Anna ,thank you for joining us today. It’s shame that your tour of South Western Australia was cancelled, but it has given you the time to answer some questions for us. Anna is usually incredibly busy, and I know that her talks are very well attended
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Read books, chat to my lovely husband, spend time with friends, watch TV.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
From the age of 10 when I figured out some people earned their living by writing stories, that’s what I wanted to do.
What’s for dinner tonight? What would you rather be eating?
Leftovers and salad bits as we had lunch at our daughter’s cafe. I’m rather apprehensive of eating different things as I have several severe food intolerance’s. One of my favourites is curry and we’re lucky to have an Indian restaurant reasonably close to home which understands gluten free needs and avoids cross-contamination.
My husband. He’s a wonderful man, kind to everyone he meets and has been so supportive of me in my career. Also, he’s just – gorgeous!
Sigh, what a marvellous tribute, but he’s equally lucky to have you.
If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Various friends whom we’ve known for decades. No one famous springs to mind.
Now to questions about writing .What time of the day do you usually write?
All the hours I can! It’s my favourite activity. I don’t have the housework gene.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
I don’t find it difficult, but some stories are easier to write than others, I must admit.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I’m always writing. I work 7 days if I have nothing else on but take days off if I want to do something else.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Standing stock still, going glassy eyed (my husband tells me) and getting ideas either for new stories or ongoing scenes.
Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I hear from readers a lot and love it. I have such nice readers.
Do you have a favourite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?
Bram, in the Traders series. He’s medium height, not good looking and yet he’s a kind, lovely man, my very favourite hero.
The Traders Series is five books it starts with The Traders Wife,the The Traders Sister,The Traders Dream,The Traders Gift and finally The Traders Reward
Set in Singapore and Western Australia in the 1860s. New set of main characters, but some links with characters from the Swan River Saga
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?
They could write non-fiction, I suppose. I think emotions are necessary to write good fiction and touch readers’ hearts.
You’ve written contemporary and historical fiction. Do you have a preference?
I’ve also written fantasy and romances. I like writing them all but there isn’t time to do that, so I’ve stuck to what I call ‘relationships stories’ both historical and contemporary. I don’t have a preference. What I enjoy and need is the variety.
Anna has written over eighty books- now that’s variety.
How do you decide whether it will be a book series or a stand alone?
I only write series these days because readers prefer them, and to tell you the truth, I like to find out what happens to my characters from one story. So they have walk-on roles in the rest of a series.
Which comes first for you, the place to the character?
Re place or character, neither, really. The setup scenario comes first – not the place necessarily, but a very rough and minimal concept of whatever is happening or about to happen. Then I start work on putting the character into that situation and things start to take on life.
So,you think of a situation ( for example this horrid virus right now) and the think who would be involved and where?
Exactly. And the character is like the yeast in a loaf, makes the situation come to life.
Best writing advice?
If you’re just beginning, write a story, polish then set it aside for at least a year and write another story. Writing one story doesn’t usually teach a person to write professionally. And do not rush to self-publish too early on, either, for the same reason. A goldsmith wouldn’t expect to sell the first piece he made, nor should a writer – well, not until it’s been re-polished thoroughly and other stories written.
That is good advice, we all know that this takes time but we are too impatient.
Worst writing advice you ever received?
Plan your story ahead. I can’t and trying only give me a boring outline of a story that will never work. It’s when my characters come to life in the setup stage that my stories come to life. Some writers can plan ahead and some can’t, some can half-plan. We’re all different. It’s the finished product that counts, not how you get there. If you need to stand on your head in a corner to write, do it. Whatever it takes.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Buying books by other authors – you can learn from them both what to do and what not to do. You need to read a lot to understand what makes good fiction. So anyone who wants to be a writer and doesn’t read doesn’t make me want to read their efforts.
Do you have a favourite author and why?
I have several favourite authors, but it was Georgette Heyer who inspired me to become a writer. And Anne McCaffrey who taught me to use my imagination as vividly as possible.
What are you reading now?
Frances Brody – the Body on the Train. She write Miss Marple-esque detective stories set in the 1920s which hang together well, with a central group of characters who also seem real.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Georgette Heyer, CJ Cherryh, Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, Angela Thirkell, Jean Stubbs, Jodi Thomas, Anne McCaffrey, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury – and countless others. I read 3 novels a week, give or take and always have done.
Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
I’m not sure I quite fit into a genre. I get called a saga writer, but a very wise and experienced editor once said I fit squarely between sagas and straight historical novels. See the list of authors for my favourites.
Favourite quote (doesn’t matter the source)
“Writing a novel is hard work . . . You have to work long and hard even to produce a bad one. This may help explain why there are so many more bad amateur poets around than there are bad amateur novelists . . . any clown with a sharp pencil can write out a dozen lines of verse and call them a poem. Not just any clown can fill 200 pages with prose and call it a novel. Only the more determined clowns can get the job done . . . Let’s not kid ourselves. It does take self-discipline.” Lawrence Block “Writing the Novel” p11
Favourite book/story you have read as an adult?
At 3 a week, I’ve loved thousands of books.
Favourite book when you were a kid
Enid Blyton’s Adventure series.
What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?
None – not because I’m perfect, but because you learn most by doing i.e writing and by reading other authors’ work IMHO. Writing is something you DO not something you talk about, I think.
Anna Jacobs: Historical stories: ‘Perfect Family’ , ‘A Daughter’s Journey’ (8/19), ‘A Widow’s Courage’ (4/20 Modern stories: ‘Bay Tree Cottage’, ‘Changing Lara’ , ‘Christmas in Peppercorn Street’ (10/19), ‘Finding Cassie’ (1/20)
Find out more, including list of all books series at: http://www.annajacobs.com