Anna Tan

Publisher info

Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. In 2015, she traded in a life of annoying other bean counters for one of annoying the online world with questions about life and death and everything in between. The answer is sometimes 42. Sometimes they try to eat you.

When she is not writing or nitpicking over other writers' copy, she can be found reading a book or attempting to organise her room.

Smashwords Interview

Who are your favorite authors?
CS Lewis rates high on the list of authors I will always love.
Robin Hobb and Frances Hardinge are on the list of current favourites, along with probably David Gemmell and Terry Pratchett. Diana Wynne Jones? Maybe Neil Gaiman, though not always. There are just too many to list.
Tolkien would have once made the list, but my reading tastes have changed somewhat.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The need to use the washroom and eat something.
Oh, you said inspired, not "made".
Tea. Nando's. Books. Tomyam. Not always in that order.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Anna Tan online


The Painted Hall Collection
A curse binds the City of Winter and the Dragon's Prophecy holds the key to breaking it. But will a poor fisherman from the South have the means to fulfil the prophecy? Or will the foreignness of the North itself repel him and his efforts? The Painted Hall Collection is a series of short, old-school fairy-tales designed to open your eyes to wonder.
When Winds Blow Cold
Price: $0.99 USD.
The Flame of the North
Price: $0.99 USD.
A Still, Small Voice
Price: $0.99 USD.


Price: $4.99 $1.24 USD. (75% off until July 31!) Words: 97,150. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: November 24, 2022 . Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Religion, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
When Tulen’s pilgrimage intersects with Sultan Mikal’s quest to fulfil the Covenant of Salt, Tulen faces a difficult dilemma: What is her absolution worth in the face of the sultanate’s very existence?
The Tale of the Hostage Prince
Price: $4.99 $1.24 USD. (75% off until July 31!) Words: 77,490. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: April 14, 2022 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Christian » Fantasy
Yosua wears an uneasy crown. Although he is now Raja of Bayangan, he still longs for the land of his birth where everything was much simpler…and less deadly. But peace doesn’t come easily, not for a twenty-year-old servant playacting at being king...
Price: $3.99 $0.99 USD. (75% off until July 31!) Words: 81,970. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: June 1, 2021 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
(4.00 from 1 review)
All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom. Then the prophecies come true.
The Painted Hall Collection
Price: $2.99 USD. (Free until July 31!) Words: 29,010. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: December 20, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fairy tales, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
A curse binds the City of Winter and the Dragon's prophecy holds the key to breaking it. But will a poor fisherman from the South have the means to fulfil the prophecy? Or will the foreignness of the North itself repel him and his efforts? The Painted Hall Collection is a series of four short, old-school fairy-tales designed to open your eyes to wonder. *BONUS SHORT STORY* Shattered Memories
A Still, Small Voice
Series: The Painted Hall Collection, Book 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,670. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: September 24, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Fairy tales, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
On her eighteenth birthday, Hono is to be crowned Queen of the City of Winter but the Dragon disrupts the coronation ceremony with a peculiar cry: Listen. Listen. Listen! There is one more task to free the City of Winter of all enchantment—and Hono must listen carefully for it.
Beneath the Rumbling Earth
Series: The Painted Hall Collection, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,570. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: December 25, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fairy Tales, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
The curse should have been broken now that the King of Winter's spirit has been released from the castle. But the Dragon has yet another prophecy, and the creatures in Painted Hall have finally found their voices. Beneath the Rumbling Earth (North #3) brings you back to the City of Winter and into its hidden fiery depths.
Price: $2.99 $1.49 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 46,070. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: May 31, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Fairy tales, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Science Fiction
Dongeng tells the story of Sara and Helmi’s awakening to magic in their own country. There’s a war to protect Alam Dongeng, helmed by the Orang Bunian and Garuda. But are the ranks of Hantu really their enemies? They may very well be fighting the wrong battle. A sequel to Coexist, Dongeng draws you into a whole new realm of fairy tales.
The Flame of the North
Series: The Painted Hall Collection, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,620. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: February 28, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fairy Tales
Ten-year-old Mica hates the cold. Yet he’s bound by duty—and prophecy—to rule over the City of Winter as his grandfather’s heir. All signs seem to indicate that something is wrong and the reappearance of the Yuki-Onna in the Painted Hall is an additional worrisome detail… The Flame of the North (North #2) follows Danis & Hana’s son as he attempts to fulfil the last portion of Dragon’s Prophecy.
Anna's A to Z of Worship Leading
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 12,250. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: May 13, 2016 . Categories: Nonfiction » Religion & Spirituality » Christian Rituals & Practice / Worship & Liturgy, Nonfiction » Music » Religious - Contemporary Christian
Anna's A to Z of Worship Leading is a compilation of Anna's thoughts and reflections on being on the worship team and worship leading. Written in short sound-bites, it aims to encourage all worship leaders and inspire you to continually seek for a deeper revelation of God in your worship and in your church.
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until July 31!) Words: 27,350. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: March 31, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
When she is caught in an unexpected rainstorm on her way home, Jane ignores all the warnings and seeks shelter in a cottage in the middle of the forest. Soon, she is caught up in a world of magic and beauty – and in the storm of the Fairy Queen’s wrath. A tale of magic, fairy creatures and family, Coexist is a novella for the young and the young at heart.
When Winds Blow Cold
Series: The Painted Hall Collection, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,560. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: October 25, 2015 . Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fairy Tales
Go north, little human. Go north until the winds blow cold and you walk on water. Go north, and there you will find her. With the Dragon's prophecy ringing in his ears, Danis travels from town to town, seeking a wife. But at every stop, he is turned away, until he enters the City of Winter itself...

Smashwords book reviews by Anna Tan

  • A to Z Stories of Life and Death on Sep. 05, 2011

    Birthed out of a month-long blogfest, D. Biswas’ A to Z Stories of Life and Death presents 26 short stories organised according to the letters in the alphabet. Beginning with the innocence and wonder of a child finding snails in her Aquarium and ending with a fiery funeral pyre in Zone, the stories run the gamut from love, murder, sex, abuse, addiction, myth, sickness and mourning - all revolving around the issues of life and death. Majority of the stories are very poignant vignettes focusing on slices of life, with several longer flash fiction in between. Reading them makes you feel as if you are collecting memories from various sources and trying them on for size. Each story has its own personal twist - the endings are never quite what you expect - and most would leave you with a tear in your eye. What I like about Biswas’ writing is the descriptive way she writes, which helps put you right in the middle of the scene. She is very good at invoking emotions and making you feel the story without a sense of detachment.
  • Sept-Iles and Other Places on Oct. 12, 2011

    I've been following Donna Carrick on twitter for a while now and leapt at the chance to pick up this book of short stories free on Smashwords. I'm glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book. Each story is gripping, delving deep into the psyches of her young protagonists. One thing I did have trouble with was keeping the stories separate, as all of them were written in first person, often by a young girl, and many have similar backgrounds, such as an abusive father and/or a younger sister, so I had to stop in between each story to remind myself that it was a new set of characters. You probably will not face this problem if you don't read it all in one sitting as I did.
  • Letters to My Ten Year Old Self on Oct. 16, 2011

    I enjoyed all the entries - each had a very unique voice. Am also very priviledged to have been able to contribute. Good job, Nina and Drew!
  • Empire (In Her Name, Book 4) on Dec. 17, 2011

    Reza Gard, an orphan from House 48, is captured by the Kreelans, a race of female warriors with blue skin, fangs, and razor sharp talons, as part of a grand experiment to discover if humans have souls. Immersed in the brutal conditions of Kreelan life, Reza forms a new Kreelan identity in his struggle to survive, slowly gaining the grudging acceptance of his captors. However, time is running out and Reza must prove that he has a soul or be killed after his seventh and final Challenge. The book started off pretty slow - whilst much of this back story is important to the novel as a whole, most of these could probably have been dealt with as a flashback within the story proper. As it was, the first few chapters dealing with Reza’s life as a human felt rather like a prolonged prologue, with the real ‘meat’ only starting with his wary dealings with his guard and tresh, Esah-Zhurah. Despite the rocky start, I was captured by Hick’s writing as he navigated the fragile teen through the complex, rigid, and unforgiving Kreelan society. Within the 491 pages (on iBooks), he fleshes out realistically a harsh and yet beautiful world, a culture so alien from our own - one trying to survive an ancient curse and pursuing release through an ancient prophecy. This is a story of a boy growing into manhood on a world not his own, a society that doesn’t understand or accept him, and how he survives through sheer determination, grit, and guts. This is also a story of learning to understand different cultures, not just by knowing the way they do things, but to understand the reasons behind them. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, Confederation.
  • The Backworlds on May 14, 2012

    Run out of house and town by the Verkinn council elders at the instigation of his father, twenty-year-old Craze sets off to Elstwhere in search of his fortune. Craze soon falls in with two aviarmen, Lepsi - who’s trying to trump his brother Frederoy, and Talos - determined to establish a trade route in honour of his mother, in search of a new home. Their crazy new partnership leads them to adventure, dangerous places, and lots of money, or so they hope. M. Pax writes with stunning imagery, creating a wonderful world of different species, bio-engineered humans and space travel. Her characters are vivid and varied, emerging fully-formed in your imagination. Her writing style is breezy and easy to read.
  • Linehan's Trip on Nov. 15, 2012

    Picked this up and read it over dinner. It was a nicely written short story that introduces the reader to Padania. Half of the book is actually the first chapter (preview) of Murphy's full length novel, "Goodbye, Padania".
  • Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins on Nov. 15, 2012

    Spinward Fringe Broadcast 0: Origins is a trilogy (Freeground, Limbo, Starfree Port) about Captain Jonas Valent and the crew of First Light. Caught for hacking into Freeground military simulations (and beating them silly) Jason Valent and his crew are offered two options: participate in a high-stakes simulation and win or face court martial for breach of security. The trilogy is filled with high-stakes space battles, hyper space flight, betrayals, rescues, secret missions and a blossoming love story between Captain Jason Valent and his Chief Engineer Ayan Rice. I enjoyed reading it, despite some clunky sentences and dialogues here and there. It's space opera at one of its best and Lalonde has created believable characters who evolve with the story, drawing the reader to love and care for them... and hope they survive.
  • Urchin King on Nov. 15, 2012

    In a world where being the younger twin of a noble means being put to death, Paul shouldn't be alive. But his twin Rupert is mentally handicapped and his royal parents need a miracle. Thrust suddenly into court life from his life on the streets, Paul must successfully pose as the miraculously healed Crown Prince or face his belated execution. Complications soon arise when his father, King Albert is captured by a vengeful sorcerer. Urchin King is a fantasy story loosely based on The Prince and the Pauper, with many twists and turns of a magical nature. I found the story line interesting and intriguing and it was unique and complex enough not to sound like a simple rehashing of an old tale. Gerlach obviously has a fine sense of story and plot, and the novel was exciting, filled with many adventures that drive the story on. That said, I'm torn between giving this book a three or a four star rating due to the inadequacies of the writing itself. I felt that many of the chapters were short and could have been further expanded upon. As it was, there was a feeling, not quite of urgency, but more of being rushed through the story to the end instead of being allowed to linger in the words and on the page. Well, with a 3.5 star rating, we were always taught to round up. :)
  • A People's Politics on Feb. 17, 2013

    "The people are the nation. The nation is its people. Its people as a whole must thrive, and be cared for." For me, this was the heart behind the book. For someone who is really rather too lazy to think about the political arena and too annoyed to get into debates about it, this was a good read. It relates in easy, understandable language about what politics is, the situation in Malaysia at this point of time, and what we as individuals can do about it. I would suggest reading this if you are a first time voter, if you really can't understand what all the fuss is about on facebook and twitter and the interwebs, or if you just want to know why you should care instead of just migrating.
  • Domestic Disturbance on March 20, 2013

    A quick, interesting read.
  • Fractured Neverland: We Are The Pickwicks on July 27, 2013

    I found We Are the Pickwicks highly entertaining. It's a great short read with an unexpected ending. Loved the illustrations too :)
  • Plantgirl on July 27, 2013

    AWWWWWWWW :) *Sho shweet* In other words, cute, sweet, makes you feel warmish and fuzzyish.
  • Prophecy's Queen: An Epic Fantasy on July 06, 2015

    I picked this up for free on Amazon, attracted by the fact that 1) it was epic fantasy and 2) the author is currently residing in my hometown! Prophecy's Queen is a quick read (1 hour based on my kindle) that sets the background for Timothy Bond's Triadine Saga. But that's not telling you anything that you can't already tell from the title of this book. Haha. There are shades of Eddings in Prophecy's Queen - a prophecy of two paths, one good and one evil, and a promised child (or two, in this case) who is destined to guide the good path in the ultimate destruction of evil; a sorceress who gives up much to aid that path, and who must ultimately give more; the need to hide the children until the time is right; the necessary sacrifices of many to guide and direct the path in oblique ways, without upsetting the balance. Then again, many of these in their various forms, are time-honoured traditions in epic fantasy classics. This is going to be one of those rare reviews which will have a split star rating between Amazon and Goodreads. I like it enough to give it an okay, but not enough to really state "I like it". (Isn't Goodreads owned by Amazon now? Can't they just synchronise their rating system?) Also, in terms of my personal rating on my blog, it falls towards a 2 than a 3. Why is that? First of all, as I took all that time to say earlier - nothing much new in this one. I understand that it's a prequel, and a novella, so there isn't much time or place to really expand much. But everything that it's setting up for in the coming saga sounds like it's going to be very generic good vs evil, prophecy-fulfilment type fantasy, with elves vs humans vs dwarves or whatever other race until the wizards and sorcerers and whoever else is trying to guide the prophecy manage to get them to work together to defeat the evil sorcerer. Secondly, this isn't quite Bond's "debut novel" (The Watcher's Keep was published in 2014 and The Dragon Rises earlier in 2015), but in some ways, it feels like it is. Prophecy's Queen starts very abruptly, dragging you into the middle of some unknown quarrel, and then tumbles you about in an overwhelming plethora of "telling" all the while refusing to actually explain anything. Until the very end of the novella, much is said about "the prophecy" and several interpretations of various parts of it are forwarded, but what the prophecy actually says itself is never revealed. [Okay I correct myself - a miniscule part of it was inserted.] To be fair, I do have this to say - it appears Bond has put a lot of thought into his world building and the history of his world. It may not come across very well in Bond's writing - there is a clunkiness to the way he "disseminates" his information - but it is there in the background. Reading Prophecy's Queen doesn't raise questions of "Why did this happen? It doesn't make sense," but more of "why did I need to know this now?" For example, the chapter on Banderfin and the Dwarvish society as well as the tiella birds served no obvious purpose in this story that I could tell. It felt like a story thread that was forgotten halfway and doesn't resolve. Maybe it would make better sense if I had already read The Triadine Saga. I guess the error Bond made with this prequel is to try to fit too much unnecessary information to get his readers up to speed instead of following a simple and linear storyline that would pull them in to wanting to know.
  • The Princelings of the East on Oct. 15, 2015

    Castle Marsh, an extremely isolated guinea pig castle, is experiencing a strange energy drain. When it ruins the King's birthday feast, the Princeling twins, Fred the Philosopher and George the Engineer, decide that they must do something about it. The mysterious tunnel that appears in response to Fred's spoken request for a secret passage is only the first surprise in their adventure. As they continue on their quest for answers, they meet the Hugo, a travelling salesman; Victor, a harried barkeeper; as well as Prince Lupin and Lady Nimrod, who provide much wisdom and help. They also discover new drinks (other than strawberry juice), find a time tunnel and visit new castles. As stated in the blurb, The Princelings of the East is intended for children ages 8 and up, so I wasn't too sure if I would like it. I generally enjoy childrens' books, but have been finding some of them a little too bland lately. This book isn't, though. Pett has a nice blend of wit and wisdom, as well as a very engaging writing style - not overly simplified, as if talking down to children, but simple, clean and crisp, so that you're attracted to it, no matter how young or old you are. Actually, after reading the trilogy and now flipping through this book again as I write this review, I notice there are subtle hints and clues to things that will happen in the rest of the trilogy - things that I didn't pick up until now.
  • The Princelings and the Pirates on Oct. 15, 2015

    Our Princeling twins, Fred & George, face unexpected swashbuckling adventures in The Princelings and the Pirates. The adventure starts off innocuously enough - the wine from Dimerie has run out and the person that Castle Buckmore originally sent to find out why hasn't returned, so Fred, George, and Victor set out for Castle Dimerie to discover what's wrong. Along the way, they get kidnapped by pirates, meet beautiful princesses, as well as dig out long hidden secrets. I'm not entirely sure why I didn't feel as engaged with this second book of the trilogy. I love swashbuckling adventures and I did like The Princelings of the East quite a bit, so I was actually looking forward to this one a lot. Maybe it suffers from the general middle syndrome of almost all trilogies. Then again, I think that the Princeling books can be read as standalones so that shouldn't really be a factor. It could possibly have felt a little disjointed - The Princelings of the East centres pretty much around Fred and George, and is located primarily Castle Buckmore with the occasional time travel, but The Princelings and the Pirates has a much wider scope. In this one, we jump from Castle Buckmore, to Castle Dimerie, pirate ships, Castle Marsh and the deserted Castle Fortune, with a few other castles being mentioned and thrown into the mix. Whatever it was, Pirates was still a pretty good read.
  • The Princelings and the Lost City on Oct. 15, 2015

    We pick up our story with George recovering from his injuries, Fred trying to win Kira's hand in marriage, and Prince Lupin getting married to Princess Nerys, Kira's sister. The power plant project is progressing smoothly and Fred is hard at work thinking of ways to improve Castle Marsh, ways that would make full use of the flying machine Miles and George were working on. When Fred, George and Kira stumble upon an apparently deserted castle called Arbor on their way to Castle Marsh, they decide to explore it, resulting in Kira being kidnapped and an imposter put in her place. I found this book more interesting than The Princelings and the Pirates, not least because it starts to explore sexism and male privilege in a very natural and practical way, which I think is excellent. Pett doesn't just look at it in a one-sided manner, but looks at the excesses of both feminism as well as male chauvinism. Granted, things in Arbor are over exaggerated - I'm not sure if this should be for kids aged 10; whilst Pett is delicate and doesn't state things very explicitly, I don't recall if these are things that a 10-year old would understand? Then again, kids mature so fast now that they might probably think Pett is being prudish. Hm. Pett is in top form with several heart-tugging scenes scattered throughout the story and an exciting race against time.
  • Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories on Oct. 09, 2016

    I'm not quite familiar with Japanese mythology (despite using some in my writing) so this was quite an interesting read. As a whole, I preferred Part I: Young Adult/Adventure Tales, which really shows you what my reading style/preference is like. Of these, I liked Kitsune by Heather Jensen the best, though Kelly Matsuura's tale of magic, ninjas, and love in Moon Shadow is a close second. The stories turn a little darker in Part II: Adult/Literary tales. Restoration by Chris Ward was beautifully haunting - and is probably the only one worth mentioning in this second half. The stories are well-written, but just not to my taste.
  • Insignia: Chinese Fantasy Stories on Oct. 09, 2016

    As a whole, I think I preferred Insignia: Japanese Fantasy Stories to this one. It felt as if there hadn't been enough submissions for this, so Kelly and Joyce ended up writing multiple stories to bulk it out. Set in an alternate Singapore which has dragons and phoenixes and foxes, Looking for Trouble (Joyce Chng) was probably the most to my taste in Part I. The Great Qilin (Kelly Matsuura) wasn't half bad as well - though it feels a little like a prelude to something else. The most impressive from Part II is Black Smoke and Water Lilies by David Jon Fuller. The timeline jumps around a little in this - I had to read the beginning carefully a few times before I really got into it, but it plays out really well.
  • Insignia: Southeast Asian Fantasy on Oct. 09, 2016

    This was definitely my favourite of the three. Part I: Adventure/Folktales began with the impressive Horse Feet by Celestine Trinidad. I loved the Filipino flavour to this - and of course, a new mystical creature (at least to me) is something I cannot dislike. Melvin Yong's The Island was a creepier than I would like, but extremely absorbing. Part I bulked out most of this anthology - which isn't a bad thing in my opinion. I'm just not a big fan of Part II: Adult/Literary Tales, I guess. The most I'll say about this was Never Seen (Kelly Matsuura) was pretty okay. Everything else was just dark and grim and scary.
  • What's The Tea With Gen Z on Feb. 12, 2021

    What's the Tea with Gen Z is a guidebook to understanding Gen Z, written by communication students from IACT College, Gen Z-ers themselves. It's a huge effort - the book is filled with lots of information, from research and surveys, as well as personal anecdotes. Content-wise, I'd give them an A (or 5 stars) for effort. The book covers everything from who the Gen Z are and how they grew up to what they're currently facing in the Covid-19 pandemic. It sometimes feels like the majority of the statistical information quoted has an implicit White USA bias. In a way, this makes sense because of how global the world is and what kind of information is readily available on the Internet (as well as the limits of college students carrying out surveys during MCO - this begs the question, who are they surveying?). At some points, the question "is that really true here?" kept coming up while reading, so I'd have appreciated a little bit of analysis on how this translates to the Gen Z in Malaysia. Is it absolutely the same, or would there be variation due to culture? Is there a difference in the way the same global events are perceived & reacted to by Gen Z in White/Western surveys vs the average Malaysian youth? Or is this generation truly so global that cultural backgrounds don't play as big a role as they used to? On a more personal interest level, a lot of what was said that defined this generation was technology. Yet everything mentioned seemed very urban English-speaking middle-class - what about B40 without the same level of access to tech & the Internet? What about those whose primary language is Malay or Chinese or Tamil? Do they also fit in the demographic, or are they some sort of subculture within Gen Z? [Other side thought - do these generational analyses only apply to the English-speaking world? How does language change generational experiences?] On a more or editorial level, the book would have benefited from tighter editorial control. If I understand the format correctly, each chapter is written by a different team of 3 students. This has resulted in varying levels of readability. There are some chapters that are a breeze to read and others that are filled with grammatical mistakes and extremely confusing sentences. Some seem to go a little more in-depth into why things are the way things are, others seem just to summarise and present whatever they found or are just extremely anecdotal. Overall, What's the Tea With Gen Z is an informative read, though it could have benefited from more thoroughly thought out analysis. It contains a lot of information, but what it lacks is a strong narrative that pulls all this into a cohesive whole. However, as these are communications students and not researchers or analysts, I suppose I'll give them a pass on that.