship and the love story between Bella and Edward in Twilight it just hit me how to get the story I’ve had in my head for so long together. That it should focus on something both ancient and up to today. So, my book is a love story of the same kind as Bella and Edward’s, but instead of a vampire tale, it’s a conventional kingdom and its old-fashioned rules that forces Erica to decide what is worth giving up for love. I think that First Came Forever is a lot about finding your directions in life. To find out who you are and feel comfortable in your skin. To stay true to yourself and make your own decisions no matter how hard they are.
Are the characters in your story based off yourself or anyone else?
Yes, I have to admit that Erica is very much based off myself. Erica is just a tiny bit (oh, alright, A LOT!) smarter and better looking and with way more integrity. But, just like me, she’s clumsy, a bookworm, 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.
But Tyler on the other hand was not based off any person, he was just supposed to be this secondary character, the stereotype High School bad boy/jock that was not meant to play such an important role in the story at all. But when I started writing the book that changed completely. Or rather, he worked his magic on me… He really made me so interested and intrigued that I just wrote more and more about him, so in a way Tyler created his own character.
Also, most of the places described in the book are based off my own experiences. I’ve been to all places described myself, and I really love Cambodia and Vietnam, which I hope shows in the book.
There have been so many positive reviews on First Came Forever and everyone I know (including me) loves the story. Did this positive feedback take you by surprise? Were you nervous about the publishing process?
Oh my gosh, I was so nervous! 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 about them as real-life-persons, like my children or old friends that I wish the very best for. So it was so 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.
But it’s such an amazing thing to share your story with others, and getting positive feedback is just magic! I love the bookworm community and all the wonderful contacts; I’ve gotten so much love and support and encouragement, it’s just unbelievable! (This is also the reason why I started my “Sunday spotlight”-series on my blog, where I try to share and return some of all that love and support I’ve received by shining some light on an amazing blogger, bookstagrammer or other lovely book community person every Sunday.) And I’ve really found some amazing friends, found some true kindred spirits, like you, Dani! I can honestly say that getting to know you is one of the absolute highlights of having my book published!
How long has it been since you first started writing and created your own stories?
In a way the answer could be “always”, or at least as long as I have been able to write… When I learned to read a whole new world opened up to me. I can still remember the feeling of being blown away. So, reading has always been a big part of my life, and soon (I think already in first or second grade) I started to write my own stories. But I never thought I could be a writer, so I went on to study other things and pursued another career, and never really did a serious attempt to write. I guess I didn’t believe enough in the story or in myself… So First Came Forever is basically the first fiction I’ve written. When this story came to me, I felt that it was so strong that I just couldn’t let it go but had to try and write it down.
Who inspired you to become an author?
I really have to say thanks to my parents for opening up my eyes to the wonderful world of books, by giving me books at an early age and by always coming along to all bookstores I dragged them to. In school I also had some wonderful teachers who encouraged me a lot. And then there was my grandmother who was a painter, but who’d never dared to follow her dream and instead only painted ”for fun” at home, who taught me the importance of being brave enough to pursue your dreams. But I’m a late bloomer, so it took me quite a long time to really do that… I guess that you could say that it was the story itself that inspired me to dare to write it down!
The feeling when I held the first copy of the book in my hand was so overwhelming, I can’t even try to put it into words. I wish so much that I could go back in time and tell the younger me to believe in myself and pursue my dream to write much sooner, not to wait this long to do it.
What is the hardest part of writing?
I think that the hardest thing is to deal with a writer’s block. I’ve had a few of those, but I try not to worry too much about it (easier said than done though…) and allows myself to take a break from writing when I feel a block coming up. Instead I try to get some new inspiration from reading books and watching movies. And I also use running as a way to clear my head and get new inspiration.
Another hard part in writing a sequel, when so many have loved the first book, is that you are afraid to disappoint the readers. It was so much harder writing the second book than the first one, I have really struggled with writer’s blocks and anxiety this time.
Are there any authors that have inspired your love for writing?
Oh, yes, there are so many amazing authors out there! I love YA authors like Rainbow Rowell, Marie Lu, Cassandra Clare, E. Lockhart, contemporary authors like Maggie O’Farrell, Curtis Sittenfield, Nobel prize winners like Toni Morrisson, Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing… And an all time favorite is Joyce Carol Oates. I also have to mention Stephenie Meyer, since the Twilight series was the series that really opened up my eyes for the YA genre, even though I’m not sure that I would love the series quite as much if I reread it now.
What is your favorite book? I know this can be a difficult question for readers!
Right now the two books on the top of my mind is The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue by Mackenzi Lee and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell; I’m so in love with these books and the characters! But if I have to choose one “life-time” favorite book, it would have to be the Harry Potter series. To me, those books are pure book perfection! The way J.K. Rowling has created a whole universe on her own and all the characters that you love and carry with you in your heart forever. With Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling has also helped so many troubled and lonely children, giving them hope and bringing them joy, it’s utterly amazing. There’s even a research study proving that the Harry Potter books help children to be more accepting of LGBT persons, so the books are literally making the world a better place.
If you could give young writers (who’s dream is to be published) a piece of advice that has anything to do with the writing process, what would that be?
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 comes out, and it will be so worth it all!