Tuesday 6 November 2018

Interview: AnneMarie Brear

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I am thrilled to be partaking in the blog tour for The Promise of Tomorrow, a fantastic historical fiction book from author AnneMarie Brear. For my stop on the blog tour, I sat down for a chat with AnneMarie, finding out more about her life, the book, and her passion for writing.

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
I’m AnneMarie Brear, an Australian author. I write historical novels set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras of England and Australia. Apart from writing, I enjoy travelling, reading, researching historical eras and looking for inspiration for my next book.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I’ve always had a very good imagination and read a lot as a child. When I was a teenager, I dabbled in writing romance stories based on Mills & Boons books, and I did an essay at high school which received top marks, which was about re-creating a different ending for a film we’d watched in class. I think that was my first proper taste of writing something that other people thought was good. 
As I grew older, I always had characters in my head which were more like the historical books I read as a teenager. One day when I was home looking after my young children, I started to write my first book, which became, To Gain What’s Lost.
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Tell me about The Promise of Tomorrow.
I found writing The Promise of Tomorrow flowed really well for me. I had an idea of two sisters walking the roads without family or money and what might happen to them. From that small idea, the story grew. Charlotte became a loved character straight away. She has everything I admire, a strength of character, loyalty, is fiercely protective, loving and determined. So when she meets Harry I needed him to see all those qualities and how she was the one for him, even if Charlotte didn’t know it at the time. After being strong for so long, Charlotte finds it tough to let go and rely on someone else. Then when she does do that with Harry, he goes off to war! 
I wanted to show the push and pull of a relationship when outside influences change the way the characters think and feel and how they adapt and cope. I love how Harry thinks he has it all worked out and then suddenly everything changes when war is declared. Also, the secondary characters are just wonderful. Harry’s difficult sister Petra was brilliant to write.
Why did you decide to write about the past?
I love history. I love the idea of writing about what might have happened in those times. There was so much happening – new inventions, new discoveries and events that shattered and shaped the world such as wars. It was a time when people were desperately poor and death rates high, it was a time of opulence and making fortunes. I think the women’s fashion of both Victorian and Edwardian is just so beautiful and feminine. Women were often the hidden power behind the successful men and that is interesting.
What drew you to this era of history?
I enjoy the Edwardian era because of all the changes that happened during that time. Before WWI generally women were at home raising children. They had no voice in the world, little or no power. During WWI women had to step into the roles previously held only by men. They had to go to work and leave the home to help with the war effort. With the men away, women were faced with a freedom they’d never had before. Then, after WWI, the world changed again and women couldn’t be silent anymore. They became more prominent in history and started taking control of their lives by getting the vote, etc. It’s all so fascinating.
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What’s your writing process?
I work full-time so I write when I can fit it in. I start with an idea and simply begin at the beginning. I never know the ending, or how the plot will twist and turn and I enjoy not knowing. I like that my characters’ surprise me and take me on a journey. I try to get the first draft done in about 6 months, then I’ll leave the story alone for a while, it goes to my critique group and then I’ll start the second draft where I add more padding to what I call the bare bones. Then the book goes to my editor. I’ll do another round of edits and then it’s just about ready and the exciting part starts with working with the cover designer, etc. Seeing it all come together as a finished product is hugely thrilling.
Tell me about your journey to getting published.
I started writing in 1997, but it wasn’t until 1999 that I started looking to have my first book published. I knew nothing about becoming published and wasted a lot of time and money posting (no email) my manuscript all around the world to publishers. I didn’t know about agents or slush piles or anything like that. It took me a few years to learn that I was doing it all wrong. Finally, I got the internet and started to join writing groups and I suddenly began to realise that getting published is quite difficult. But I did sign with a small USA publisher and moved on to have an agent in London who managed to get me contracts with Robert Hale - a hardback publisher for libraries. I’ve signed contracts with different small publishers over the years and learned a lot, I’m still learning. Publishing is a tough business. I made loads of mistakes, but I’m happy where I am now, so that’s good.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Taking rejection from either agents or publishers, or someone not loving your book as much as you do. Authors have to gain a thick skin and be determined to keep going even when they think it’s not worth all this time and effort.
What do you love most about writing?
I absolutely love seeing my finished book. Receiving wonderful reviews also is amazing and which I appreciate so much. When I see one of my books doing well on Amazon or a reader has messaged me and told how much they enjoyed reading one of my stories it makes me feel wonderful.
Which authors inspire you?
As a teenager, I read an enormous amount of books of all kinds from Mills & Boon romance to Danielle Steel’s women’s fiction to historical novels written by Catherine Cookson. But the one author who I felt I would like to write similar to was Audrey Howard. She’s not as well known as some of the big names in historical sagas, but every book she wrote was great in my eyes. She has a way of making me care for the characters and makes me feel as though I am right there in each scene. Her female characters are such strong women. I wanted to write like her.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Join writers’ groups, asks questions, read as much as you can about the writing process and the publishing industry. Publishing today is easier than it used to be and that is wonderful. If you can’t get a traditional publishing contract with a major publisher, then publish yourself. Pay for a good editor and good covers and learn how to format your books yourself. Amazon has been brilliant at allowing writers to be in charge of their own writing career. I wish it had been around twenty years ago!
What are you currently working on?
Currently I’m editing a Victorian novel set in York, which will go off to my editor soon, and hopefully will be released early next year. I’m also writing a new story set in colonial Australia, which involves a shipwreck, sheep stations and a handsome man who can’t always get what he wants!
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What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Elizabeth Chadwick’s new medieval novel, The Templar Silks. She is a favourite author of mine.
What’s your all-time favourite book?
Oh, that is the hardest question! If I’m including my books, then it is the Kitty McKenzie series. But not including my own books then it would be Audrey Howard’s The Woman from Browhead, or The Juniper Bush. Both excellent books.
Have any particular books had a big impact on you?
Probably Catherine Cookson’s The Dwelling Place. She was the queen of storytelling.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Like all authors, I’d love to see one of my books made into a movie! Aside from that, I’d just like to keep writing and have readers keep enjoying my stories.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I really enjoy travelling. I’ve been fortunate to live in both Australia and England and I’ve been to several other countries for holidays. I also like touring around the old English country house estates for inspiration. I enjoy spending time with my family, gardening and watching TV and movies.
The Promise of Tomorrow is available to buy now. For more about AnneMarie, you can check out her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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