Today we welcome Anne Allen as we travel to Devon, with a long stop in Guernsey beforehand, as we uncover how psychotherapy, a wise old owl, and fey intertwine with history to form the drama of Anne’s writings. Grab your flashlight and magnifying glass. Let’s investigate …
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a late-comer to writing, having spent most of my working life as a psychotherapist. I see it as my ‘third-age career’ and one I wish I had come to a lot sooner! Although my current home is in Devon, I have moved around quite a bit, much to the annoyance of my three children, I suspect.
The longest and happiest stay was in Guernsey, which became the focus of my novels when I started writing thirteen years ago. The first, Dangerous Waters, was published in 2005 although I did not realise this was the start of a series.
In which genre do you write?
The genre is a mix of family drama, romance, mystery and an element of historical, particularly in my last three books which are dual-time.
How many published books do you have?
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
Ah! I’d love a wise old owl which would use his wonderfully expressive eyes to let me know if he approved of what I was doing – or not. I could spill out my thoughts and wait for the blink!
What does your ideal writing space look like?
It would be a lot bigger than the one I have now! I’m using a small single bedroom overlooking the street of Victorian terrace houses and ideally I would love a proper study cum library, with book lined walls, a huge desk, lots of storage for all my files and a gorgeous sea view. Near enough to hear the sound of the waves breaking on the shore. Bliss!
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would love to have coffee with one of my favourite authors, Barbara Erskine, who has written so many time-slip books, beginning with Lady of Hay 30 years ago. I would ask her if she is ‘fey’, able to sense spirits or ghosts as they form a large part of her stories and I’m beginning to include them in my own books. I would also ask her if she would mind reading one of my books and give me an honest opinion.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
That I can finish things I start!
What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
The most inspiring thing that has ever happened to me was winning a 500 word True-Life story competition in Prima magazine which encouraged me to write my first novel. The prize was £500 worth of M & S vouchers with a two-page spread in the magazine. I realised then that writing could put food on the table!
What do you miss about being a kid?
The freedom to just ’be’: not having adult responsibilities like the need to earn money; the long school holidays to enjoy as I wished with my friends – going out on our bikes for the day or going to others’ houses to chat or play; the pleasure of going to the library each week and bringing home 3 or 4 new books knowing I had plenty of time to read them.
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?
It would be Jeanne Le Page, my heroine from Dangerous Waters, who returns rather reluctantly to her birthplace of Guernsey. Further on in the story, her life picks up and she becomes close to a man, Nick, who I, for one, fell in love with! I would like to spend the day with him on his boat, cruising round the island.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
I do. Some years ago I was on course in Glastonbury, trying to make sense of my life after my husband had died suddenly, leaving me with three small children. Most of the others on the course were women from Guernsey and we hit it off instantly.
Over the weeks we became good friends and two sisters invited me and the children over for a holiday and I fell in love with the beautiful island. A year later we moved there, in spite of a restrictive housing policy. A few years later I met a local man and we were together for about 10 years. I returned, reluctantly, to England after our breakup, but the memories were still strong and led eventually to The Guernsey Novels.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
Stubbornness. After receiving rejections from agents, I decided to publish under my own imprint, Sarnia Press, and haven’t looked back.
Tell us about your most recent book.
‘The Inheritance’, a dual-time story set partly around Victor Hugo when he lived in Guernsey, and partly in the modern time. The connection between the two is Eugénie, a young widow who comes to the attention of Hugo and begins work as his copyist, and her great- great- great-granddaughter, Tess, a young doctor who inherits her house. The story handed down through the generations is that Eugénie and Hugo were extremely close and perhaps he was the father of her child, born after her re-marriage. Eugénie’s story is told through her diaries and interwoven with Tess’s life 150 years later.
The book is available as an ebook through all retailers and as a paperback from Amazon and bookstores.
Thank you Anne for joining us at Meeting the Authors. It was incredibly interesting and wonderful to learn the clues that come together as part of your writer’s life. –Camilla
To Buy: https://books2read.com/GuernseyNovels
UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MMtkvM
US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2F1q4Gg
UK Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Wzz0h1
US Kindle: https://amzn.to/2K9jUbd
The Inheritance Website: https://www.anneallen.co.uk
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And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …