I am delighted to welcome back to Jaffareadstoo Anne Allen –
Talking about her latest book
What gave you the idea for writing Guernsey Retreat?
Guernsey Retreat is linked to my previous novel, Finding Mother, featuring a gothic mansion set on the cliffs in Torteval, Guernsey. At the end of that book, the house, La Folie, is sold and I thought it would make a fantastic setting for a natural health centre and retreat. I brought in new characters with their own stories, but some of the characters from both Finding Mother and my first novel, Dangerous Waters, make an appearance.
Tell us more about the novel’s background.
I wanted Guernsey Retreat to be more of a romantic mystery, like my first book. I love anything to do with secrets and mysteries, don’t you? Starting with the premise that someone had been violently killed in La Folie at the time of WWII, I thought it would be interesting for the son of that man, Malcolm, to be the future owner, converting it to a health centre. Malcolm is linked to a young woman, Louisa, whose mother is killed in a violent robbery in her home in London. Susan, her mother, urges her to find her father who Louisa has never met, and might now be in danger. Louisa tracks Malcolm down to Guernsey and they meet. Malcolm never knew he had a daughter so it proves quite interesting. The story then follows their search for the person – or persons – responsible for the two deaths. Along the way Louisa also meets someone who becomes very important to her.
What was the most difficult aspect of the writing of the story? How did you overcome it?
Later in the story the UK police are involved in bringing those responsible to justice and I was a bit hazy about police procedures. My only knowledge was that gleaned from watching crime dramas on TV – not necessarily accurate! Fortunately, my brother is a retired policeman and I was able to pick his brains although I did allow myself a little artistic licence ☺
Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they what you expected them to be?
Interesting question! My characters do seem to take on a life of their own at times, doing or thinking things I had not planned. I always end up with a fondness for the main protagonists – as long as they are ‘goodies’ – and in some cases will bring them back in minor roles in future books. I love to see how they grow into the lives I have created for them. ☺
How do you manage to balance writing with your everyday life and what do you do to relax?
Everyday life? Relax? What’s that?! I have to admit this past year or so I have become a bit obsessive about my writing and publishing and could do with finding more balance. Perhaps I should spend more time on housework – would that count? I live alone so it’s very easy to forget to dust, vac, cook etc. unless I have visitors. My favourite way of relaxing is to watch a good drama on TV unless I’m out with friends for a meal. Reading is another favourite but I don’t seem to find much time for books except last thing at night or while travelling. Living by the sea does occasion the odd foray down to the beach for an ozone boost. Great for the little grey cells.☺
What’s next for the Guernsey Novels?
The Family Divided is another romantic mystery and centres on Charlotte, a character from Guernsey Retreat, who helps a local man, Andy Batiste, to find out the truth behind his grandfather Edmund’s death during the Occupation. Edmund was labelled a collaborator by his younger brother, Harold, and his pregnant widow fled Guernsey to escape the family’s antagonism. Harold was left to inherit the family wealth which should by rights have belonged to Edmund’s heirs. Andy not only wants to clear the family name, but to restore his father’s inheritance.
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.