An interview with … Anne Coates

DSJlarge - betterAnne Coates’s latest novel, Death’s Silent Judgement, is published by Urbane Publications. The third Hannah Weybridge novel is to be published in May.

Good morning, Anne. Tell us a little about your novels to date.

The Hannah Weybridge crime thrillers are set in 1990s London. In each of the books, Hannah becomes drawn into an investigation as a journalist. She uncovers abuses of power by people who think they are above the law and this puts her in life-threatening situations. And leads to some journalistic scoops.

Where did your inspiration for Hannah Weybridge come from? 

DancersintheWind_smallOriginally Hannah was based on my own experiences as a freelance journalist. Dancers in the Wind evolved from interviews with prostitutes and police officers that I did for a national newspaper. However Hannah is not me but a distillation of parts of me.

How do you research the darker elements of your novels? 

Primary sources are essential and I read a lot other people’s first hand experiences and I talk to people who may have been through something similar. However I do have a very dark mind! I put myself into characters’ shoes to discover their reactions. I am often shocked by where my imagination leads me but that is one of the thrills of writing.

Personal writing choice: pen or keyboard? 

Keyboard  – I do have notebooks with me all the time but my handwriting deteriorates rapidly so I’d never be able to transcribe long sections of scrawling script.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Since I could read and write! My mother taught me to read before I went to school and she inspired a love of books. I was a journalist and editor and also wrote non-fiction books and short stories before realising my dream of seeing my first novel published.

What is the best part of being an author?

Talking with readers who have enjoyed my books. There’s no bigger thrill than discussing characters and plotlines. My friends have been amazingly supportive and it’s wonderful hearing their take on what’s going on in Hannah Weybridge’s life.

And the worst?

There aren’t many downsides to doing something you love but I do worry about reviews or the lack of them. Generally people are interested and supportive but my heart sinks when someone says, on hearing I’m a writer “oh have you read XX? she’s a really good.”

bainbridgeWho are your writing heroes?

Tricky  as there are so many – I have never got over my early love for DH Lawrence and James Joyce (although I have not managed to read Finnegan’s Wake). I absolutely devoured Beryl Bainbridge’s novels – her style along with Alan Bennett’s is totally appealing to me. And I’d have to say Dickens if only for the amount of alcohol he managed to consume and still write such amazing books.

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with three fictional characters, who would you choose, and why?

paddingtonThis is a difficult one! At first I decided to go for characters who’d be good at foraging for food or planning an escape route then my thoughts wandered… and I kept changing my mind. So my fellow desert island refugees would be:  Colin Dexter’s Morse as he’d be intellectually stimulating even if he couldn’t do anything practical. Paddington Bear for cuddles and an original take on our situation. And last but not least, Anna Lipska’s Janusz Kiszka because he’s a Mr Fixit and I fell in love with him!

What’s next?

I’ve recently finished writing Songs of Innocence which will be published by Urbane Publications on 24 May 2018 and I’m planning the next in the series but I also have another story that keeps pestering me to be written.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions!

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Photo by Phil Gammon

For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both.

 

Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, Anne has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books and two collections of short stories: Cheque-Mate and Other Tales of the Unexpected and A Tale of Two Sisters both published by Endeavour Press.

Born in Clapham, Anne returned to London after graduating and has remained there ever since. In an attempt to climb out of her comfort zone, Anne has twice “trod the boards” – as Prince Bourgrelas in Ubu Roi when a student and more recently as a nun in a local murder mystery production. She also sings periodically in St John the Evangelist’s church choir and is relieved when she begins and finishes at the same time – though not necessarily on the same note – as everyone else. Needless to say, Anne will not be giving up her day job as an editor and writer.

Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind began with a real event followed by a “what if …” That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love.

Death’s Silent Judgement, the sequel, was published by Urbane Publications on 11 May, 2017. Anne is currently working on the third Hannah Weybridge thriller to be published on 24 May, 2018.

 

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