Interview with Anna French

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I've written for as long as I can remember. I come from a creative family including artists, crafters and photographers - all visual arts but I turned out to better with words. One early story was a first person piece about climbing Mt. Everest with my cat Biggles and bumping into an abominable snowman (I was seven-ish). Another, as I was reading a lot of Enid Blyton at the time, was about being sent to boarding school and discovering it was haunted. *Gasps!*
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Oooooh! That's tough.
OK, I'm going with books that had a big impact at the time I read them because I believe they reinvigorated my desire to have a go myself.

1. The Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton
I loved the idea of all these characters living in a tree and the different lands spinning around at top. I re-read it again and again.

2. Flowers in the Attic - Virginia Waters
I was 13 or 14 when I read this on the recommendation of friend. Fascinating, and disturbing! I went on to read the follow ups and the prequel.

3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
I was hooked from the first page - it probably appealed to my angsty teenage self! The Bronte sisters, generally, wrote hauntingly beautiful books.

4. Great Apes - Will Self
Ha ha! This book is bonkers. Totally brilliant. But bonkers!

5. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
My goodness me! If only I could write like Louis! I was devastated for weeks after reading this. My husband, on the other hand, uplifted. I should say that my husband is an optimist. Me? Less so. I actually don't want to say too much about it case you haven't read it yet... But do give it a go, won't you? Soon as.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love a swashbuckling adventure (Wibur Smith), tales from foreign lands (Memoirs of a Geisha, The Glass Palace, God of Small Things). Clever concepts like the Time Traveller's Wife and the aforementioned Great Apes. I don't read a huge amount of sci fi or crime, I get enough of the latter in journalism!
Describe your desk
Tidy desk, tidy mind. Apart from the heap of paper shoved to one corner!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My daughter yelling for me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a young daughter and a part-time job so there are never enough hours in the day. If I'm writing you can bet your boots there's a household chore that's not being done. It's a constant battle to find some kind of acceptable balance.
What is your writing process?
It varies. Sometimes it just 'comes to me', almost like a scene in a film or a snapshot of dialogue. I usually don't know where it's going but something about it strikes me so I'll write it down and then try to develop it. Free writing can sometimes provide a starting point not so much for a story, but a concept. It might come to something or it might not.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In a southern county of the UK. It's a pretty safe and comfortable location and I have, in the past, questioned whether it's too mundane to be of much interest, given my penchant for the exotic. But the older I get, the more varied a past I have to draw upon - and the more I appreciate the extraordinary nature of our 'everyday'.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I essentially browse until something piques my interest. A lively, well written synopsis will do the trick.
How do you approach cover design?
I'll let you know as soon as I have that privilege!
Published 2014-07-05.
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