I’m very pleased to be joined by Anne Allen today. Anne is the author of The Guernsey novels and the latest one, The Inheritance, is published today. Congratulations Anne, I hope you have a wonderful day! I have read a couple of the previous novels in the series and really enjoyed them. You can read my reviews by clicking on the links: The Family Divided and The Betrayal I haven’t time to fit this one in at the moment which is a pity as it sounds like another intriguing read. Now, let’s find out #TenThings about Anne Allen.
- My day job was working as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, which I did for over thirty years. It was both an honour and a humbling experience to work with people dealing with varied life issues, some quite traumatic. I learned a great deal about the human psyche over the years which I drew on when I took up my pen to write thirteen years ago.
- Writing is not my first foray into the creative field: I have dabbled in furniture painting with decoupage; leaded glass; sculpture; mosaic and house renovation. I have probably been most successful with the house renovation, but unfortunately my poor body wishes I had stuck to the less strenuous activity of sculpture.
- My most unusual renovation was that of a Dutch barge, moored on the river in Bath. I had sold a beautiful, renovated cottage and needed to downsize but wanted a ‘project’. I certainly found it in ‘Paxton’! In the winter the river flooded to the extent I couldn’t get off via my gangplank and once had to rescued by the fire brigade. I admit that was both memorable and pleasant, thanks to the hunky firemen. As I was about to sell the barge two years later I managed to fall into the engine room below the bridge housing and became wedged between the two engines, dislocating my hip in the process. It took fourteen paramedics and firemen and lots of morphine to get me out and took about an hour and a half. Not one of my finest moments!
- I have always been drawn to living by the sea – rather an odd urge considering I was born and grew up in Rugby, the middle of England and about as far from the sea as you can be. However, my lovely father was Welsh and his parents still lived in Anglesey where I was lucky enough to spend my childhood holidays. Most of my adult life has been spent moving from one coastal place to another, and I now reside in a south Devon town right by the sea.
- The writing bug finally caught up with me while I was living in the lovely cottage in Bath. My last child was on the brink of flying the nest, I had finished rebuilding the house, and needed an outlet that gave my body- and bank account! – a rest. An initial spur was winning a true- life story contest run by Prima magazine, earning me £500 worth of M & S vouchers and a boost to my confidence.
- My first book, Dangerous Waters, was set in my beloved Guernsey where I had spent many happy years. It was my homage to the island and also proved to be quite cathartic for me as I was recovering from the end of a relationship and loss figures largely in the book. It does, however, have a happy ending. Mine’s taking longer.
- Like many writers I struggled to find an agent for my book but carried on writing. Then the self-publishing revolution occurred – good timing! – and I eventually published my first book in 2012. I published another two before I realized I was writing a series – duh! – and rebranded the books as The Guernsey Novels in 2016. Each book is a standalone story with characters popping up from previous books to create a sense of continuity.
- I retired as a psychotherapist in 2012 and now write full-time. This actually means I do not do anything else that’s productive or money-earning. A bit of housework when absolutely necessary doesn’t count.
- As a result of all my moves, I now have a son in Guernsey, who has been there so long he is legally a local, and a son in London who decamped there from Bath after despairing of my antics on the barge. My daughter lives near me with her two small children and partner.
- My latest book, The Inheritance, took more than a year to write as it involved so much research and was definitely outside my comfort zone to write as I took on the persona of a Victorian young woman in Guernsey. She became a copyist to Victor Hugo who lived in the same street in St Peter Port, he having fled there after being exiled from France for political reasons. It is my third dual-time novel, the others focusing on the German Occupation, and although it was harder to write, I am now pleased with the result and it is already gaining good reviews. I must say, Victor Hugo was a fascinating man, a real polymath and I hope I’ve done him justice in The Inheritance.
From the back of the book
How close were Victor Hugo and his copyist?
1862 Young widow Eugénie is left bereft when her husband dies suddenly and faces an uncertain future in Guernsey. A further tragedy brings her to the attention of Monsieur Victor Hugo, living in exile on the island in his opulent house only yards away from Eugénie’s home. Their meeting changes her life and she becomes his copyist, forming a strong friendship with both Hugo and his mistress, Juliette Drouet.
2012 Doctor Tess Le Prevost, Guernsey born though now living in Exeter, is shocked to inherit her Great-Aunt’s house on the island. As a child she was entranced by Doris’s tales of their ancestor, Eugénie, whose house this once was, and who, according to family myth, was particularly close to Hugo. Was he the real father of her child? Tess is keen to find out and returning to the island presents her with the ideal opportunity.
Will she discover the truth about Eugénie and Hugo? A surprise find may hold the answer as Tess embraces new challenges which test her strength – and her heart.
Amazon: The Inheritance
Books2Read: The Inheritance
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