When we first heard about Anna Browne’s accomplishments, we were blown away. An 18-year-old who has already self-published a book and earned poetry awards? Amazing! Anna loves to write, spend time with friends, and educate herself and others about animal cruelty and women’s rights. Having recently graduated from high school, Anna will be leaving for college in Australia next April. We are big fans of this global citizen and writer, and we have a feeling you will be inspired by Anna’s passion, determination, and desire to learn more and to explore the world. Read on to learn more about Anna’s book writing process, what she looks forward to most about college, and where her love of writing comes from…
How do you define ‘seizing your youth’?
When I think about ‘seizing my youth,’ I contemplate how the world perceives me based on my age. Because I am six feet tall, people always think I am a lot older than just 18. I’ve been able to take advantage of this by surprising people with what I’ve accomplished, and then bewildering them when they learn I’m not even in my 20s yet. While people my age go down to the beach on the weekends and party at night, I create worlds with my writing and learn languages. I am a lifelong learner, so I take advantage of my youth by learning as much as I can about absolutely anything whenever I am able to.
You recently graduated from high school. Where will you be attending college and what do you plan on studying?
My plan for college is to attend La Trobe University in Bendigo, Australia. I will be moving in April 2015 and living there for three years to study Marketing. I hope to also minor in Political Science, but because I will be in Australia, the politics will be Australian politics. I hope in doing so I will be given a multi-national perspective in the way people govern, and therefore learn what we need to change to help better our society.
Where does your love of writing come from?
Where does my love of writing come from? Where does your love for the taste of chocolate come from? Or for potato chips? I can’t honestly tell you where my love for writing comes from because I don’t know. All I do know is that I have loved crafting stories since before I could even physically write. It’s more than a passion; it’s something that I live for.
You have published a novel called Island X. Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write a novel.
Island X is set on an island that nobody in the outside world is aware of, except for a very select few. The inhabitants of the island aren’t aware of its purpose, why the society is structured to be a grouped dictatorship, or how the magic that surrounds the island like a misty veil came to be. But when one of the leaders of the society sells their adopted son to another, the mystery of the island and its sole reason for existing begins to unfold.
The inspiration to write Island X came from a lengthy English class where my teacher assigned everyone to study the works of the famous philosophers, Loa-Tzu (Thoughts from the Tao-Te Ching) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Civil Society). Both men describe politics from their time periods in a very intricate way. When I began Island X, I only titled it that because I had no idea what to call it. I wanted to combine the works of those two philosophers somehow, and it ended up with me finishing 64,000 words about an island, extremely odd politics, and a gore-filled supernatural twist. I had no idea what I was writing half the time, but once I finished it, a huge sense of relief and wonder wafted over me. While Island X is certainly not my first novel, it is definitely my best.
What is your book-writing process?
My book writing process is not your average write-an-outline-and-work-off-of-the-outline; nor is it writing every single day. I am at an age that when I start writing a novel, I know I will finish it, rather than just letting it slowly wither away since I don’t have any inspiration for it after the first 10,000 words. When I have the need to write because an idea has come to my mind and it is begging me to be released, I write. When a character has been nagging at me to be placed in a different scene, I write. When I can’t stop thinking about something and it ends up invading my dreams, I write. I can’t force creativity; it has to flow naturally.
Your poem “Days Ago” was published in four different anthologies and it has won four awards, including a first place award from World Poetry Movement. Pretty amazing! What and/or who is your poetry inspired by?
My poem “Days Ago” was inspired by my grandmother Annette, my mother’s mum, and was dedicated to my father’s mum, Rosalind. They were very close before Annette passed away, and I wanted to write something about how I felt during her passing but still recognize her relationship with my other grandmother.
My general poetry is inspired by recent events in my life or a story I want to write but don’t feel the idea is fitting enough for a novel or short fiction.
You are the creator of the most popular competition group on Figment.com called Figment’s Next Top Writer. What does this competition entail and how do you manage it?
The writing competition, Figment’s Next Top Writer, entails providing bi-monthly to monthly writing prompts and extensive editing and critiquing of the submissions. Before every new prompt there’s an eliminated contestant until only one is left standing. The winner’s biggest prize is a published anthology of their challenge submissions. Since the contest has earned an excellent reputation, I have been able to recruit other writers to help me judge.
What traits make a great leader?
Traits that make a great leader: courage, ability to aid others, and the capacity to listen to what people have to say and act accordingly.
How do you balance being a student with your activities? What are your time management tips?
How do I balance being a student with my activities? I’m the kind of person that writes term papers for fun. If an essay is assigned in class, no matter what the topic is or how many words is the absolute minimum, I finish it within one hour and receive an A every time. Most of my homework just consists of writing essays, so technically my teacher is having me do my favorite hobby for school. It’s an easy balance because I enjoy it so much and I get it done quickly.
As for time management tips, I’m afraid I can’t offer much. My general process is to do everything I want to do before my homework, and the reason why is because then all that I would be distracted by isn’t there. The downfall of that is I’m putting off schoolwork in favor of Facebook or writing a new post for my blog. However, if you’re desperate to finish something and find time management difficult, I suggest offering a reward for yourself once you finish. Whether that is eating frozen yogurt or watching the next episode in your favorite TV series, the reward-after-work idea helps a lot when I am studying for an exam or have something I really need to finish in a short amount of time.
What three things are you most looking forward to in college?
The first thing I am most looking forward to in college is the fact that I will be living thirty minutes away from my amazing kid-cousins, Matilda (10), Montague (6) and Mervin (6). I hardly ever see them and they mean the world to me. I am like their big sister and they treat me as such, so it’s important to me that I am there for them and be a big part of their lives.
The second thing that I’m looking forward to is the independence. Australia is an 18-hour flight, so popping over to see my parents every weekend isn’t an option. I will be living on my own and forced to look after myself. It will be a big change, but an exciting one.
The third thing would have to be the environment of where I’m going. I have visited Australia 14 times, and each trip feels like I’m growing into a stronger person. While Washington State is always raining, Australia is in the midst of a drought. I find myself a lot more water-saving-savvy, environmentally-sound, and careful because that’s the norm in Australia.
What does a day in your life look like? How do you plan out your days?
Oh geez, I’m afraid my normal days aren’t that exciting. I wake up at noon (unless my dad wakes me up at 9AM because he thinks I’ve already slept in long enough), eat cottage cheese with agave and berries, and figure out whether or not I should spend my day hanging out with friends. If I feel more like being on my own, I swim, I write, and I watch re-runs of Nikita and The 100. Recently my father has been elected for the at-large seat for Whatcom County Council, so often at night I will be attending political events and campaign parties. My favorite political event was when my father and I attended Governor Jay Inslee’s inaugural ball. I enjoyed it the most because I got to dress up in a fancy ball gown and stroll the halls of one of the most magnificent buildings in all of Washington State.
When it comes to day-planning, I have begrudgingly learned to rely on using my phone’s calendar. I’ve never been a fan of calendars, I don’t know why, but now I use it constantly and I set up alerts for whenever I have something to do that day so I am constantly reminded.
What issues are you most passionate about?
The issues I am most passionate about are stopping animal cruelty and advocating for women’s rights. I could go into a very long tangent on why, but basically with animal cruelty I stand up for the voices unheard and refuse to buy anything that has been tested on animals. I actually haven’t eaten any product made by Mars Candy Company in seven years since I learned that Mars funds deadly animal tests not required by law.
As for women’s rights, I educate people and try to teach myself of how women are still treated unfairly compared to men and what we can do to change that, as well as why men have no right to dictate what we can and cannot do with our own bodies.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I spend my free time writing, editing, writing, critiquing, writing, watching my favorite TV shows, writing, and fro-yo dates with my friends. Oh, and writing.
What motivates you?
Love. The simple concept of love motivates me in my life every day.
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
Don’t let the opinions of others slow you down; be who you are, because there is only one of you and only you can be the best version of yourself.