We are absolutely delighted to welcome
author Anna Jacobs to the RNA blog today and to join her in celebrating the
release of her 75th novel.
First of all, Anna, congratulations! What an awe-inspiring achievement. Please could you tell us a little about your first ever novel? What year was it published?
Persons of Rank was published in 1992 by Random House Australia, after winning a $10,000 prize in a big Australian writing competition. It’s a regency romance, because at that stage I was trying to write like Georgette Heyer, my favourite novelist. I’m still very proud of the book, but I only ever wrote two regency romances, because I found my own voice and style
Have you always wanted to be a
writer? And did you have an occupation before you turned to full-time writing?
wanted to be a novelist from the age of 10 when I figured out that someone had
a job writing the stories I loved. I’d call myself a storyteller more than
anything else these days. I was a teacher, lecturer and equal opportunity
officer before I became a full-time novelist.
What are the biggest changes in
publishing that you’ve seen since your first novel was published?
Internet, of course. It wasn’t even around in 1992, well it was but not in high
focus, so I never noticed. I don’t know how we’d manage without it now. One big
impact is that it’s helped reduce the loneliness for authors because they can
get on line and ‘talk’ to other authors in a variety of ways. For an author as
isolated as I am – Western Australia is far away even from the rest of
Australia! – it’s a lifesaver. Other changes are the number of books published
annually, fewer publishers, ebooks, more independence for authors to self
publish if they wish, so many things.
You have published under two names.
Please could you tell us about your alter ego, Shannah Jay, who writes fantasy
and sci fi?
not writing as Shannah Jay these days and haven’t for a good many years, though
I’ve self-published my backlist and there is a film option that’s just been
renewed on one Shannah Jay book (Envoy).
I cross my fingers and toes every time I think about it. LOL. I don’t do any PR
for Shannah Jay these days. I’m flat out busy with Anna Jacobs.
Do you find there is one
particular theme that you are fond of developing in your novels?
like to write about people, especially women, overcoming adversity - in both my
historical novels and my modern stories. In the modern tales I like to focus on
older women making a new start in life, as indeed I did myself when I turned
into a novelist - my first novel was published when I was 51. And I’m very fond
of featuring large old houses, again in both types of novel. Houses can have
such a huge influence on the lives of the people who live in them.
Many writers get asked this
question, but after 75 novels we’re even more intrigued to know…where do you
get your ideas??
only have to go out among people to get ideas – or watch the TV – or read
research books – or dream. There are ideas everywhere for people with a ‘what
if’ attitude to life and a keen interest in their fellow human beings. I have a
long list of story ideas noted down for future use. I just hope I live long
enough to use them!
Whereabouts do you live? And is
there any particular place you’ve lived – or that you love to visit – that you most
enjoy using as a setting?
live half the year in Western Australia and half in the UK, which makes life
complicated but enriches it greatly, as we love both countries. I’m published
in the UK, so it’s important to come here and touch base with my editors and
agent. I particularly love to write about Lancashire where I was born and whose
history is amazing. Since we bought our UK house in Wiltshire, I’ve been
researching that beautiful county and using my part of it in some stories. But
my favourite place of all is ‘the tops’ ie the moors between Lancashire and Yorkshire. When I talk
about ‘the border country’ I’m not talking about Scotland!
How do you spend your spare time
when not writing?
my lovely husband mostly. We’ve been married for 53 years and haven’t run out
of conversation yet! We watch TV together and we’re both interested in history
and big picture analysis of the world and cultures around us. We like to be
with our family as well, two grown-up daughters and one grandson in Australia
and siblings in the UK. My husband does have another love – golf! And I read a
lot for pleasure, usually 3 novels a week.
What is your favourite romance
novel of all time?
don’t just have one after all the reading I’ve done. I love Heyer’s ‘Friday’s
Child’, Nora Roberts’ ‘Born in Fire’ and Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Restoree’, probably
the first SF romance ever. Heyer taught me so much about vivid minor characters,
Roberts about pace and Anne McCaffrey about letting your imagination fly.
What’s your next writing project?
write at least three novels a year, so there’s always something on the go. I’m
currently writing the second book in a new series which hasn’t debuted yet. The
Ellindale stories are set in the Lancashire Pennines and they’re loosely linked
to the Rivenshaw series. The latter is set just after WW2, and the Ellindale
stories are set from 1930 onwards. Book 1, One
Quiet Woman, comes out later next year. You know how far ahead we work in
the publishing industry. The final book of the Rivenshaw series (Gifts For Our Time) doesn’t come out
till January 2017. It’s a wonder we writers manage to hold things together in
our heads, we are so often to-ing and fro-ing between stories to edit or proof
read or (bliss!) simply to tell a new tale.
Thanks so much for dropping in to
answer our questions, Anna. Your writing career is an inspiration for many of
us. We wish you all the best with your seventy-sixth novel!
already written, and I’m working on the 79th at the moment.
About Anna Jacobs
A Time to Rejoice, Anna’s latest novel,
is the third in the four-part Rivenshaw series, set mainly in Lancashire just
after World War 2. Francis Brady is working day and night to salvage what he
can from his bombed home in Hertfordshire before joining war-time friends as
chief electrician in their new dream building firm in Lancashire.
things are not going to plan: his chief partner, Mayne, isn't answering any of
his letters and Francis' wife is having a change of heart about moving up north,
while her parents seem set on destroying his reputation and marriage. Francis
doesn’t want to break up with Diana, but how can he turn down the opportunity for
a new life?
in Rivenshaw, newly married Mayne and Judith's plans to convert Esherwood house
into flats have come to an abrupt halt. While clearing out the house in
readiness for the rebuild, they've discovered that someone has been stealing
valuables and hiding them in the old Nissen hut. Are they planning to return
for them? And a gruesome discovery brings in the military police, causing
Jacobs has had 75 novels published, plus short stories, poems and articles. She
lives in both Western Australia and England, and produces powerfully written
modern and historical novels that span the world. Her readers most commonly
tell her that they can’t put down her novels! She doesn’t mind at all.
is the fifth most borrowed author of adult fiction in the UK library service in
2014-15 and is equally popular in Australia.
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