Young Catholic Writer of Great Promise
Author Profile of Anastasia Vincent
Oh! How this fallen world needs to hear the eternal truth and love of Jesus our Christ told in modern story, parables! The Holy Spirit is on the case, and we see the fruit emerging in a new spring of Catholic writers, including the joyful vibrancy of young Catholic writers.
This new generation of Catholic authors is steeped in our faith, infusing their writing invisibly and visibly with the fabric of Christ's love, calling readers to reflect through modern parable upon their own struggles. The invitation is clear: choose love of virtue and its abundant fruit over sin and its degrading promises of carnal delight. This is all the more refreshing as they explore how to be a Catholic author in an age of shifting technology and publishing landscapes.
Ms. Anastasia Vincent is such an author and her first work, “Adrastea: Annals of Orbis, Book 1,” offers us a glimpse of the greatness of God's breath as she offers her gift, a tender shoot emerging from spring snows and blossoming into flower. This is my email interview with her.
Your book, “Adrastea: Annals of Orbis, Book 1,” is it your first? If not, what are your other works and how are they similar or different?
Adrastea is my first published work, but it is definitely not my first work all together. I have finished five other books (only one of them can count as a full-length novel though) and several short stories. I can’t really say for the short stories because those are all over the place, but the books are similar to Adrastea in the aspect that they all have a good ounce of action and mystery. However, Adrastea was the second one to be set in a completely different world with different races. The one full-length novel I mentioned is what actually started the Annals of Orbis series, so technically that was the first one.
In Adrastea, you introduce Orbis. What inspired your world creation? The lands, the species inhabiting them, and their interrelationship with each other? Did you have a specific symbology in mind as you wrote?
The two things that inspired Orbis were Tolkien, and my own surroundings. I got the idea for the Annals when I was reading and watching The Lord of the Rings and I was wondering why I liked Middle Earth so much. So, I dissected Tolkien’s world and came to the conclusion that I really liked the different races and their relationships with each other. I also really liked the fact that Men (as in, Humans) are looked down upon by the Elves. I like the fact that Men were essentially the ones to ruin everything, but in the end Aragorn (and an array of more minor characters) becomes one of the greatest heroes.
When people ask me how I came up with the different races and what inspired me, the only thing I can think of is that I was divinely inspired, because I really can’t remember how it happened.
As for the geography of Orbis, that was inspired by a few of my minor travels, and also travels that I wish to go on but still have not. Arietes was inspired by my home state Washington, and is what people think when you say Washington. Green and lush and very wet. This is actually what coastal Washington is like. Lastly, I did not have a specific symbology in mind when I wrote Adrastea. I do love symbolism, but whenever I try to put it into my stories it turns out wrong. Instead I just write, and often times the symbolism seeps out in really subtle ways.
In one paragraph, please give a character introduction of yourself, as though you were in one of your books.
This was so hard, but I tried my best.
Anna ( this is what my family calls me) was just like any other dreamer, constantly in clouds, thinking of some far-off place that may or may not exist. If you wanted to find her, you never had to look far. She was always sitting in her room at her desk, hugging a warm cup of tea with a good book or an open word document. Yes, Anna was a writer. Was she like all writers? Quite possibly, but she would not know that because she spent too much inside of her own head, trying to translate her jumbled thoughts into words rather than pictures. It always proved to be the hardest part of writing for her. How could she describe something so vivid and do it justice? It was almost as difficult as editing.
How would you describe your calling, as a writer, and as a person? Who did God make you to be, as far as you’ve sussed out so far?
That’s a rather difficult question. I’m not really sure what my true calling is yet, which is only natural considering I’m 17. I don’t know many 17-year-olds who know exactly what their calling is. However, I do believe God really wants me to write, otherwise a notorious procrastinator such as myself would never have gotten this far. The only way I can explain my calling as a writer would be that I feel like there is an invisible rope tied around me and I keep getting pulled into writing. Even when I’m in a writing slump and don’t write a word for several days, sometimes weeks, everything I see, hear, touch, smell; it always makes me think of a story. I think the one thing that really made me recognize my ‘writer calling’, and also what makes a great author,was not the will or the want to write, but the need to write.
Adrastea is a coming of age book in parallel with a fantasy world coming to grips with expanded interrelationships, answering as societal levels many of the same questions. How do you shape the struggles of the soul of the individual compared with the struggles of souls in a given society and a given world of societies?
I would say that the struggles for the individuals came quite naturally in my writing. Adrastea especially. She has always struggled with the feeling of abandonment and she doesn’t really belong anywhere. When her parents are murdered and she is forced into hiding, that feeling is obviously magnified. The biggest struggle she has in her soul is a total lack of belief and trust which comes from her neglect as a child. Her struggles are what most teens face (on a larger scale, of course). She has no sense of belonging, no matter where she goes. Even in the end of the book, she still does not belong. I did not intend for this to happen, but it did. The fact that we humans don’t belong anywhere, except in heaven, bled into my writing without my knowing. The same goes for the different struggles the kingdoms and the whole world of Orbis are facing. Besides the obvious prejudices they have against each other, many of them are suffering from a crumbling society because no one has the power or the will to fight against tyrants who wish to destroy everything that’s good and wonderful. I know this doesn’t answer the question very well, but I really have no method when it comes to shaping the struggles. I think the best way to go is to give everyone and everything a history. Past events and the people we meet/have met are what shape us as human beings, and the same goes for book characters and societies.
What are your aspirations?
My dream is to one day write the greatest Catholic American novel of all time. All of the greatest Catholic authors were European, and I think it’s about time we did something about that.
What and who inspires your writing? (An event, a setting, a conversation, a relationship?)
Well, just about everything inspires my writing, but I will try and narrow it down for you.
Of course, Tolkien and Lewis are an endless well of not only inspiration, but also motivation. When I don’t feel like writing or when I’m just down in the dumps, I look at what they managed to do and immediately get a boost.
Another source of inspiration for me is actually television, as I am a very visual person. Every time I watch a movie (especially old black and whites) I get a new story idea.
As for places, whenever I take a walk along the bay or in the forest, I always feel inspired to write. Not only is nature so magical, but taking walks also gets the blood flowing and stimulates the brain cells, a crucial part to writing. If your brain is asleep, so is your writing.
Becoming a writer is very intentional, yet every path to authoring a book is different. What led you to be so foolish as to become a writer?
As cheesy as it sounds, my family did. I never had a moment where I just suddenly decided to be an author, but all throughout my life, my siblings and my parents have always been extremely helpful and supportive. Both my parents have a deep love for good literature, and they passed that on to me and my siblings. I think the countless hours of literary, philosophical, and theological discussions at the dinner table are what really led me to becoming an author.
In their writing of fantasy, CS Lewis preferred overt faith while JRR Tolkien preferred covert faith. Which do you prefer and why? Please give an example from your book.
In my own writing I prefer more covert faith. This is going to sound somewhat ironic, as I am a writer, but I believe that often times actions speak louder than words. In my stories, I prefer to show that my characters live virtuous and moral lives by what they do and the choices they make, rather than just outwardly stating that they’re Christian. When I wrote Adrastea, I did not write it for any particular group. It wasn’t specifically for Catholic teens and it wasn’t specifically for secular teens. I just wrote it in hopes that I could give all teens, religious or not, an understanding of true heroism and the difference between good and evil. It’s sad, but if my book was blatantly Catholic, no secular teens would read it. Taking the more covert route, I have a chance of showing teens that good heroes do exist, and morals and virtues aren’t just old-fashioned notions.
To use an example from my book is difficult, because there isn’t just one point where something covertly religious happens. The covert Christianity happens throughout the whole book. Rather than Christian themes and symbolism, I prefer to use truly Christian-hearted characters. I think a good example would be Daphne, a Human acrobat in search of her kidnapped sister. There are several moments in the book where her ‘covertly Christian’ behavior saves Adrastea from making some of the worst mistakes of her life. Of course, to Christians, especially Catholics, her actions don’t seem covert in the least, but from the secular mind it’s just a girl who’s trying to do the right thing. That is the one quality that characters lack in modern literature.
What advice do you have for others who wish to write?
This is from personal experience, but try your best to avoid ‘how-to’ videos/books on writing. If you are a good writer, then you are a good writer. There is no right or wrong way to do it. If you watch ‘how-to’ videos and read ‘how-to’ books all the time, you will actually get scared to write because you’re afraid of doing something wrong. Instead, focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling, and all that jazz (I still struggle with all of these things). If you want to get really good, you’ll need that basic knowledge, but the rest is all practice, practice, practice.
How many books do you envision for Orbis, and is the next book in the works? Any idea when it will be available?
There will be six books in the Annals of Orbis all together. The second one, titled Deirdre, I am currently working on, and it will be released in Spring, 2021.
What have I not asked that you wish I had? What have I asked that you wish I hadn’t?
Well, the questions were all really fun and unique and I’m afraid I sort of rambled a bit, but since you asked I might as well mention that even though the second book in the Annals, Deirdre, isn’t coming out till next year, I will still be writing other stories in the meantime. I am currently writing a serial novel titled Champion’s Promise and I release a new chapter every Sunday on my blog. Lastly, I will also be writing a couple of novellas relating to the Annals of Orbis series. I’m not sure when they will be complete, but once they’re finished, readers will be able to download the free pdf versions on my website.
As for a question I wish you hadn’t asked, there isn’t really one. They were all super fun to answer! Thank you, Father Deacon.
Connect with Anastasia Vincent:
“Adrastea: Annals of Orbis, Book 1,” is available on Amazon, available as paperback and e-book.
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