On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo
🍴Good Morning, Ann. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?
A – It’s so long since I had a traditional Sunday brunch, my mouth’s watering at the thought. For me, it has to be bacon and eggs, with mushrooms and tomatoes. A pot of English breakfast tea to go with it, and toast and marmalade to finish. All served at the kitchen table.
🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today?
A – I’d like to ask Daphne du Maurier – she wrote more than a dozen books, and yet each one is different from the last. I’ve always admired her ability to explore different themes and genres and yet come up with a winner every time. Perhaps she’ll tell us how she did it?
🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?
A – I have lots of old favourites, but in honour of my guest, it has to be ‘The House on the Strand’ – surely the first time-slip novel.
🍴When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!
A – I’d be lost without a book. Reading is my favourite form of relaxation – usually for half an hour after lunch, and about an hour at bedtime, to take my mind off the business of the day. Often it’s a detective mystery – one from a wealth of authors I enjoy – but I enjoy trying out something different, particularly those I’ve seen recommended by book bloggers. As for the one I want to read, it’s sitting on my shelf, looking at me: ‘The City of Tears,’ by Kate Mosse. A big book that I know will absorb me, so I need some free time to devote to it.
🍴What’s the oldest book on your book shelf?
A – Thanks to my grandmother, I inherited a lot of old books, most dating from the late 19thC, but the oldest bears the publication date, MDCCCXLVIII (1848). It’s an illustrated copy of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, containing a facsimile of his Will, dated 1685. The illustrations are fascinating, but before you ask, no, I haven’t read it!
🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?
A – Mainly in the lives of real people. My first two novels were inspired by the personal diary of a WW1 soldier – my grandfather’s brother – found amongst the books in Grandma’s attic. In researching his life years later, I discovered family secrets, which – led to the writing of ‘Louisa Elliott’ and ‘Liam’s Story’. As I’ve described in my recent memoir, reading those old books gave me a feel for the period, and helped to make the background convincing. Later, I went on to write a novel featuring Bram Stoker, the author of ‘Dracula’, and later still, inspired by an obscure piece of Titanic history, I wrote ‘The Master’s Tale,’ based on the life of Captain EJ Smith.
🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?
A – The dark days of winter certainly make for fewer distractions, but I write every day, even though it’s not always book-related. Before I was first published – back in 1989 – I wrote at the kitchen table, largely to keep an eye on the children, but since then I’ve been able to create my own space. I call it my office, but it’s more like a very messy study, with books and papers everywhere.
🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing?
A – Luckily, as a grandmother, I no longer have distracting family issues to deal with, as I did when writing to a deadline for a traditional publisher. But I know from experience that everyday life can be disruptive, even without the more serious issues. After a lengthy break, my answer has always been to read through the previous few chapters to get back into the flow. For most of us, writing is a means of creating and inhabiting a different world – one where we can be in control – and that in itself can be very healing.
🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?
A - A pen, a notebook, time alone, and an active imagination
🍴What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?
A – It’s another memoir, based on the adventures we had with our children when they were young. My other half is a sea-captain, and for about ten years from the mid-1970s, we often spent summer holidays with our children aboard merchant ships, travelling to different parts of the world. I dare say not many families have been stranded ashore through bad weather, only to find themselves in the local dock area, and spending the night in a Japanese brothel…!
One Thursday in July, 1989, beneath the headline, Obsession That Became A Bestseller, the Daily Mail featured a photo of a young woman looking like a lottery winner. The Sun’s piece was cheekier: Mum Makes A Million, appeared beside the boobs on Page Three.
Ann Victoria Roberts had not posed naked or won a fortune. She had written a novel that prompted a bidding war for publishing rights across the world. In the eyes of the press, the fact that Ann was not a career woman, but simply a wife and mother, was newsworthy.
In this memoir, the author reflects on the joys, the travels and the heartaches of her life as a sea-captain’s wife – and the decade of coincidences and lucky strikes that led to the writing of two big historical novels, Louisa Elliott and Liam’s Story. Amidst the fanfares and famous names, and the journey that took her from York to Australia and back, Ann reveals the work behind the success, and the truth behind her characters.
As readers, we browse in bookshops, spot a favourite author or intriguing title, and take it home. Rarely do we consider the path that book must have taken from the author’s pen to a bookshop shelf. And yet the story behind it is often stranger than the fiction it contains...
**A fresh edition of 'Housewife Writes Bestseller' will soon be available from Amazon UK
Ann, where can we follow you on social media?
Ann Victoria Roberts enjoys painting pictures with words and regards historical fiction as a pleasurable way to discover the past. A keen reader, researcher and traveller, her novels are set mainly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in York, she now lives in Southampton with her Master Mariner husband.
Ann, thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo
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