Interview with Anna Waggener, Author of Grim

Anna Waggener is the author of Grim, a YA fantasy that hits stores June 1.  Anna dropped by the virtual offices recently to talk about her new book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Anna Waggener] I love working with kids, playing with Photoshop, and taking long walks through the mountains. The quantity of my cream puff and cookie making compliment all three.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Grim?

[Anna Waggener] Grim follows three story lines, the two most important of which focus on Erika, a single mother who suffers a car crash and wakes up in the land of the dead, and her kids Meg, Shawn, and Becca, aged eight, seventeen, and eighteen respectively, who have to deal with the fact that she keeps creeping up in their dreams–even after her funeral. It bridges two worlds (Limbo and New Jersey, which, I’m told, is a bit like Limbo) and two genres, giving important nods to both the "classics" and to children’s lit (and to classic children’s lit) that I grew up on.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Anna Waggener] It sounds cliche, but the character of Jeremiah appeared randomly in one of my dreams. He was just sort of standing there, not really doing anything, but I woke up wanting to figure out what that was all about. As I fleshed him out, I found his story linked to a line that I’d jotted down almost a year before—the line that starts out the book’s prologue.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing Grim?

[Anna Waggener] The editing process. I’m a panster for the most part, and also a perfectionist, which means my early drafts are carefully written in the first place. Then my perfectionist really comes out when I buckle down for edits. Self-doubt is something that I, like all other writers, struggle with on a constant basis, and the editing process really accentuates that for me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Erika?

[Anna Waggener] Opinionated; Loving; Fierce

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Shawn would never have in his pocket?

[Anna Waggener] illegal paraphernalia (unless Becca put it there); a band-aid; tickets to a musical

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Anna Waggener] Photography is certainly one of them, as are travel and people watching. As far as authors, I’m very much impacted by J.R.R. Tolkien, L. Frank Baum, and J.K. Rowling, as well as Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, and so many others. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Anna Waggener] A computer with a decent word processor and a quiet (but not too quiet) space. I’m not too fussy.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Anna Waggener] I’m reading Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma right now and LOVING it. Before that, Patricia Smith’s latest book of poetry.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Anna Waggener] The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, hands down.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Anna Waggener] I would say "take pictures" but I haven’t been on a shoot in a while. I’ve been a student for the vast majority of my life (graduating next week!), so I’m not sure what life in the "real world" will be like just yet, but I both cook and read whenever I can, and hang out with friends. I also love gardening, so my small apartment is rather leafy all year round.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Anna Waggener] Facebook (, Twitter (@AnnaWaggener), or email ( And please feel free to; I’d love to get to know you!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

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