Elizabeth Chats With…Anne Allen
I first met this month’s guest about five years ago when she took part in a book fair I was organising in Chudleigh. Like me, she’s moved around quite a bit, and although she has now made her home in Devon, she also writes about other places; in her case, the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. This is a very busy time for her, as her latest novel is published today. So I am delighted she has taken the time out to come and chat with me. My guest this month is Anne Allen.
Hello Anne, and welcome. Let’s start at the beginning; what is your earliest memory – and how old were you at the time?
It’s rather an odd memory! When I was at primary school we had free small bottles of milk every morning at break time and they were left outside in crates. Not great on a hot day! Anyway, I remember picking up a bottle and feeling a bit unsure about drinking the milk – it didn’t look appetising at all. But the teacher made us drink it regardless. I must have been about five and have never fancied warm milk since. Thank goodness for fridges!
What was your favourite subject at school – and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
Thinking of secondary school, my favourite subject was history. I was lucky enough to have a lovely teacher, Mrs Thomas, who made it sound much more interesting than the dry text books we studied. Years later I went on to study Humanities with the Open University and was again lucky with the tutors and excellent course material.
I didn’t get on well with Domestic Science, as it was then called, as my attempts at cooking were rarely successful. I was relieved to drop it when we entered the fourth form and only studied our chosen GCE subjects. You’ll be pleased to know my cooking skills have since improved. ☺
If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
Mobile phone, PC (it’s an all-in-one), or if too heavy my laptop, and handbag.
Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…?”
That I once owned a Dutch barge in Bath and manged to fall into the engine room and dislocate my hip.”
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be – and why?
So many choices! I think it would have to be Queen Elizabeth I: a woman of mystery and many talents. One of the questions I’d like to ask – but probably wouldn’t be answered! – is, was she really a virgin? I’d also like to know more about her relationship with her father, Henry VIII. Such a fascinating period of history, there would be loads to ask.
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
“No-one said it’d be easy – and they were right!”
Would you describe yourself as left-brain (analytical), right brain (intuitive) or a mix of both?
Definitely a mix! I worked as a psychotherapist for more than 20 years and the work involved using left brain/right brain in pretty equal measure. Has come in useful as an author ☺
Why have you set your books in Guernsey?
A bit of a gypsy at heart, I’ve moved around quite a bit and my favourite place of all time was Guernsey. I spent nearly 14 happy years there and it will forever remain in my heart. I had to return to England in 2002 and a few years later wrote my first book, Dangerous Waters, in homage to the lovely island and its people. It proved cathartic for me, helping me to visualise still being a part of island life and giving me another excuse to return. My older son still lives there and is now a ‘local’.
I hadn’t intended to write a series, but somehow it happened, and my fifth, Echoes of Time, has just been published. All the books are standalone, but are linked through characters popping in and out of later books. It feels like writing about an extended family!