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An Interview with A.E. Bratchford

Today we bring you an interview with queer poet and author, A.E. Bratchford. Read on to find out how Anna came to self-publish their debut collection, and discover more about their sapphic sci-fi novel in verse, due to release next week!


Hi Anna. Thank you for joining us. First of all, please introduce yourself!

Hi there, thank you for having me! I am Anna, pronouns they/them - I’m a queer author and poet based in Melbourne, Australia. Other than writing and reading I love going for nature walks (anywhere there will be dogs!), I am also a big tea drinker! I am currently in the process of starting a small business with the aim of publishing works by queer indie authors as well as my own work.

Tell us about your poetry book, Hearts, Cages, and other Locked Boxes, and what inspired you to write it.

Hearts, Cages, and other Locked Boxes started out as a little collection of poems and some of my shorter pieces of writing to send out to some of my extended family during the lockdowns back in 2020. The more I went through my notebooks, the more I realised I had enough poems for a full (albeit small) collection. Publishing a book had always been a dream of mine and these poems were something I wanted to share to a wider audience.

Your poems explore the self, the mind, queerness, and love. Why do these themes in particular appeal to you?

With the origins of this collection being so personal, the theme followed that quite naturally. The collection very quickly became an ode to my own personal growth, and so these themes grew from the the poems themselves. I felt it was also important for me to be true to myself in the poems I shared in this collection.

How did you come to write in poetry and verse, and has it always been your preferred form of writing?

I started out very much as a fiction writer (fan-fiction to be precise). I first started writing poetry back in 2013 as a way to understand what was going on in my head - and so, if I’m honest, my poetry started off as angsty teenage ramblings. I grew to love the form quite quickly, and eventually I started experimenting with it and writing poetry more regularly. With that practice, I improved and started to play with the form more, eventually leading to me writing a verse novel.

What do you hope readers will feel and take away from this collection?

I’d love for readers to find something in my words. Whether that be in the form of emotions or in a sense of comfort that if they recognise something of themself in this collection that they feel they’re not alone in that feeling.

Do you have a personal favourite poem from this collection, and if so, why?

So many! Mostly because I am so proud of this collection as a whole. I think I’ll have to pick two. First the untitled piece at the beginning of the collection. It is such a short, simple piece, but it holds a lot of emotion. The second would have to be either ‘Unsung’ or ‘The Wall’, I love the rhythm of both of these, and also the hope that is felt in those words.

Speaking of favourites, do you have any outside of your own work? Any pieces that may have inspired your own writing?

Again, so many! So many I’m not sure where to start. I find more of my inspiration in the world around me, but there are a few books that I do think influenced my process. Firstly The Monkey’s Mask by Dorothy Porter - a queer mystery novel in verse. Though stylistically this book is quite different to mine, it definitely gave me the idea to try write a verse novel. Also This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. This book showed me that not all sci-fi has to be “big” but that it can be slower and more poetic. I cannot wait to write more like this.

What does your writing process look like? Do you choose a theme/topic beforehand, or does the inspiration come first?

It’s a bit of a mix for this one! For most of what I write, it starts with one particular scene or emotional state that I want to expand on. For Forget Me Not, there is a scene near the end of the book that I can picture perfectly, and it is that which inspired the rest - I wanted to know how that character got to that point in her story. Themes in my writing develop as I write. I do plan, but it is a loose plan - I love to play around with what I write and see what happens. Though this usually means my first draft will take forever!

As well as this book, you also have a verse novel publishing in this month. Tell us more about this!

I am so excited to be able to share Forget Me Not, my sapphic sci-fi verse novel! I really am so happy with how it turned out. It follows two FMCs Beatrice and Jordan, two members of a space marauders crew. The story begins with Jordan and the crew looking for the missing Beatrice, and it follows the events of what happens when Beatrice is found. It’s just as much a romance as a mystery or general sci-fi story, but the romance is slow burn and gentle.

What made you decide to combine the forms of novel and verse together?

It’s a concept I’ve been interested in for quite a while now, I’ve read a few and loved the flowing form of them. So when this sci-fi romance idea came to me I knew this would have to be the story I tried out the form with. It was something that took both a lot of planning and experimentation which I loved, and I am so happy with the results.

Do you find any challenges while writing or publishing either of your books? How did you overcome them?

As strange as it may sound, I’ve loved every challenge I’ve come across while writing and self publishing. I’ve learnt something from every hiccup and bump in the road. I think especially when I was first starting it was the big ‘how’ of it all that was most challenging, but after many YouTube videos I figured it out, especially for formatting my debut poetry collection; I somehow managed to do that all in word. I invested in Atticus for Forget Me Not and it changed everything, making formatting so much easier. Beyond that though, marketing has probably been the biggest learning curve for me, and it is a challenge I’m still overcoming.

As for self-publishing, why did you choose to go down this route? What do you enjoy about it, and what do you find challenging?

I decided to start with self publishing as the more I read about publishing poetry the more I realised just how difficult it would be. Then the more I thought about it the better it sounded - I loved the idea of having full creative control, and also having the ability to set my own deadlines. Having to keep track of everything and making sure to do everything on time is probably the hardest thing, that and marketing without a big name publisher behind me.

We’d love a hint about any of your current projects! Anything that might surprise your readers?

I’m taking a slightly different turn for my next project, it’s a sapphic cosy fantasy set in rural Victoria. It’s going to be really sweet and (hopefully) funny, and much more low stakes. I do also have a prequel of sorts for Forget Me Not in the works as well!

If you could give any advice to poets set to make their debut, what would it be?

Trust yourself and your writing. It sounds like empty advice, but there are so many more hurdles to jump with poetry so you need to really be invested in your own work and want to bring it to readers. The right audience will find you! It may just take a bit longer.

Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, or games you’re enjoying at the moment? Any recommendations for our audience? Bonus points if it includes sapphics!

I am neck deep in the latest series of Dimension 20 at the moment, which features a range of wonderful characters, including sapphics! I’m also loving rewatching Dead Boy Detectives at the moment which is very sweet and queer. As always, I am also watching the new Doctor Who and my goodness is it great so far! I’m sadly stuck in a bit of a reading slump at the moment, but the last book I read and loved was Spellbound by the lovely Avery Carter, it’s a sapphic cosy fantasy and it is definitely one of my favourite reads for the year!


About Anna

Anna (they/them) is a writer of poetry and fiction based in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia. If not writing or at work, they will most likely be reading, or walking around their local area day-dreaming about their next novel idea. While at home, Anna will most likely be drinking tea, thinking about making a cup of tea, or scolding themself because they've remembered another mug of half-drunk cold tea that they have unintentionally sacrificed to the tea goddess.

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