‘You died a month before your fifth birthday. You were probably dead long before Mum downed her third gin with Porky Rawlings.’
In the 60s, seven-year-old Susan is left alone with her younger brother when he dies of an overdose. The guilt informs the rest of her life. When it threatens to destroy not only her but also her relationship with her new baby, she sets out to discover the truth. What she uncovers is as disturbing as it is hopeful.
From that day, I loved school. Well I wasn’t much good at maths, but I loved English. Writing was a great way of getting rid of all the words and feelings that upset me. Dumping down my thoughts was my way of dealing with them and moving on. I could write whatever I wanted, lie if it made me feel better. Only it’s not called lying when you write, it’s called using your imagination. I did a lot of that. Made up all sorts. I was very good at it. Sometimes I’d re-read the story and even I couldn’t tell which bits were true and which parts were imaginary. Y’see, Mark, the trouble with writing is it doesn’t help you forget, it forces you to remember every last detail. But writing does allow you to forgive yourself absolutely anything.
At first writing was hard work, going over and over stuff, deciding what to put in and what to leave out but before long, my essays were the best in the class. They were so good the teacher read them out in the lesson. All the other kids couldn’t believe I had turned into a brainbox overnight. Even Paul Brown developed a grudging respect for me and found someone else to bully. Like I said I loved school. I would’ve slept there if I could. Home was too big cold and big without you. Dad was in his own world, a crazy place that I couldn’t and didn’t want to enter. I remember showing him my English book once. Obviously, I didn’t let him read any of my essays but he saw all the ticks, stars and full marks. I thought he’d be pleased, proud even but all he said was ‘Is that it?’ I never showed him anything after that.
Today I’m pleased to be able to welcome mystery author Anne R Allen to the blog. Anne is the author of ten books, including the bestselling CAMILLA RANDALL MYSTERIES and HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE, co-written with NYT bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde. Her latest is SO MUCH FOR BUCKINGHAM, a humorous mystery about Internet trolls.
Did you always want to write? Were you inspired from an early age from the books you read as a child? I’ve been a writer pretty much since I could hold a crayon. I used to write stories in the margins of my coloring books to go with the pictures. My parents were both PhDs who taught literature at the university level, so I was born into a house full of books. My parents read to me every night. Books were always part of my life. I was especially inspired by the Wizard of Oz series. I think because the hero was an independent little girl.
How quickly did you become involved in the ‘Kindle Revolution’? Could you see the potential from the beginning? I wasn’t one of the first to join the Kindle crowd. I’ve always been with small presses and let my publishers make decisions about format. But as soon as they put my work on Amazon as ebooks in 2011, I saw my sales soar, so I knew they were onto something. I already had a blog, and it was easy to see how my online presence could influence online sales, so I made a point of learning to use social media.
I think I learned the most about online marketing from the fantastic women of the Indie Chicks Anthology. They invited me to join because I was with an “indie” micropress, even though the rest were self-published. They taught me the ropes.
You write both fiction and non-fiction. Do you enjoy writing one more than the other? I probably write a lot more non-fiction than fiction—if you consider the amount of time I spend writing blog posts—but my heart is still with my fiction. Writing fiction is hard, but I love it. Writing non-fiction is easier, but it doesn’t give me the same sense of joy.