In Conversation with – Anna Larner. LFEST 2017

Anna Larner LFest 2017I met with the lovely Anna Larner just after her debut appearance at LFest last weekend.  I started by asking how come she hadn’t been to LFest before given she’s based in Leicester and she explained that she had heard about it as friends began to come along, but hadn’t really been aware of what it was all about except that it was very supportive of artists and writers. Then her partner wrote to Cindy Edwards, Founder of LFest and Festival Director, to ask if there was a way for Anna to be involved as her debut novel came out this year. LFest invited her to join the panel this morning, where she read a poem called “On Reflection” and two excepts from her published works.

Anna was adamant this might be her first LFest but definitely wont be her last. She feels that this is an important forum for UK writers and expressed how vital it is for authors to connect with their readers. She was delighted that over 60 women turned out for the session at 10am on a Saturday morning. They were certainly a lively crowd and she had them wincing in recognition of the pain of falling for straight girls, laughing at the ‘unwelcome’ over-friendliness of a new neighbour in “Hooper Street” and oohing at the hot sex scene from “Highland Fling”.

The panel was very mixed with an erotic crime author, a romance writer, a historical pirate excerpt and a very funny scene in a lesbian sauna by a stand-up comic come author. There was a lot of laughter and humour on the stage from all the author readings, as Anna said “If you can’t celebrate lesbianism at LFest when can you?” She went on “As a writer it is so lovely to meet readers and when somebody says “Oh I really enjoyed that” it means so much; it really encourages you.”

It was fairly raunchy up there this morning and it always amazes me how many authors are extremely introverted yet write these hot sex scenes, and then chose to read them out loud. Anna laughed “It’s a lonely old business sitting at your desk writing away, but we really are a bit naughty us romance writers, we definitely have a twinkle in the eye and an over active imagination.”

Anna said it means the world to have somewhere like LFest to be herself, that she feels more relaxed, less strained, less “strange” here than anywhere else. “One of the pleasures of writing is knowing your readers might be sitting in their bedrooms, hidden away, seeing themselves in the book and connecting with the characters. LFest gives us that sense of inclusivity, where your own identity is given back to you.” We went on to talk about how little space there is left for lesbian authors with the lack of lesbian centres and bookshops now and Anna was very clear, “LFest is our place, where we make our memories as a community, and I can say – “I was there is 2017”, and that will be one of the highlights for me.”

Next year Anna’s publisher, Bold Strokes Books, is holding their annual writers retreat in the UK in the week before the BSB Nottingham festival at the beginning of May and many of the big name authors like Radclyffe, Carsen Taite, VK Powell and D Jackson Leigh are coming. Anna is particularly excited to meet her editor Ruth Sternglantz. “Bold Strokes really makes you want to be a better writer, they want you to improve with every book and I cant wait to meet them all.”

I asked Anna if she was here for the whole weekend, she hadn’t planned to stay but thought she might well come back tomorrow as there was so much to see and do. She was definitely going to the Romance Writers session later with Kiki Archer, Clare Ashton and Jade Winters and wants to go to the Poetry Slam. She feels that hearing poetry is so important, every word fitted exactly into it’s place and so wonderful to hear the poet read their own words. She said “I love the performance, the vibrancy and live energy you get from a reading, definitely the arts is my thing. I am looking forward to “The Tempest” tonight as well.”

Moving on to Anna’s writing, her debut novel “Highland Fling” came out in April and is going really well, she’s been getting great feedback from readers and is really proud of the story as it connects with a diversity of sexualities and ages, a bridge between old and young and the different social and political experiences.

Her short story “Hooper Street” was published as part of a BSB Anthology called “Girls Next Door” in June. She found writing “Hooper Street” to be great fun because of writing in the first person, being the narrator with a limited number of words.

Her new novel “Love’s Portrait” is due out 2018. She is loving learning the process of writing and is delighted readers like her work, she really cares for her characters and wants her readers to engage with them as well.

Anna ended by saying “I was genuinely excited to be at LFest and get the opportunity to take part in the event, do a reading, meet readers, and to be interviewed, it was great, Thank You.”

Highland Fling Highland Fling
Anna Larner
Paperback: 240 pages
First published 2017
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 18, 2017)
ASIN: B06XP7W7RQTo buy from Amazon click HERE
Girls Next Door: Lesbian Romance Girls Next Door: Lesbian Romance
Edited by Sandy Lowe and Stacia Seaman
Paperback: 228 pages
First published 2017
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (June 20, 2017)
ASIN: B071J1WNHHTo buy from Amazon click HERE