Jun 13, 2015

Australia Week: Interview with Anna Jacobs

Interview with Anna Jacobs by Tanya

Please could you tell me a bit about yourself?

I’ve been very happily married for 53 years and have two grown-up daughters and a grandson. I grew up in the UK, emigrated to Australia in my 30s, and now live half the year in each country.

What inspires you to write?

I’m addicted to stories, both telling them and reading them. Georgette Heyer was the first inspiration – she died and I wanted to go on reading stories like hers, so wrote my own. I soon evolved into my own style and now have over 70 novels published, with more in the pipeline. I don’t need inspiring. I get twitchy if I can’t write regularly.

Is there special part of Australia that means a lot to you?

Well, I’m rather fond of Western Australia and the Perth area where we live. It’s very different from Sydney, Melbourne and the eastern states – and is also 2,000 miles away from them. We live near the Swan Valley, Western Australia’s first wine-growing area – a lovely tourist region.

Your books are mainly historical sagas and modern novels do you prefer to write one over the other? How easy do you find it to change between the two genres?

I like writing both, and in fact it’s refreshing to write in different genres. But my books are basically about people and relationships, whenever they’re set. People are fascinating. I find it very easy to change between genres, and I write 3-4 novels a year.

Some of your books are also series do you plan this in advance of writing the first book? IF so what helps you to plan how many there will be?

Most of my novels are parts of series. There’s a list of the series on my website. All I plan is the background and for historicals, when it happens. Then I do the main research. Often the historical stories stem from my reading of factual historical books. I think ‘what if my heroine was in that situation’? I don’t plan the stories ahead, not ever. I can’t. I plan the setup situation, do the main background research and know the stories are going to end happily. As I write, things ‘happen’ as if they’re planned, but I thank my characters and the story itself for leading me gently where they need to go. With my current series, Rivenshaw, set just after WW2, I was going to do a three-part set, but then because of what the characters did, it became necessary to add a fourth, so I consulted my agent and editor and it was arranged.

You had your 70th book published this year is there a stand out book for you?

There are a few stand-out books. Salem Street, my first saga (#1 of the Gibson Family) got me my start with my main publisher (Hodder & Stoughton) and has been reprinting since 1994. All that set of stories have just had beautiful new covers. The Traders series (five books) was fascinating to write, taking place mainly in Western Australia, Singapore and the UK in the 1860s-70s. It includes a ride with the flotilla of ships that celebrated the opening of the Suez Canal. I’d been waiting for ten years for a suitable story to include that interesting event. And then there’s Envoy, a fantasy thriller/romance written as Shannah Jay. It’s the only book at the moment with a film option on it. (fingers and toes crossed!) I also love Change of Season, my first modern novel, and Winds of Change, a recent one in paperback.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? 

I’ll be in the UK until September, then go back to Australia as usual. I don’t think I could face an English winter now. I write while I’m in both countries, but since we have close family and friends in each, it’s a lovely way of life. I’m just finishing the second Peppercorn novel (Cinnamon Gardens, modern) and am about to work on the third Rivenshaw novel (A Time to Rejoice). After that, I’ll be starting a new historical series set in Wiltshire in the early 20th century.


Author information:

Anna Jacobs was born in England but emigrated to Australia thirty years ago. Now she and her husband spend part of the year in each country. She's totally addicted to writing, and produces three novels a year. If she slows down, new characters nag her till she tells their stories. And after all, dusting isn't important - story-telling is. She was first published in fiction in 1992 and as of April 2011, she has had 53 novels published, a few under other names. At the moment Anna is writing historical sagas for one UK publisher and modern novels for another, but she doesn't guarantee not to try other genres. Writing is too much fun to be limited in any way. She's been married to her own hero for many happy years, and they have two daughters and one grandson.

Anna also wrote fantasy novels as Shannah Jay, and these books have now been reiussed as Kindle books. 

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