Friday, January 25, 2008

Interview With Anna Jacobs

I’d like to welcome our guest today, multi-published novelist Anna Jacobs, who writes historical and modern novels. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called ‘Tomorrow’s Promises’. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

‘Yesterday’s Promises’ takes place in 1919, just after the first World War ends. I’m interested in what might have happened to women who did men’s jobs during the war and then were expected to go back to their old household roles. My heroine, Ellen, has worked as a driver and mechanic in London but is forced by her mother’s illness to return to Lancashire after the war and the only job is her old position as housemaid. She buys the motor cycle she has used and travels home on that—which outrages some people. Her employer is as vicious as ever and her violent stepfather is determined to marry her off to a man she hates. However, she has an ally in Seth Talbot, the new local policeman, who is determined to bring order to a town where the law has been flouted for years. Little do either of them realise how corrupt so-called respectable people can be and how dangerous when cornered. But along with danger comes love - and who can resist that?

‘Tomorrow’s Promises’ is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

When the 1914-18 war was coming to an end, people in England were promised a land fit for heroes. Nobody promised anything to the women who’d filled all the men’s jobs and risked their lives working in munitions factories. So my story is about what might have happened to women in the promised new tomorrow.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

I always do a lot of research for my historical novels, and luckily, I find it interesting. I try very to get my facts correct. Before I started writing historicals, I did a year-long unit at university covering the history of my period (1750-1950) which helped give me good foundations for future detailed research. I’m not interested in political history, but in social history. And even so, I’m not interested in the rich and famous but how ordinary people (especially working and middle class women) lived their daily lives. Quite often the women’s side of history hasn’t been the focus of novels, so there are some wonderful situations that I can use as background and give my readers something a bit different. For example, most books about World War I focus mainly on war and the trenches. Mine are about the women’s side of things, especially life on the home front, both during the war years and just afterwards. I have several published set against that background.

What character did you like writing about the most, and why?

My heroine, of course! It’s always the heroine who fascinates me. I feel these ‘women’ give me a chance to taste life in a different age. Readers write in to tell me they felt as if they were ‘there’ and I feel just the same. I love it! And Ellen was facing so many challenges, in a world where women had little power over their lives and few choices. But I’ve read autobiographies of that period and there were some wonderful women who did incredible things against all the odds. I try to create heroines like that - and then give them a good man to love. I don’t go for macho heroes, but for caring, strong, intelligent men of the era.

Actually, I love all my characters - except for the villains. I always do long, complex stories with several sub-plots. I got very caught up in the life of Ronnie (short for Veronica), the second lead in ‘Tomorrow’s Promises’. She’s from a better-off background, had worked in the Land Army during the war and met a man her mother considered unsuitable. She too wanted to change her life from what had been expected before the war.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Now that’s a hard one to answer because I don’t watch a lot of movies. I’m too busy writing three novels a year! I had to ring my daughter to consult her - and we came to the conclusion Pierce Brosnan would be perfect for the part. Gorgeous, strong and sensitive.

Do you have any authors that have inspired you?

Many, for which I thank them. I read at least three books a week and have learnt a lot from analyzing the particularly good ones. First of all, Georgette Heyer. My first book published was a regency romance in her style, which won a $10,000 prize in 1991. After that I found my own voice, but it was because of her I developed a love of history. Then later on I started writing modern family relationships novels (always with a romance central to the story) because I enjoyed reading them so much. I now write for two publishers, historical sagas for one and modern novels for the other.

Among my many favourite authors, from all of whom I’ve learned something, are C J Cherryh (SF/F, fascinatingly complex stories), Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy (complex family/friends’ stories), Nora Roberts (wonderful characters, dialogue and male/female relationships), Catherine Cookson (historical sagas, UK style), Katie Fforde (modern relationships stories). I read modern, historical and SF/F most.

What do we have to look forward in 2008?

JUNE: ‘Kirsty’s Vineyard’ in paperback - modern woman in jeopardy/romance. Kirsty is an English librarian, who unexpectedly inherits a small vineyard in Australia from an elderly client, on condition she goes to live there for at least a year, without her domineering brother. She gets more than she bargained for - including romance.

JULY: ‘Yesterday’s Girl’ - paperback of historical saga set in 1919. Vi has been a personal assistant to a special intelligence squad during World War I, and saved lives in the bombing. She’s a widow now, thanks to the war, and she definitely isn’t going back to work in her family’s small corner shop. What she finds when she returns to her home town is danger and romance and a wonderful new future - if she and Joss can make it happen.

JULY: hardback of ‘Freedom’s Land’, (paperback January 2009) a novel set in 1925 about the group settlement days in Western Australia, where ex-soldiers were given forest land, then loaned the money to clear it and set up farms - in a scheme which wasn’t well thought out. Life was very hard, and some settlers failed, some succeeded. Add to this a marriage of convenience, because only married men got the land and the hero was a widower with children, and a complex cast of fascinating characters, and you get a rich tale of human endurance and triumph. I think this is one of the best stories I’ve ever written. I think American readers will love this, as they’ll be able to relate to the settlers theme.

LATER 2008 (date not yet set): ‘Chestnut Lane’, modern story. I saw an interview with Paul McCartney and it made me wonder what happens to ageing pop stars? Do they ever settle down? They may do if they meet the right woman. But if you throw into the equation a son the star didn’t know, plus two grandchildren, the heroine’s rebellious daughter who is giving her a lot of trouble, and a stalker who is prepared to hurt the hero and anyone connected to him . . . well, it isn’t easy for love to flourish.

Thanks, Anna!

Thanks for having me.

To celebrate her book release, Anna Jacobs is offering a free copy of ‘Tomorrow’s Promises’ to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio: Anna’s first novel was published in 1991 and she now has 41 novels published. She lives in a waterside house in Western Australia for 8 months of the year, and in her UK holiday home for the English summers (which may or may not be sunny!) so that she can catch up with her family there and do some research and PR for her books. She is still married to the love of her life, and they have two daughters and a recent grandson.

Check out author’s website at where you can read first chapters of her books.

Join her readers’ newsletter by emailing her at

Buy books from (postage free anywhere in the world) or any on line bookshop, as well as ordering them from bookshops if they’re not in stock.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
Your book sounds so intruging. I love time period pieces. That era has always sounded so romantic to me, and I've always wondered what did happen to the women when the men returned from war. Best of luck with the sales!

Isabella said...

Wow, I love the 1920's and how women found freedom in so many things. I can't wait for the book!!! Isabella

Tia Dani said...

Hi Anna,

I enjoyed your interview. Your book(s) sound wonderful. I have always been interested in that particular time period. My mother was born in 1914 and I loved her stories of her brothers coming home from the war. Even though she was only a little girl she had vivid memories of how her family was so happy to have the boys home.

Plus, any story that Paul McCartney sparked a 'what if' is one I'm wanting to read. I'll be watching for Chestnut Lane!

Carrie Weaver said...

Anna, thanks so much for stopping by! For a while, it seemed publishers were leery of the WWI and WWII eras. Do you think they're starting to see that there's interest in those time periods?

Kimberlee said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. Congratulations, Anne.


Kathryne Kennedy said...

We have some favorite authors in common, Anna.:} Wonderful interview!

Sherry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tina LaVon said...

Welcome to Much Cheaper Than Therapy. I enjoyed your interview and was glad to read that publishers are buying books about the WWs.

Wishing you great success,

Anonymous said...

Good morning,
Anna was having trouble with posting to the blog over the weekend so she asked me to do it on her behalf.

Anna said:

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your comments. Glad I'm finding others who love the 1920s era.

Sorry I'm so late responding, but I suddenly got the editing for Chestnut Lane and spent 10 hours glued to my computer yesterday going through it - have to do a similar day today.

Why editing for one book always arrives when you're deeply immersed in the next book, I don't know!

Happy reading to you all.

Anna Jacobs

Aunt Connie said...

Hi Cathy,

You interview was most enlightening. Here I am your critique partner and I didn't know that much about you. Well, actually I do, but I didn't have much interesting stuff to say. God forbid I ever have to do a blog. I love your book, I loved it when it wasn't even finished and know it's going to be a hit.

See you at breakfast on Friday.