In our May author interview we are talking with Scottish born writer, Anne Stormont. (It was an article by Anne, entitled 'Age Matters in Romantic Fiction' which first inspired the website title 'Autumn Chickens'.)
Anne was born in Scotland and although she has travelled all over the world - including a teaching exchange to South Africa, four trips to Australia and several visits to the Middle East - it's where she still lives.
She began making up stories as a child in order to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult, being busy with motherhood and working as a teacher, it took a long time and a mortality wake-up call for her to get that first book written.
She's a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and enthusiastic gardener. She admits that she can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren. Anne's fourth novel 'Fullfilment' will be published on 15th May 2020, and can be pre-ordered now.
Welcome to Autumn Chickens, the new magazine style website devoted to thinking people in mid-life and beyond. Thank you for agreeing to take part in our series of monthly author interviews. Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in Edinburgh and have always lived in Scotland, although I'm lucky enough to have travelled all over the world. The only continent I've still to visit is Antarctica and as huge fan of penguins I should probably try to get there one day. I'm a wife, mother and grandmother and the eldest of five sisters. I have an MA in psychology from St Andrews University and an MSc in education from Edinburgh. I was a primary school teacher for 36 years and took slightly early retirement in order to concentrate on my writing.
When did your writing really take off? What made you decide to pubIish your first book?
I've enjoyed making up stories and writing them down since I was a child. But for a long time it was just a hobby and being an actual writer of novels was just a dream. It took a bit of a wake-up call twenty years ago, - when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer - to convince me to do something about realising my dream. After my diagnosis I did a bit of a deal with fate and said that if I survived, I'd stop procrastinating and get on with writing a book. I did survive and so I got on with keeping my side of the deal. Having said, that it took several years to complete my first novel, and after submitting it to agents and publishers and getting feedback that said although the novel had a lot going for it, they didn't think many readers would want to read a romance where the characters were no longer spring chickens 😊 (the main characters are in their forties). This was at the height of the chick-lit era. So, continuing in the spirit of 'seizing the day', I decided to self-publish and 'Change of Life' arrived in the world in 2010. Ten years and a steep learning curve later, I'm now well-established as an author with a loyal readership and several books published.
How do you feel about writing? Has it made a difference to your life?
I love writing. I love the power it gives me to create imaginary lives and stories and to go on and share them with readers. I can't imagine ever not doing it – certainly don't see myself retiring any time soon – if ever. I love all the aspects – from coming up with the ideas, to getting the story down on paper, to the editing, the publishing and, yes, even the marketing. Writing has made a huge difference to my life. It's immensely satisfying to create something. There's nothing quite like seeing my words printed in an actual book. And not only that, writing has also given me a chance to start a whole new career where I'm my own boss in my own business.
How many books have you published? Do you have any favourites?
I've published four books for adult readers and one for children (the children's one is written under my alter-ego pen-name of Anne McAlpine). Choosing a favourite from amongst them is a bit like being asked to pick a favourite child. I love them all – but if forced, I suppose I'd have to choose my first one as it represented such an amazing breakthrough achievement.
Do you think it is important to write books which feature older protagonists?
While there may be perfectly valid plot-related reasons for not having older protagonists, I do believe it's important not to exclude them simply because of their age. If the story requires that the main characters are middle-aged or older and have a good story to tell, then a writer should feel free to go with that. Life in the real world goes on – in all its messy loveliness - regardless of age and stage in life. And stereotypes – are just that – older people vary as much as younger ones. So, why shouldn't novels reflect that?
Tell us about your most recent book.
My most recent book is Fulfilment. It's the third and final book in my Rachel & Jack, Skye Series and follows on from Displacement and Settlement.
Here's what it says on the book's back cover:
The path of true love rarely runs smoothly…
When former Edinburgh police detective Jack Baxter met local author and crofter Rachel Campbell on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for both of them.
They both had emotional baggage. Jack helped Rachel cope with unimaginable grief after the death in combat of her soldier son, and Rachel was there for Jack after a criminal with a grudge almost ended his life. There were many bumps along the road but they believed they'd worked through and settled their differences.
However, Jack is struggling. Still suffering from post-traumatic stress, haunted by his past, and taunted by the demons of self-doubt, he feels Rachel deserves better.
Meanwhile, Rachel is busy preparing for the launch of her latest book – a book in honour of her son and aimed at promoting peace. So at first she fails to notice just how troubled Jack is.
Can Jack overcome his demons?
Can Rachel convince Jack he deserves to be loved?
Can they finally resolve their differences and fulfil their dreams together?