This week's contributor is Anna Jacobs. Anna writes in two genres nowadays, historical sagas and modern novels. She’s had over 50 novels published and happily produces three more each year. In the past she was also published in SF/F as Shannah Jay and those books are now available as ebooks at Smashwords. In fact, she freely confesses to being addicted to books, both writing and reading. She and her husband live in Australia for 7 months of the year and in the UK for the other 5, thus avoiding winters. How sad! No shivering over her computer.
I was astounded at how adventurous the writers running this blog are. I’ve never been adventurous, and I have multiple food intolerances, which make moving around as a tourist difficult - and frankly, not worth the risks.
But I didn’t want to stay only in one small corner of the world, so at first we tried house swapping. Trouble is most people want only a month’s exchange and we wanted two or three months. And let’s face it, there are risks in house swapping - some places were wonderful, in others we didn’t get what we’d been promised.
So three years ago my husband and I bought a house in the UK where we now spend the northern summers. It’s the perfect solution.
As for my writing , well, I’m addicted, so I’m still producing three long novels a year, and the move has, I believe, enriched my stories and settings.
Neither of us had lived in Wiltshire before, but it was on a line we drew across the map of England from my sister’s home to my husband’s family. We wanted to see them often. And the house we found was perfect, homes with a security service and access to a golf course.
We’ve loved exploring Wiltshire: Stonehenge, Avebury, Salisbury Cathedral, the magnificent Steam Railway Museum, picture-book villages, old pubs, friendly people - and more crop circles than anywhere else on earth, to name but a few of the attractions.
I write both historical and modern novels. The historical ones are mainly set in Lancashire and Australia, so my first Wiltshire novel was a modern story, ‘Saving Willowbrook’, in which my heroine battles to save her ancient family home from developers, with the help of her new guy, her disabled daughter and the friendly family ghost.
But since I love history, I started looking into Wiltshire’s fascinating past just out of interest and inevitably found myself writing an extra story set there in 1910. ‘Cherry Tree Lane’ has just come out in hardback, paperback next year.
I try to write my Australian novels while I’m at home down under, as the research is easier. Don’t be misled into thinking Sydney and the convicts are all of the story. Western Australia, where I live, is as far from Sydney as Moscow is from London, and was not convict founded.
I found that when the American Civil War cut off supplies of cotton to Lancashire in the 1860s, they sent 60 starving cotton lasses out to Western Australia as maids. Naturally I pounced on that titbit of history and began researching further. I found the memoirs of a lady who travelled out on the same ship - and I was soon writing my Swan River Saga, beginning with ‘Farewell to Lancashire’. The second book ‘Beyond the Sunset’ (my 50th novel published) came out this year, with the final part ‘Destiny’s Path’ due out early next year.
It takes a lot of organising to live in two countries, but it’s greatly enriched my own life and (I hope) my writing too. And really, the past is another country - I continue to travel backwards often as well.
Anna has kindly offered to give away a copy of Farewell To Lancashire, the first book in the Swan River Saga. The contest is open to anyone who leaves a comment on this post (NA bloggers excluded, of course!). Closing date for the contest is Thursday,18th November 11 pm EST (New York time). The winner will be drawn at random and we'll announce the lucky winner on Friday, 19th November.