I thought it would be an idea to focus on how I became a writer and the background to my novel ‘Dangerous Waters’. So here goes . . .I’ve always had an ‘itch’ in the back of my head to write a book and friends had for years told me that I should. I think this was more to do with the fact that my life could not be described as boring! I did, in fact, start to write my life story but somehow just couldn’t get in to it. I may have another go one day when I no longer have to protect the guilty! Ironically my first stab at ‘real’ writing was an entry into a national competition run by Prima magazine a few years ago.
They wanted a 500 word true-life story describing a life-changing event. My mother ‘pushed’ me into entering, thinking it was a fiction piece they wanted and thought it would encourage me to get on with my novel. Anyway, from being a reluctant entrant I emerged as the winner and collected £500 of M&S vouchers. Not bad for starters, I thought, with my eye on the bigger picture of writing novels. I was encouraged to realise I could write and so began my journey as a novelist.
This happened about six years ago, at a time in my life when I could finally sit down, pen in hand, and write. I was a single mother of three and, together with my ‘day’ job as a psychotherapist, was kept pretty busy. Now, not only had the birds flown the nest but I was about to become a grandmother. Talk about new beginnings! My book’s gestation was six months and my granddaughter was born three months later. However, I didn’t know then that it would take another six years to raise my baby to independence and emergence into the outside world . . . .
Dangerous Waters is set on the beautiful island of Guernsey and is best described as a romantic mystery. The story covers love, loss and the tragedy that has befallen the central character, Jeanne Le Page. My inspiration came from having just read a book about another small island near France. It had echoes of Guernsey, where I had lived for many happy years and which still occupies a large part of my heart. In fact, I managed to leave a son behind in order to provide a valid reason for frequent returns! I felt comfortable with basing my story there as I knew the island – and some of its history – so well. The Occupation still has a significant impact on modern-day Guernsey and I wanted to make reference to that awful time even though the thrust of the story is set in the present day.
My other major inspiration was basing the story around a house – an old cottage possessing a secret- the renovation of which mirrored the changes taking place in my protagonist Jeanne. She starts off feeling completely lost but grows into a young woman who has learnt to live and love again, letting the island work its magic . . . .
Anne Allen is the award-winning author of The Guernsey Novels. By profession she was a psychotherapist, however, is now retired from the day job to concentrate on writing. Anne has a restless soul and has lived in many fascinating places, including the beautiful island of Guernsey where she lived for fourteen years.