Student Art Corner: Novelist Anna Gayford

Sophomore Public Relations and English major Anna Gayford is in the process of writing her first novels with the goal of publishing in the future.

Newswire photo by Sydney Sanders | Anna’s two novels take place in separate fantasy worlds that she created entirely within her own mind. She uses books that she loves as well as things she sees in her everyday life to inspire her intricate and complete novel landscapes. You can often find her working on her books around campus and looking for inspiration about how to bring her characters to life.

How did you first get started writing or realize you had a passion for writing?

I always really liked reading. The Harry Potter series is really what got me into reading, then just during that time I started writing really short stories just for my own personal pleasure, it was just a fun way to pass time. And then my sophomore or junior year of high school I read this series, Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas, and I was really fascinated with her world-building and how just everything came together. The series is still in progress actually, but just everything about it had captured my attention. I thought it was so cool that someone just had the imagination and was able to create something like that. It’s not a technical thing that you’re creating. It’s just all in your head, but the fact that you can do that sparked my interest. And I started writing small stories again, but I just made more of a plot, and I just made notes of things that were cool to me– just different places that I thought would be cool to write about.

When you first started getting into books, were you looking at them from a writer’s perspective or just enjoying them?

The first time I read them I read it completely from a reader’s point of view. Being like “oh my gosh this is so mind blowing.” But I have a really bad habit of re-reading series, but being able to do that really gives me a different perspective on it. Like: “this is how you can connect this, to this and this is how I can apply this to my own writing.”

When did you first get the idea that you could or that you wanted to write your own novel?

My senior year of highschool. I was actually out snowmobiling with my family, and I saw this sign that said “winding trail,” and for some reason in my head I read it as “wood binding.” And I thought that was a really weird thing to be on a sign. But the word just stuck with me for a really long time, and I thought “this would be a cool world to try to build, with magic and knights and kings and queens,” and it just kind of came to me. I started researching names, and the name “Arleigh” really stuck out to me. And I was like “O.K. I’ll write about this character named Arleigh and see what happens from there.”

As you are in the process of writing right now, do you still find yourself pulling from the things that you see around you?

Yes, whenever I see a car on the side of the highway and wonder what they’re doing and I think how can I apply what I’m curious about in this world to my writing. Even just everyday conversations I’ve had with people – it seems so mundane, but this is an interaction that’s always happening. This happens in real life, and this could happen in a book.

How would you describe your novel?

I have two series going on. They’re both fantasy. There’s one that I’m much more into now. I am kind of at the climax part of it, so it’s fun, but it’s also really intense.

How much time a week do you think you spend on writing?

I do it when I have free time. Last semester I was really bad with writing, but this year I’ve said 2018 is going to be the year that I write the words “The End” on a novel. I want to be editing my junior year of school and then looking for an agent my senior year.

Do you find yourself reflected in any of the characters?

My character Arleigh, she is very much like me. I didn’t plan for her to be that way– I had planned on her being a warrior-type person whereas I’m not. But I found while writing her that it just wasn’t clicking, so I decided I would write her as she needs to be written. I’m always having to make sure that it’s her story to tell, not mine, so I have to keep that separate. In my other series, it’s about twin sisters. One of them, I’ve noticed, she’s my much more adventurous self, and the other is dark, part of me that I don’t want to acknowledge.

Do you see a future for yourself in writing?

It’s just something that I do for fun. If I’m having a bad day I can open my computer and just write and reflect. Sometimes it can be emotionally draining, and that’s not the fun part of writing, but it also helps me reflect. I want to be published by Bloomsbury Publishing or Random House, but I know those are really big companies. I would be happy to be published no matter what.

By: Riley Head ~A&E Editor~