Saturday 10 February 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Anne Coates

It’s the weekend and I’m delighted to be hanging out with another lovely author. Today I’m spending some time getting to know Anne Coates. I’m really enjoying being introduced to some new (to me) authors but the trouble is I want to add all of their books to my TBR but there’s just not enough hours in the day, week, month or year to read everything that I have already, but I will get there one day!
So I won’t leave Anne out in the cold any longer, let’s bring her into the warm and welcome her to The Hippo and introduce her to you all.

Photo courtesy of Phil Gammon

Anne Coates has been employed in publishing and journalism all her working life. Her short stories have appeared in magazines like Bella and Candis and some have been published as two collections by Endeavour Press. For many years she abridged books for Reader’s Digest in the UK, Canada and Australia and continues as a freelance editor.

The first novel in the Hannah Weybridge series, Dancers in the Wind, was inspired by the prostitutes and police she interviewed for a national newspaper. Death’s Silent Judgement, also set in 1990s London, explores loss and abuse of power and was published by Urbane Publications in May 2017. The third novel, Songs of Innocence, will be published this May.

Anne lives in south-east London with three lazy, unimpressed cats who have so far failed to appear in print.

Death's Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge.

Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend's brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah's investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer...

The series is very much in the best traditions of British women crime writers such as Lynda La Plante and Martina Cole.

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What book/books made you cry and why?
One book that has always made me sob ever since hearing it read to me as a child is Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince. The relationship which develops between the statue and the swallow which should be migrating to warmer climes is heartbreaking. When the prince was alive he never saw the poverty and misery of his subjects but looking down from his plinth he sees it all and makes amends by having the swallow distribute his jewels and gold leaf … even now writing about it makes me well up. 

Anne just from your brief description of this book I’ve just had to download a copy and read it for myself!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
As someone who has written seven non-fiction books under my own name, I did consider using a nom de plume for fiction. However, Endeavour, who published two of my parenting books, thought my two short story collections should also bear my own name. In fact as many of those stories had already been published in magazines (by Anne Coates), it would seem underhand to publish them under a different name.
However, I have used a pseudonym twice before: once when I translated an erotic novel from French and once when I was the health and beauty editor on a magazine and they wanted a different name for a short story of mine they were publishing. I chose Elizabeth Ballantyne – my middle name and my mother’s maiden name. Still think it has a lovely ring to it! 

Do you often hear from your readers and what do they say?
I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers – especially locally and from friends. One sent me a text when he’d finished Death’s Silent Judgement saying he was emotional and exhausted and could he pop in for a coffee to discuss! I also left a copy of Dancers in the Wind (with my contact details) at the studios we stayed at in Corfu last summer and two people emailed to say how much they had enjoyed reading it, the second one telling me she’d had to bring it home with her as she hadn’t finished it while on holiday.
Recently I was at an event that had nothing to do with books and a woman came up and introduced herself – and said how much she’d enjoyed my books. Moments like that are priceless and to be treasured.

What’s your favourite motivational phrase?
You can’t edit a blank page. Like a lot of writers my first drafts leave a lot to be desired but you can rewrite and keep rewriting until you are as near as possible happy with the result. When I write short stories and flash fiction I go over the plot or narrative in my mind so when I actually come to writing it, the words flow. Obviously you can’t keep a whole novel in your head like this so getting words written is imperative.

What did you edit out of your last book?
At one point I had my protagonist, Hannah Weybridge, arrested. I was going to have her accused of perverting the cause of justice. Then I toyed with the idea of having it as a wind-up. The DS on the case, Mike Benton, was really relishing baiting Hannah and I was enjoying writing the scene but in the end I decided it didn’t work so cut it.

What do you think is more important: characters or plot?
The characters definitely drive the plot forward in my thrillers. I don’t start out with fully-fledged plot – usually it’s just a scene that makes me ask “what if…” and I take it from there. Writing a series means I have a pool of characters with their own agendas which are fun to pursue plus new characters are introduced via the investigation. I love how characters surprise me as I’m writing and take me off into new directions.

If you were an animal in the zoo what would you be and why?
Well, I don’t think I’d like to be living in a zoo to begin with but I do identify with elephants – nothing to do with my lumbering gait, of course. I hate the way these magnificent creatures are often abused and I’ve read such amazing stories of how they relate in their families/herds and also of how they have saved human lives. Plus there is the memory factor – I too never forget!

I’m totally with you on this Anne. I love elephants and I’ve been lucky enough to get up close and personal with some at a sanctuary in South Africa a few years ago and they are truly stunning animals. I honestly hope that something can be done to save these beautiful creatures before it’s too late but I fear that time is running out fast and people just can’t be educated to see the error of their ways. I hope you don’t mind that I snuck in two elephant photos – I just couldn’t choose between them! 😉

Describe yourself in five words.
Loyal. Honest. Funny. Over-sensitive. Complicated.

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You can find out more about Anne, her books and connect with her using the links below:

I'd like to thank Anne for taking the time to stop by today and answer my questions. I will definitely be checking out your books just as soon as my schedule allows 🙂

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