Hello to everybody. My last interview was pretty successful, lots and lots of views, so I’ve managed to nab another interview from a Bluemoose Books champion. Anna Chilvers is the author of East Coast Road, my best fiction winner of 2020 (the awards don’t get much bigger than that…in your face Nobel Prize!), I am super excited to be asking odd questions to Anna. Please stop dunking biscuits in your tea and welcome Anna to this here interview.
Q1: How have you been handling the pandemic? Done anything embarrassing?
I’ve been teaching online a lot. The other day I got to the end of a class and realised my top was on inside out. I guess I could have done that in real life, but someone might have pointed it out to me. I have, on occasions, only got dressed on the top half, and taught in my pyjamas. Other than that, I’ve been baking bread, making smoothies, doing yoga and walking a lot. I lost my dog last summer, so I’m suffering from dog envy. I’ve managed to resist kidnapping a puppy so far.
Q2: Tell us a bit about East Coast Road, what is it about and how did you come up with the idea?
Jen, the main character of East Coast Road, forms a relationship with St. Etheldreda, an Anglo Saxon princess, and travels with her down the east coast of England. This relationship was formed in a different (unpublished) novel which I started nearly twenty years ago. That novel was abandoned, but the connection between Jen and Ethie stayed alive, and I revived it for this novel.
Etheldreda ran away from her husband, who was the King of Northumbria. On her journey various miracles happened, which helped her along the way. I wanted Jen and some of the other characters to go on this journey with Ethie. I knew some of the route, but not all of it, so I applied to the Arts Council and was lucky enough to get funding to walk five hundred miles from St.Abbs in Scotland to Ely in Cambridgeshire.
Q3: This here blog is the Gnome Appreciation Society and whilst reading East Coast Road I noticed no Gnomes, there must have been plenty of Gnomes walking the same route, and yet they don’t get a mention….any chance of a complete re-write?
There would have been some Gnomads, I’m sure. But they are very shy creatures, and when you spot them they freeze and pretend to be garden ornaments. So Jen and Ethie might not have realised the Gnomads were walking the route with them.
Ahhh the pun gnomes are the hardest to spot.
Q4: Seeing as we are now in another lockdown and many people are having to do home schooling, is there any speciality lessons you could offer? (You don’t have to actually carry out the lesson…JK You actually do)
What to do with too many bananas when you don’t want to make banana bread. The answer is to freeze them and use them to make smoothies and ice-cream. Though that lesson might be over quite quickly as there’s not much to it, so maybe I could offer a course in Gnome photoshop skills, or walking long distance trails virtually during lockdown.
The virtual walking tours is a good idea.
Q5: I see from your blog that you enjoying reading, what is your favourite book and do you remember the first book you fell in love with?
I read so much as a child, and devoured all the books I could get my hands on. One of the first I loved was The Secret Island by Enid Blyton – I really wanted to run away to an island and live in a cave after I read that, even though I had nothing to run away from. It’s hard to say what my favourite book is, there are so many. Maybe Middlemarch. I come from the same town as George Eliot and feel a strong connection to her. Another contender is The Count of Monte Cristo, as it’s both a fantastic adventure, and really long, so that cold-water moment when you get to the end of a really good book is delayed as long as possible.
Q6: What set up do you have for writing? Nice view? Also when drinking tea which is the best biscuit to dunk?
I either write at home at the kitchen table, or in my office. The view is OK, but I’m in the valley and the view is best higher up. To make the most of it I get out for regular walks (sans dog at the moment 🙁 ). Most definitely gingernuts.
Q7: When writing are there any words you love to use? What is your favourite rude word?
I used the word ‘plash’ in East Coast Road, which various editors tried to change to splash. I like it as it’s softer without the sibilance of the s. It’s the sound of water lapping quietly and it’s onomatopoeic. My favourite rude words are anglo saxon and have strong vowels. They are very satisfying to say.
Q8: If you could go into a book or movie as one of the characters which book would you choose and how would you influence the story?
I think I’d have to be Spiderman (or woman) as it would be so much fun climbing buildings and swinging through the air. The story would change because I’d be far too busy enjoying myself to stop any bad stuff happening in the neighbourhood, so the baddies would get away with it.
Q9: What is your favourite meal? And if you could pick one person to share that meal with who would you pick?
Cheese and olives and bread and tomatoes and wine and more cheese. My companion should be someone who doesn’t like olives so that I can eat them all. I’d really like to invite loads of friends who I haven’t been able to see during lockdown and have a good catch up, followed by music and dancing. But you say only one. Hmm. I think it would be my friend Sarah, because while we were drinking the wine and eating the cheese, we’d come up with some mad plans, and the next day we’d actually carry them out.
Q10: I love the fact that you walked the route as part of the research for your book, such an epic walk and fantastic photos. I was wondering if there is a map of the route you took?
Yes, I made a map on my phone. Here it is:
There is also a map in the front of the book.
Q11: What plans you got for the future, you made a start on the next book?
I’m nearly at the end of the first draft of my next novel, which I’m writing as part of a PhD. It’s about walking and woodlands, which means that I’ve had to do lots of research involving walking in forests (luckily before the pandemic). The main character is (possibly) a cyborg.
Practical task: I am doing a gnome gallery on my blog, can you create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece.
A Woodland Gnomad (I never said they were good photoshop skills)
Thank you very much for taking part and giving some fantastic answers, Looking forward to seeing on the next reboot of Spiderman. For the stalkers out there you can find Anna on Twitter, her WEBSITE (Be sure to check out the blogs on the walk) and FACEBOOK….don’t worry folks you’ll not find Trump at any of these places. And if you want to read her fantastic book you can get a copy from HERE: