Interview: Anna Caltabiano, author of All That is Red and The Seventh Miss Hatfield

Interview: Anna Caltabiano, author of All That is Red and The Seventh Miss Hatfield

The 17-year-old novelist talks social media and 'describing the world the way you see it'

Seventeen-year-old Californian Anna Caltabiano self-published her first novel, All That is Red, when she was just 15, gaining her a massive teen audience and an enormous Twitter following. But, she says, she’s no different to the average teen: ‘I wouldn’t call myself famous. It’s been wonderful to have all this social media and press attention, and it’s such an exciting thing for me to see a stranger on the street with a copy of my book. I walk back and forth in front of them trying to see if they will look up and recognise me from the back cover. They usually don’t!’

It is the perception and maturity of Caltabiano’s writing that makes her notable; she is an astute observer of her own generation. ‘I think growing up in the 21st century, you can have a thousand Facebook friends but not be able to talk to them, save for one or two people, on a personal level,’ she says. ‘So that’s scary because it provides this illusion that we’re really connected and talking to diverse people, when in fact we may be seeking out people who are very similar to us, more so than we were a generation ago.’

Of her own status as a teen Twitter celebrity, she is equivocal: ‘As a teenager, it’s a time in your life when you’re not sure about things, and it’s kind of like having 124,000 people looking over your shoulder at that time. But it’s also a support group!’
Her major publisher debut The Seventh Miss Hatfield, the first in a trilogy, is out this month and Caltabiano has sound advice for young writers keen to emulate her success. ‘I used to think that good, effective writing was describing the world and reality as it actually is,’ she says. ‘It took me a long time to realise that that essentially doesn’t do anything, because it’s almost impossible; describing the world the way you see it is a lot more fun, a lot more effective and a lot more meaningful.’

Anna Caltabiano's The Seventh Miss Hatfield (Gollancz) is out on Thu 31 Jul. She tweets at @caltabiano_anna.

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