I was born in Essex, England, and went to University in North Wales (English Literature, 2:1 hons) where I met my first husband, Ioan Jones, who was briefly a Church in Wales Vicar. We had three daughters but divorced in 2004, whereupon I moved back to Essex with the girls. I married Roderic in August 2006. I have worked for LawCare (www.lawcare.org.uk) since 1998.
Religion-wise, I was raised in a Christian family and became a born-again Christian at the age of 14. I went to a variety of churches, mostly Anglican and/or Evangelical, for the next twenty years or so, but eventually became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My favourite writers are Kerry Blair, Terry Pratchett and Bill Bryson. If you're as fascinated as I am in the difference between British and American culture, Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island and Notes from a Big Country are essential reading, and so funny!
I love anything to do with science fiction and fantasy. My favourite film is Galaxy Quest and I love Stargate, Star Trek, and pretty much anything with aliens in it. I enjoy:
having long, very hot bubble baths and then sleeping for ten hours or more
Radio 2, especially Terry Wogan, Steve Wright and Chris Evans
eating - especially curry and chocolate
staying in nice hotels, preferably with a good pool and spa
going to the Temple
cross-stitch, although I'm not very good at it
going to Florida. Planning to be a snowbird one day.
When Mr. Wilson, a Mormon missionary, arrives in the rural English town of Easterfield, Lancashire, in 1850, Catherine Waters finds herself intrigued by both the message he brings and his relationship to her reclusive and aristocratic neighbour. Through Mr. Wilson, Catherine is drawn into the strange world of Easterfield Hall, where both her cousin and sister find forbidden love, and Catherine uncovers secrets that change her entire outlook on their peaceful life. After Mr. Wilson is called back to Utah, the dashing Dr. Davenport is on hand to offer love, security, and help in piecing together Catherine’s fragmenting life. As she experiences gut-wrenching fear, hopeless love, and the loss of all she once thought important, she learns that the things that really matter are eternal.
My interview with Anna:
M.B.: Tell us about your current release and where you got the inspiration for it.
Anna: Easterfield is my first foray into historical fiction, and came about because I was re-reading all the Jane Austen novels and realised that they were written shortly before the restoration of the gospel. I wondered what would happen to the characters and societies described if an LDS element were introduced. I realised that I had to find that out for myself, and Easterfield is the result. It is shamelessly intended to be a Mormon Jane Austen novel, and I make no apologies for that.
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Anna: I loved books and was forever writing stories as a child. I wrote my first novel, about squirrels, at the age of 10, and always told people that I intended to be an “authoress” when I grew up. My mother says she always knew I would study English at University. The richness and power of well-used language is awesome, and my studies taught me to appreciate how evocative good writing can be, and to know it when I see it. Unfortunately, producing it is not as easy!
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Anna: As it is for most authors, it was paved with rejection letters. When I joined the church I was thrilled to discover that there was a whole genre of LDS fiction, and thought (wrongly) that it might be easier to get published in that niche market than nationally. However, I knew very little about the church and my first attempt – about a Sister missionary who falls in love with a guy she is teaching – was completely unacceptable, and was rejected. However a lovely editor at Covenant, Valerie Holladay, liked my writing style and told me not to give up. She also suggested that I read some LDS fiction first! She came up with some ideas and the result was my first novel, Haven, published in 2000.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Anna: Always, and I still am. After my second book, A World Away, was published, I had several manuscripts turned down. That wasn’t easy to bear, but the standard had to be kept up. Even now, I worry that Easterfield isn’t doing as well as I’d like, and I haven’t had much feedback from readers yet. That’s the problem – you achieve the ambition, and suddenly want more. Not only do you have to get a book published, but now you have to keep on getting books published, and they have to do well, and get good reviews, and you have to sell the movie rights... I try to remind myself that I write because I love to write, not for the fame, glory and money (!).
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Anna: Terrible! I have three young children, a job and a calling, so I have to limit myself to an hour and a half on the computer each evening, otherwise nothing else would get done. I’m not at my best late in the evening either, and, like many authors, I am an expert at playing Solitaire and fiddling with Facebook when I should be writing.
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?
Anna: Many of my ideas have come from the suggestions of other people. Haven and A World Away were suggested by my editor at Covenant. Easterfield was my idea, although you might say that a certain Miss Austen inspired it. The book I’m currently working on came about as a result of a conversation I had with a drugs-squad officer at Bangor police station many years ago when I was working in the Estate Agent’s office next door. Two others I have in progress were ideas suggested by friends. I evidently have no imagination!
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?
Anna: Other authors have probably mentioned that reading as much as possible is essential, as is drafting again and again, and developing a thick skin. So my single nugget of advice would be to put the Thesaurus on your toolbar and use it often.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline
Anna: I tend to just sit and write, starting at the beginning, and see what happens. Occasionally I’ll get an idea for a chapter, or a segment, and will write that and try to connect it up with what I already have. I never have any idea what is going to happen, which can be a problem. I know, for example, that in the book I am currently writing my hero and heroine are going to get trapped in a cave. What I don’t know is how to get them out again.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Anna: Frequently! See above! Occasionally I need to pull the whole chapter and go back to the drawing board, but other than that I try to move on to other parts that are working, or go back to the beginning and revise what I have until the solution comes to me.
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?
Anna: I live in a house with children, so I don’t get absolute quiet, and I also love to listen to music when I work. Often the music provides additional inspiration. I particularly enjoy listening to heavy rock music, but when I do so the story tends to get overly dramatic! One book I have been working on for years is entirely inspired by the music from the first two Queen albums.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Anna: Contrary to popular belief, I don’t base my characters on people I know, but I do find myself writing about things that happened to me, places I have visited or subjects close to my heart. For one book I am working on I gathered lots of my single girlfriends together to discuss their experiences of being single, and the dates they had been on. We drank hot chocolate, ate luxury ice-cream and popcorn, and had a wonderful and very fun evening, and I got so much material for that book that I’m really looking forward to writing it. One of my friends was even proposed to in the back of a hearse!
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Anna: I’d like to say the encouragement of my family and friends, but while they have been very encouraging the most difference has been made by the community of LDS authors, such as your good self, and other dear friends like Kerry Blair, Gale Sears, Sian Bessey and Cheri Crane. Living out here in the mission field I don’t get to do book signings or even see my books on shelves in the shops, so these contacts with the LDS writing community are crucial.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Anna: No, never thought of it. But I don’t know that I would want to either, it might be terribly off-putting to have a load of people tell you to your face why they hated your work of literature.
M.B.: Which of your books is your favourite, and why?
Anna: Easterfield. I actually picked it up and read it the other day, and enjoyed it even though I knew where all the mistakes were and what was going to happen in the end. Also it was so easy and fun to write, and I loved writing in the old-fashioned language. Plus I think the publishers did a great job on producing it, with a lovely painting on the cover, and the English spelling retained.
M.B.: What are you working on now?
Anna: Several things. I’m struggling through a thriller about a New York cop who falls in love with a Welsh single mother, which is my first non-LDS book. I am also writing a comedy about four single women competing to find a man, and I have two books currently being considered by publishers, one about an LDS couple who find themselves on the run during their honeymoon in Majorca, and the other is the third in the Haven series.
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share
Anna: It’s a great privilege to have been published, and to be able to create work that other people would actually want to read, so Thank You to everyone who has ever bought any of my books.
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Anna: In the US, Deseret Book, Seagull, Amazon.com and the usual suspects I think. Not living there, I really don’t know! Here in the UK there are only two LDS Bookstores near the London and Preston Temples, and I haven’t seen it in the London Temple store, but it may be at Preston or online at www.ldsbookuk.com.
You can visit Anna at: Blog: www.buttimoresbooks.blogspot.com,