I’m very pleased to welcome Anne Goodwin today, sharing her answers to my Author in the Spotlight Questions. Anne’s debut novel Sugar and Snails was published by Inspired Quill in July this year and has been very well received. It’s on my to-be-read pile and my review will appear here in due course. You can order a copy here: Sugar and Snails
Thanks for agreeing to take part Anne. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
After twenty-five years as an NHS clinical psychologist, I have the luxury of writing full time – or do I just have more time for procrastinating? I’ve published over sixty short stories and my first novel came out in July this year. I’m an avid reader, volunteer ranger in the Peak District National Park and enthusiastic, although not very talented, member of a mixed-voice choir. In the summer, I grow vegetables if the slugs and other wildlife don’t get them first.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve composed fiction for most of my life, but it was pushed into the background as I was collecting degrees for my busy career. Like many people, a bereavement pushed me to reconsider my priorities and carve out some time for myself. Rediscovering my writing was one of the results.
Tell me about your journey to publication?
Perhaps because I’d always done it, and because I knew how to write (academic papers) for publication, I expected the journey to be less gruelling than it was. It takes a long time to learn how to write and get a novel to publication standard. Sugar and Snails was especially difficult to get right and took seven years from inception to publication. The enthusiastic response from readers, set against the numerous rejections from agents and publishers, has convinced me that winning the golden ticket is primarily a matter of luck.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
My debut novel, Sugar and Snails is a midlife coming-of-age story about a woman who’s kept her past identity secret for thirty years, with themes of psychology; adolescence; invisible vulnerabilities and gender.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I’m working with my publisher on the edits for my second novel, Underneath, about a man keeping a woman captive in a cellar, scheduled for publication in May 2017 and grappling with trying to transform last year’s messy non-Nano project, about the secrets that emerge on psychiatric hospital closures, into a decent draft.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read so far this year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
Oh, dear! I’ve read so many fabulous books this year, but happy to give a shout to a couple of fine debuts (The Chimes by Anna Smaill and The Zoo by Jamie Mollart) and another from a long-established novelist, A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale, all lovingly reviewed on my blog.
What are you reading just now?
Having just finished my 100th book this year, I’m about to start reading The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi, set in Afghanistan.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I prefer physical books although, being published by a small press with a tiny publicity budget, I’m delighted that so many people enjoy ebooks, and accept them as review copies. I rarely read in bed and never in the bath (I’d much rather have a shower, anyway), but in the evening on a reclining armchair. Or, if the weather’s hot enough, it’s hard to beat lounging on an old cane sofa in the garden for sheer indulgence.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’m quite active on Twitter on @Annecdotist but, although I post to my page, haven’t really got the hang of Facebook.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
As I don’t tend to go for feel-good novels, I’m usually glad I’m not any of the characters I encounter on the page. But, if I had to choose, I’d go for Nell, the fictionalised Margaret Mead in Euphoria by Lily King. Although she has to contend with malaria and a jealous husband, she is brave, intelligent, creative and passionate about her research.
Sugar and Snails The past lingers on, etched beneath our skin … At fifteen, Diana Dodworth took the opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of her life, and escape the constraints of her small-town existence. Thirty years on, she can’t help scratching at her teenage decision like a scabbed wound. To safeguard her secret, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon Jenkins sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, and he expects Di to fly out for a visit. She daren’t return to the city that changed her life; nor can she tell Simon the reason why. Sugar and Snails takes the reader on a poignant journey from Diana’s misfit childhood, through tortured adolescence to a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age that challenges preconceptions about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.