Interview with Anna Austen Leigh

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Too many things! My latest interests include medieval longstaff practice, miniature painting, and learning to play the mandolin. I also spend a lot of time travelling. All these things eventually feed into my writing; for instance the idea for 'The Netsuke' came out of a visit to the British Museum's Asiatic antiquities section.

In common with many other writers, I suspect that I also spend far too much time on the internet. Not always productively!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember the book I wrote it in; a school exercise book with a bright red cardboard cover (embossed to make it look like leather, but we weren't fooled). It was a rambling history of a far continent... and it rambled, and it rambled, and I never finished it.
What is your writing process?
Goodness knows.

First: gathering of ideas. I have a huge pile of notebooks, and a massive file in my Nexus 7. They come from anywhere: experience, things seen from the top of a bus, non-fiction books, newspapers, gossip, dreams.

Just occasionally an idea will have me write a story straight away. More often it's a process of fitting together a number of germinating ideas over time, a bit like adding ingredients to a casserole...

I tend to draft the story out in one fell swoop, as a very rough outline. It gets added to later. Then... well, then the hard bit begins.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Couldn't possibly begin to answer this. But a few favourites.

James Joyce - Ulysses. Couldn't get on with it as a student. Read it this year and finally got on Joyce's wavelength. He's like a magpie, collecting bits and pieces - advertising copy, nursery rhymes, academic jargon, rough vernacular - and there's a wicked sense of humour. Plus, he gets cats absolutely right.

Iain M Banks - difficult to choose one book. Player of Games? Use of Weapons? Feersum Enjinn, with its wonderfully wrong English? Probably, for me, it's Against A Dark Background, for the wonderful anti-heroine, Sharrow. A real woman with a real story. And some lovely dark humour (well, as always in Banks).

Shakespeare - Hamlet. Wonderful contrast of poetry ("the firmament ...fretted with golden fire") and the meaninglessness of even a Prince of Denmark's everyday life.

Ursula K Le Guin - the Earthsea trilogy. I read this first at the age of nine and I've loved Earthsea ever since. Real magic: Ged and the names of things, and the wonderful goats of Gont. Impressively real.

Mary Renault - The Persian Boy. A tie for my historical fiction niche with Rosemary Sutcliffe's Eagle of the Ninth. Both took me to a world distant in time but immensely present in the fiction. Since then nothing except Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall has made the same impression.
What do you read for pleasure?
All kinds. Non-fiction, particularly travel books and history; poetry (very much enjoy haiku, Issa's are always worth reading); SF and fantasy; and quite a lot of classic and literary fiction.

I also haunt the 50p shelves of secondhand booksellers. You never know what you're going to find! It may be a quick boomerang to the charity shop - or it may be a terrific read - but at 50p it's always worth taking a risk.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Google Nexus 7. Preferably in bed, and with at least one cat nuzzled up somewhere close.
Describe your desk
One word. Messy.
What's the story behind your latest book?
A married trio decide to set out on a sex-tourism vorage across the universe. It's SF, obviously.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy, I have to say, is hitting the 'publish' button.
First of all because it means the daily grind of getting that book out is over.
And secondly because it means now I can start writing something else.
What are you working on next?
I have a number of possibilities. There's one idea based on a biography of Tchaikowsky that I read a while back, and which talked about gay milieus in nineteenth century Europe. That could be interesting. And another idea which sprang to mind when I read about Nadezhda Durova, the first female officer in the Russian cavalry, who fought in the Napoleonic wars as Alexander Durov.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My breakfast.
Published 2014-11-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Two Magicians
Price: Free! Words: 5,030. Language: English. Published: May 18, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Medieval
When two magicians meet, they strike sparks. Suddenly, it's a magical duel, with multiple shapeshifts and transformations. But what do they really want? The answer is surprising.
Sex Tourists in Outer Space
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 25,240. Language: English. Published: November 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Sci-Fi Erotica, Fiction » Erotica » Menage/Multiple Partners
Diesel, Tris, and Lavender set off on a whirlwind tour of the universe, aiming to have the weirdest and most imaginative sex they can. This science fiction romp will take you to erotic places you've never dreamed of - and should tickle your funny bone at the same time.
Pilgrim for Love
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 23,290. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Medieval, Fiction » Erotica » Women's Erotica
When Alys's fifth husband dies, her father tells her it's time she went into a convent. Instead, she gets her confessor to send her off on a pilgrimage to Santiago - on the lookout for a husband. And if she can't get a husband, she's quite prepared to make do with a couple of sailors or a hunk of a Teutonic Knight... but will she find that elusive husband, or return to England and life as a nun?
Shivers: erotic short stories
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 11,330. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Erotica Anthologies
A ghost wandering through an apartment block at night spies on the inhabitants, and remembers for a moment what it once meant to be human. A navigator in space makes interesting use of her cargo of clones. A talisman has strange erotic powers - stranger than its possessor expected. Every one of these twelve stories is sensual and stirring, and most have a sting in the tail.
Three Scenes from Proust
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,220. Language: English. Published: June 22, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Literary Erotica
Three short erotic tales set in Paris, in a gentle homage to Marcel Proust.
The Empress Alamonda
Price: Free! Words: 2,130. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Lesbian Erotica
(4.50)
Empress Alamonda's marriage is one of convenience. She's far more interested in her husband's chambermaids.
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,150. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Medieval, Fiction » Erotica » Paranormal
(5.00)
Jehan rides out to the hunt as a storm approaches. He's heard tales of elves who steal away young knights to their palace under the hill - but he never thinks it might happen to him. When the elf queen and her consort take a fancy to Jehan, he enters a world of strange delights - very strange indeed.
How not to have sex
Price: Free! Words: 1,590. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Comedy/Humor
(4.80)
Having sex outdoors - a delight. Except when everything goes wrong.
A Grand Tour
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 58,030. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Regency
Best friends Horace and Hal set off on the Grand Tour - and quickly find it's an introduction to sensuality as well as to masterpieces of art. But though they start out having good harmless dirty fun, their feelings run deeper than they had at first appreciated...
Natural Sympathies
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 60,020. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Regency
A marriage founded on respect and friendship begins to falter when the husband finds he is unable to consummate it. But a young friend of the family is able to help...
The Netsuke
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,970. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Literary Erotica
(5.00)
A little Japanese carved netsuke turns out to hold hidden secrets... as does Asquith, the Orientalist.
The Swing
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,340. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Literary Erotica
(5.00)
A photographer recreates an eighteenth century painting with his model, and revives a long dormant flame.
Emma
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 45,930. Language: English. Published: May 14, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Regency
(5.00)
Emma is the unhappy mistress of a young politician. But when his uncle arrives, she finds the older man surprisingly kind - and even more surprisingly attractive. But social disapproval, relatives' matrimonial projects, and even blackmail threaten their love - will they manage to preserve the fragile happiness they have found?
The Duel
Price: Free! Words: 4,580. Language: English. Published: May 14, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Historical/Regency
(4.60)
When Catnip and Legerdemain quarrel, a duel is inevitable; the code of London high society demands it. But neither friend really wants to kill the other - and Catnip's inventive mind, together with the assistance of Madam Kitty and her girls, saves the day, with an erotic twist as the two duellists 'choose their weapons'.