Anna Todd, an international and New York Times bestselling author, is the creative mind behind the very popular ”After” book series. From starting her career as a writer on Wattpad to becoming a published author, her books are translated into over 30 languages and ”After”, the first novel in the series was adapted to film in 2019. And the sequel ”After We Collided” was just recently released.
Damon Baker, the talented photographer, sat down with Anna to talk about her career and her life.
Anna, oh Anna, just a few a moments ago you were in front of my camera telling me that you have no idea what to do, so we lit a candle together and I told you that all you have to do is close your eyes, but when you open them, you’re the woman you’ve always been. A woman who dedicates her life to Asher and Jordan, a woman who brings her fantasy to life, giving your entire heart and soul to your art.
First off, thank you for allowing myself to come out of my shell in such a comfortable and authentic way.
Does it feel natural for you to express your mind through writing?
Writing for me is as natural as breathing. It’s the only time where my mind is silent, despite the words and entire worlds flowing through me and onto the keyboard. I feel like my mind is so full of so many stories and people and scenarios that I don’t even have enough time in the day to tell them all.
You told me that writing isn’t a routine, it’s a moment that bestows you and that is when you truly feel whole, to create?
Yes! I know a lot of writers who schedule their writing days, down to the times and I’m always so jealous that they can do that. Any time I’ve tried to schedule my writing I just sit at the blank page and it genuinely pains me. If I force it, I end up deleting it all the next time I read over it. There are times when I’m in the middle of a completely different task, or even on the phone or at the grocery store and I’ll have to get my phone and go to my notes and start writing. I’m a very unorganized writer in that way. I have to feel it in my bones or I hate every word.
Who are you Anna, creatively?
I’m a storyteller more than a writer. I’m a woman coming into my power (very recently) and trying to give a voice to the voiceless. I want people, who typically can’t find themselves in novels, to feel seen and heard in mine. That’s what I dream of my legacy to be.
Creating an empire surely must have taken a toll on your mental health? Is that correct?
Well, it’s definitely taken a huge toll on my mental health. I’m not meaning to sound ungrateful but it’s been hard to adjust, especially when it comes to trying to make my fanbase happy, and social media used to be a fun place for me and now the more my career grows, the more anxiety it causes. It’s not normal to read bad things, or good even, about yourself all day. I’ve always had sort of a manic brain, but it’s developed into extreme anxiety around social media especially and the pressure to live up to the legacy I want to leave. I’m grateful for my life and my career, but it definitely comes at a cost for my mental heath. I wouldn’t say I’m okay, but I will be.
I would love to know how you handle sharing your art with the world?
It’s different with every book. Sometimes I write something and I feel like it’s the best thing I’ve written, then I turn it in and turn on my own work. I have this process that I always feel like I’m undeserving of the praise and attention and it’s sometimes hard to come back to reality and remember that my words have touched millions of people. I’ve had imposter syndrome for the last six years, but I’m gradually owning my power and I can’t imagine a life where I didn’t share my words with people.
What led you to the moment in your life where you decided that sharing your art was your destiny?
I wish I had some elaborate fancy answer here, but it was boredom. Literally. I have been a reader, a very avid one, my entire life but never dreamed that I could write something of my own. I found a website that I was reading on and one day just decided to write a chapter and then another, then another. I wrote my first novel by writing what I wanted to read as a reader, and here we are.
Please, tell me, tell the world, where are you going to adventure next? Your past art created a world for so many people, all over the world, to connect, and feel safe.
Thank you. I’m going through a pretty big creative transition right now that I’m equal parts terrified and excited for. I have so many stories to tell and so many more connections to make for my readers, new and old. I’ve started my own production company after my experience on adapting my own novels and am going to create a safe and fair space for creatives to express themselves without the darkness of the industry clouding it.
Talent: Anna Todd
Photographer: Damon Baker
Styling: Lisa Jarvis
Hair: Patricia Morales using IGK hair care
Make-up: Trace Watkins
This interview was done for Numéro Netherlands by Damon Baker & Jana Letonja.