Thank you to author Anne Mitchell for letting me share her reading loves and writing tips. I hardly dare say it but Anne like me is another Enid Blyton fan!
I asked Anne – Who was your favourite childhood author(s) and why?
“Yet another Enid Blyton fan here! I breathed, slept, ate and drank the Famous Five stories as a kid; in fact I loved them so much that my hardback copies with the wonderfully evocative illustrations by Eileen Soper eventually fell apart. Other favourites were books by Malcolm Saville, who sadly seems largely forgotten nowadays, and during my pony phase, anything by Pat Smythe or Josephine Pullein-Thompson. I also loved The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians and a wonderful book called The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett, which I’m glad to see was recently reissued as a Puffin Classic.”
Anne – I still have my copy of the The Family from One End Street!
Like Anne I also enjoyed Malcolm Saville and he was one of the inspirations behind a recent trip to Rye. I agree we don’t hear much about him now. Bring back Malcolm’s books!
Who are your current favourite authors? and why?
“I tend to read non-fiction (usually social history, fashion, design and style) when I’m writing, as I find it a bit distracting to get absorbed in another author’s world when I’m in the middle of creating my own. As a bit of a label fiend, I’ve recently found Deluxe: how Luxury lost its Lustre by Dana Thomas very thought provoking.
On the fiction side I love Jane Green, Wendy Holden and Helen Fielding, and I’m a sucker for a really good, tense thriller like The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins or Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. When I’m feeling under the weather for any reason I’ll go back to old favourites: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis and anything by PG Wodehouse never fail to cheer me up”.
What has been the inspiration behind your novels?
“The inspiration behind Happy Hour was a piece I saw in a newspaper about ‘doppelgangers’ – complete strangers who though not related, looked exactly like each other. It struck me as an intriguing premise for a novel. What if two such people accidentally met, and what if their personalities were as different as their appearance was alike – one of them famous, ambitious and utterly ruthless: the other extremely shy and retiring?”
When you are writing do you have a set timetable and a special place to write?
“I don’t have a set timetable but I find that I’m most productive in the mornings, leaving the afternoon for editing and revising. I used to have a small desk in the hallway of our house, but having moved recently I now have the luxury of my own study – bliss! However, the absolute best place to write for me is not at home (the fridge and biscuit tin are just too close to hand), but a quiet corner of the university library.”
How many years had you been writing before you had something published and what was it?
“I’d been writing and submitting for about six years before a piece for The Lady magazine about being a ‘stage mum’ was finally accepted. My son was a child actor (he had a role in one of the Harry Potter films, amongst other stage, TV and film appearances), and it was an article about some of my fascinating experiences whilst chaperoning him on set.”
What are you working on at the moment?
“As usual with me, I’m working on several things at once. I’m putting the finishing touches to a novella called The One that Got Away, due to be published sometime this spring. I’m also working on the second draft of a children’s book for my PhD in creative writing, and am planning the next full-length romance novel.”
Any tips for aspiring authors?
“I strongly believe that writing is a craft that can be learned. Join a local writers’ group, or do what I did and sign up for an MA in creative writing. I got tons of inspiration, informed advice and really helpful critiques of my work. Finally, don’t wait for inspiration: Just Do It!”
“Thank you, Dawn, for this opportunity to be featured on your fascinating blog! And also thanks to all the wonderful readers who have bought, read, reviewed and loved (or hated!) any of my books. I am truly grateful.”
Thank you Anne and every success with your forthcoming publications, for more information about Anne and her books click on Anne Mitchell