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Anna Snoekstra on Crime, Film, and the Moment Her Writing Clicked

ERG: Can you talk a little about how you came to be a crime writer? Have you always been a fan of the genre?

AS: I’ve always loved suspenseful films. For a long time, I was infatuated with Film Noir, and loved trying to pick apart the ways tension was built and released in a story. I have always been a big reader, but was never really interested in crime novels. I think this is because I always saw them as very male and very conventional: a dead woman, a detective, a bad guy. It didn’t interest me.

In 2014 I wanted to enter the Scarlet Stiletto short story awards that Sisters in Crime put on. I’d been writing for a long time, but nothing so far had really clicked. In preparation for writing a crime short story, I read a stack of crime novels. Tana French, Gillian Flynn, Caroline Kepnes. The stories they wrote were so different to anything I’d read before. When I started my own story, it clicked.

ERG: We often hear writers talk about being a ‘pantser’ of or a ‘plotter’. Can you talk a bit about your writing process? Do you plot your novels before you write them or start to write and see where it takes you?

AS: Is it possible to be a ‘plantser? My background is in writing for film, so I do find plot endlessly fascinating. I usually write a loose chapter breakdown, but I leave gaps and holes to fill in as I go. I’m a big believer in the idea that a huge part of writing is about tapping into your subconscious, and so I intentionally allow space for that.

ERG: The writing process of authors seems to be as varied and individual as the work they produce, what is your writing process like? Do you have a routine around writing?

At the moment I am writing full-time, which is fantastic. I have a studio in Thornbury, which used to be a football factory. I share the space with an artist, a musician, an entrepreneur and a jeweler. Being around others creating amazing things is a great motivator. It’s also really lovely to take a break and walk around to see what everyone else is working on.

When beginning a new project, I usually start off in my notebook. When I write on the computer I feel the need to edit and polish as I go. In my notebook I can be as messy and nonsensical as I like. Once I’ve gotten a good idea of the shape of the story, and I’m so excited to start writing it that I start thinking about the prose rather than the plot, that’s when I move onto the computer. Usually it will come out very quickly because I’ve already done months of thinking.

ERG: As part of the curated book club you will be talking about Joyce Carol Oates’ ‘Where are you going where have you been’. Without giving too much away, what is it that makes the story such a formative one for you?

‘Where are you going, where have you been’ is a classic short story. It portrays humdrum suburbia and boring summer days just as powerfully as it does creeping dread and unease. The story is psychological. It contains no physical violence, no weapons or blood. However, it’s one of the most haunting pieces of literature I have ever read.

ERG: Are you currently working on any writing projects? Can you tell us about them?!

Yes! I’m currently working on some short stories of my own. I’m hoping to put a collection together. I am also flirting with the idea of starting another novel, my notebook is getting very full!  I’m writing the screenplay adaptation of my Young Adult novel Mercy Point as well. I am working with a great producer on it, so fingers crossed it will make it to the big screen sometime soon!


About Anna

Anna Snoekstra studied Creative Writing and Cinema at The University of Melbourne, followed by Screenwriting at RMIT University. She has worked as a cheesemonger, waitress, Christmas elf, nanny, receptionist, cinema attendant and film reviewer.

Anna now writes novels, teaches storytelling at RMIT University and Co-ordinates the Write Club at 100 Story Building. Her first novel ‘Only Daughter’ was released in 2016, and is currently being made into a Universal Pictures feature film. Her second, the acclaimed ‘Little Secrets’, was released in 2017. Her first novel for Young Adults, the best-selling ‘Mercy Point’, is out now.

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