Q&A With Anna Bliss

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Q&A With Anna Bliss 

Today’s Q&A is with author Anna Bliss. Anna’s debut novel Bonfire Night comes out in January 2024. 


Q: Anna, would you like to tell the readers of my blog and I about Bonfire Night? 

A: Bonfire Night opens in 1936, as fear and fascism are burning hot in pre-war London. It’s about an Irish Catholic photographer and a Jewish medical student confronting love in its many forms – measuring them against one another and testing the limits of each – and explores the power of art, the cost of ambition, and how war distorts the lives of everyone it touches.

Q: What was the research process like for Bonfire Night, since it’s a historical fiction novel? 

A: I started by rereading the novels I love most, written in the 1930s and 40s. British writers like Elizabeth Bowen, Patrick Hamilton, and Penelope Fitzgerald. I already knew a good amount about the period because I’d done a master’s degree in England on women artists working during the Blitz. The most important research element for Bonfire Night was talking to people who’d actually lived through World War II. I was incredibly lucky to meet people like my friend Sylvie Roberts, who was born in London in 1922. I interviewed her and everyone I could find who had been alive in the time my book is set, 1936 through 1945. I also did a lot of research through the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of London, the Lee Miller Archive, and the British Newspaper Archive.

Q: What made you choose to write historical fiction? When did you realize that writing was your calling in life?

A: I have always been a huge reader and majored in English in college. I idolized my favorite writers to the point where it didn’t seem like something a mortal like me could do. I started a novel set in Argentina about fifteen years ago and wrote in fits and starts, but it never really took off. It was when I got the idea for Bonfire Night, in 2016, that I started writing fiction with determination. The story was so interesting to me that once I got going, there was no question that I would finish it.

Q: If you’re writing a new novel now, can you reveal any details about it?

A: I’m about 15,000 words into something new. I’m hesitant to say much about it because I don’t know quite what it is yet. It’s set in New York and LA and spans from the 1950s through modern day.

Q: Do you have a favorite spot where you sit down and start writing? 

A: I usually write at my kitchen table because it’s the nearest place to my tea stash.

Q: If you were to write in another genre besides historical fiction, which genre or genres would you choose and why?

A: This isn’t to say I’d be any good at it, but I’d love to be a comedy screenwriter. It would also be fun to be a ghost writer because I enjoy talking to people and I’m never averse to a bit of celebrity gossip.