Today on Meet the Author we’re talking to the lovely Anne Coates….
My Hannah Weybridge books are crime thrillers with a freelance journalist as the protagonist becoming involved with the stories she is investigating. They are set in the 1990s and some of my own journalism triggered the ideas. I also write short stories and non-fiction.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Born in Clapham, I now live not too far away in East Dulwich. Between those two locations I lived and went to school in Harlow, Essex and went to Portsmouth and Rouen Universities. Having worked in publishing companies and on magazines, I eventually went freelance, which opened up an amazing world for me from interviewing prostitutes to visiting a gas rig in the North Sea. It has meant sometimes being utterly broke and at other times feeling rather flush (and pleased with myself!).
What inspired you to start writing?
Reading. As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on and that led me to try my hand at writing. My degree is in English and French so reading and writing about books has been a huge part of my life. Like many an angst-ridden teen, I began by writing poetry but tried my hand at prose inspired by whichever author I was studying at the time. I still return to read old favourites.
How many books have you written and published?
There are three Hannah Weybridge crime thrillers (with another in the pipeline hopefully to be published later this year) with Urbane Publications plus two collections of short stories published by Endeavour Media who also publish two of my parenting titles; five other non-fiction titles are with three other publishers.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
Like a parent I don’t want to admit to having favourites and it’s difficult to choose with a series – each one is special to me in its own way but if I had to name one, probably the last one, Songs of Innocence because I think the theme of forced marriage for young Asian girls is, sadly, still pertinent today.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
I consult lists of popular names for the year my character was born for first names and often use place names for a surname. Sometimes names seem just right for a character but at others I struggle to find the perfect match. In the book I am currently working on, several characters have changed names more than once (thank heavens for “find and replace”) and one has even changed sex as I realised there were too many sisters so had to have a brother.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
Well although my protagonist is involved with DI Tom Jordan and some of my readers have also fallen for him, I think I’d opt for Mark Weston, a minor character who appears in Songs of Innocence and the fourth book. He proves to be a man with his wits about him, he’s in the army and would have useful skills when stranded on an island. Plus he’s sexy.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
I’m a bit of a tart when it comes to favourite authors. One minute I love them then someone else comes along… I still love Emile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin for it’s brilliant portrayal of obsession within a claustrophobic setting.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
A silly little poem about a bumble bee when I was about six years old.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
I have been both a book and magazine editor, a translator and a journalist; I used to run small private classes to teach children French. As a student I worked on children’s play schemes and one brilliant summer I was a paddling pool attendant plus I did my time at a checkout in Sainsbury’s.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
This is a difficult one to answer. I’m not sure I’d like to see into the future at the moment so I’d go back in time to the roaring twenties in London and have a whale of a time as a flapper. It’s also the era of another of my favourite writers F. Scott Fitzgerald.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
When my grandfather died, my father commented that there were so many questions he hadn’t asked him, so many subjects they hadn’t discussed. I thought I would never let that happen but having my parents die within 15 months of each other, I have since realised there was so much I didn’t know about their lives, so many questions I didn’t ask. Given the opportunity, I’d have the longest conversation I could possibly have with my lovely mum who made me into a reader but sadly didn’t live to see my novels published.
What are your favourite things to do?
I love being transported into another world via books, theatre and cinema. In my real world I enjoy socialising with family and close friends especially when wine and good food is involved. Plus I like playing board games, which I often do when I volunteer during the winter months for a charity providing overnight accommodation and food for homeless people.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
This is one of many: I was on my own one evening in my parents’ house. It was late and suddenly our dog, a Westie called Jason, started barking. There was no one there but he continued barking as he backed all the way up the stairs. No mean feat for a small dog with short legs. When he got to the top whatever had disturbed him was gone. I’m still wondering about that.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Don’t give up – you’ll get there in the end. The first short story I had published was a “confession”. It took a few years before I had others accepted but eventually I found my “voice” and had short stories in women’s magazines like Candis and Bella. My first novel remains hidden away but the second one, which lay dormant for twenty years, was revived and rewritten to be published by Urbane Publications as the first in the Hannah Weybridge series in 2016.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
A dictionary? Seriously I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to recommend one book. I love discovering new authors (to me) and read also contemporary writers in most genres. My latest favourite, which I’d recommend, is House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan, which neatly resonates with my strange experience above.
AND FINALLY, TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT BOOK AND WHERE WE CAN FIND IT?
My most recent book is Songs of Innocence, available through bookshops, Hive and Amazon.
A woman’s body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend’s horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn’t want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.
The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.
The third in the bestselling Hannah Weybridge thriller series, Songs of Innocence provides Hannah with her toughest and deadliest – assignment yet…
Thank you so much Anne for taking part! It was lovely to learn more about you, and the interesting people you must have interviewed!! Your. books sound fab too, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to read them (if my TBR ever decreases!)
Any questions/comments for Anne or me, give us a shout below as usual!
Have a great weekend