Get ready to learn more about the book The Woman Who Pretended To Love Men in this discussion with sapphic author Anna Ferrara.
Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Anna Ferrara about The Woman Who Pretended To Love Men, writing, reading, and more.
This book is part of the Forbidden Relationship category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.
Why did you write The Woman Who Pretended To Love Men?
I no longer remember the specifics but I have a big feeling nostalgia for the non-digital, less hyper-informed past might have had something to do with it. I was lucky enough to have briefly experienced being a teen before social media changed everything and I thought it would be nice to write about a relationship that develops in-person instead of over digital interfaces. I also lived in Hong Kong for almost a year back in the early 2000s, before the effects of 1997 turned the city into what it is today, and I just had to put my memories of that down somewhere.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
The characters in my books are never entirely like me or unlike me because that would be too repetitive after a second book, wouldn’t it? What I usually do instead is base my characters on women I find attractive, meaning parts of stuff I write are really not too different from fan fiction. To answer this question for The Woman Who Pretended To Love Men: I like both Fleur and Milla equally. One is nerdy with perfect mastery of her job, the other is fearless and brave, heiress to a powerful mafia family. How do you pick a favourite between those?
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The central character (Fleur) is a woman who is struggling to conform to societal norms of her time (c.1999), and there was the expectation in her time that all women should love men, so that is why the title is as such.
If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?
I do have a sequel out already (The Woman Who Made Me Feel Strange, c.2030) and also a prequel (The Woman Who Tried To Be Normal, c.1975). I actually released the sequel before the prequel because The Woman Who Pretended To Love Men (c.1999) is part of a series that spans many decades, covering the adventures of a group of women who are different in more ways than one, because I thought it would be more exciting to take readers through the revelation of their secrets rather than their evolutions. There are supposed to be 3 more books in this series but I haven’t gotten down to finishing any of those yet.
Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I write on my iPad, phone and computer, whenever and wherever inspiration hits me. My ideal writing environment is a silent space free of other people and movement or sounds of any kind. Being spoken to when I’m writing just throws me off entirely.
What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?
Home-made mocha. Put a bar of milk chocolate into a cup, have it as tall as half of the cup, then pour freshly brewed black coffee over it. This beverage will make your workspace smell like Starbucks.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?
This is something I was told by a boss when I was starting out as a TV scriptwriter: “You’re only as good as your latest creation.” Since then, I have never stopped creating.
What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?
I actually act it out. I pretend I’m them and I act out the scene and write down whatever feelings happen to me in the process. Of course, I don’t do this when other people are present. I am quite aware of how doing that can look.
What books did you grow up reading?
Enid Blyton’s. Her ability to take repetitive themes and turn them into unique stories opened my mind to the myriad of ways a plot can be shaped.
Describe your favorite reading spot.
Wherever I am that requires me to wait for more than 15 mins. Reading fills those gaps in time perfectly.