Happy Sunday, people! Hope your weekend is going according to your plans and desires. Mine is and thanks to it, I’m able to present you the following interview with Anna Jakobsson Lund – the author of Article Three, the first book of brilliant dystopian series to be. Why I like it so much? Here’s the answer. If you fancy more information, don’t wait more and read further!
Anna, Society in Article Three is controlled by the System, reminiscent of George Orwell’s Big Brother. Does the theme of controlled society reflect your own opinions, fears?
I think it reflects my view of how an oppressive government would control us, if they wanted to, and I wanted it to serve as a reminder of how much freedom inhabitants of democratic countries have gained over the last centuries, and how fast it could be taken away. The constant control is inspired by countries where everyday life still, or at least very recently, works this way.
The need to cherish, protect and respect our freedoms is a theme that was important for me, going into the work of this trilogy. Establishing the System as thoroughly controlling also gives a good backdrop to the development of the trilogy where the question of how using force against an oppressor affects us gets increasingly important.
The characters of your books tend to defy stereotypes – is someone from Article Three inspired by a real person, or do you rather create a character completely?
Some characters are modelled after people I know, when the feeling I had for them seemed to fit the character, and their relationship to the lead characters. I also get a lot of character quirks and ideas from things I do or think, Levi suffering from motion sickness and Ava fiddling with her ring being two of the most obvious.
The main characters, though, are very much just people that step out of my imagination with a lot of stuff already in place. I don’t know how they are created, just that I get interested in them and in how they fit into the story.
When it comes to how my characters defy stereotypes I do put in a lot of work, twisting the details of them to feel fresh, asking the questions “Have we seen this before? Are we already sick of this?”. Ava does have a lot of untypical traits that she shares with me, and she’s actually not very likable, at first. But I try to make it so the reader understands why she acts in the way she does, even if that doesn’t seem to be the best possible action. Levi is a variation of a kind of guy I tend to writing into many of my stories. With him, I think I blend the strength and vulnerability in a lot of boys and men I’ve known.
Your work is ‘love-triangle free’. Although I’m very happy about it, don’t you think it may be a disadvantage if your books are young adult literature?
I think that my readers are very happy with my decision. I basically write books for people that think that love triangles are a boring, unnecessary trope. When it comes to the impact of literature on society I tend to get a bit worked up, and I feel that there are so much better ways to show love, lust and relationships than are presently being done in mainstream YA literature. It’s my belief and if it loses me readers I have no trouble with that. I do think, however, that most people will love a good story, with relatable characters, even without stereotypical descriptions of love or femininity/masculinity.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome while writing/publishing Article Three?
One big challenge with the writing was that my education in creative writing made me good with language, but not that good with plot. The trilogy has forced me to develop my ability to create exciting plot turns and a story that feels logical. I’ve cooperated with fellow writers and readers when developing the books, letting many people read it and comment on it, doing a rewrite, and then repeating the process. That has proven to be so fruitful and has changed my whole way of thinking about writing, from something that only concerns me, to it being a cooperation between me and a lot of other people.
When it comes to indie-publishing the challenge is always how to gain the reader’s attention. I’ve tried to put my books in the hands of a lot of people that might talk about them with friends or write about them in social media. I’ve been lucky enough to come across readers that take my characters to heart and really make an effort to get other people to discover the books. A reader that promotes the work of an indie-author is always a star, in my opinion.
When can we expect the upcoming sequel about the System and the resistance movement?
If everything goes according to plan it will be out in October of 2017.
What does being an indie-publisher mean to you?
Basically, that I get to decide everything. Mainstream publishing generally seems to have little interest in contributing to less stereotype gender roles, diversity or innovative world buildings and stories. These are things I want to excel at, and indie publishing lets me do that.
It also means getting to choose a team of people that I respect and want to work with. I have beautiful friends that are fellow authors and so much more talented in certain areas of writing than me, that push me to expand my limits and write about new things in a better way. And my cover designer, graphic designer and translator are the best at what they do. To work with them is so gratifying and incredible!
You have already published several books, however most of them are in Swedish only. Are you planning to translate rest of your books into English too? If not, why?
My plan is to publish all the books in the Systems trilogy in English during 2017 and 2018. Hopefully I can continue to translate every book I publish from then on. It is a costly procedure, that take a lot of time, though, so it depends on the books at least selling in decent amounts.
Indie publishing doesn’t make you rich, but I reinvest all I make in to fun, new projects, and as translation has proven to be one of the funniest yet I have no intention of stopping.
Thank you very much for your time, Anna!
Featured image was kindly provided by Anna herself, taken by very talented Petra Berggren. To see more of her work, look here.