Today I’m so pleased to welcome historical fiction author, Anne Allen, whose latest book, The Betrayal, will be released tomorrow, October 20th.
Hello Anne and welcome! Congratulations on the new release! This is a very exciting time for you as you’re launching the sixth book in The Guernsey Novels series and I’m sure you have a number of fans eagerly awaiting the release.
There’s such a lot involved when you’re an Indie author. Can you tell me how you’ve found the publishing process so far?
Let’s say it’s not been easy! When I wrote my first novel 11 years ago, I naively thought I’d find an agent and they would, in turn, magic up a grateful publisher. Some years on and I realised this was not going to happen, in spite of some encouraging words from an agent or two. Fortunately, this coincided with the advent of self-publishing, and I took the plunge and used a service publisher, Matador, to launch ‘Dangerous Waters’ onto the unsuspecting, and probably not very interested, world. Since then I’ve established my own imprint and published another 5 titles. The advantage of going Indie is that I have more control and all of the royalties; the disadvantage is that I have all of the work, and the buck stops with me. But, I carry on, as I enjoy the writing process and there’s nothing quite like seeing the fruit of one’s hard work sitting on shelves in bookstores or lined up virtually on an Amazon page. ☺
I understand completely and I have to agree with you – and it’s definitely a lot of hard work but so rewarding as you say. What inspired you to write this story?
My latest in The Guernsey Novels series is ‘The Betrayal’ and is dual-time, split between the German Occupation of Guernsey in WWII and the present day. Two separate historical facts inspired the story: Renoir’s visit to Guernsey in 1833 when he painted numerous views of Moulin Huet Bay and the forceful deportation of Jews on Guernsey to concentration camps by the Germans.
That’s so fascinating – I love how the art concept captured your imagination and how you weaved it so seamlessly into the story.
Can you tell us a little about The Guernsey Novels?
All the stories take place predominantly on Guernsey and are linked by characters popping up from one book to another. I see them as together offering the ongoing story of a ‘village’ spread, so far, over 6 years. Each book is standalone with fresh new lead characters with their own links to the Occupation years having an impact on the present. A mix of mystery, family drama and love story and influenced by my love of the island where I spent many happy years. Guernsey itself is always a main character in the books, offering a gorgeous backdrop to all the sorrows, joys and tragedies I describe.
Place is such a vital element in a story, evoking mood, tone and memories for instance and it certainly shows that you know this place very well.
Are you a full-time author?
Only in that I don’t have another job! I was a psychotherapist for many years and started writing when I moved back to England and had few clients. For the past 4 years, I’ve decided writing is much more fun than listening to people’s problems every day ☺
Well it sounds as if you had a fascinating previous occupation and I’m sure that’s proved helpful in some ways to your writing.
How do you approach your writing and research? Do you plan strategically or do you wait to see where the muse takes you?
I have to have a plan, even if it’s a little hazy at the beginning. I always know the starting point and where I want to end up, or rather, where I want my characters to end up. My last two books have been dual time, which complicates the planning, but makes it more interesting. Most of my research is focused on the earlier time frame, WWII, as I’m pretty well up on modern Guernsey unless police procedure is involved and then I phone a policeman! I enjoy the research aspect but have been known to get carried away and forget I’m writing a novel which may only need a little background information. Shades of my days as a student studying history!
I empathise over the dual timeline and the difficulties of planning – something I’ve recently discovered for myself.
Have you ever been tempted to write in another genre?
As my books are cross-genre, I feel I’m dipping in and out of different genres anyway. I couldn’t write horror, fantasy or sci-fi, but perhaps one day I might be tempted to try psychological suspense or crime. Having said that, my books are littered with bodies…
What are you working on now?
‘Working’ is probably an overstatement as I’ve only started playing with the overall idea for book 7, ‘The Inheritance’. This will take me into new territory as part of the story will be set in late 19th Century Guernsey, the home of Victor Hugo for 15 years. He actually finished Les Miserables during that time, as well as publishing a number of other works. My character, Eugenie, is employed as his copyist and it’s her story I shall be telling. The other part of the dual time is set in the present and concerns a young woman, Tess, who inherits the house once owned by Eugenie, and goes on to discover family secrets.
That sounds amazing – looking forward to book 7 already.
What’s the hardest part about writing a series?
Not repeating myself! As the books are set in the same location of Guernsey, it’s difficult to find something fresh to say about the island in the present; not so hard when writing about the past. As characters pop in from book to book, I also have to remember what’s happening in their lives – partners, children etc. I really need to set up a spreadsheet!
I know – it’s only when I came to write novels that I discovered how unorganised I am! There’s so much to keep track of.
When you wrote the first book in this series, did you know it was to be a series from the beginning or was this something you realised after completing the book?
It took until the third book, ‘Guernsey Retreat’, to realise this was a ‘proper’ series, as opposed to books set in the same place. At that point I had new covers designed to form a brand, making all the titles instantly recognisable.
I love your brand – it’s something that’s vital, especially if you do write a series.
What part of the research process do you enjoy most?
Talking to people who have the specialised knowledge I can draw on. For example, with ‘The Betrayal’ I had long phone calls with a policeman and a funeral director. Makes for interesting conversations!
Can you tell us your latest news?
I was chuffed when ‘Echoes of Time’, book 5, won The Diamond Book Award 2017, a prize for Indie authors. It was also a finalist in the Readers Favorite Award an international award for all authors.
Congratulations on that news, Anne – that’s so wonderful for you. Thank you so much for chatting with us today. It’s been a pleasure and I wish you much success with your latest release. All best wishes to you.
Paperback & ebook available to buy from October 20th, 2017: Amazon
Treachery and theft lead to death – and love
1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?
I have now enjoyed all of Anne Allen’s novels, and I’m becoming a big fan. She is a very ‘lively’ writer who seems to enjoy giving her readers a wonderful set of characters in a soft, almost velvety setting. Her books also offer a strong historical element, most often World War Two when the Germans invaded the island.
In the sixth novel in the set, Fiona and her twin brother, Nigel, discover hidden artwork in the walls of an antique shop. They attempt to discover whom it belonged to but, when Nigel ‘supposedly’ kills himself, Fiona attempts to discover the truth.
I must say that The Betrayal has a very different feel to it than the other novels in the set. The island is still lovingly described, the characters just as interesting and well developed, but the underlying mystery is so prominent in this story; in fact, in parts, it is almost a thriller. The pacing is faster right from the opening chapter with Teresa and Leo deciding whether to run from the invading Germans or not. And the ending is just as exciting. All in all, totally unputdownable!
To sum up, this is a wonderful novel, with tons of pace where pace is needed, and a setting so lovingly described, it is almost a character in the book. I am happy to recommend this story, in fact, all of them, to anybody who enjoys a well-plotted mystery populated with convincing and always credible characters. ∼ A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review.
Source: Advanced reader copy received from publisher.
Having read Anne’s last book, Echoes of Time, I couldn’t wait to read her latest, and I wasn’t disappointed. The novel alternates between WW2 and 2011 and is set on the beautiful island of Guernsey. The Betrayal features twins, Fiona and Nigel, who discover a Renoir within the walls of their antique shop in 2011. When Nigel is found dead, and suicide is suspected, Fiona refuses to believe that her brother would end his own life and she sets out to uncover the truth. Unravelling the mystery will carry her on a journey back to 1940, and to the dark days of the German Occupation and the deportation of Jews.
The story is well crafted with beautiful scenes of the island of Guernsey springing to life and all things WW2 perfectly portrayed. Historical facts are seamlessly interwoven into the story which is well paced with realistic, well-developed characters set within a fascinating plot with twists and turns. All in all, it’s an engrossing read and one that will sweep you away to war, mystery and romance. I can highly recommend it. ∼Review by Suzy Henderson
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, five having been published and the sixth, The Betrayal, is due out in October 2017.
For all the latest book and writing news, be sure to follow Anne here:
Universal Buy Link: Amazon