Anna Emm currently lives in Cape Town with her husband and two daughters. As the daughter of award-winning South African poet and academic, Leon Strydom, she grew up surrounded by literature and theatre.
She has been writing stories her whole life – even from before she could hold a pen. She wrote her first book at the age of four, dictating it over a few days to her kindergarten teacher, who had to write it down for her and then read it back to Anna for approval! Soon after this, Anna taught herself to write, and from then on there was no stopping her.
While in primary school, she wrote a series of action-packed stories for her classmates that were so popular, they had to develop a 'library' system to keep track of who was reading which book. Anna remembers how the other children offered to do her homework for her so she could finish the latest chapters!
During high school, Anna would often skip classes to go and sit in the school's bathroom so she could write. She had boxes full of handwritten stories stashed under her bed by the time she finished school. After school Anna studied at a college of education. While in college she experimented with plays, and one of her plays was performed by the students in her residence, with great success. After completing her diploma, Anna spent four years teaching Grade 2s. She describes herself as a terrible teacher, because she spent most of her time reading stories to the children instead of doing formal teaching. But it was here that she could really see the value of stories, because at the end of the year her learners ended up on the same academic level as those in the other classes – on an almost exclusive diet of stories! But their self-confidence, vocabulary and creativity were far better developed than those of the learners in the other classes. Her learners were happier, more relaxed, and had the rare ability to show empathy towards their peers. This was enough evidence for Anna to bid teaching goodbye and focus on her writing.
In 2006, she founded her own production company through which she would go on to write and produce more than 3000 original children’s stories in audio format. Most of these stories are now available on her podcast – www.AnnaEmmPod.co.za. In 2015, her company won the Afrigrowth Award for Small Business of the Year.
By this time Anna’s children’s stories had become quite a household name in South Africa. By the time she closed the business in 2020, she had also self-published a large number of books: 5 children's books, 17 books for YA readers, 2 collections of short stories for adults, 21 romance novels, 3 adult novels, and 38 short novels.
Anna drew a lot of interest on her social media pages for being very ‘hands on’ when it comes to research for her stories. In 2016 she went sky-diving to experience first hand what it must’ve felt like for one of her characters to jump out of a plane. (She swears she would never do this again!)
She also took up boxing lessons when she wrote a story about a boxer, and fell in love with the ring. She is still an avid boxer to this day and says it helps clear her head of character voices!
She also went for a fast lap or two around Killarney Racetrack while doing research for her book about a race car driver, and most recently she took up shooting lessons while writing her series of short detective novels.
Anna Emm believes in the power of stories. "In my own life I have witnessed the power of stories. Stories are the most powerful medium on earth. They have s profound impact on the human mind, spirit and body. Stories reach depths in us where even the medical industry cannot reach. A story well told has the power to heal, to nurture, to relax, to motivate and to activate like no other medium on earth. It is my wish that my stories will bring joy, and that my readers will feel better when they close my books, than when they opened them."
As a child Anna's greatest fear was that one day she would stop writing. So she didn’t.