On Wednesdays on social media, people use the hashtag #WriterWednesday to chat about all things author, book and writing, including authors promoting their own work. As we love to support self-published authors, we thought we’d join in and we will be featuring a UK self-published author every Wednesday on the website. This week, we met Anne Harvey to find out more...
Please tell us about yourself; when did you first become interested in writing?
Well, that’s a difficult one to start, isn’t it? As my late Mum used to say, ‘no-one likes a show-off.’ With such an ingrained attitude, I find it difficult to talk about myself. Briefly, I’m in my late seventies who has lived a full and varied life, including living and working in the United States, lived in many different parts of the country and am now on my third husband, whom I love to bits.
I was an only child for most of my childhood and, as my parents were working in domestic service, a solitary one. As such, I lived in my imagination, making up stories about my toys and my surroundings. As I got older and started to take an interest in boys, I’d weave romantic stories around them. And I’d always been a day-dreamer. My school reports often said ‘Anne would do much better if she didn’t day-dream so much.’ Another of my Mum’s sayings was, ‘Your head’s full of jolly robins.’ Which leads me on to your next question.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a longish short story called ‘Half Way to Hopper Street.’ I was working as a towel weaver in a Lancashire cotton mill at the time and used to scribble ideas down on whatever bits of paper I could lay my hands on, often to the detriment of my weaving. Ironically, that story developed (over many years) into my first novel, ‘A Suitable Young Man.’ I did scribble off and on over the years, more for my own amusement than anything else but never thought to try and get anything published.
So life-changing was my experience of living and working in the United States that I wrote a novel around it and naively sent it often to various publishers. With no luck. I wrote another two novels after that, now gathering dust on a shelf, probably the best place for them. It wasn’t until I took early retirement that I started writing seriously. Since then, I’ve had many articles and short stories published in national magazines but still the traditional publishing deal eluded me. It was a conscious decision on my part to self-publish and one I’ve never regretted. I like the control!
What genre do your books fall under?
I would say they are family saga type novels, although unlike many such novels, they don’t take place over several years, more a matter of months. They are nostalgic tales of family, friendship, love, loyalty and loss, set in 1950s. I don’t pretend to be a literary genius or a Booker Prize contender. They’re stories of everyday life involving ordinary people. Which is what my readers seem to like about them.
What is your latest book called, what is it about and what was the inspiration behind it?
I had the idea to pull together some of my short stories which have either been shortlisted in writing competitions or featured in anthologies. One of the stories is titled ‘Entertaining Angels’ while another is called ‘The Guardian Angel.’ I’m a firm believer in the existence of angels though not necessarily the spiritual beings that first spring to mind. An angel could be in the form of a random act of kindness, a stranger lending a helping hand, a chance encounter that influences one’s life. So I went through my collection, picking out the stories that have this underlying theme. I’m planning to publish this in early December in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, I’m still having difficulty with the cover so can’t reveal it.
Besides your current book, do you have any other projects coming up?
My next project after that is to rewrite/edit the first draft of my third book which continues the stories of the same characters of both my previous books, for details see your next question. It’s happening much later than planned because this year has not been a good one either for my husband or myself, health-wise. Hopefully we’ve come through it and looking forward to a better year next year.
Where can people find your books?
I’ve self-published two books so far, ‘A Suitable Young Man’ and the follow-up novel, ‘Bittersweet Flight.’ Both are available as either ebooks or paperbacks on any of the Amazon sites. A link on my website http://www.annelharvey.co.uk takes you to the relevant Amazon page. Both books have garnered four and five star reviews which can be read on Amazon. ‘Entertaining Angels’ will be available in December through the same site. Hopefully, book three – working title ‘In The Thick of It’ – sometime next year.
What has been your greatest moment so far?
I get a kick every time someone says how much they’ve enjoyed my novels but I suppose my greatest moment has been to hold the proof copy of ‘A Suitable Young Man’ in my hand for the very first time and to realise that my dream of getting a book published had finally come true. I cried!
Besides writing, what other hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy?
Top of the list has to be reading. I’m an avid reader and can easily get through 2 to 3 books a week, depending on how long they are. I usually read two ‘real’ books to one Kindle book and try to read as many of my fellow writers as possible. My other love is gardening but sadly, with the aforementioned health problems, I’ve not been able to get out in my garden much this year. It’s now looking rather bedraggled but will have to stay that way until the spring.
What other writers do you admire?
One of my all-time favourites is Elizabeth Chadwick who writes novels set in the medieval period. She has the knack of bringing the past alive. Another favourite is Jojo Moyes whose skill to always write something different every time is enviable. I adored her ‘Me Before You.’ I do tend to read a lot of family sagas and one of my favourite authors in this genre is Margaret Dickinson who writes so convincingly about Lincolnshire.
What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I once wrote a fan letter to Barbara Taylor Bradford and she kindly replied, advising to aim to write 1000 words a day. As I’m a slow writer, I’ve never quite managed that but I do try to write something every day even if it’s only a book review or a blog for my ‘Passionate About The Past’ website. It’s all good practice. I’m counting these answers as writing!
Do you have any other tips or advice for other indie authors?
My advice is to make sure your writing is as good as you can make it and rewrite, edit, rewrite again if necessary. And never over explain. Let the reader see the scene in their imagination.
You can find out more about Anne and her books at her website or via Amazon: A Suitable Young Man, Bittersweet Flight, Facebook or Twitter.