- by Anna Jacobs
I can’t believe it! In 1991, I had been trying to get published for about ten years. Then I won a prize and got my first novel published in 1992. This month, July 2010, my 50th novel came out in the UK (‘Beyond the Sunset’). Most of my books are by ‘Anna Jacobs’ but I wrote a few as Shannah Jay too (only available as ebooks now).
People ask me how I keep thinking up new ideas. Even my editors ask me that. Ideas are not the trouble, because the imagination is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it seems to get.
But I never seem to have enough time to write all the stories I want to, even though I write 3 books a year and am speeding up. Characters invade my dreams and nag me to write their tales. I’m trying hard to keep up with them! Well, what else would I do with my time? I certainly won’t ever be remembered for my dusting and ironing!
I write in two genres at the moment (though I have written in four genres over the years, plus some non-fiction). That variety keeps my imagination fresh. Well, I hope it does.
I write historical sagas UK style for one publisher. These are complex romantic novels, but not straight romances. They’re usually about a working class woman battling the odds and winning, with several sub-plots. I couldn’t write a story with an unhappy ending and I don’t seem able to write a story without subplots! I’ve set my novels in all periods from the 1760s to the 1930s.
My favourite era would be just after World War I, when women got the vote and men who’d been in the forces often got a different viewpoint on life. I like trying to understand how the changes would affect people.
I also like writing about the 20-30 years after the coming of the railways in the 19th century, because they too changed people’s lives. In 1851 a quarter of the population of the UK went to see the Great Exhibition in London – most of them by train. That’s a big change in 20 years. Fascinating to picture.
And then there’s Western Australia. Most historical novels set in Australia focus on Sydney and the east coast. I live in the west, as far away from Sydney as California is from New York. It’s different, and its history is different too. So I’ve written about that as well.
I write modern novels set in both the UK and Western Australia, because I spend part of the year in each country and love them both. I have a queue of about 20 modern plot ideas waiting to be told. Sadly, I need sleep every single night, which slows me down. What a waste of writing time that is!
If you see one of my book babies in a shop or on line, give it a cheer, especially No 50. If you’re not in the UK and reading this, you might have difficulty finding my books, but you can get them on line, postage free, from the Book Depository, wherever you are.
I wonder how many books I’ll have written after another 19 years . . .
There is no moral to this tale, no deep message. I’m just sharing my joy with the world. Story-telling is such a wonderful way to spend your life.
I wish you all joy, too.