Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk is back and catching up with author Anna Mansell as she discusses dinner guests and what’s next on her writing agenda…

IMG_0979Good morning Anna and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Morning! Thanks for having me. So, what can I tell you? I’m a northerner living in Cornwall. My life is largely dictated by our rescue Greyhound, Olive Dog. And when she’s not demanding attention, it’s one of the kids. Apparently I have a husband too, the poor bloke rarely gets a look in. We live in a little house on a dairy and thank our lucky stars every single day!

How did your writing journey begin?

Well, it began with a story called the Owl at Home when I was about 6 and ¾’s. A book I still have. But in truth, whilst the Owl was a pretty strong character there was little story arc and the illustrations were not exactly Oliver Jeffers. So from then on, I didn’t write much. Or so I thought, it wasn’t until I moved to Cornwall that I realised I was shoehorning the opportunity to write in to my day job. Reports, strategies, editorial, copy… it was all an excuse to write! When we moved here, back in 2009, I started thinking about characters, stories, little ideas that I wanted to explore. I started many things, finished none of them, until I decided to do what, at the time, Mhairi McFarlane expressly advised aspiring authors NOT to do… I left my job to become a writer. That first morning, I dropped the kids off, I made a cup of tea, and I sat in my chair and I wrote. That first novel will obvs never see the light of day, but the second one – after some HEAVY rewriting and editing, will be my second novel out at the end of July. It took me four years of day in day out graft to get a deal. There was a lot of rejection. There were a few tears. And there was a lot of happy dancing in the frozen aisle at my local Asda when I finally got a contract offer!

Have you ever been tempted to change direction with your writing, say to YA or perhaps children’s books?

As it goes, I started out with children’s books. Several characters including Flame Red Ben, who might make an appearance one day, and a monster in the cupboard who made inexplicable sounds in the night…. Loosely based on my mother and my children and their fear of her health induced snoring. (Sorry Mum!) I soon realised that children’s books were not as easy as their word count would have you believe! I think for now, I’m settled into the books that I write, I’ve loads more stories yet. But who knows, in the future, I’d love to write a radio play one day…

Where do you get your inspiration for your characters from?

They just arrive, somehow. Often from a real-life situation that inspires a train of thought. My books tend to explore themes: grief, survival, self-acceptance, forgiveness, that sort of thing, so there is inspiration all around me. Only once has a character come totally out of the blue, fully formed. In my latest work in progress, there’s a man called James. He has appeared in every one of my novels for the last five years and it’s taken four books before I found his home!

Beach or city? Which location attracts you the most and have you any favourite destination?

If I have to choose from these two, it would be beach, but beach in the winter, when it’s empty! We have some of the most beautiful beaches all around us, and in the winter, we can walk with Olive Dog and stare out to sea. I like the feeling of peace and introspection you get from standing on the shoreline. Cities terrify me. Too many people. Too much noise. Too much… everything. I like little seaside towns, I like fields, I like to avoid the hustle and bustle.

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, can you tell us something about it?
I am! There is a very rough first draft that has lots of things like ‘write more here’ and ‘expand this bit’ in it, so I really need to get my head down and finish it but I confess, I’ve struggled to manage my time of late. By September, I shall focus on getting it finished. It’s a story about love. About the challenges of marriage. The truths behind what makes a successful marriage. It features two couples, one in their early nineties, and another in their late thirties. And James. James is in this one! 😉

And lastly, you are holding a dinner party and are planning to invite four famous guests (either living or dead). Who would you choose and why?

Thora Hird, because I adored her and I love Alan Bennett so she could talk to me about her work with him. Victoria Wood because… god, let me count the ways! She was magical and generous and just down right glorious… what a writer! The Dalai Llama for his wicked sense of humour and all round peace and love, and finally, Grayson Perry because I’m inspired by how his mind works, how he explores and unpicks society through his work, his writing, and lately, the TV he’s done. I think that’s a group that could inspire much fascinating conversation!



The Lost Wife cover

When Ellie Moran passes away, she leaves her newborn son and husband Ed behind her. Their marriage was perfect, their lives everything they had hoped for. So why was Ellie keeping secrets from Ed?

Knowing he can never ask his wife the truth, Ed is struggling to cope. When the secrets threaten to tear his whole family apart, Ed turns to Rachel, the one person who sees him as more than just Ellie’s widower.

But then Rachel discovers something Ellie was hiding, something that would break Ed’s heart. Can Rachel help Ed to find peace without the wife he lost – and a second chance at happiness?

Fans of Sheila O’Flanagan, Amanda Prowse and Kelly Rimmer will love The Lost Wife, the compelling story of a woman’s deepest secrets, and the friends and family who must learn to live without her.


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Read what everyone is saying about The Lost Wife:

‘A story written beautifully… Words are chosen with love and the story just flows seamlessly.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘This book just blew me away… An incredibly emotional read… Highly recommended.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘A lovely story of loss, love and trust… Oh goodness, it was heart-wrenching. This book made me laugh and a little tearful… Well-rounded and developed characters.’ Goodreads reviewer, 4 stars

‘An incredible, beautiful story of loss, love, forgiveness, moving on, overcoming grief, redemption and above all, hope.’ Renita D’Silva

Also by Anna…

How to Mend a Broken Heart

A compelling, heartbreaking tale that will make you laugh, cry and believe in the kindness of strangers. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Lucy Dillon and Miranda Dickinson.

When Rhys is called to the hospital to meet Susan, a woman he barely knows, he is compelled to help her. Still grieving the loss of his brother months earlier, Rhys knows all too well the feeling of loneliness.

There are years between them, but Rhys is the only person Susan will respond to, and when she asks him to bring her her most treasured possession, a book of fairytales, he is intrigued.

Hidden in the book is a clue to Susan’s past, and the painful regrets she carries with her. And as Rhys starts to unearth Susan’s secrets, he finds that his own grief begins to heal too…

Together, Susan and Rhys must learn to live again. Can they help each other to find happiness and finally mend their broken hearts?

How to Mend a Broken Heart is a heart-wrenching and absorbing story about second chances, forgiveness, and making every second count.