Wednesday 9 November 2022

A Slice of Cake With... Anne Coates

Today I am delighted to have a slice of cake with author Anne Coates.

Reading and writing has been Anne's passion for as long as she can remember. Inspired by her mother who taught her to read before she went to school and by the Deputy Head at her secondary school in Harlow, Essex who encouraged her hunger for reading by granting her free access to the books not yet in the school library – she feels still grateful for this, in her eyes, amazing privilege. 

After her degree in English and French, Anne moved to London where she has lived ever since. During her career, she worked for publishers, as a journalist, writer, editor, and translator. The birth of her daughter, Olivia inspired her to write non-fiction books, such as Your Only Child (Bloomsbury, 1996), books about applying to and surviving university, NeedtoKnow 2013, but also short stories, tales with a twist, and stories exploring relationships, published in in various women’s magazines including Bella and Candis. 

After working on Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home, Anne went freelance and found herself interviewing all types of people from those working on gas rigs to prostitutes and some of their situations made her think “What if…” And so, investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge was born.

The Hannah Weybridge series was first published by Urbane Publications who ceased trading in April 2021. New editions of Dancers in the Wind, Death's Silent Judgement, Songs of Innocence plus Perdition’s Child have been released by Red Dog Press in preparation for the publication of the latest, Stage Call on 18 January, 2022.

Anne Coates lives with three demanding cats and enjoys reading, going to the theatre and cinema, wining and dining and time with her family and friends.

What kind of books do you write?

I write the type of books I enjoy reading. My current series featuring freelance journalist and single parent Hannah Weybridge is set in the 90s so not quite historical. The crimes Hannah investigates involve injustices (as well as murder). Sadly many of the themes are pertinent today like trafficking, child abuse and forced marriage.

Can you describe your writing why?

My motivation comes from the stories in my head, which have to be told. Much of my inspiration for my series (and short stories) comes from my earlier journalism. I take the kernel of an idea and begin the “what if” process. There are lows and highs in being an author sometimes the lows prevail but when the highs hit there is no better motivation.

Share with us your favourite passage from the book you enjoyed writing the most

Always difficult to make such a choice but here’s the opening paragraphs from Perdition’s Child.

The stairwell echoed with the ungainly clump of her footsteps. Her weathered walking boots with unmatched laces knotted and frayed were far too hot and heavy for summer—even with the flow of air offered through various holes—and these last few weeks had been sweltering. Her feet were hot and clammy; a blister had formed where the back rubbed her heel. Whenever she removed her socks, layers of skin flaked away. Her feet, more than any other part of her body, disgusted her. Between her toes were signs of an infection. She’d tried talking to the chemist in Boots down The Marsh, but he wanted to see her feet. Her embarrassment overcame her discomfort, so she left without showing him. But these boots were the only footwear she possessed. Flip-flops, she thought. Or those plastic sandals. What were they called? Jellies. Silly name. They were cheap. She should store these bloody boots somewhere or better still, get rid of them. And her feet could heal in the sun and air.

Her clothes, which had long since lost any of their original colour or shape, stuck to some parts of her body and hung from others. Beneath her skirt, the flesh at the top of her thighs was rubbed raw. There were times when she wished she could peel off her skin and start again. In the depths of night, when no one could see her, she wept. Tears were sometimes the only liquid to touch her face for days on end. A caress no person would give.

She paused at the second landing, breathing heavily. The smells of leftover food wafted over from the waste disposal chute with its ornate black front, which opened but never completely closed on what had been thrown into it. Lucy wondered if anyone ever cleaned it. Her mother used to. Not here, but in the similar block of 1930s flats they had lived in nearby. Her mother had scrubbed the steps as well. The steps she used to run up two at a time in her eagerness to get home. How long ago was that? Too long ago to think about. A lifetime ago.

On the third floor she rested against the wall, rubbing her hand, sticky from the balustrade, on her skirt. One more bit of dirt wouldn’t show. She stared out over the sun-dappled square. Everywhere looked so much better in the sunshine. Strangely, there was no one around. No kids on skateboards. No dealers loitering in the shadows. No one screaming obscenities from an open window. An enormous ginger cat, balancing precariously on a window ledge, stared at her disdainfully for a moment, then carried on with his meticulous grooming. Everywhere seemed still and quiet. Unnaturally so. Maybe the heat had sucked out the energy from the residents. 

Tell us about your latest project

My latest Hannah Weybridge, Stage Call, was published in January by Red Dog Press who have just published new editions of the previous four books originally released by Urbane Publications. Stage Call is my lockdown book. I had started writing a standalone psychological thriller but was finding concentration difficult. Then I had a “vision” for another Weybridge investigation (the inspiration for my books often begins with an image or scene). This one was on stage in a theatre. I chose The Old Vic as it is a theatre close to my heart; somewhere my mother went with her mother as they lived in Waterloo.

In Stage Call, Hannah was helping to write the autobiography of a leading actress, a “national treasure” who is found dead on stage. Suicide is suspected but her son, another actor, is convinced otherwise and sharing his concerns with Hannah, begs her to help. Once again the journalist steps into a minefield of corruption. 

What is your favourite cake?

I have a problem with finding cakes I can eat as I am dairy intolerant and also aim to be gluten free (as my daughter is allergic). However I have a great recipe (gluten and dairy-free) for lemon drizzle cake, which has become a firm favourite.

You can connect with Anne at the following places:

Twitter: @Anne_Coates1
Instagram: @anne_coates1

Join me next week when I will be having a slice of cake with Jessica Thompson. 

If you would like to take part in A Slice of Cake With... please fill in the form found here. I'd be delighted to have you.

You can also support my writing endeavours through Kofi and buy me tea & cake - it's what makes the world go round!

Claire Buss is a multi-genre author and poet, completely addicted to cake. Find out more about her books on her website Join the discussion in her Facebook group Buss's Book Stop. Never miss out on future posts by following me.

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