Anne always enjoys meeting readers at events – so if she’s in your neighbourhood, please do come and say hello.
But for those of you who can’t meet Anne in person, here are her answers to the most common questions she gets asked.
1. Do you write with a pen and paper, or do you use a computer?
I write my first drafts in notebooks with a fountain pen, because I find a fountain pen gives the smoothest, fastest flow. I have a variety of inks, and I choose the colour to suit my mood. I type my hand-written work on a laptop sometime later – maybe the same day or week, maybe much later. As I type I do my first edits, making improvements to the original as I go – though it’s still several drafts away from being publishable at that point.
2. When do you write?
I write most days, often very early in the morning. In summer especially, I might start at 5am. I don’t wait for the mood to take me – often I find it hard to start on a blank page, so I just make myself dive in. I don’t usually write fresh work after lunch as my peak creative time is past, so I use the afternoons for typing and editing instead.
When my son was very young and there were no quiet hours in the day, I used to get up at 2am and write for a couple of hours, then go back to sleep until he woke. Happily, I don’t have to do that any more.
3. Where do you get your ideas from?
Authors are so often asked this question, and many struggle to answer it, but my answer is very simple. My ideas come from silence. As far as possible, I live – literally – a quiet life. During the day, I never have the radio or TV on in the house. I walk a lot, in quiet places. With nothing disturbing your thoughts, ideas have space to grow.
But ideas are funny things, and good ones might appear at any time. They seem to favour mundane, mindless tasks. I’ve had some of my best ideas whilst peeling potatoes, or doing the washing up.
4. What kind of books do you like to read?
As long as it’s well-written, I’ll read just about anything, and I read a lot, as wide a variety of books as possible. These days I find myself drawn to fantasy and science fiction – Neil Gaiman, Sarah Pinborough, David Mitchell, Hugh Howie. I’ve always been a fan of crime fiction, but I like my crime more clever and cerebral than bloody – I started on Agatha Christie and still re-read her from time to time. I’m drawn to Victorian Gothic, especially mysteries and ghost stories – JS le Fanu, Wilkie Collins, MR James – but at the same time I try to keep up with the current fiction best-seller lists. For non-fiction, I enjoy biographies of eminent people, and I read books on politics and economics to try and understand the state we’re in. When I can’t go travelling, I read travel memoirs to satisfy the wanderlust in me.
5. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Writing is a very solitary occupation, and I’m a pretty sociable sort of person by nature. So to maintain balance in my life, I make sure I spend time each week out in the world, seeing friends and family. My partner Andy and I live on a smallholding, so taking care of our lovely chickens is a year-round priority and in summer I’m devoted to my veggies – I grow tomatoes, aubergines, chillies, garlic, pumpkins, anything interesting I can persuade out of the East Anglian soil. And – should I admit this, or not? – in winter, I’m a keen knitter. A pair of needles and a few balls of pretty yarn will keep me happy for hours.
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