The Influence of Reading on Writing, A Guest Post by Anne Coates, author of Dancers in the Wind

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I love featuring authors I’ve met and I was fortunate to meet lovely Anne Coates and her wonderful publisher Matthew Smith from Urbane Publications at a recent event. Anne’s book Dancers in the Wind will be released in e-book and paperback exactly a week from today on 13th October 2016 and is available from Urbane, Amazon, Waterstones and all good book sellers.

As I was chatting with Anne we were talking about books in general and I asked if she would like to write for Linda’s Book Bag about the books from her past that have led her to being a writer. Luckily she agreed.

Dancers In the Wind

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Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan.

When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth …. and stay alive.

On Reading and Writing

A Guest Post from Anne Coates

My mother was such a huge influence in my life as she taught me to read before I started school. Oscar Wilde featured early in my life when an older cousin passed on an audio recording of The Happy Prince, which came with a book of beautiful illustrations. I can still recall the thrill I felt every time the narrator said, “Turn the page”. I took great pleasure in introducing my own daughter to his children’s stories and I still get a lump in my throat reading the conclusion of The Happy Prince.

Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five series were staples in my childhood. Maybe it was The Mystery of the Pantomime Cat that engendered my love for crime. While at primary school, I had a “secret” club, which met in our garden shed. We went off on our own “adventures” one of which led to a crime – or did it? I’m still trying to work that perplexing memory into a story.

Our home wasn’t filled with books but my mother filled it with a love of reading and we visited the library every week and borrowed the maximum number of books. She set the example of sitting reading for hours… I read everything I could lay my hands on. Any money I was given for birthdays and Christmas was spent on books. I loved the idea of creating my own library.

Having read the Chalet School books I was delighted a few years ago, to find myself in a hotel, which once was the farmhouse where author Elinor M. Brent-Dyer wrote. I also was a devotee of the Anne of Green Gables and What Katy Did series and like many girls who grew up to become writers I identified with Jo in Little Women.

Alice in Wonderland has always had a special place in my heart as my mother read it to me. Her readings were always captivating performances and this continued when she read to my daughter. I also studied Alice during my degree and I have loved seeing all the various and creative interpretations on TV, cinema and theatre since then.

Just after I had hit my teens, I was seriously ill with double pneumonia and pleurisy. When I was well enough to read, I borrowed my mother’s copy of Gone With The Wind – probably not the best choice as so many characters died of … pneumonia. The Regency romances of Georgette Heyer were far less disturbing on that score.

I had a long period of reading nothing but sci fi and then horror. Dennis Wheatley’s The Devil Rides Out still haunts me – garlic and a crucifix accompany me everywhere. Not really – I carry a gun with the silver bullet.

Which leads me nicely into crime.  There’s something about everyday minor crimes, which escalate into something far more sinister that fascinates me. A twist of fate and lives are irrevocably changed. One of my favourite Robert Frost poems, which I was introduced to at school, is “The Road Not Taken” and this encapsulates the way I begin writing – taking a germ of an idea, a scene or an encounter and then ask “what if..?”

About Anne Coates

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Anne Coates is a freelance editor and author. While editing and abridging other peoples’ novels and non-fiction, she has contributed short stories to magazines like Bella and Candis and wrote two novels that never saw publication. One afternoon she re-read the second one, saw its potential and rewrote it, restructuring the narrative and adding and subtracting scenes. This work became Dancers in the Wind to be published by Urbane Publications on 13 October, 2016.

Some of her short stories appear in two collections: A Tale of Two Sisters and Cheque-Mate and Other Tales of the Unexpected both published as e-books by Endeavour Press. Anne has also written seven non-fiction books ranging from a history of Women in Sport (Wayland) to Applying to University (Need To Know) and Living With Teenagers (Endeavour Press).

Anne lives in London with three cats who are all rather disdainful of her writing as they have yet to appear in her fiction although a dog has!

You can follow Anne on Twitter and visit her website.

6 thoughts on “The Influence of Reading on Writing, A Guest Post by Anne Coates, author of Dancers in the Wind

  1. Lovely post ladies. I was a huge Famous Five fan too, Anne, and I’ve always been drawn to Alice in Wonderland and her adventures. It’s fascinating to see how our reading shapes our writing in this way. Great feature, Linda 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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