Café Cala welcomes Anna Jacobs

Hi Anna, welcome to Café Cala,

Anna Jacobs

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I’m a great admirer of your writing. I’ve Ioved all of your books and found A Time to Remember fully met my expectations with a bevy of characters I came to love. It’s a wonderful addition to my Anna Jacobs library. I’ve been making a raspberry and coconut loaf this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Lovely to be here. The cake sounds yummy. How about a glass of white wine?

Wine it is!

1 Where did you get the idea for A Time to Remember?

My publisher wanted a story series set in the 20th century and for a while I’ve been wanting to write about the time after WW2, because there are already plenty of books set during the war. ‘A Time to Remember’ is part of the Rivenshaw Series, set in an imaginary town in Lancashire. I was born at the beginning of the war and remember the after-war years quite well, if with a child’s eye, so that’s what I wrote about. I thought I’d be writing a series set over several years, but actually, so far I’m just finishing Book 3 and I’m still in 1945. Stories are like that. Some gallop across the months and years, this one is travelling more slowly.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

Just about everything! I love telling stories, so the writing itself is a joy. I love hearing from readers and knowing I’ve given them pleasure. It feels good to put positive things out into the world to balance off the sadness and mindless violence. I don’t mind the money, either. I work hard, writing three novels a year, and earn a comfortable living. I love doing the research and finding out things about the history of my two countries (I started off in the UK and emigrated to Australia, but sill visit the UK every year.) And I love the way writing takes me out into new places eg giving a talk in a small Australian country town. I went to Wagin last year (population about 1500) to give a talk and had a great time.

3 How did you start writing?

I started making up stories and imaginary playmates when I was two, and told myself stories from then onwards. I didn’t start writing seriously until my late twenties, when I was teaching French, and wrote several textbooks. I moved on to writing novels – much more fun! – and got my first novel published in 1992, after several years of trying. Submitting took a lot longer in pre-Internet days when you had to wait for snail mail post to go to and fro.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

My wild and wacky imagination primarily, backed up by my lovely husband’s support. They’re the foundation stones of my writing. Also, I started writing while working full-time, so learned to apply myself in spite of whatever else was going on in my life. I definitely do not waste time fiddling about on line when I have a story to write. I write steadily every day and it helps to stay ‘inside’ the story. I’m very persistent something so I just go on until a story is finished. It doesn’t hurt that I learned to touch type to make sure I could work quickly. I write three novels a year.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished the ‘dirty draft’ of the third Rivenshaw book (out of 4). It still needs polishing but I need to get a little distance from it to see it clearly, so I’ve started on the third and final in my Greyladies series. This series is written for another publisher and is set from 1900 to the end of WW1. These stories have moved quickly across the years, unlike the Rivenshaw books.

The stories are set mainly in Wiltshire and Greyladies is an ancient house passed down the female line of the Latimer family since the 16th century. It’s watched over by the founder, who is now the family ghost. Book 3 (Legacy of Greyladies) is set in the later years of the first world war and part of its backdrop is the founding of the Women’s Institutes in the UK.

The WI is a massive organisation of thousands of women’s groups all over the UK, founded in 1915 and still going strong. They have a very distinguished history. They were extremely helpful to the country during WW2, particularly with food supplies, at a time when just about everything was rationed and in short supply. The WI has been hugely influential in bringing women out into public life and they do things for their local communities as well as for their own enjoyment.

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Stop talking about it and do it. An occasional writing workshop or how-to book can help, but that’s not writing! What helps most of all is practising and developing your craft. And please, please, remember that it usually takes more than one whole book written to learn to write at a professional standard. Even if you’re going for independent not traditional publishing, hold back on self-publishing your first book, and probably your second. (You can polish them later, they’re not going to be wasted.) Trust me. You need practice and writing one book can’t give you enough. You also need outside input on how it’s shaping eg editors, critique group, beta readers. Don’t rush. Go for quality and wait till you’ve got your writing to a professional standard before sending it out in the world. It’s like the difference between a home-made cake made from a packet mix and a pastry chef’s beautiful and luscious cake.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

Georgette Heyer – I think her best books are superior to Jane Austen

Nora Roberts – especially her earlier novels and not her gruesome ones

Robyn Carr

PG Wodehouse

Jacqueline Winspear

Anne McCaffrey

Lillian Stewart Carl

. . . and lots of others. I read at least three novels a week.



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The war in Europe is over. Most women can’t wait for their men to return, but in the small town of Rivenshaw in Lancashire, Judith Crossley fears having her bullying husband back and decides to leave him. Maynard Esher lives on the other side of the park. He’s returning from the war to turn his ancestral family home into flats, because there isn’t enough money to keep it, let alone repair the mess left when the War Office requisitioned it for use as a hospital. Can the two of them make a better life for themselves and those they love?

More about the book can be found on my website and you can read the first chapter there:

My Facebook page is ‘Anna Jacobs Books’.

You can find out all sorts of things there.

The book is coming out in hardback and can be bought or ordered from any bookshop or online bookshop in the UK and Commonwealth countries. The trade paperback edition comes out in Australia and New Zealand only. The book can also be bought on line from The Book Depository, postage free to Australia.


3 thoughts on “Café Cala welcomes Anna Jacobs

  1. Wise advice here on not rushing to publish. I agree that the diversion of email and internet can eat up precious writing time and needs to be controlled. A Time to Remember is a great read , with Anna’s usual plot twists and turns drawing the reader along. I look forward to Book two.

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