Anna Priemaza‘s been writing fiction since 2010, but it was her set-in-Edmonton, young-adult novel, Kat and Meg Conquer the World, that landed her a two-book deal, and her publishing debut in 2017 with HarperCollins.
Conversation with Anna Priemaza and Avenue Edmonton
Avenue: Why set the book in Edmonton?
Priemaza: It was just natural because I live here. I moved to Edmonton in 2007 for law school, now it’s home. The first chapter starts with Kat, who’s just moved from Ontario to Alberta. I’m always struck by differences between provinces, and one I found the strangest was high school here starts in Grade 10, in Ontario it starts in Grade 9. I found it really stressful to start high school, I was really nervous about it. This idea kind of stuck in my head about a teen who had my similar problems of anxiety, who already had to go through the whole process of starting high school for the first time in Ontario, then had to go through it all again after moving to Alberta. I guess I just couldn’t get over this fact and wrote a whole book about it!
Avenue: Was the friendship angle intentional? You don’t see a lot of YA books with that theme.
Priemaza: You don’t! I don’t understand it. When I was in high school, my friendships were just so important to me. Even now, they still are. Probably none of [my books] will be a romance book. I find that there are so many interesting relationships between people, there are so many facets of interpersonal relationships you can explore. My first conception of this book was a friendship book. I wanted to write about two girls who were complete opposites but who had this badass friendship anyway. I don’t think I thought about how few friendship books there are until I wrote one and tried to find other books to compare it to and there just aren’t very many. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants is sort of the classic friendship story, which I adore, so it comes out of that tradition I guess.
Priemaza: It’s a standalone. It’s set in the same world as Kat and Meg, but it’s not the same characters. Although they might make a cameo.
Avenue: How do you choose to engage with your fans online?
Priemaza: I’ve been learning not to look at reviews. Once you put your book out in the world, it’s not yours anymore, it’s for readers to engage with and interact with and discover and discuss as they wish. I try to stay out of that space because comments are not intended for you. When readers write comments in those spaces, they’re writing it to engage with other readers, they’re not writing for the author. I try to have a space where people can come and engage with me in a fun way, but I try not to step in readers’ spaces.
Avenue: What Fandoms are you a part of?
Priemaza: Doctor Who, definitely. Harry Potter of course. My newest fandom interest is a podcast called The Adventure Zone.
Avenue: What do you think of the new [13th, Female] Doctor?
Priemaza: I am over the moon. I cried when they announced the new doctor. I’m really happy that it’s a woman. It’s way past time. They were building to the possibility that it was going to be a woman, but I still didn’t quite believe they were going to do it. I work in a male-dominated industry in my day job as a lawyer. There are plenty of female lawyers, but women still leave the profession in pretty high numbers. At higher management levels and on the boards I sit on, there are way more men than women. Those issues are something I feel are very prevalent in my life. This just feels like such a positive step in the right direction and it makes me feel very hopeful.
This article appears in the April 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton