I’m delighted to be welcoming Anne Allen today. Anne is the author of The Guernsey Novels and is chatting to us today about the fifth volume, Echoes in Time.
Anne Allen’s a late-comer to writing, having only started in her, ahem, middle years, (assuming everyone will live to 100 from now on, yes?). She often had the ‘itch’ to write but was focussed on her career as a psychotherapist and bringing up three children on her own. Then some years ago she was a reluctant entrant (pushed by her mother!) into a writing competition run by Prima magazine. They wanted a True-Life story and she won the first prize of £500 ☺ Deciding that writing wasn’t such a bad idea, she wrote her first novel, Dangerous Waters, a romantic mystery and eventually published it in 2012. Now retired as a therapist, she has devoted more time to writing and is the author of The Guernsey Novels.
A restless soul, she’s moved around quite a bit, as far south to Guernsey and then Spain, learning that the sea is part of her soul. She now lives in Devon to be near her daughter and grandchildren. Happiest in warmer climes, her ideal would be to spend part of the English winter somewhere warm, possibly Spain, to recharge body and soul. So, if and when she writes that bestseller…!
Connect with Anne Allen
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Echoes of Time in 20 words or less.
A dual-time story, split between German occupied Guernsey and present day Guernsey.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
Although I already had the idea for Echoes of Time, I didn’t plan to write a dual-time story, wanting instead to set it in the present but with some reference to events during the German Occupation. However, I became a little stuck part way through and then remembered a book of Barbara Erskine’s I had read last year, The Darkest Hour. This was set partly in the 1940s and partly in the present, with ghosts linking the two periods. Oooh! I then changed tack and wrote about a third of the book covering Olive’s story, with the rest set in 2010 focused on Natalie and her unwilling connection to Olive, via vivid dreams and time-slip.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …
I would have told Olive not to marry Bill! And warned Natalie not to make snap judgments about men…
Did you do any research for your book Anne? What resources did you use?
Loads! Although I had previously researched the German Occupation for other books, I felt I needed to explore that time more deeply and personally. I read several factual accounts written by people with first-hand knowledge, full of facts and figures, as well as memoirs of ordinary people who’d been on the island at that time. These included personal diaries and the reminiscing of islanders who were only children back then. I also needed to understand a bit more about psychic phenomena and ‘ghosts’ so contacted an expert. All fascinating stuff!
Do you have a theme for your Guernsey novel covers? Who designs them?
Yes, I do. This came about after my third book, Guernsey Retreat, was published and I realised the covers didn’t really proclaim a series set in Guernsey. My priority was emphasising the Guernsey setting by using real images of the island as the background and then adding people and/or objects to set the scene for each book. I worked closely with a super designer, Jane Dixon-Smith, and have been more than happy with the result.
Panster or plotter?
A bit of both! I start off my mulling on an idea, then write a kind of flow chart to show how the story might progress. The next step is to develop the main characters and I write a mini bio for each of them. At the beginning of each chapter I write a brief overview of what it will contain. Then things can go pear-shaped as the characters do things differently to what I’d expected or I go off at a tangent and develop a sub-plot. At least it’s not boring!
Echoes of Time is part of a series, what’s in the future Anne?
I’ve already written the outline for book 6 in The Guernsey Novels, to be called ‘The Betrayal’. It will be out next year and will, like ‘Echoes of Time’, be a dual-time story, set partly during the German Occupation and partly in the present time. It combines treachery, love and death starting with the betrayal of one innocent man and leading, in the present day, to the death of another blameless man. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with the writing☺.
Do you have a book trailer?
I have four! The first three books have their own trailers and I’ve recently had one made which shows all five books, but doesn’t give as much detail.
http://bit.ly/2cAfwj9 The Guernsey Novels
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz5IiqM8ecU Dangerous Waters
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TMZ71u3ST8 Finding Mother
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy5cniOyLMM Guernsey Retreat
What do you think book trailers achieve?
We’re a particularly visual society now and I think people like to watch short videos – witness the rise of YouTube. Hopefully, readers find the trailers intriguing enough to want to learn more about the books – it’s another form of advertising. (must admit I love book trailers!)
Finally Anne, which authors have influenced your writing?
I’ve always had quite eclectic taste in my reading so not entirely sure who’s influenced me the most. I admire the easy writing style of Maeve Binchy, Rosamund Pilcher and Katie Fforde, but also love books by Mary Higgins Clark, Robert Goddard and CJ Sansom. Could make me a bit of a mongrel!
Wishing you success with all your writing projects Anne.
Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years…
1940 Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey.
All too soon Olive realises she’s made a mistake.
Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer-
but there’s a price to pay. . .
2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own…
Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive.
Thrown together in a bid to find out what really happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on?