Today I'm delighted to welcome the wonderful Ann Troup back to Little Northern Soul to talk about books, writing and reading! So without any more delay, here we go! :
Hi Ann! Welcome to Little Northern Soul. Last time you were here we spoke about your fabulous book, The Lost Child which was a fantastic read! So what are you up to now?
Hi Laura, thanks so much for having me back, and thank you for the compliment! At the moment I am finishing up my second book and getting ready to work on a third. It feels like a bid for book world domination at the moment ;)
Can you tell us a bit about your next book?
I’d love to be able to give you a title, but we haven’t chosen one yet. This one is a mite darker than The Lost Child and involves a serial killer, a wrongful conviction, some seriously twisted people and a whole bunch of marmite characters. The story revolves around a search for the truth and how sometimes we should be careful what we wish for. In The Lost Child I revealed big element of the mystery quite early on, in this one you will have to wait right until the very end to find out what happened, though there’s lots to keep you interested along the way.
What's your average writing day like?
Haha, it varies. Usually I start off by ‘catching up with correspondence’ i.e., faffing about on social media. After several cups of coffee and a good catch up I usually write for a couple of hours, take a break to clean the house then go back and do another couple of hours. If I’m really on a roll nothing else gets done and the family get grossly neglected. If my day has been bitty I quite like writing in the middle of the night when there are no distractions, it’s surprising how much I can produce in the small hours.
Is there a particular place you love to write?
I am definitely not a fan of writing in public, i.e. in coffee shops or the library. Not only am I too nosy and easily distracted, I also have a habit of acting out certain things - like facial expressions and physical predicaments so that I can describe them accurately. I’m pretty sure people would not be too impressed to see me pulling faces or writhing about to test whether it is possible to do something with your hands tied behind your back. So, on the whole I write in my office which is fondly known as the empty nest as it was my daughters bedroom before she left home. It’s lovely sunny space, and I am surrounded by all my junk and piles of books. I find it very relaxing in there.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I honestly don’t know! I suppose they usually start with a ‘what if?’ situation to which I add certain characters. Quite often I will borrow a real situation that someone has experienced and mix it up with different reactions to produce different outcomes. It’s hard to pin down exactly where the ideas come from but after nearly fifty years on the planet and having met some very intriguing people the ideas pot is never empty. That, and I have a very twisted imagination…
Do you ever get writers block? If so, how do you push through and carry on?
I rarely do to be honest. I go by the principle that you cant edit a blank page, so even if the ideas and words aren’t flowing freely I will usually press on and get something down. I can always fix it later - or press delete. I do think it’s important to step away sometimes too and if I’m feeling particularly uninspired I will go off and do something else until the way forward springs to mind. If I do hit a block, it’s usually because I have written myself into a corner and put a character in an impossible situation. It can be a challenge to find a way forward, but it does stimulate some creative thinking.
Do you enjoy the editing process?
Sometimes…I don’t really enjoy self editing very much, realising just how bad the writing is in a first draft can be painful, but once I’ve fixed it I always feel much happier. I’m probably a bit odd in quite liking structural edits - it’s always really interesting to see how an editor interprets things, and they invariably do a good job of making a story stronger. I do argue though and sometimes it can feel as though they didn’t like the book at all. I sometimes sit there looking at the revisions asking myself what they did like - was it my clever use of a semi colon on page 42, or was it the name of minor character number two’s hamster? Copy edits are great, they really bring out my ire. I love that all my typos and dodgy punctuation get put right, but when the copyeditor weakens a sentence by replacing one of my carefully chosen words, grrrrrrr. Having said that, the job that they do is immense - copy editors are unsung heroes who stop writers from making absolute fools of themselves.
Do you love to read as much as write? Who's your favourite author?
I do love to read and always have. I rarely read much when I’m writing as I find someone else’s voice will often start to leak in. For instance, I had the Pride and Prejudice film on in the background yesterday while I was writing - when I looked at what I’d written it had the distinct flavour of Miss Austen. I’m not sure she mixes well with serial killers. As for favourites, I really can’t say purely because there are so many from many different genres. If you held a gun to my head and asked me to choose just one I’d say John Steinbeck. If his estate chose to publish his shopping lists, I’d buy them.
Picture this: you can only read the 3 same books for the rest of your life. Which three books would you choose?
That’s a cruel, cruel question! If we count the Encyclopaedia Brittanica as one book, I’ll take that. And the extended Oxford English dictionary, plus the complete works of Shakespeare. I know that’s cheating, but with those, I can write new stories for myself until the end of time.
Is there any other genre of book you'd like to write?
I’d like to write a children's book because I have such fond memories of discovering new books as a child. My own books are such a mixed bag I often feel there are elements of all sorts already. I might have a go at a rom com at some point, but being a rather cynical old boot it may not work out too well.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
This is going to sound madly pretentious, and I don’t mean it that way, but I always have been - just a previously unpublished one. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write stories. It took me a long time to have the confidence to let other people read them, but it’s something I’ve always done, and probably always will.
How does you feel to have your book out there in the public domain, for anyone to read?
Exhilarating and absolutely terrifying in equal measures. I absolutely love hearing that people have enjoyed my book, and always feel really apologetic when they don’t. Fortunately, so far it has been pretty well received and that’s great. It wont please everyone, but there are always other books.
Finally, what's in store for you in the near future?
A little break I think. Writing the second book has been very full on, once you have a contract, you have deadlines and writing ceases to become the leisurely activity it was. It’s still a fantastic thing to do, but it really does become a job, albeit one that I love. Now that book two is more or less finished I will be planning out the next one, waiting for revisions and generally taking it easy for a while.
Thanks for having me Laura, it’s been great.
You're more than welcome Ann, it's been a pleasure to have you back on Little Northern Soul and can't wait for you next book!
You can read my previous interview with Ann here