Today sees the welcome return of one of our favourite authors
Welcome back to Jaffareadstoo, Anne and thank you for answering our questions about your latest novel in the Guernsey series, The Betrayal.
How would you describe The Betrayal to a reader who hasn't read any of your books before?
The Betrayal, set in Guernsey, is best described as a dramatic mystery with a touch of romance set in a dual-time frame. All the books in The Guernsey Novels series offer individual stories set mainly or wholly in contemporary Guernsey, focusing on new main characters each time. However, old friends pop up from previous books, adding extra dimensions to the stories.
The Betrayal is set in two different eras. Guernsey in the 1940s, and also in 2011. How do you approach writing about two different time frames and which do you find easier to write ...past or present?
Interesting question! The first book I wrote in dual-time was Echoes of Time, book 5 in the series, and I struggled with writing two entirely different stories at the same time. I learnt the hard way that it’s better to write one story at a time and then interweave the chapters when both are finished. What I found surprising was that I found it easier – and more satisfying – to write the chapters set in the 1940s. I’m beginning to wonder if I should consider writing a ‘proper’ historical novel 😊
When researching The Betrayal, did you discover anything which surprised you?
Not so much surprised, but fascinated to learn how different are the police procedures and courts systems in Guernsey compared to mainland UK. I was able to chat with a Guernsey policeman about such matters as armed police, surveillance vehicles and forensics. It was a shock to find that DNA results could take up to a month and samples have to be sent to England for testing. If the matter is urgent – as it is with the murder inquiry featured in The Betrayal – then a policeman will fly to the UK with the sample for immediate testing.
The Betrayal is book six in The Guernsey Novels, what keeps you motivated about the series?
I think, as my readers often comment, my love of Guernsey shines through in the novels and as long as I can come up with new stories I shall continue to write them. I’m inspired by the island’s rich history and connection to well-known characters (such as Renoir, featured in The Betrayal) and events such as the German Occupation.
Your style of writing is very much ‘from the heart’. Does this take its toll on you emotionally, and if so, how do you overcome it?
It can do if I’m describing something that touches on a personal experience. For example, I have lost people dear to me, one in particularly tragic circumstances, and describing funerals is poignant for me. My first book, Dangerous Waters, was personally cathartic as it explored several issues of love and loss. My way of dealing with any emotional impact is to finish the novels with upbeat, happy endings!
Where do your ideas for the stories come from, and as one book finishes do you already know where the next book will take you?
The stories are triggered by something I may have read – either another book or an article in the press – and I adapt them to the Guernsey setting. For example, in Finding Mother, my character Nicole searches for her birth mother and the idea came after reading a newspaper article about a man’s search for his own natural mother.
I do have a rough idea about the next book when I finish a book, although the full plot may not play out until after I start writing it. Having said that, there are moments – even weeks – of panic as I wonder if an idea will arrive in time.
And finally, are you able to share anything about book seven with us?
Yes, it’s whirling around my mind quite nicely! Titled The Inheritance, it’s a break from tradition for me in that part of the dual-time story takes place in Victorian Guernsey rather than the Occupation years. It might surprise people to know that Victor Hugo lived for 15 years in St Peter Port, Guernsey while an exile from France. It was here he finished writing Les Miserables and wrote a number of other significant works, increasing his fame worldwide. My book’s central character in the Victorian era is Eugenie, a young widow who becomes employed by Hugo as his copyist. Her story is intertwined with his and when Eugenie’s descendant, Tess, inherits her house in the present day, she uncovers the truth behind the myths handed down from generation to generation concerning Hugo and Eugenie.
You can find out more about Anne and her writing on her website by clicking here
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Find The Guernsey series on Amazon UK
Huge thanks to Anne for being our guest today and for sharing the background to her latest novel, The Betrayal, which is out now in paperback and e-book.