Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!
Welcome AnneMarie, lovely to have you here today.
Good to be here, Judith
Could you start by telling us what literary pilgrimages have you gone on or would like to go on, please?
This summer I would like to go to Haworth and visit the Bronte museum.
What is the first book that made you cry?
When I was a child living in Australia, I read a book about a man and his dog walking the roads in the outback looking for work. I remember at one stage they get knocked over and the man gets taken to hospital and the dog is left to roam the roads looking for him. The man recovered and went looking for his dog. One night the man is sitting by a camp fire and thinking his dog is gone, when suddenly the dog sees the campfire and knows it is his master. I cried buckets! I wish I could find that book again.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
Writing energises me – promoting exhausts me!
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
AnneMarie Brear is my pseudonym. It’s my maiden name.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write the stories that are in my head to tell. They might not be the ‘in demand’ genre, or the hottest new thing on the market, but they are stories I wanted to tell. Stories that I’m proud of and hope readers enjoy.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I am friends with a great number of authors (bestsellers and new writers), due to being a member of various organisations such as Romantic Novelist Association and Romance Writers of Australia. I find mixing with other authors help me know the publishing industry better, and my critique group have for years helped me refine my stories into sellable books.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Each book of mine stands on its own. However, Kitty McKenzie has a sequel, Kitty McKenzie’s Land, and I’m currently writing a third book connected to it about Kitty’s grandchildren.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
To be patient. I signed with a few very small publishers at the beginning and it was a waste of my time. Those publisher didn’t last long. But I did learn a lot. I learned how to work with an editor and how the publishing process works.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
The publishing of my first book taught me to not write such long stories. I didn’t need to write over 100k words and to do so was a little indulgent.
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
It’s probably Nicola’s Virtue. It’s a great story. It’s set in Australia in the 1860s and about a governess who left Britain and travelled to Australia to seek work, but on arriving found it very difficult to find work as governess. I based that story on real letters sent by governesses sent back to Britain. Miss Maria Rye, the founder of the Female Middle Class Emigration Society started the scheme to send women out to British colonies to work.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Only the current book I’m writing now. Thankfully, all my older books are published and available for sale, and my new books are in the process of being released.
What does literary success look like to you?
Being able to write for a living. I’ve not achieved that yet but I it’s my dream.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I have researched my eras (Victorian and Edwardian/WWI) for years. So each book is easier for me to write. However, I do more research as I write each novel, because each novel is different and requires different specific knowledge. My sagas tend to have working class and high middle class involved, so I need to research how country houses are run, as well as, a coal mine or farm. I need to create villages and make them real for the era my book is set. My recent books have been set in WWI, so I have done a lot of research about the war and the years of 1914-1918. I love research, so it is no hardship for me to get involved in it.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I like traditional names. I use genealogy a lot. Finding census records is now a lot easier, and I have also researched my family tree so I can see the names of those times. It’s very helpful.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I do read all reviews. The bad ones, which so far are few, thankfully, hurt me, but I can’t let it get me down. The good ones make me smile and feel happy that others have enjoyed my stories too.
What was your hardest scene to write?
A death scene. Actually all death scenes are hard. But one in particular in Kitty McKenzie’s Land was sad to write.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
My day job!
What is your favourite childhood book?
Enid Blyton – The Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair. But also The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes, my husband supports me very much, as do the rest of my family and friends.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I work full time in a day job, so my writing must fit around that and my family. It can take from 8-12 months to write a historical novel.
Links to AnneMarie: