1.) What did you want to be when you grew up?
At the age of 10 I figured out that someone had to be writing the stories I loved to read, so I decided that was what I wanted to do. However, life and the need to earn a living got in the way, so I became a teacher. In the 1960s there simply wasn’t much choice for educated woman – not that I knew of anyway. I came from a working class family, so no one in it knew how writers got started or thought it a good way to earn a living. I think they equated it with actors.
2.) Coffee, tea or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. I have never liked the taste of tea and coffee – to put it mildly. I’ve tried several times because people tell me tea and coffee are delicious. Well, they taste bitter and nasty to me. So I’ll stick to chocolate.
3.) What genre do you typically read? Why?
I have a reading ‘habit’ of three novels a week. I don’t read gruesome or uber-violent books but I do like variety, so I stick to family stories, love stories, cosy crime, fantasy. And actually, I’ve had books published in all those genres. I like complex stories, with substantial sub-plots, or cosy crime with another element in it eg Laurie King’s Sherlock Holmes series – where he marries a younger and very intelligent wife. Or Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series, exploring the years after WW1. Or Lillian Stewart Carl’s archeological mysteries, which often have supernatural elements. Intelligent books.
4.) Share a favourite childhood memory.
During the late years of World War 2 I used to go to my Granddad’s allotment with him and pinch peapods. He used to pretend he hadn’t noticed. He was a magic Granddad, who used to read to me. We cut out Rupert cartoons from the newspaper every day and stuck them in a scrap book together. He taught me the beginnings of reading too. My father was serving in the Middle East for four years and I didn’t really meet him till after the war ended, so my mother and I lived with my grandparents. My Granddad was like a second father. And my aunt, who is now 90, was like a second mother. I was very lucky to have them.
5.) Do you have any shameless addictions? ie. Tea, Books, Shoes, Clothes?
Books and skirts. I love reading and buy at least 3 new books a week. I love skirts too, long gypsy skirts in bright colours with lots of glittery bits. I buy them when I fall in love, whether I need a new skirt or not.
6.) What do you think is the biggest challenge of writing a new book?
Having to wait from the time I get the new idea to when I can write the book. I’m contracted to write several books each time by my two publishers, so ‘the schedule’ rules what I can do when. Not that I’m complaining. I love all my stories or I’d not write them. But it’s hard sometimes to hold back. After I’ve finished writing the current Rivenshaw series, set just after WW2, I can start on a set of stories for which I got the idea 15 years ago. And no, I’m not telling anyone what that’s about yet. But I’m starting to ‘see’ scenes from it already.
7.) Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?
I write more slowly at the beginning of a book, when I don’t know my characters and situation as well, and more quickly towards the end of a story. I wrote ‘Legacy of Greyladies’ which is published this month, in two months flat because it was the third in a series and I knew the characters and overarching story. It’s set in the middle of World War 1, but on the home front, in a spooky old house that is being used to house German internees. I live just opposite a similar house when I’m in Wiltshire and that’s what gave me the idea. Google Avebury Manor on line if you want to know what the house is like.
I aim to write a book in under 3 months rather than keeping daily totals. I like to write every day, though, to keep ‘inside’ the story. At the moment I’m just starting a new book and managed 200 words the first day! But I deleted a lot as well and I got to know my heroine a bit better. I can’t plan the stories ahead.
8.) What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
I usually write in series because I always want to know what my characters do next. The Traders started off as three books and evolved into 5. Rivenshaw started off as three books and evolved into 4. Most series have three books in them. I’d feel strange writing a single story because I’d keep getting ideas for the next book. That’s what happened with the Cherry Tree Lane series. I loved the Traders stories and characters so much it was really hard to let them go. Bram is my favourite hero ever. I just heard last week that the final story ‘The Trader’s Reward’ has been shortlisted for a RUBY, the Australian Romantic Book of the Year, awarded by the Romance Writers of Australia. I’m in the romantic elements category. It’d be harder to write a straight romance series ie where the romance is the plot. You’d need a different hero/heroine/romance per book. My stories always have at least one romance in them (more often two couples!) but that’s not the main plot. I love happy ever afters for all the nice characters. Well, I would. I’ve been happily married for 53 years to my own hero.
The LEGACY OF GREYLADIES is out now! Here are the blurb & links:
Wiltshire, December 1915. Olivia Hanbury is widowed and has been persuaded
by her cousin Donald to move in with his meek little wife while he is
serving in France. When he's wounded, he returns home to convalesce.
Tensions rise between him and lively Olivia, and she leaves.
Her friend Babs involves her in starting the new Women's Institutes and
introduces her to Alex, an antiques dealer.
Meanwhile, Phoebe Latimer is holding the fort at Greyladies, an ancient
manor house, while her husband is away at war. But someone is attempting to
rid Greyladies of the German internees based there. Their nasty tricks put
Phoebe's life and that of her unborn child at risk.
A chance meeting brings Olivia to Greyladies, and she feels as though she's
finally come home. Alex joins her there. Will these three help one another
through these troubled times? Or will violent men destroy Greyladies and all
it stands for?
BIO: Award-winning author Anna Jacobs writes both historical and modern romantic novels, about families and relationships, producing three novels a year. January 2015 saw her 70th novel published and she’s the 6th Most Borrowed Author of Adult Fiction in the UK, and is similarly popular in Australia.
You can find out more about her books on her website. Each of them has a separate page, where you can read the first chapters and find about what gave her the ideas for the various stories. Go to: http://www.annajacobs.com
You can also read the latest news on her Anna Jacobs Books page on Facebook