Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Blog tour: The Lost Child by Ann Troup, Author Q&A

Today I'm really pleased to be able to welcome Ann Troup to Little Northern Soul as part of The Lost Child blog tour! I read and devoured The Lost Child, it is a gripping story full of twists that had me reading as quickly as possible so I could find out what the conclusion would be. It was an absolute dream to be able to ask Ann some questions about the book, life as an author and her writing process. So, over to Ann... 

1) Hi Ann, welcome to Little Northern Soul! To start with, please can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel, The Lost Child?
Hello and thank you so much for having me here today. The Lost Child explores the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Mandy Miller in 1983. Mandy went missing from Hallow’s End, a sleepy Devon village populated by a mixed bag of characters that remain haunted by the tragedy. No one knows what really happened until Elaine, an outsider, arrives and becomes embroiled in the history of Mandy’s disappearance by getting to know the girl’s sister Brodie. As the two of them explore the area they stumble across a path that leads them to the truth of what happened to the lost child. What neither of them anticipate are the consequences of their discovery.

2) Where did the idea for the story come from?
The idea has been bouncing around in my head for a few years and began as a typical ‘what if…?’ scenario. Having been asked this question a couple of times I’ve started to feel that it isn’t a good enough answer, so I tried to think back to when the idea first occurred to me. I grew up in Gloucester and in my teens lived for a very short time in Cromwell St, anyone who has ever heard of it will know what the neighbours were like! As an adult I became a psychiatric nurse and ended up dealing with many of the people who were affected by what happened there. I think the idea stemmed from those experiences and the ‘what if…?’ questions that were raised. I certainly didn’t want to rehash those crimes, but I did want to explore what it might be like for a family and a community to experience the disappearance of someone who cannot be found. The Lost Child is not the story of what happened in Gloucester, but my experiences there were the catalyst for the idea.

3) There are many different characters in the story, all with differing values and personalities. Who was your favourite to write?

Over all I have to say Brodie, she is in that in between stage of growing up, not quite adult but not a child either. She never knew Mandy, but the missing girl has overshadowed her whole life. Brodie is tenacious, feisty, brave and funny. She is also hasty, sometimes thoughtless, and self-orientated, traits for which she can hardly be blamed. Brodie still inhabits my imagination and I have a sneaking feeling that she may turn up in further books, all grown up and still kicking ass for all she’s worth.
To be honest I enjoyed writing all of them, but I’d also like to mention Derry. He might, at first, appear to be a somewhat clichéd character however I tried to write him in such a way that he can be seen as someone who is greatly underestimated by everyone in Hallow’s End. I hope that he comes across as someone whose disability does not undermine his integrity and whose clichéd characteristics belie his importance to the story of Mandy.

4) The story is mysterious and gripping - do you have a process for building up such tension and mystery in your writing or does it just happen?

Hmmmm, I’ve never really thought about it. I do always know the story I want to tell but don’t have a strict process of building tension and mystery as such. I suppose it’s that old thing about putting your characters up a tree and throwing rocks at them, I imagine a scenario but the characters create the tension and mystery in how they react to it. Of course the characters are all products of my imagination too, however they do seem to take on a life of their own once they are formed. Just like real people they often make foolish judgments, fail to ask the right questions and get themselves into sticky situations, and just like real people they have to work the clues to solve their problems. So, building tension and mystery is almost an organic process.

5) How did you start your journey to be a published author?
I have pretty much always written but did nothing with it until a few years ago when I decided to self publish a novel just to see what might happen. The book sold reasonably well, but received some harsh and fully justified criticism. The whole experience taught me the absolute value of a good editor and the necessity to take the whole thing seriously. I took the book down, took the criticism on the chin and used it constructively. Until now I haven’t chanced my arm and I am determined to work hard, produce the best work I can and not embarrass myself   (or some poor unfortunate reader) by whacking out an unpolished, hard to read book. Learning curves are often painful, but always productive when taken in the right vein.

6) How was the publishing process for you? Can you tell us about the moment you found out you had secured a book deal?
I wrote The Lost Child last year, and decided to start submitting this year. In January I spent oodles of time researching agents and publishers that accept direct submissions. I made a list and decided to try two at a time, so at the beginning of February I sent out two query letters and the sections of the book that the agents wanted in their submission guidelines. I also stumbled across Carina at that time and submitted on a whim. Two weeks later I received an email from Carina offering me a two book deal. I was stunned, and thought it must be a scam! No one gets an offer that quickly, ever. I spent the entire night researching them and discovering that they are indeed a legit, well known publisher and an imprint of Harlequin who are now owned by Harper Collins – it doesn’t get more legit than that! To be frank it was a no brainer, their terms are straightforward so no agent required. I received my first agent rejection on the same day that I received my contract from Carina. I have to say that I’m not smug, and in no way see this as a measure of any perceived ‘greatness’ on my part – I just got really, really lucky. I still can’t quite believe that in four months I have a published book to my name.
The publishing process has been really enjoyable, even the edits. My editor’s comments were fair and have made a better book in my opinion. I did bristle at some of the copy edits, she didn’t always agree with my word choices but we compromised and everyone was happy.

7) What's your writing process? Do you plan or just start writing and see what happens?
I always plan out plot points and map a story arc before I start writing, but don’t always stick to it rigidly. Once the story starts to unfold the characters almost always dictate the pace and structure of the plot. The original plan is always useful as a reference and allows me to check that all the dots have been joined up to make a complete picture. Having big charts on the wall covered in sticky notes and scribbles also helps me to feel like writing is work. The truth is it’s hugely enjoyable and I’m not sure whether I am trying to convince myself or everyone else that I am grafting hard when I’m actually having great fun with it, but the charts look good and at least give the impression that I am profound and serious about it all. Though the main result of this ‘impression management’ is to guilt my husband into making me endless cups of coffee to fuel the muse…(needs must and all)

8) Where do you write your books?
My youngest child left home last year and we finally had a spare, spare room, I commandeered it as an office and it is fondly known as the Empty Nest. I do most of my writing up there, it’s a sunny, light room with a lovely atmosphere which is very conducive to beavering away at a keyboard for hours on end. The only thing missing is a coffee vending machine, or better still my own personal barista (one who would also agree to doing the housework would be great), my husband is getting fed up with the job and is on the point of throwing in the towel. As a compromise he has agreed to buy me a coffee maker if I will stop taking advantage of his good nature.

9) I'd love to know a little more about you. What's your favourite way to relax when you're not busy writing?

Crikey, relax? What’s that? I’ve forgotten how to do it in the whirlwind of the past few months (or maybe it’s all the caffeine?). I’ve never been much of a relaxer and am always happiest when I’m up to something. It’s rare to find me simply doing nothing, but I suppose reading would be the obvious choice. There’s not much time for it these days but I still like to wind down the day with a few pages of whatever I have on the go. I’m a bit of a book junkie; I came back from CrimeFest today and have managed to accumulate twelve books in three days…I don’t have a TBR pile, I have a mountain range!

10) The Lost Child is a brilliant read and I can see it being a big success. Can you share any plans or ideas for your next book with us?
Thank you for saying so; it’s always such a relief and a pleasure to hear that someone has enjoyed the book. Number two is underway, I’m waiting to hear what my editor thinks so far and if she’s happy I will happily plough on. This idea has a similar flavor and tone to The Lost Child, but completely different setting, characters, plot, crimes etc. These two books will be standalone novels, but I am also working on a series with a recurring character and in the future hope to bring Brodie back in a series of her own.

Thanks so much for coming over to Little Northern Soul, Ann - it's been brilliant to find out more about you and the book!

Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog Laura, it’s been fun answering your questions and a real pleasure to be invited.


As part of the blog tour, Ann has kindly offered to run a giveaway to win a £5 amazon voucher! you can enter below to be in with a chance of winning.

Author bio:

Ann lives in Devon in a small house just a pebble’s throw from the beach. She shares her home with her husband and a small white dog, both occasionally allow her to be inattentive to them so that she can write. Her many skills include an unparalleled ability to consume coffee and the gift of being able to kill houseplants by merely admiring them. In addition to that she is a great proponent of the Miss Havisham method of housekeeping, which includes regarding cobwebs and dust as nature’s ornaments. 
Her debut novel The Lost Child will be published by Carina UK on 19/5/2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment