Welcome Anne please tell us a little about yourself and your novel.
I’m a late-comer to writing, having only started in my, ahem, middle years, (assuming everyone will live to 100 from now on, yes?). I often had the ‘itch’ to write but was focused on my career as a psychotherapist and bringing up three children on my own. Then, some years ago I was a reluctant entrant (pushed by my mother!) into a writing competition run by Prima magazine. They wanted a True- Life story and I won the first prize of £500 ☺ Deciding that writing wasn’t such a bad idea, I then wrote my first novel, Dangerous Waters, a romantic mystery, published in 2012. Now retired as a therapist, I devote more time to writing, and have now written five books in The Guernsey Novels series.
‘Echoes of Time’ is a story set in dual time, something I haven’t done before, but thoroughly enjoyed writing. The focus is on two women; Olive, a young woman during the German Occupation of Guernsey; and Natalie who in the present time buys what was Olive’s old farm. Olive made a bad decision when she married Bill Falla, a coarse and violent man, as she found to her cost. Then a German officer comes into her life and…well, you’ll have to read the book!
Natalie has returned to Guernsey to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend and buys a beautiful cottage built on the site of Olive’s farm. She’s seeking peace and quiet after leaving a high-powered job in London, but the cottage is far from peaceful. Disembodied voices, moving objects and disturbing visions bring her to the brink. And then there’s her neighbour, Stuart, Olive’s grandson. Something else she hadn’t bargained for…
What inspired you to create your novel?
All my books have made reference to the Occupation, it having a long-lasting effect on Guernsey and the islanders. I lived there for many years and one of my sons still lives on the island and I came to know the island psyche well. With ‘Echoes of Time’ I wanted to write a more in-depth account of what happened during the war and tie it in to the present day. I was particularly inspired by Barbara Erskine’s book, ‘The Darkest Hour’, set partly in WWII and partly in the present. Thank you, Barbara!
What is your writing routine?
I write mainly from late-morning onwards, but it’s not a fixed routine. If the Muse decides to take a holiday then. As my own boss, sometimes it’s difficult to motivate myself, but if the writing flows then I’ll carry on until early evening.
What surprised you most while writing your novel?
How much I enjoyed writing about the historical part of the book. I felt really ‘there’ while writing those chapters.
Did you have to do a lot of research while writing your novel?
Yes, far more than for the others. I read several books written about the Occupation, quoting loads of facts and figures, and a couple of diaries kept by local women. Fascinating stuff! Also, I had to research the ghostly element to the story, which proved equally interesting.
I tend to type straight to the computer, which ties me to my study. I’ve never been able to write absolutely anywhere like some writers. But I’ll jot down outlines of chapters, characters etc out in the garden or while travelling.
Describe what your Muse looks like to you in three words.
Mocking, smiling, playful.
What part of writing your novel did you most enjoy?
The chapters set around Olive’s story. She had such varied experiences and endured so much hardship during the Occupation, as did all the islanders.
Are you a planner or discovery writer?
A planner for the most part, but sometimes the Muse takes me by surprise and I end up leaving my planned path. It pays not to be too rigid, I’ve found.
Who are your favourite Authors?
Barbara Erskine, Erica James, Robert Goddard, CJ Sansom, Linda Gillard and several others. I love finding new authors!
What was the best advice you’ve ever had while writing your novels?
What projects are you working on next?
Not wanting to waste the extensive research I’ve done for ‘Echoes of Time’, I felt the need to write another book set partly in the Occupation. Called ‘The Betrayal’ it will be the story of a painting by Renoir, stolen from a Jew living in Guernsey who is betrayed to the Germans by a supposed friend. The modern part of the story deals with the fatal repercussions of the betrayal and theft. And there’s a love story too!
Do you have any advice for fellow writers who maybe undertaking creating their first novel at this very moment?
Write what you enjoy and don’t try to write what you think others might want to read. Write from the heart and it will flow better. And if you’re writing about real places, it pays to have some first-hand knowledge to create a true sense of place.
Thank you Anne for taking time to do this blog interview, It has been great to hear about your novel. I wish you all the success with your novel and any other writing projects you may undertake in the future.
The first 3 titles of Anne Allen’s books are 99p/99c each between 12th and 19th August. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Allen/e/B007R2XGJG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Amazon Author Page: ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Link to Amazon for Echoes of Time: Echoes of Time (The Guernsey Novels Book 5)