Meet the Author: Anna Jacobs

ANNA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Write your first novel, polish as much as you can, then set it aside and write another. Yes, it’s a significant achievement to complete a whole novel, but your first effort is not likely to be wonderful, just as a carpenter’s first piece will be faulty. After your second novel is finished and polished, go back to your first novel and you’ll see how to improve it. Time is the best polisher, especially for writers beginning their careers. Repeat this prescription, gradually writing more novels, until publication occurs. You can then go back and improve your learning pieces.

Do not self-publish your first book, or even your second. You’ll regret it when you become more skilled. My first book is still unpublished, because as I grew to understand more about what makes a professional standard of writing, I saw that it didn’t have a good enough plot. It taught me so much about writing that it was worth while doing, but the story is resting in peace now.

I know this is an instant world, but athletes don’t expect to win a big race when they’re juniors developing their muscles and skills, and writers shouldn’t expect to become a best-seller with their first books, either. There are exceptions to every so-called rule, but not many!

Anna Jacobs

Anna lives in Western Australia, but regularly visits the UK, where she was born, to do research, because her books are set in both countries. She’s addicted to story telling and has had more than 60 novels published – and she’s not finished yet! New characters keep invading her dreams and nagging her to write about their lives and adventures. She’s been happily married to her own hero for many years. They have two grown-up daughters and one grandson. Anna writes both historical and modern tales, and enjoys the variety. She usually produces three books a year.

Anna’s website at http://www.annajacobs.com  has a lot of information including a page for each novel, a photo gallery and a lists of each series. Her latest books are The Trader’s Gift, #4 in the five-part historical series, In Search of Hope, #2 in the modern romantic suspense series, and Heir to Greyladies, #1 in the historical Wiltshire trilogy.

Anna is also very excited to have just re-published some of her earlier books, which had been out of print for a while. She’s done this via Amazon’s Createspace. Go to any of the Amazon websites and click on ‘Books’ in the search box list, then type ‘Anna Jacobs Createspace’ into the box to see the complete list.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Because my head is full of stories and I love telling them. I’ve been living with an imagination full of stories and ‘people’ since I was two. In fact, I call myself a storyteller, not a writer. I also write because it makes me happy to give people pleasure. I consider myself part of the entertainment industry. There are enough bleak things happening in the world without me adding to them.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I can’t imagine that. I’d probably fade sadly away. I’m no good at sport – well, pitiful is a better word for it. I’m restricted on travel because of multiple food intolerances. But in writing, very little restricts me. Nope, couldn’t live without my story-telling

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? There were three obstacles. The first was distance. I lived in Australia and wrote books set in the UK, so needed a publisher there. Publishers are pretty ethnocentric (unless they’re dealing with aliens or ghosts). And when I started trying to get published, we didn’t have the Internet so everything had to be snail mail or fax or phone – which took a long time. The second obstacle was the publishing industry itself, which didn’t make it easy for new novelists to get a hearing. And it was as hard to find an agent to help me as to find a publisher. It still is. The third obstacle was other writers. There was a lot of competition even then, though there is more now.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? There isn’t any single thing that’s ‘best’. I love nearly everything about it. So really, doing what I love best is the main thing, ie telling stories. This means going into other worlds via my imagination and through research, and it gives me a richly enjoyable mental life.

Writing takes me to places I’d not have gone and I meet such interesting people. I recently gave a talk in a small wheatbelt town in Western Australia – Wagin, population 1,500. The people of that small town, working with volunteers, put on one of the nicest events I’ve ever appeared at. I didn’t just give a talk. I stayed on for a sit-down luncheon with about 60 people. The food was wonderful, prepared and served by volunteers. I have food intolerances, but they’d worked hard to cater for that. And everyone was so friendly it was a pleasure to talk to them.

—the worst? Doing the proof reading for the final version of a book, the one which is going to the printers. By that time, I know the story backwards and don’t want to read it again. I can’t alter it, unless it’s something drastic, so just have to re-read and search for commas, full stops, typos, etc. This task has to be done, but it is not fun and it’s very hard on the eyes. By that stage, I’d far rather be writing a new story.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Not much. You learn to write by writing, not by attending university or playing around on the Internet, or even meeting other writers. Like a sportsperson, a writer can’t learn to write by reading about it. You have to do it. So the main thing would stay the same. I’d write several books, each one (hopefully) better than the one before, till I got it right. Then I’d go back and re-write the early ones. What would be different and easier is the communication side of writing. I’d find things out more quickly. The Internet and emails have brought the world closer to Australia, and vice versa.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I didn’t wait to be told and would advise newer writers to do the same, go forth and find out. I discovered all sorts of details about the craft and business sides by reading how-to books, studying brilliant nutshell remarks by established authors, going to talks. (Nowadays I’d go on the Internet as well, obviously, and read some writers’ blogs.)

The crucial thing was, I wrote the nutshell remarks down so that I’d not forget them, and could refer to them regularly. They taught me so much. I still have about 500 of them on file and check through them when looking for other people’s wisdom to offer along with my own knowledge when I’m giving a writing course.

One of the best nutshells I found was this: “Give your reader a piece of your mind – not all of it,” by Ansen Dibell. This is so true and I wish I’d found it sooner. You mustn’t overload anything: plot development, characterisation, information. If you tell too much too soon, why would people bother reading on?

What’s the best advice you were ever given? I had a lot of good advice, because writers are very generous people. A particularly good one was: if you want to get good emotional depth to your writing, the things at stake must matter. You can’t get emotional depth with whether the heroine burns the dinner! It seems obvious, but it isn’t applied well by beginning writers.

{Visit the Author Bookshelf page for a snapshot of one of Anna’s new releases and a link to where to buy it.}

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10 thoughts on “Meet the Author: Anna Jacobs

  1. No truer words were ever said by a real live practising author. It takes time, experience, and lots of books. Readers can spot a novice at 20 paces, and when they do, they turn away. And yes, the generosity Anna speaks of is legendary – and is seen even here!

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  2. Fabulous interview! Thanks Anna and Teena. Lots of great advice indeed. I’d love to see those 500 or so nutshell remarks, Anna. Maybe one a day or one a week on your website? Thanks, too, for continuing to produce wonderful books year after year. I have collected quite a few. I love them!

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    1. Hi, everyone

      Thanks for the comments.

      Nora, I have a Facebook page where something is posted every few days – not ‘Anna Jacobs’ which is about to close, but ‘Anna Jacobs Books’.

      Have to admit that having moved house yesterday, I’m rather tied up with unpacking boxes at the moment. Over 100 boxes of books, for example . . .

      Happy writing!

      Anna

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  3. I do marvel at the way you keep turning out the stories, in the middle of travel, health issues and an entire house move. You must have a special circuit in your brain, just for story telling. You will obviously be writing when St Peter taps you on the shoulder, and you will crossly tell him to wait a minute, you haven’t finished the story!

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  4. So True. I often say people who have not painted a picture since leaving school don’t take up painting again in their thirties and expect a major gallery to hang their first piece… but I really like Anna’s sporting reference.

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