Vanessa Couchman

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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 Vanessa Couchman to find out more...

Please tell us about yourself; when did you first become interested in writing?
I started writing at an early age. My mother loved books and reading, although she never wrote herself. She read to me in bed when I was very small. I particularly enjoyed the Ladybird books, which sparked my interest in history. We also had a set of Newnes encyclopedias, which I devoured once I could read well enough. One of the volumes contained Greek, Roman and Norse myths, which I loved reading. This set me on the path to writing my own stories.

However, education and career intervened. Although my career always involved a lot of non-fiction writing, I didn’t write fiction again for many years. We moved to Southwest France in 1997, where I have worked ever since as a freelance writer. It also gave me the time to take up writing fiction again.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I blush to think about it now! ‘The Kind Little Imp’ was the first extended story I wrote, about an imp who rescued injured animals and nursed them back to health. But it rather ran into the sand, since I couldn’t think how to end it.

What genre/genres do your books fall under?
Historical fiction. I have always been fascinated by history and took a first degree in the subject. France (and Corsica, about which I write too) is a happy hunting ground for historical fiction writers, since it has such an interesting history and culture.

What is your latest book called, what is it about and what was the inspiration behind the book?
I released French Collection: Twelve Short Stories in November 2017. It is a collection of some of my short stories. All of them are set in and inspired by France and most of them are historical fiction. A few are set in the present day, but they draw heavily on France’s past.

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Besides your current book, do you have any new projects coming up?
I have already had one novel set in Corsica published, The House at Zaronza. I have finished a second novel set in Corsica, The Corsican Widow, and have plans for a third Corsica novel set in World War II. I also plan a two-book series starting in the 1890s about a woman born in the French countryside who becomes an opera singer and then works with the Resistance in World War II. So I’m not short of projects. I just have to get on with them!

Where can people find your books?
All my books are available on Amazon. My author page is https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vanessa-Couchman/e/B00LQM4T9O/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1.

What has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
The best one was when I received an email telling me that I had won a Writing Magazine short story competition. I had only recommenced writing fiction about 15 months beforehand, so I was bowled over. And it was a great spur to continue writing.

Besides writing, what hobbies or interests do you enjoy in your spare time?
I enjoy singing and there are plenty of opportunities for it where we live in France. My husband and I also love walking. Reading, naturally, is a key hobby. Living in France, one can’t fail to be interested in French cuisine and wine!

Which novelists do you admire?
There are so many. I always loved the late Helen Dunmore’s writing, which was elegant and beautifully phrased. She had the ability to find exactly the right word to describe something. I am also a great fan of Hannah Kent (Burial Rites and The Good People), who immerses the reader in the place about which she is writing.

What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Follow your heart. Write what you want to write and not what you think you should write. I once read an article that said you should pursue the idea that won’t let you alone, the one that keeps you awake at night.

Do you have any tips or advice for other indie authors?
Traditional publishing is not the only path these days. It’s an exciting time, because there are now several routes to publication and self-publishing no longer carries the stigma that once attached to it. Some of the most successful authors are self-published.

You can find out more about Vanessa and her books at her website or via Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.