Today I’m taking part in a blog tour with a difference, which celebrates the Morecambe & Vice Festival, which hits Morecambe next weekend. Each blogger on the tour will be featuring an author who is appearing at the festival, and I’m pleased to be sharing my Q&A with Anne Coates and my review of The first book in her Hannah Weybridge series, Dancers In The Wind. This post is presented with thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book On The Bright Side for inviting me on the tour and arranging for me to receive a copy of Dancers In The Wind and Anne Coates for answering my questions.
Have you always wanted to write?
Yes ever since I could read I’ve wanted to write and I have been so fortunate that I have been writing in one form or another all my working life from press releases and cover blurbs and journalism to short stories, nonfiction and novels.
What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?
All my jobs have been in publishing and journalism so those experiences have contributed immensely to my writing process. For many years I abridged books – both fiction and narrative non-fiction – and that gave me a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t. As a result I tend to produce shorter novels as I’ve already cut the extra themes and superfluous scenes. My training as an editor means I always check timelines and facts (I once discovered an 11-month pregnancy) and as a journalist I’m used to writing to tight deadlines.
What was your inspiration for Dancers In The Wind?
An interview I did with a prostitute and a police officer for a national newspaper to link with a TV documentary. I had to pay the young woman in cash and stupidly gave her the envelope that had my name and address on it. The newspaper never ran the article as it was too traumatic. Really late one night there was a knock at my door. There was no one there but I wondered “What if…” and so the novel was conceived.
How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?
My characters arrive on the page – sometimes to my surprise. They evolve throughout the writing process and each draft adds to their development. Even if I don’t mention certain facts, I like to know how old they are – their education, where they came from and so on. I may use a trait from a relative or friend but no one would be recognisable. I love people watching and often attribute to a character something I have seen or heard someone do.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Frankly my first draft is a mess. I’m a total pantser and I frequently write scenes and chapters out of sequence. At the beginning, I have the idea for the plot and a few of the characters but others appear as I progress and can lead me off in another direction. My process can be counter-productive – time-wise – as sometimes I have to ditch scenes that I love and really enjoyed writing as they didn’t fit in to the overall plan. I usually write two drafts before printing out and editing on paper. I update the word file and make sure the timeline works. I also save the work as a PDF and read on my iPad. Then I print out again, check timelines, name changes and looking for any plot holes
How did you research Dancers In The Wind? Did you enjoy it?
Some of the research was via the article I wrote about the police and prostitution at King’s Cross (see above) plus other articles I wrote about sex workers. I also interviewed women at the English Collective of Prostitutes and read widely on the subject. Then I let my imagination loose.
Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them
I think we’re all influenced by everything we read and have read – good and bad. I go through phases when one author takes precedence. I am in total awe of Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks but I haven’t enjoyed his later novels as much. Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a recent favourite. I also read a lot of contemporary crime and psychological thrillers.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?
Fiona Shaw is one of my favourite directors/actors – no idea what she’s like in real life but would love to find out. Marilyn Monroe was so much more than a blonde bombshell and she would bring her views about books and movies to the table. And as it looks like an all female guest list I’d include Betty Boothroyd for her political analysis and joie de vivre.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Donald Trump – he’s the epitome of everything I detest in a man and a politician. However if I had a weapon concealed about my person…
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Most of my preferred actors are too slim/glamorous/elegant to play me. However having seen Olivia Colman’s transformation in The Favourite maybe she’d like the challenge of another Queen Anne! Height-wise Lesley Manville would be perfect but she might have to gain a few kilos.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Sitting in my tiny London garden early in the morning listening to the birds and drinking a cup of coffee gives me enormous pleasure along with taking walks along a seafront which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. Being with family and friends is really important – I am blessed with having people around who cheer me on and help me drown my sorrows when necessary. I try to make the most of living in London by going to the theatre, exhibitions and cinema as often as I can and I love wandering in London Parks and along the Southbank.
What is next for you?
Perdition’s Child, the fourth in the Hannah Weybridge series is coming out in March 2020, plus I have an idea for a standalone and another series set in the here and now. However I don’t think I’ve finished with Hannah yet.
Film? It’s a Wonderful Life
Band/Singer? Still love Dusty’s voice
TV show? Killing Eve
Colour? Depends on my mood but often red
Biscuit? Rarely eat them as I’m dairy intolerant
Dancers In The Wind
SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?
Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence.
Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.
Dancers In The Wind is the first book in the series featuring Hannah Weybridge. Hannah is a journalist but when she gets hold of Princess’ story, she struggles to let go and uses her determination and compassion to find justice for her, recognising her as a fellow woman despite their contrasting backgrounds. Hannah’s journey is one that I want to continue to follow.
Princess’ background is very different to my own, but Coates’ research brings the reader into the environment with ease. It is not always comfortable reading, but I could smell the smoke in the pubs she visited, sense her fear and feel her desperation throughout the novel.
The sense of danger in Dancers In The Wind makes the novel incredibly tense and I had no idea who to trust – much like Hannah herself. I was desperate to discover who was responsible and see them brought to justice.
Dancers In The Wind is available from Amazon.
You can book tickets for Morecambe and Vice here..
You can follow the rest of the blog tour here: