The Writing Life of: Anne Coates
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Anne Coates. Anne will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her book ‘Perdition’s Child‘, which was released on 6th February 2020, and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
As a journalist, Anne Coates interviewed all types of people and some of their situations made her think “What if…” And so, investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge was born…
The Hannah Weybridge series currently consists of four books, all published by Urbane Publications: ‘Dancers in the Wind’ (2016), ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ (2017), and ‘Songs of Innocence’ (2018) and ‘Perdition’s Child’ (2020).
Anne is currently working on the fifth book as well as a standalone psychological thriller. She lives in London with three unimpressed cats and enjoys reading, going to the theatre and cinema, wining and dining.
1) Did you enjoy writing when you were a child?
Yes, although I’m not sure how much other people appreciated my scribbles. I wrote poems as well as plays for my sister and friends to perform. Needless to say, I was the director and lead actor!
2) Which author shaped your childhood?
Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven series – I had my own secret club, which met in our garden shed. Not sure if we ever solved any mysteries and I think there were only four of us.
3) What motivated you to begin your first novel?
My first novel is still sitting in a drawer somewhere! The first in my Hannah Weybridge series, Dancers in the Wind, was inspired by interviews I did with a prostitute and a police officer for a national newspaper. The subsequent article was too heartbreaking to be published. I had to pay the prostitute in cash, which had been couriered over to me. Like an idiot I gave her that envelope. Late one night I thought I heard a knock at my door. No one was there but I thought what if the prostitute had turned up on my doorstep…
4) Do you plot your book, or are you a pantser?
For my non-fiction titles, I plotted, chapter-by-chapter, section-by-section. With fiction I’m a complete panster and go with the flow. This means my first drafts are truly terrible. I print them out then get to work on the timeline, fill in the plot holes (amazing how many times I leave notes for myself in the manuscript like “needs an explanation”, “who is this?” “why???”
5) What is your average writing day?
I like to write first thing in the morning and in the winter that’s on my laptop in bed which is fine for first drafts but as the novel takes shape I need to be at my desk with room for all my notes and printouts and reference books I may need.
I write for maybe two hours or so then get on with emails and work on the parenting website I run. After lunch is reading time and more emails and during the day I succumb too often to Twitter and Facebook.
6) What is the best thing about being an author?
Having someone say they enjoyed reading one of my books. Loved it when a friend of a friend started discussing a book as though she knew Hannah intimately. Plus I am fascinated when people discuss the books and make comments about things I hadn’t thought of. When this happens I’m like a proud parent with a new baby.
Hannah Weybridge Thriller Series Book Four
Publisher – Urbane Publications
Pages – 304
Release Date – 6th February 2020
ISBN 13 – 978-1912666676
Format – ebook, paperback
Dulwich library is the scene of a baffling murder, followed swiftly by another in Manchester, the victims linked by nothing other than their Australian nationality. Police dismiss the idea of a serial killer, but journalist Hannah Weybridge isn’t convinced.
She is drawn into an investigation in which more Australian men are killed as they try to trace their British families. Her research reveals past horrors and present sadness, and loss linked to children who went missing after the Second World War. Have those children returned now?
Once again Hannah finds herself embroiled in a deadly mystery, a mystery complicated by the murder of Harry Peters; the brother of Lucy, one of the residents of Cardboard City she had become friendly with. It soon becomes clear Lucy is protecting secrets of her own.
What is Lucy’s link to the murders and can Hannah discover the truth before the killer strikes again?
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
For Perdition’s Child, which was published last February, I already knew about the Child Migration Scheme as I’d worked on a book written by someone who had been a part of it and had returned to the UK to try to trace his biological family. I read up about the work of the Nottingham social worker, Margaret Humphreys, who had campaigned tirelessly to reunite families and, of course I listened to the apologies the government made in parliament – rather late in the day. But the book is also about lies and deceptions on very many levels in families and society.
All the series is set in the 1990s and Perdition’s Child takes place from June to August 1994. I love to slip in a few historical facts like the death of a prominent person or the results of a Test Cricket match but the rest is from my imagination.
8) How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to writing the last word?
Is the last word ever written? I can always think of more! It took several months and I actually finished it before I thought I would and sent it off to my publisher early. It was scheduled for March 2020 but was moved forward to 6 February, which meant my launch went ahead before the pandemic changed our lives.
9) What made you choose the genre you write in?
I really think it chose me. I was/am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and I have always loved crime dramas on film and TV. A lot of my short stories are tales with a twist that often involve a crime but not always murder.
10) How did you come up with the name(s) for your lead character(s)?
Hannah Weybridge is a completely fictitious name, which is what I wanted. Other names came to me as I’m writing and sometimes I change them – several times. I always check popular names for the year someone was born. I inadvertently used the name of a friend’s son in Dancers in the Wind and when his brother found out, he wanted to be a named character, which he is. In Perdition’s Child a character is named after someone who had that wish on her bucket list.
11) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
My protagonist, Hannah Weybridge has toughened up as the series progresses but she often feels lonely and vulnerable. As a single parent her first duty is to her child but that doesn’t prevent her from fighting for justice and giving a voice to those who wouldn’t otherwise be heard. She’s the type of friend you’d love to have on your side.
I’m fond of Lucy Peters, the bag lady, who first appeared in book two, Death’s Silent Judgement, had a cameo in Songs of Innocence and plays a much bigger role in Perdition’s Child. Lucy has been a victim most of her life but she’s not beyond a bit of manipulation and deceit herself. She’s had to be streetwise but she is also caring. Lucy and Hannah are polar opposites who both attract and repel each other.
12) How did you feel when you had completed your book?
Elated and then full of doubts.
1) Do you have a favourite quote you live by?
“After all, tomorrow is another day.” (Gone with the Wind)
2) Do you have any pets?
I still think of myself as a dog owner but my beloved Westie, Fliss, died nearly seven years ago when I had her and four cats. Since then one very old cat has passed away and I am left with Alice (15), mother of Phoebe and Freddie who are now 14. I couldn’t imagine a home without animals.
3) What’s on your current reading list?
I have just started an advanced copy of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margo by Marianne Cronin for review, Sam Blake’s The Dark Room will follow and I’m looking forward to Victoria Dowd’s second book in the Smart Women series.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what would you be doing?
Only a cameo, darling? It would be fun playing Edith, the photographer/artist, who has purple hair and a rather eccentric taste in clothes. She is a complex character that I hope we’ll seem more of (hint she reappears in book five).
5) If you could travel to the fictional world of any book for the day, which would you choose?
Gosh that’s really difficult – especially as it’s only for a day. But I’d choose Wonderland – as Lewis Carroll’s book has always been a favourite since my mother read it to me as a child.
6) There’s a penguin sitting in your writing chair, what is the first thing he says to you?
“Your desk needs tidying.”
I would like to say a big thank you to Anne Coates for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.