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Anne Whitfield-Historical Author

Today starts a new feature on the site an author’s blog. Here is historical author Anne Whitfield to start things off-

http://www.annewhitfield.com/
http://annewhitfield.blogspot.com

 

I can’t remember when I decided I would be a writer. One day I simply put fresh paper in the type writer and instead up writing up family history information, I started typing the story that was in my head.

When I was younger, I wrote stories at school, but back then I didn’t dream of being an author. In high school I co-wrote a Mills & Boon story with my best friend, but even then, I didn’t think being an author was my future. However, my head was, and still is, full of characters speaking to me. When I lived in England, high on a hill in a very old farm house, missing my old life in Australia, I would walk the countryside for miles listening to the characters in my head.

I was always a reader though, from a young age starting with Enid Blyton’s book, such as The Wishing Tree.  During a very difficult three years in England, reading saved my sanity. I lost myself in books. I was a savage reader and read continually. As soon as one book was finished I’d start another. The books I read where a mixture of Mills & Boon romances and thick historical saga novels. The romances gave me some lightness in my world which at times was frequently dark. The sagas, such rich stories of young women suffering from different circumstances, who then beat the odds, were the lifeline that made me feel I wasn’t alone and if they could survive what happened to them, then so could I. The heroines in those sagas gave me hope, they shared my despair, they become my friends and I loved each and every book.

My favourite author at this time was the late Catherine Cookson. I devoured her books on a weekly basis, not going to bed until 2am, or until my dad knocked on my bedroom door and told me to go to sleep. Catherine Cookson had a style of storytelling that drew me in from the first page. My favourite books of hers where The Whip, the Tilly Trotter trilogy, The Dwelling Place, but in truth, all her books touched me in some way. My mum would go to the markets and buy whatever CC books she could find for me. We were not only poor, but bankrupt from a farming failure, but she’d find a few pence to buy me my books, which (in my mind) saved my life. I suppose that sounds dramatic, but I’d been ripped from a very good life in Australia. I had the sunshine, friends, school, a nice house, family and money. We ended up in a 250 year old farmhouse with no running water in winter, our money gone, and my mother having a nervous breakdown. I was 14 years old. Books became my life.

They still are to this day.

As I grew older and we moved back to Australia I started to read more widely of other genres, but my comfort reads would always be some form of historical saga type novel. I collected the entire Poldark series, and enjoying a series I found the Australians series, by William Stuart Long (Vivian Stuart) and realised there were some great saga type novels set in Australia, too.

It was only when I actually started to write my own novels that I slowed down on reading historical sagas. I was frightened I would use similar plot lines, etc. So I turned to reading medieval fiction and romantic comedies and historical fiction set in other eras away from Victorian and Edwardian because those are the two main periods I set my books.

Now I spend most of my reading time on researching, which is another great love of mine. However, I do find the time to read as many books as I can. And, every now and then, I relax my own rules and will now buy a historical saga again as a special treat.

I do buy Audrey Howard’s books the day they are released. I have every book of hers and she is another author who has made me laugh and cry and who will always be listed as a favourite author of mine.

So, even though my time in England wasn’t always ideal, it did give me some things I will always treasure, my best friend Samantha, the love of history and the joy of reading saga novels.

 

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10 thoughts on “Anne Whitfield-Historical Author

  1. Hi Anne, I was fascinated to hear of your early childhood and the events which shaped your writing life. I have already read some of your books and loved them and am very excited you have your new one out..it is on my TBR list. You are right, the difficult times in our lives are often what make us dig inside to find a better life and then use that imagination to craft our fiction! Good luck with the book.
    Jo

  2. It is strange how adversity in our backgrounds brought many of us to be writers. I guess writers are people who internalise problems and writing can be a catharsis. You are not alone in the way you began writing, Anne!

  3. I found this personal and fascinating to read. The motivation and spark behind an author’s writing is not always something a reader needs to know, but when it is framed well, and written well, it does explain certain choices that author makes.

  4. Anne, reading was a life saver in many ways for me as well. I like your term, *savage reader*. I read as many books as I could.

    I think I started with falling in love with historicals (gothics) with Victoria Holt at, oh, I think I was 12. My mom and I read Menfreya In The Morning. I didn’t read a lot of romance growing up–all my books had to come from the library at school which also was the community’s library. I did read a lot of fiction and I sure read a lot of non fiction historical books–loved history. I did have two historical favorite authors when I was 14/15. Old authors but their books were still in the library at school–Gwen Bristol and Elswyth Thane. Bristol wrote a lot of stories set in Revolutionary times of the US from colonization through the war. Thane did the same and that was the first series for adults I read. Hers started in England during the Georgian period, came to America all the way up through WWI and II with the same family. (Jude Deveraux did that too many years later) I re-read Thane’s series so many times. I looked at the hardships they went through, the heartbreak and knew I would survive anything with the same indomitable spirit.

    Glad you’re back in sunny Australia and taking your turn at engrossing another generation.

    Sia McKye’s Thoughts…OVER COFFEE

  5. Hello Anne – quite a life story. It sounds like it could become a work of fiction (smile). I’m sorry for your tough times, but it’s usually those kinds of experiences that make the best fodder for fiction. Thank you for sharing your history as it brought you into the writing world. Interesting and intriguing.
    Congratulations on The House of Women.

  6. Thank you to everyone who has commented. I really appreciate your kindness and lovely words.

    Sia, I will have to find Elswyth Thane’s, books! They sound great. Thanks.

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