From law to war – Gowling WLG’s Anna Smith launches debut fantasy novel

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Anna Smith of law firm Gowling WLG will launch her debut novel GODBLIND this week, under her maiden name alias, Anna Stephens.

Based in the firm’s Birmingham office at Two Snowhill, Anna works in the communications team for Gowling WLG, which has had roots in Birmingham for nearly 200 years.

The first in a trilogy, GODBLIND is an epic fantasy about the ordinary people caught up in a war of conquest. It’s an exploration of why people choose to go to war and what they’re prepared to do to achieve their goals.

Ahead of its international launch this Thursday (15 June), Anna said: “I’m feeling a very strange mix of excitement and terror. I’m so excited to finally see it published, but extremely nervous about my nearest and dearest reading it.”

A member of the Birmingham Writers’ Group, Anna is one of only a small number of women to write a fantasy novel that is quite this gritty. The story explores human emotion and human action in life or death situations, showing how far people will go to save themselves and how greed, ambition and religion can lead to acts of horror even within the horrors of war.

Anna said: “There are two schools of thought when it comes to fantasy writing. One is to make it as close to reality as possible and the other is, if you can’t explain how something happens, call it magic. I have taken the former approach so, it may be a made up world with fanciful names, but the physics remain the same.”

Inspired by Mary Shelley, who it’s thought wrote the first science fiction novel when she penned Frankenstein, Anna can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t want to write. She said: “I have made up stories ever since I could and as I got older I started to write them down. I always knew I would take this route – even if this book was never published, or if I never had a book published after this, I would still write.”

When talking about the contrast between her day-job and her writing career, Anna said: “They are two very different worlds – although there are many parallels. Both involve creativity, editing, proofreading and deadlines, but it’s safe to say that the content I write in my day-job involves a lot less violence!”

GODBLIND has been developed over 12 years and will be followed by two sequels set for release in 2018 and 2019. The book will be sold internationally, with deals struck in North America, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Poland.

After the launch, Anna will be attending the Edge-Lit, Fantasy in the Court and Nine Worlds conventions, as well as visiting Göteborg for the city’s international book fair.

GODBLIND will be available for purchase from Waterstones from 15 June 2017.