Interview with Anne Coates
I’d like to welcome Anne Coates back to my blog. Her new book, ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ is out on the 11th May of this year. As part of the event I have interviewed Anne.
As you know I loved ‘Dancers in the Wind’ and I am thoroughly looking forward to your next book which is out in May. Can you tell me a bit about it please?
‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ continues Hannah Weybridge’s story and opens with her discovering the dead body of her close friend Liz Rayman in the crypt of St John the Evangelist at Waterloo where she ran a weekly pro bono dental surgery. Initially the police write off the murder as perpetrated by one of the homeless clients high on drink or drugs. Neither Hannah or Liz’s mother, Lady Celia Rayman, is convinced by this theory and Celia employs the journalist to start investigating. No spoilers here.
Did you have to do much research?
I know the area (and the Cardboard City in the Bullring in the 90s) really well. My mother was born in Waterloo and many of my extended family lived there. I also worked for IPC magazines when situated at King’s Reach Tower, Stamford Street which gave me a good backdrop. Having written the first three chapters many years ago, strangely I had never been inside the church. I have subsequently attended many meetings there and it will be the venue for my launch party.
My work as a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines gave me a solid background for my protagonist.
There are themes that I have gone back to primary sources for research – I won’t mention these as I hope readers will be surprised and intrigued as to how the novel progresses. I am also blessed with friends who work in diverse careers whom I can tap into for information. Great to do my research over a glass of wine and a chat with a friend!
What made you decide to write crime fiction?
The first short story I had published was a “confession” of a crime and many of my tales with a twist which I wrote for magazines like Bella (some published in ‘Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected’) concerned a crime of some description from fraud to murder. I love reading crime novels and believe you should always write what you would like to read!
Can you relate to any of your characters?
I am blessed/cursed with the type of mind which can put me in someone else’s shoes very easily.
Hannah Weybridge has some of my foibles and characteristics (but is not me). In many ways she is my alter ego and does things I wish I had the guts to do. I would never be such a risk-taker. There are other characters I have fallen a bit in love with like Tom Jordan the DI in ‘Dancers in the Wind’ and James, the doctor who also features in both books. I have a real soft spot for Sam who has a small role in DitW and DSJ but may have more to say in book three which I am currently working on. Linda comes to the fore in book three and she is an amalgam of some of my loveliest friends. I can also put myself into the minds of my baddies – which probably reveals a bit too much about me and my darker side!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
As a journalist I learned to write fast and stick to deadlines so that discipline helps with writing books. So the answer to your question is, it depends on the deadline but I do like a lot of thinking/dreaming time for ideas to percolate and take root. My writing is very character led and they often take me off in directions I would never have contemplated when I first started a particular book.
Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?
Not really. I usually write at home although I also scribble down ideas on buses and trains. As my first draft is written on my laptop it means I can be anywhere – even in my garden when it’s warm. If I get stuck with a scene I find changing rooms helps – a move to the kitchen or bedroom encourages a new perspective.
Are there going to be more books?
I am currently writing book three in the Hannah Weybridge series (as yet no title) and I have an idea for another book when we meet her many years later.
I see that you are also an editor. What does that involve doing?
I have edited magazines for various companies and for many years I have abridged books for Reader’s Digest for the UK, Australian and Canadian markets. Cutting a book – sometimes by as much as 50 per cent – is a major task and by the end I have read the book so often I probably know it better than the author. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown when I had to cut Middlemarch in half for the Orion Compact Editions. With the classics you can’t change a word and as I love that book it was heart-breaking to eliminate themes or storylines.
I also copy edit, which involves checking facts and spellings, making sure of consistency, following house style and basically dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘T’s.
What was your experience at getting published by Urbane Publications like?
I have been published by four other companies: Wayland, Bloomsbury, Need to Know, and Endeavour and each experience has been different. Urbane Publications – like many of the newer indie publishers – offers a more collaborative approach, which works well for me. The focus, enthusiasm and sense of purpose is brilliant and I also enjoy the being part of a group of authors who are supportive and happy to meet up in real life. Last year Urbane sent a group of us to CrimeFest, which was a great experience and this year I’ll be on one of the panels and we’ll all meet up for drinks and the Gala Dinner.
What advice have you got for anyone wishing to pen a book?
Read widely, keep writing and don’t give up. There are many routes to getting published now and if you persevere you’ll find the right one for you. I was once told to write the first novel, dump it and get on with the second. My first novel is still in a box in the attic.
Who are your favourite authors?
Twitter has introduced my to an amazing array of authors whom I might not have come across but whose books have become firm favourites. Some have become friends and if I started naming them I’d be bound to leave someone out in error. However it was with utter joy when I learned that the daughter of a close friend (and my daughter’s godfather) had achieved a brilliant publishing deal. Needless to say I loved reading it: ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by E C Healey. When I have the time I go back to reading old favourites like Wilkie Collins, Dickens, James Joyce, and DH Lawrence among others.
If you were only allowed to keep three items what would they be?
Although I am an inveterate hoarder, I try to discipline myself not to be “owned” by possessions. It’s taken me a long time to realise this. My family, friends and three cats (the felines are all sitting with me as I write this, making sure I include them) are the world to me. If I had to choose items it would probably be my mother’s rings and earrings, old family photos currently framed and hanging in the dining room, and my phone which contains all my contacts. Actually this has given me an idea for another book …
Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected
Author website http://www.annecoatesauthor.com/