Author Questionnaire Extraordinaire: Anna Waggener

This post is one in a series introducing the contributors. We hope you’ll stick around to learn more about us and to follow our writing adventures in and around Chicago!


Hello! I’m Anna, and I’m stoked to be part of ChiYA and learn from some very funny, smart writers while inflicting you with occasional literary rambles of my own. Since it’s only right to give you a warning before doing so, here’s a little bit about myself:


Who is your fictional hero?

I admire Katniss for being so proactive and for defending the people she loves and the principles she believes in, while simultaneously living with faults and vulnerabilities that are relatable. I also admire her for being far more outdoorsy and savvy than I could ever be. That’s a respectable way of saying I would for sure die on my way to the Cornucopia.


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Who is your real-life hero?

My mother sacrificed so much to ensure my sister and I would have opportunity. When things feel overwhelming, I think of her: any issue I’m facing suddenly seems pretty piddly by comparison.

If you were a fictional character, who would you be?

I think I most closely resemble John Watson. I’m not an instigator and wouldn’t willingly start snooping around a crime scene, but I’m very loyal and willing to go along with people who I care about or who intrigue me. I’m a pretty good problem solver as well, so I like to think I’d get my book’s Sherlock out of sticky situations.


What is happiness to you?

Happiness is feeling secure—in your living situation, financially, and when you’re alone with your thoughts—and having something to look forward to, even if that something is simply extra whipped cream on a slice of pumpkin pie.

What inspires you to write?

Characters, plotlines, and scraps of description or dialogue often pop into my head during quiet moments—on a walk by myself, for example, but usually when I’m half asleep. That said, reading fiction is the thing that most inspires me to take those ideas and do something with them.

The truth is, I’m not a writer who has to write. I’ve learned that if I’m not regularly reading fiction, I just don’t feel the itch to create anything of my own. Realizing this has made me much more intentional about finding time for both reading and writing.

If you could give three books to every young adult, what would they be?

This is an impossible question, but here we go!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Brown Girl Dreaming

I think each has its own approach to encouraging readers to use their imaginations, develop empathy, and find joy and adventure in reading. Plus, all have the benefit of being very rereadable.


What’s your favorite work of art (book/movie/song/sculpture/etc.) with a Chicago connection?

Kanye West has made some interesting life choices lately, but he’s a musical genius. “All Falls Down” and “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” are two of my favorite songs, mixing his signature swagger and flow with sharp social commentary and the raw honesty that so often makes his music unique and powerful.

What’s your favorite hidden gem in Chicago?

As a person who loves good food, I’d have to pick Kabobi, a great Persian restaurant in Albany Park. When it comes to writing rather than food, I’d pick the L: I love brainstorming on the train. The motion, anonymity, and sense of urgency (trying to finish before reaching my stop) really kicks my muse into gear.


This post is brought to you by Anna Waggener at

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