I’m so glad Anne Goodwin has called in today. I’ve gone down with a terrible virus and I’m nursing a hot toddy and a temperature, feeling very sorry for myself. I’m well enough to make a pot of tea, though, but sadly all I have to offer Anne is the remains of a packet of Hob Nobs. The cupboard is bare until I’m well enough to get to the shops. What a terrible hostess I am today, Anne. It’s lovely to meet you. Your visit has really cheered me up!
Where do you live, Anne? Almost slap in the geographical centre of England in a small town which, with its coalmining history, is probably as far from the metaphorical “middle England” as you can get. It’s a little too far from the coast for my liking, but it’s handy for the Peak District National Park, which I love.
It sounds very like where I went to school. We must have been near neighbours! The Peak District is one of my favourite areas in England.
Where is your favourite place in the world? I’ve travelled a lot, seen some amazing scenery and architecture, and met people whose culture is so different to my own. But it’s always good to come home and, for the past twenty years almost, that’s meant getting out to the Peak District. There’s such a diversity of habitats from wild moorland to pretty villages (with teashops), from woodland to limestone dales, and it’s a fabulous place for a writer as you can wander alone for miles yet are never too far from civilisation (i.e. teashops).
That sums up why I like the Peak District, too!
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? A summer job in a pickle factory in Germany: the tedium; the clanking machinery; the stench of vinegar that lingered in our hair and clothes. We worked an evening shift from 3 to 11 p.m. with a half-hour break during which I stuffed my face constantly and returned to university half a stone heavier. Yet, being the kind of job that invites sabotage and a sense of solidarity among the students lodged in the on-site hostel, it provided an outlet for late-adolescent irresponsibility. And, despite being paid on a lower rate than the locals or foreign men, the money was good.
That sounds terrible! But I expect it’s the sort of place where you made great friends.
What book do you wish you’d written? Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. A botched kidnapping turns into a siege, but it’s more of a love story than a thriller. I’m so impressed by how the author plots the changing relationships between the characters and she keeps you hoping things will turn out well for all these people you’ve come to care about, even though you know, in this type of scenario, they never do.
I loved that book, too.
What’s your favourite song? I tend to like different things for different moods, so it isn’t easy to pick just one. However, I’m going for “The Heavens are Telling” from Haydn’s The Creation because
- it’s probably not what you’re expecting
- even though I’m not a Christian, I love sacred music, especially choral works
- you can watch – and hear – me and 100 others singing it on YouTube
What a lovely piece of music!
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them? Arunachalam Muruganantham is an uneducated man from a poor family in southern India who risked his marriage, and suffered ostracism from his community, to devise a method of manufacturing affordable sanitary protection for rural women. I’d want to know what made him so determined to do something so worthwhile, but at great cost, and absolutely no direct benefit, to himself. But perhaps I should just ask him what, if anything, I could do to help.
I’d never heard this story before. What an amazing man!
What’s your happiest childhood memory? A week’s camping with my dad and my brother in north-west Scotland when I was about twelve. As you might have already gathered, I love those hills and wide-open spaces (although, strangely, I don’t remember teashops).
We took our children camping in Skye once and it was a wonderful holiday!
If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be? Mmm, maybe it’s because I’m drawn to fiction with flawed characters, it’s impossible to envisage marrying any single one of them! Far too creepy!
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? You’ve got to live the life you’ve got, rather than the one you wish you had. Which just so happens to be one of the themes of my novel …
And finally, please tell us about your latest book, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website
My latest book is actually my first: Sugar and Snails, published this month by independent press Inspired Quill. The blurb is as follows:
The past lingers on, etched beneath our skin …
At fifteen, Diana Dodsworth took the opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of her life, and escape the constraints of her small-town existence. Thirty years on, she can’t help scratching at her teenage decision like a scabbed wound.
To safeguard her secret, she’s kept other people at a distance … until Simon Jenkins sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, and he expects Di to fly out for a visit. She daren’t return to the city that changed her life; nor can she tell Simon the reason why.
Sugar and Snails takes the reader on a poignant journey from Diana’s misfit childhood, through tortured adolescence to a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age that challenges preconceptions about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.
It’s available in paperback and e-book from all the usual places, with more information on my website. Although the path Diana takes is unusual, I think anyone could identify with it if they’ve ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin.
Anne Goodwin writes fiction, short and long, and blogs about reading and writing, with a peppering of psychology. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published last week by Inspired Quill. Catch up on her website: annethology or on Twitter @Annecdotist.
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That sounds such an unusual story, Anne. And the cover is very striking, too! I’m really looking forward to reading Sugar and Snails. Thanks so much for dropping in today. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better. Thanks for visiting!
I hope you’ve enjoyed Anne’s interview as much as I have. If you have any questions or comments at all, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!