Everybody sees the world differently, and I see the world in details. Sometimes it’s the hush of a pastel dawn that’s inspiring. Sometimes it’s the look in an old man’s eyes when he holds a sun-bleached photograph of his younger self. Sometimes it’s my own heartbreak.   

Shyness and bullying at a young age was the impetus for Anna Vera to bury herself in reading. Reading led to writing and the release of her sci-fi novel When Stars Burn Out. Now working on the sequel we catch up with her to talk about dropping off social media, analyzing why you write and embracing the spiraling vertigo of vulnerability.

Please give us a brief overview of yourself and your work.

Hello, everyone! My name is Anna Vera, and I’m the author of the Sci-Fi novel, When Stars Burn Out, as well as its soon-to-be-released sequel, A Dark Sky Opens. I currently live in Flagstaff, Arizona, where the magnificent Diana Gabaldon grew up.

When I’m not writing (for once), I’m usually thinking about writing or eating or both. Every now and again, I like to do yoga in 104-degree heat and 80% humidity. I also enjoy video games, being outdoors, and spending money frivolously.

What made you want to be a writer?

I was painfully shy when I was younger—so shy, I would literally never speak up in class and was actually held back a grade because of it. I was the perfect target for bullies and quickly developed a white-hot distaste for most people my age.  

That’s when I started reading. Academically, I’m super average (if not below average, let’s just keep it R-E-A-L in this interview), but when it came to reading? I was much farther ahead than my peers. Reading rapidly lead to writing. And writing rapidly became my all-time favorite catharsis and creative outlet.

It’s strangely poetic that a girl of so few words would fall so deeply in love with them.

Author Anna Vera with her novel

What inspires you to write?

Everybody sees the world differently, and I see the world in details. Sometimes it’s the hush of a pastel dawn that’s inspiring. Sometimes it’s the look in an old man’s eyes when he holds a sun-bleached photograph of his younger self. Sometimes it’s my own heartbreak.   

Everything is inspiring, especially if it’s sad, and that’s what I always strive to translate into my written work—even if my written work is about an apocalypse, with a bunch of zombie-like creatures clawing out their own eyes (see: WSBO). Heh.   

Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that When Stars Burn Out got into Pitch Wars in 2014, which was arguably a career-changing experience. The book wouldn’t be what it is today without the guidance of my mentor and fellow Pitch Warriors!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Ask yourself the question “Why do I want to write?” and answer it honestly. Study the answer. Analyze and dissect it—and hold onto it when the tides of the journey start to roil and thrash, threatening to tow you under. It will hopefully serve as a buoy in those inevitably turbulent times. It does for me.

What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?

Establishing an online presence and forging an author platform—for me, at least, and that’s mostly because I’ve got an inherent fear of social media (and everything that typically accompanies that breed of self-exposure).

The fact remains, however, that I’d be doing myself a grave disservice in abstaining from social media altogether. Instead, I’ve started looking at it as a second creative outlet, another way to share my world and insights with others—not just a way to sell books.

Book Cover of When The Stars Burn Out by Anna Vera

What methods of book marketing do you find the most effective? 

I’m terrible with marketing. It’s something I’m working on. But connecting with other people is a thing I’m slightly less terrible at. This could sound like a cop-out, but spreading the love and supporting other writers/authors doesn’t hurt. Usually, they return the favor.

How do you make time for your book marketing?

Again, I am basically trash at this. Writing is always my first priority—a thing made evident by the fact that I dropped off social media entirely last month while finishing A Dark Sky Opens.

When I’m not on deadline, I like to alternate days of writing and days of marketing. One day, I’ll throw down words on a new manuscript or outline. The other, I’ll do something that nurtures my marketing endeavors. Keeping a black-and-white approach helps a lot.  

How do you handle rejection as a writer?

Rejection, indiscriminately, sucks ass. (Am I allowed to say that?) But I’ve gotten better with critical feedback—and more specifically, acknowledging that the perception of art is always subjective.

Honestly, though, I’ve got a pretty thick skin (as a person, and as a writer). Not everybody will enjoy my kind of writing. That’s totally fine. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing it, publishing it, and posting a million pictures of it on Instagram! 

How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?  

Well, I’m a social recluse, so . . . Kidding. Kind of.

Tapping into the writing community is essential. I’ve forged friendships with so many writers online, it’s mind-boggling (especially to my mother, who’s still living in the age of Don’t Trust People On The Internet). Having them as a support system is such an advantage, especially when you’re feeling particularly misunderstood by the non-writers in your life!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?

Several things:

1.     GET USED TO SHARING YOUR WORK (with qualified readers, who aren’t your mother or family members). Embrace the spiralling vertigo of vulnerability. Actually, no. Take it a step further and make it your home, because it’s not going to ever get easier or less intimidating.

2.     STUDY YOUR DAMN CRAFT. Writing is one thing. Story is another.  

3.     DON’T GIVE UP. There will be dark days when you doubt your writing. There will be even darker days when you realize others doubt it, too. These moments are self-defining and can even be empowering. I bet you’ve got more fight left in you than you’re aware of.

When Stars Burn Out is available for purchase on Amazon. Find out more about Anna's work via her website and social media channels: Instagram, Twitter and YouTube