Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston, Mass. with her husband and their adopted black Labrador, Emma. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. You can visit her at www.annastan.com.
Hi Anna. Thanks so much for doing this interview on your release week for My Epic Fairy Tale Fail. Did you know that My Very UnFairy Tale Life would be a series when you wrote it?
I knew pretty early on that the idea had series potential, but I wanted to make the first book stand alone. Right around the time the first book came out, my agent and I sold two follow-ups. Luckily, I'd kept a larger thread in the story (Jenny's absent parents) open, so I was able to carry that through the rest of the series.
How did you come up with the idea for this twisted fairy tale series?
I was working on a dark YA and really needed a break. When I sat down to write something funny, out came a scene about a girl and a talking frog. The girl was so snarky and spunky that I knew I wanted to keep writing about her. I soon discovered she was an adventurer who solved magical problems--and she was sick of it! Once I knew that about her, it was way too much fun to throw fairy tale and fantasy themes at her and see what she would do.
Tell us about your journey. How did you get your first book published?
Like most publishing journeys, it was a long one. I'd been writing for years, but it wasn't until I finished grad. school that I decided to work toward getting published. A few years and maaaaaany rejections later, I finally got an agent. Another year and maaaaany more rejections later, I finally sold my first book.
Was there ever a point that you felt like giving up?
Definitely. Every rejection--especially the kind that made me feel like I was SO close--was a struggle. There were days when I thought I would never get published, but at the same time, I knew I couldn't give up. I'd wanted to be an author since I was in elementary school, and I had to keep trying. Thank goodness I had family, friends, my unbelievably patient husband, and my awesome agent to cheer me on!
Is there anything about being a published author that has surprised you?
How amazingly generous people are! I've been blown away by how willing people have been to spread the word about my book, cheer me on, etc., even folks I haven't seen in years. I also could not believe it when I started getting emails from readers who had read my book and liked it--people I didn't know. The idea of strangers reading my book was (and still is) totally mind-boggling.
What advice would you give someone trying to get published?
Do not give up. I know you hear that advice all the time, but it's TRUE. The people I know who've gotten published are the ones who've kept going even when their dream seemed impossible.
Thanks again, Anna. Good luck with the book launch! Readers, if you want to get a peek at Epic Fail, here is the book trailer.