Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Anya Leigh Josephs #giveaway

Operation Awesome Spotlight #20Questions in #2021 of #NewBook Debut Author posted by @JLenniDorner of @OpAwesome6

Queen of All (The Jena Cycle Book 1) by Anya Leigh Josephs

Welcome to PRIDE month! It feels appropriate to start with a book that has an LGBTQ+ main character. 🏳‍🌈

1- In the world of "Queen of All," are LGBTQ+ people accepted, permitted, and treated equitably? If not, what is the reasoning?

There are multiple cultures in this world, and they have different attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people! In QUEEN OF ALL, though, we’re mostly in the Kingdom, dealing with human society, where LGBTQ+ people are not accepted or even widely known about. I did consider having a queernormative world for QUEEN OF ALL, because I know how many LGBTQ+ readers long for stories free of homophobia (and there are so many great ones out there!) but it didn’t match the story I wanted to tell. Jena’s journey is about accepting and loving herself in spite of the ways she is different from what her world expects of her, and it was important to me that her sexual orientation be a part of that directly, not just metaphorically. In future books, we’ll also get to see what different kinds of societal attitudes towards queerness can mean to LGBTQ+ people.

2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?

Yep! It’s “write more.” You have a whole lifetime to improve your work, and the best way to do so is by practice. Craft will come with that.

3- What most motivates you to read a new book?

Lately, I’ve mostly been buying and reading new books by my fellow debut authors, both because I want to support this wonderful community and because I want to keep track of what’s going on in the book world! But there is a very specific type of book I tend to prefer—basically, I’ll check out the sci-fi/fantasy section and pick up anything that has an original concept and seems to be well-written, with some diversity in characters. Usually, what’s most appealing to me is a really interesting magic system.

4- Did anything exciting go on in your life over Memorial Day weekend?

As of this writing, it hasn’t happened yet! But I don’t have any big plans—I’ll probably be scrambling to do some last-minute book promo.

Goodreads: Enter for a chance to win Queen of All (The Jena Cycle Book 1) - Giveaway dates: May 22 - Jun 20, 2021

5- Would you share a picture with us of your book in an interesting setting?

Copies aren’t really out in the world yet, but here is the very first ever picture of me with my book, which I think is pretty cool!
Spotlight on New Book Debut Author Anya Leigh Josephs #NewBook #DebutAuthor #2021Books

6- How has social work in NYC been impacted by the pandemic and quarantine over the last year or so?

It’s been really difficult. I left my last job in the social work field because the changes caused by the quarantine made it impossible to keep doing that work ethically and effectively. Although we’re all affected by the pandemic, it has caused disproportionate hardship for marginalized communities. It’s difficult for social workers to help when we can’t change the pandemic and we’re often unable to meet with people in need face-to-face the way we usually would. I’m working towards an MSW now, and looking forward to being able to start off better in this field as we rebuild post-pandemic.

7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?

I’m @anya_writes on Twitter! I’d love to shoutout my friends Molly ( @SteinSeroussi ) and Naomi ( @NaomiAnsano ), who are both awesome querying writers. For #3, I’ll cheat and recommend you check out #the21ders to find all the debuting YA and MG writers for this year! It’s such an incredible, welcoming community, and there are so many cool books coming!

8- When did you first know you wanted to publish a book someday?

Probably around the time that I started to figure out that books were written by human people and didn’t just pop into existence fully formed! So I figure I was about four years old at the time?

9- Are you a Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser, and how did you adopt that style?

I’m a recovering pantser. I’ve always just made up my books as I go along, but my friend Molly (Twitter above!) has become a plotter and is sort of taking me along for the ride? Plot and pacing are my weaknesses as a writer, probably because I usually make the plot up as I go along, and I feel like the best way for me to improve is to start actually outlining!

10- What does your basic writing schedule look like, and how often do you write?

What is a writing schedule? I’m not familiar with this term. More seriously, I try to write every day, more or less, except Saturdays which are my day off. I often fit in a short writing session around homework, internships, lectures, and my job, but I do best when I have a long chunk of time free so I can “get in the flow” for several hours.

11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!

Author name: N.K. Jemisin @nkjemisin
Title: The Fifth Season
Love because: It’s just an absolute masterwork of speculative fiction. It speaks to so many important, huge, deeply human questions. What is the relationship between humans and the earth? How do we relate to our families in the face of intergenerational trauma? How do we fight back against oppression? If you haven’t read it, you absolutely must.

12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?

For this first book, I honestly just hope that people will enjoy the read! I hope that readers will feel seen and represented, and get to enjoy a fun adventure story.

13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?

I hope it will help people who are very often erased from fantasy. In my experience, plus-sized folks, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ readers are often drawn to the imaginative world of fantasy, because we need to imagine different possibilities than reality offers us. And yet even in these made-up worlds we don’t often get to see ourselves represented. My hope is that QUEEN OF ALL can help change that. If it finds its way into the hands of one young fantasy reader who is struggling to accept their body, or ashamed to be queer, and helps them feel a little bit less alone, it will all have been worth it.

14- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?

I love theatre! In recent years I’m more of a theatre-goer than anything else, but I also direct plays! I am particularly drawn to Shakespeare.

15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? #WeNeedDiverseBooks

Hopefully, my book is very diverse! It’s a second-world fantasy, so characters don’t use the same words to describe their own identities as we do in this world, but if they did, Jena would be a plus-sized, mixed-race lesbian with a mental health disability and Sisi would be a Black plus-sized woman. There are also supporting characters of lots of other racial and ethnic minorities, and later books will introduce main characters who are trans and who have other disabilities. Also, although the religion in the world is invented and magical, all the world building is heavily influenced by Jewish religion, culture, and tradition. It does feel a little strange to list the diversity out like this, as the book isn’t just diverse for the sake of filling out identity categories—it’s meant to reflect both my own lived experiences and the diversity of the real world!

16- What method do you feel is the best way to get book reviews?

Ask a lot! This goes for every part of marketing. It feels so awkward to try to promote your own work, but thanks to how algorithms work, if you aren’t consistently posting about your book and requesting reviews, a lot of times people won’t see it even once! Plus, a clear, direct ask (like, “please check out my book, QUEEN OF ALL, and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads if you enjoyed it!”) is one of the strongest ways to market something. People like to help! And they especially like to help if they know exactly what to do!

17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?

I’m published by Zenith, an imprint of GenZ Publishing, which is a small press. I did query agents for several years with an eye to a more traditional publishing route, but I didn’t get much interest, and definitely no offers. Zenith offered on the book thanks to a Twitter pitch contest. I considered continuing to query, but I knew finding a home for this book was going to be hard. It’s almost impossible to sell a trilogy as a first-time author, there are still barriers for queer writers and bias against plus-sized representation, and the YA market has changed since I started writing the book in ways that mean it’s no longer in line with what’s been selling big. Luckily, I took Zenith’s offer. It’s been the perfect balance of retaining a lot of creative and artistic freedom over the book, getting a ton of direct support from a small and close-knit publishing team, and also having the kind of professional editing, gorgeous cover design, and marketing support a publisher can provide.

18- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

I mean, I did it! Publishing this book has always been my dream, and now it’s happening. Which still doesn’t feel real. Of course, I’ve moved on to other goals now. I’d like to get an agent for my next project, I’d like to be a NY Times bestseller, I’d like to be someone’s favorite author one day. But the biggest writing goal of all, I’ve met.

19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?

What kind of representation would you love to see that you haven’t found in a book yet?

20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?

About the book:

QUEEN OF ALL is a young adult adventure fantasy novel with diverse #ownvoices representation. It is the first in a planned trilogy, introducing Jena’s story. Her mother disappeared when she was a baby, and her best (and only) friend, Sisi, is not just the lost heir to a noble Numbered house, but also the Kingdom’s most famous beauty. Jena herself is just awkward, anxious, and often alone: not exactly heroic material. But when a letter summons Sisi to the royal court, both girls find their own futures, and the Kingdom’s, in Jena’s hands. Sisi, caught between the king and the crown prince, searches for a magical secret the Prince is willing to kill to keep. Jena can save her: but only if she is willing to let her go, maybe forever. It’s hard to do that when she’s in love with Sisi herself.

About me:

I’m a 27-year-old debut novelist living and working in New York City. I’m in school for my Master’s in Social Work, and I also have degrees in English from Columbia and UCLA. When not writing or working, I can be found loitering outside theatre for cheap tickets, reading doorstopper fantasy novels, and worshipping my cat, Sycorax. My writing can be found in FANTASY MAGAZINE, ANDROMEDA SPACEWAYS MAGAZINE, and MYTHAXIS, among others. You can find all my writing at I’m also on Twitter @anya_writes , on Instagram @anya_leigh , and on Facebook /anyaleighjosephs.

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Queen of All (The Jena Cycle Book 1) by Anya Leigh Josephs

1 comment:

Jamie said...

I'd like to see more asexual representation. And also more characters with respiratory problems that aren't asthma (the only one I've ever seen mentioned).