Monday, August 12, 2013

Hopping Across the Pond: Chatting with Author Anne Allen

Writing Belle's 2013 Author Program
Anne Allen wrote a novel. It's called Dangerous Waters, and follows the tale of a young woman named Jeanne as she unravels a mystery, deals with tragic memories and, of course, falls in love. Anne hopped across the pond today to have a chat with Writing Belle about her novel, her book, and a few tips and tricks for the aspiring writer.  

Thanks for stopping in! 
A question I like to ask is this: Why are you a writer?

Good question! For years I had an ‘itch’ at the back of my mind to write a book as I’d always enjoyed writing essays at school and university. But somehow the time was never right and I think I was scared to give it a go. Originally I’d thought of writing my memoirs, prompted by my friends who knew I’d not had a boring life! However, I couldn’t get started so the first piece of real writing was an entry to a true-life story competition run by a UK national magazine. This happened about 7 years ago and, to my amazement, I won.
This win- and the £500 prize – spurred me on and I began writing my novel, Dangerous Waters. I enjoyed the process so much that, in spite of the huge learning curve,  I started my second novel, Finding Mother, shortly afterwards. My profession as a psychotherapist  brought me into close contact with hundreds of clients over the years and I’m fascinated by people and their myriad problems and anxieties. I loved being a catalyst for people’s change and I’ve called on my experience in my books. Relationships and the issues of love and loss are a particular interest of mine and these figure greatly in my writing.
Lastly, I’m a writer because I love being able to control what happens in my characters’ lives when I can’t control what happens in mine.

You published a novel, Dangerous Waters, in the UK, and US readers are beginning to take an interest, too! Briefly, tell us what it's about. 

Jeanne Le Page is lucky to be alive … 15 years ago she was almost killed in a boating accident which brought heart-breaking family tragedy.  Now 31, Jeanne is returning, reluctantly, to the Island of Guernsey following the death of her beloved Grandmother.  Struggling for breath as the ferry nears the Island, Jeanne feels a dark foreboding overwhelm her as the hazy memories of that terrible day resurface.
Just emerging from a difficult relationship, Jeanne is deeply unhappy.  Only back on the Island to sell her inheritance - her Grandmother’s old cottage - she has no intention of sticking around and picking up her old life.  But the cottage holds a secret, dating back to World War II, and she becomes drawn into discovering more. And a meeting with an old teenage crush leads to thoughts of love.
Jeanne is forced to face her own demons and relives her tragic past as memories resurface.
The truth is finally revealed, endangering her life for a second time…
Note – Guernsey is an island near the coast of France but is actually British and was occupied by German forces in WWII.

Your main character, Jeanne, has a tough backstory. How do you handle character creation for a heroine that has so much emotional trauma going on? 

I think this is where my professional background came in handy! I’d worked with women who’d suffered tragedy in their lives and I was able to observe and understand how it had affected them. Also, I’d suffered my own personal loss when my husband died young, leaving me with three young children.  I found writing Jeanne’s story quite draining emotionally at times, but also cathartic. It also helped that there’s a happy ending!

I hear there's romance in your book. *winks* Tell us more! 

Can’t say too much, but a couple of men arrive on the scene for Jeanne , forcing her to look at what she wants from a relationship. The romance isn’t ‘steamy’, more the old-fashioned falling in love type,  and one man proves to be quite a hero when needed!

How do you get into the writing mood? Any tips or tricks for writers suffering from a "block?" 

I need to feel free of any ‘clutter’ mentally and physically so try to get the chores out of the way first. I find it easier to get in the mood if I have a clear picture of what is happening  with the characters which is easier if I’ve mapped it out rather than ‘see how it goes’. Some days are ‘sticky’ and it feels like inspiration has completely left the building, so I write something even if it’s nonsense, until the brain cells kick back into gear. If the block is worse I’ll walk away – for minutes, hours, days – whatever it takes, until I see the way ahead.  I think writers need to engage with other artistic creations, be it books, paintings, plays or films, in order to stir their own creative juices. So a good cure for ‘writer’s block’ might be to read a book by a favourite author or watch a quality drama on TV. It’s worked for me!

Favorite writing snack? And do you write with or without music? 

Bananas or dried mango keep me going. Sometimes I need music and sometimes not. Vocals can be intrusive but when I wrote a love scene in Dangerous Waters I was listening to Rod Stewart singing ‘Tonight’s The Night’ and it certainly did the trick!

Finally, who inspires you as a writer? 

So many authors over the years. My reading tastes have ebbed and flowed as I’ve got older but I’ve enjoyed the works of Mary Higgins Clark, Joanna Trollope, Maeve Binchy, Erica James and Agatha Christie. I’m sure I’ve picked up so much from all these authors subconsciously rather than a specific influence.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Anne! Good luck in your writing endeavors! 

Thanks, Summer, for inviting me. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and I was happy to travel ‘over the pond.’ 
Connect with Anne:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | 

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Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!