Indie Support Sunday: Anna Lindgren
In early 2021, I was introduced to Anna Lindgren by a common friend just in time for her to release her debut, Every Step of the Way. I got myself an ARC and devoured it in a day and then got excited for more stories that Anna was going to be writing. Set in her home state of Alaska, her two books follow a set of friends in their small town and all of the love and drama that happens in their lives.
As someone who wants to one day visit almost every state in the US, meeting someone who lived in Alaska was like the coolest thing ever. It’s a state that’s so rarely featured in romances, but having lived there and experienced Alaska at its best and worst, you could tell how much Anna poured into her story as well.
Anna took some time off to start her family and she works full time as well, but is currently working on multiple different projects. We haven’t seen the last of the Smugglers Cove crew, but Anna’s got some more interesting stuff in store for us!
Transport yourself to small town Alaska with both her books which are available in Kindle Unlimited!
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
My mom inspired me to write. She wrote a column in the daily newspaper sharing short stories of her life, her children, and the people she worked with. Thoughtful stories that no matter how many times I've read them, they always make me cry. She'd always encouraged me to write as an outlet or way of dealing with challenging times.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
I worked in an Emergency Department after grad school and a supervisor encouraged me to read something I enjoyed to help compartmentalize. I found Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess at a garage sale and started reading it. My addiction to the romance world took off from there.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
I'm not sure I should even be admitting this in the light of day, but I actually tried going trad with my first book (that no one will ever read). I'm surprised I kept at it after receiving the mass amounts of rejection letters.
I went Indie with my Smugglers Cove series because these books were personal to me. I wasn't interested in contorting the place I grew up in, and the people I knew, to the trends. I wanted to leave it raw, a bit imperfect and at times misunderstood. That's my home, the place, and the people I love so dearly.
Who knows, maybe I'll try again one day.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part about being an indie author is getting to do everything myself.
I enjoy collaborating with friends I've met through Instagram and workshops. Their feedback and ideas are invaluable. I honestly feel like I would never have published Every Step of the Way had it not been for the friends I've met through bookstagram.
The worst part about being an indie author is feeling disconnected between who I am as a writer and who I am in my "real life". Does that make sense? I feel this surge of connectedness when I write and engage with this community and I sometimes feel bad hiding that, or not fully embracing it, in my day-to-day life.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
I write on the side but would love to write full-time. I work as a behavioral health clinical therapist at my local hospital.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
I'm quite good at fishing... although I don't have the patience for it. I'm good at crabbing–that is my favorite.
I enjoy kayaking and beach-combing. I like to explore new places that are a bit off the beaten path. I also enjoy gardening in the summers and growing our own food.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I've always thought about getting into writing thrillers.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (I know it's mainstream but it changed my life).
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Melanie Summers (any book she writes). She is the best at writing hilarious escapism.
Player by Staci Hart (but would recommend anything and everything she writes).
The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Your book will speak to someone in a way you could never have imagined.
Build a community of people you trust.
This industry is all about relationships. Don't take from those you don't expect to help later on.
You can't please everyone.
Write what you want to write and/or read.
Can you briefly tell me about your books?
I've written two small-town romances set in Alaska. The series of Smugglers Cove follows a group of adventurous friends as they find, or rediscover, love.
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
That is a tough question... I've got to say Ryan (Just Say It). He's got (immaculate) patience but is also not afraid to fight for what he wants. He's your storybook alpha with a bit of a sweet and vulnerable side.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I have a pretty great love story with an incredibly supportive partner. We began dating at the end of our senior year and had to get creative when it came to dates. It seemed like if we did anything "normal" such as go out to eat, we'd be the talk of town. So instead, we'd get in a skiff and boat around outlying islands, rain or shine. We'd find beaches to have bonfires on and waterfalls to explore. We'd kayak in hideous weather and be drenched and cold upon returning home but those are some of my favorite days, the unexpected adventures.
In essence, the stories I write are centered around the places I grew up and the people I met along the way. I have this love/hate relationship with Alaska and I get to continue exploring that through my writing. I love the landscape, the people, the experiences, but I hate the darkness, the isolation, and the dreary weather.
I began writing these when COVID hit. I had a lot more downtime and felt a bit isolated and disconnected. I was able to reflect on happier times and it helped pull me through the darkness I was experiencing. In a way, writing about it reminds me of all the challenges and helps me rediscover it for the first time. It's like getting to show off your home and friends to a bunch of new people and I think that's pretty cool.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
I like to think I sprinkle a bit of myself into each character I write. However, I tend to structure the characters around the people closest to me. The parts of them that I love and the parts they tend to hide from the world; their vulnerabilities or what they may view as weaknesses but that I see as a strength. Yes, at times we were indecisive or frozen by our fear of failure or views of feeling unworthy but I think that's what makes us uniquely (and yes, at times, annoyingly) wonderful.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
Is it sadistic to say I hope my readers feel pain?
Kidding... sort of.
I want my readers to feel the anticipation as adventures ensue, to feel the emotional pull between losing yourself in passion and the fear of losing yourself entirely. I want them to laugh at the silliness of friendships and quips and feel the weight or pain of whatever fears the characters are running from.
I want readers to find happiness despite adversity, acceptance despite flaws and love despite fear. Overall, I want readers to find a piece of themselves they may have lost somewhere along the way of growing up.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I'd like to continue telling stories about what life in Alaska, at least the part I grew up in, has been like. I also want to highlight more of the local quirkiness and the community celebrations. The town I grew up in is full of incredible artists and I want to honor that by continuing to share their stories.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
So... I'm working on a few projects at the moment. I am also a new mother which has been an enormous life transition so finding the time to complete anything like grocery shopping, laundry, let alone writing, has been difficult. With that being said, I have high (possibly unrealistic) hopes for this year.
The first is Noah's story. I have written the first draft and was rereading it and threw the majority of it out. I want to do the heroine justice and I'm not sure I've achieved that yet.
Aside from that, I have an almost complete rough draft of a new series that is somewhat of a crossover. So we see an individual from Smugglers Cove adventure outside of Alaska. I don't want to say too much there, but I'm excited.
The last is an idea that I've started plotting and am excited to see where it goes. I've had several people encourage me to write a story about the Moms of Smugglers Cove and I think I'm going to do it. The story has practically written itself–that is a lie. It has written the plot but the story will work itself out.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
Most favorite has to be enemies to lovers. Always cracks me up. I enjoy second chance romances as well because of the rich history they have. I also like best friend’s sister/brother. My least favorite... you know, I'm not quite sure. I read just about anything and tend to find enjoyment.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I'd love to write a hilarious enemies to lovers at some point.
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
That's a great question. I'd really like to see more body-positive male depictions like we've seen done more recently with heroines. I also would like to continue to see complex issues addressed like grief and loss, trauma, low socioeconomic status, the intersectionality of race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and so forth.
I know these topics are out there but they can take over the story, and we lose some of the magic that makes romance great. It's a delicate balance between our characters' identity and that not being their entire story; does that make sense?
I'm a plus-sized woman who struggles with bouts of anxiety and therefore, I'm a chronic over-thinker. If I were written as a character my internal monologue would definitely piss some people off. However, those identities may impact my story but they aren't the whole story.
See, those identities impact how I show up in the world and how the world shows up for me. There's this whole internal/external transactional thing going on and if I only focus on my weight and my anxiety then I miss all the others identities that make me, me. I'm a hard worker, a good friend, a fierce advocate in my work, a creative, a fisherman, a teacher, a mother, a partner, a believer, and many other pieces that make me who I am.
I think we sometimes lose that complexity in our characters when we try to fit them into a mold. I know I struggled with that in my second book Just Say It. I think I didn't tease out Hilary's complex grief enough and therefore her indecision was looked at as annoying rather than stemming from her trauma.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
I love how no matter who you are, where you come from, or what your background is, there is something here for everyone. I think this genre is more accepting than I could have ever imagined. The authors and readers in this genre pave the way and empower individuals to be themselves, to find comfort in the characters they uncover while reading. When we read about someone who feels like a hidden version of ourselves, we feel validated and accepted. We see that we aren't alone and that there is nothing wrong with us for being, or feeling, the way that we do. It's pretty fucking beautiful (sorry for the language there).
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones or series
Instrumental music or silence while writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl, NEITHER!
Illustrated cover or photo cover