Tag Archives: Guernsey

Diana’s Book Review ~ The Girl From the Island by Lorna Cook

I’m still following the theme running through many books I choose to review:

  • They tell a tale linked to history
  • The books are often set in two time periods
  • The location is a place either I have an affection for, or one I would dearly love to visit.

Why did I choose this book?

The Girl from the Island was set on Guernsey, the island where Grandpa and Great Grandfather were born. They moved to Woolston Southampton when Grandpa was a toddler but Great Grandfather eventually returned, but died there during WW2. This book is set in modern times, but also on the island during WW2. I know this history well, but was intrigued to see if another novel could be written to grip my attention. It did!

Did you feel empathy for any particular character?

Where can I start? Of the two sisters during WW2 it was Persephone I was drawn to most; her willingness to put her life on the line for the cause; her tug of emotions as she tried to distance herself from the man she had fallen in love with ten years before, but who had arrived at her house, a Nazi who was taking over her late mother’s bedroom. What a complex but wonderful character.

Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?

One scene I just cannot share with you, because it would be a spoiler but it was poignant, tragic, full of tension ~ everything really to draw me closer to Persy and like her even more intensely. You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Available on Amazon

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Filed under Book reading, Book reviews, Channel Islands

Anne Allen ~ 2nd Summer Special of Successful Indie Authors

I’m especially pleased to have this interview with Anne Allen; a successful Indie Author of ‘The Guernsey Novels’. Being a lover of The Channel Islands I have read several of Anne’s books.

I hope this will appeal to writers, fans and potential readers alike…

Welcome on my blog Anne! 

Thank you, Diana, I appreciate you inviting me!

Firstly do you mind me asking was the success in your writing career gradual or sudden?

Definitely gradual! I enjoyed reasonable sales of my first book, Dangerous Waters, which was fortunate as I had ordered a 1000 copy print run. Ever the optimist! It took over a year to sell them all, mainly through Amazon and the lovely Guernsey bookshops and I also had decent sales with the e-books. The sales had declined by the time my second book came out a year later and from then on each new book gave the series a boost. The last few years it has been harder to keep the sales figures up as competition grows. An indie author has to  spend as much time marketing as they do writing, something I’m not keen on. I went ‘wide’ in 2018 meaning my books are available worldwide in all e-book formats as well as in paperback.

Are you single minded in your writing? Do you treat it as your main work and plan your day accordingly or write when the mood takes you?

I retired from my work as a psychotherapist a few years ago so writing is now my only work. In theory I could spend all day writing, but I am not always in the mood and tend to pace myself – a benefit of being an Indie author. And there is always marketing/promotion/social media which eats into the day. My last few books have involved a great deal of research, which I love, and I can happily spend a day or two reading textbooks or surfing online.

Would you describe your main genre is Women’s Mystery? How would you describe your writing style to potential readers?

I’ve never been able to quite pinpoint my genre as it’s changed slightly over the series. Romantic cosy mystery probably covered the first four titles, but the latter ones are more family drama/historical/touch of romance. I think it’s a shame books and authors have to fit into categories, don’t you? I just want to write the story! As regards style, my writing has been compared by readers to Maeve Binchy and Nora Roberts. I am happy with either!

I agree with you so much on this one Anne. I always find it extremely hard to categorize mine in one genre too.

Can you give any writers any marketing tips?

The world of marketing is constantly changing which makes it hard to be specific. Personally, I have always loved and relied on bloggers (bless you!) to help with book launches and general posts about my writing. You need to keep your name out there, and eventually the penny drops and people actually check out your books. It is also helps to give radio interviews and write articles for glossy magazines, either national or local. And at the end of the day, price promotions play a huge part in e-book sales and spreading the word about your books.

Don’t forget you were a speaker at the Guernsey Society weren’t you? I am a member and so I saw your name advertised in their booklet!

Have you one annoying habit you can share with us?

As an ex-therapist, I tend to analyse people and their ‘problems’ and give ‘advice’ when it’s not necessarily wanted!

What pastimes keep your feet on the ground, or maybe not, when you are not writing?

I used to love travel, but with the current situation with the pandemic am not sure if I will consider it even if and when it seems safe. I also love museums, the theatre and cinema which are on hold at the moment. Fortunately I can still read books and watch good drama on television. In the past I have sculpted, painted furniture and dabbled with mosaics, but now all my creativity goes into my writing.

Was there a single moment in your writing life when you thought ‘YES, THIS IS IT’? Can you describe that moment for us?

Two years ago I received, out of the blue, an email from a well-known publisher, asking if I’d like to meet up to discuss books. She complimented me on my Guernsey books, indicating she had read at least one of them. Immediately, I thought, ‘Yes, this is it!’ I naturally replied saying yes and although she did write again nothing was ever arranged. I later heard she had commissioned another writer who wrote in a similar genre. So near, yet so far! I continue to be an Indie author and enjoy my modest success ☺

And finally, do you see yourself writing in five years time and have you ever been tempted to write in a different genre to surprise your readers?

I can’t guarantee I’ll be writing in five years’ time, but at the moment I’d like to think I could be, brain cells permitting. Looking back, I wish I had picked up my pen years before I did. Recently I have been thinking about writing in a new genre, though not sure which. My current series will probably end with the book I’m writing now, and I’ll be free to experiment. Will see what happens!

I’ve enjoyed three books in your series and I love the covers Anne. I have yet to read your latest and seventh ‘Inheritance’ but look forward to reviewing it shortly.

Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog.

 

 

 

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Filed under Blogs, Book reading, Events, Guest author, Marketing your novel, Publishing your novel, Writing, Writing a novel

Being Compared to a Best Seller ~ A Double Edged Sword

In the last few months I’ve joined The Sarnia literacy Society on Facebook and have enjoyed talking about such books as Ebenezer le Page, a delightful story written like memoirs of an elderly gentleman and his life on Guernsey. Apart from getting lost occasionally in a plethora of friends and relations, I found the book truly delightful and an insight into what life on Guernsey was really like in the last century. I laughed and cried and I oood and ahhed alongside old ELP and I certainly missed him when I’d finally finished the book.

In the last couple of days, though, I had an ‘ouch’ moment when I turned to the site and read the comments on ‘The Guernsey Lteracy and Potato Pie Society.’ Wow! Isn’t this book still stirring emotions and on this Facebook page I read only negative opinions. The contrast between these and the gushing comments to dear old E le P were stark and I respect every point I read.

What are my feelings about the book though? I agree that it was badly researched; the people were not true Guernsey; names were incorrectly spelt and places unrecognisable. In fact, they were rarely described in detail, not surprisingly since the author had barely visited the island but did her research remotely.

To her defence here, she was obviously so moved by the island that she began her research. Sometimes it happens like that to an author. An idea takes you and you just have to write.

On the other hand the novel has sold millions worldwide. Why? It was witty and gritty; it used well-known facts about life on Guernsey during World War Two and embellished them into a storyline which was easy to read and many of the characters warm and likeable; it was a great holiday read; there’s still a lot of interest in reading about the war…..I could go on. Or was it just luck, an incredible marketing campaign or the amusing, memorable title that did it? We shall never know.

And now here’s the rub! The Historical Novel Society when reviewing my first novel Riduna compared it favourably to this very book saying that anyone who enjoyed The GLPPS would love Riduna too! I was proud of being compared to this best seller. I decided to put the quote on the blurb for ‘Riduna’ when I asked for the rights back from the original publisher and relaunched Riduna last year alongside my second novel Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Here’s where I am going to hold my hand up and be honest and constructive in my comparisons.

Firstly I wasn’t born on either island but my reasons for writing both novels did initially stem from my interest in my family history. My great-grandmother was born and lived on Alderney until the age of 15 when she was shipped to Guernsey. She later married my great- grandfather a Guernseyman. The more I researched about life on the islands in Victorian times, the more the shape of a novel unfolded before me. I found that my love of the islands as a child, rekindled on visiting several times as an adult, enhanced the more I read into the history. It was tantalising though in the details of social history left out of the history books and guide books and so I too was guilty of fabricating what I did not know. The characters seemed to live, work and develop though, in my head. I felt I had little control over them. I made mistakes too! A couple I felt very embarrassed about and wondered how I’d missed them once the novel was in print.

Researching for Ancasta has been very different. Instead of pouring over books and filling in the gaps with my imagination, I did that too, but I also approached experts who were so enthusiastic about their individual subjects that they checked relevant chapters for me and gave me valuable feedback. The reaching out to people, both on the islands and here on the mainland was a wonderful experience I will treasure and learn from.

Thus, when I relaunched Riduna I was able to make amends, reread it with new insight and polish it up a bit…after all, even with the help of the editorial services of my initial publisher it was still my first novel.

So, if you are an islander and happen to read Riduna or Ancasta, or a reader from anywhere in the world, I really don’t mind you being critical, as long as you do it kindly:-)

Any feedback gratefully received

diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk

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Filed under Ancasta, Book reviews, Research, Riduna, Writing a novel