The Unseeing is based on the life of real woman called Sarah Gale who was sentenced to hang for her role in the notorious murder of another woman. After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate. Yet Sarah refuses to add anything to the evidence she gave in court: the evidence which convicted her. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover why she‘s maintaining her silence. For why would someone go willingly to their own death?And so I shall invite Anna to pull up a wing backed chair by the fireplace, and answer a few questions about herself, her writing and biscuits.
When and why did you start writing?
I didn’t start writing properly until 2011, when I had my first baby. He slept for two or three hours in the afternoon and there was only so much chatting to other mums about nappies that I could stomach, so I used to sit in cafes and write. That’s how I got into the writing habit.
What 3 things (not including paper, computer, pens) would you like to facilitate a good days writing?
Coffee is an absolute essential, as is relative silence (if I’m writing in the house, I tend to put on ear defenders to drown out the sound of children screaming etc). And I need to be cut off from social media - it’s too much of a distraction. I pick up a coffee, switch the Freedom app on, and write.
Do you write to a schedule, eg every day or three times a week, set times, etc or do you write as and when the mood strikes?
I have a sort-of schedule for those days when I’m without children. I drop them off at school and nursery, pick up coffee, get home, spend 1 to 2 hours writing blog pieces and articles, dealing with emails, messages, and publicity/marketing stuff, and then try to write for 2 to 3 hours. I often return to it in the evening after the children have gone to sleep. You basically have to be quite insane to finish a novel.
What are your favourite biscuits?
I know this is scandalous, but I’m not that massive a fan of biscuits. I would probably choose those Chocolate Leibniz biscuits which are basically 95% chocolate, 5% biscuit.
Where do you do most of your writing?
At a too-small desk in our bedroom at the top of the house. When I need to escape the house, I write in cafes, or the library.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just last night finished Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day. It’s about a young man detained by fascists on the island of San Domino, Italy, because of his sexuality. It’s very good, and worryingly relevant.
What was the best thing for you personally about 2016?
My debut novel was published.
What was the worst thing for you personally about 2016?
My debut novel was published.
Ok, I am kidding, but it has been an odd process. You think it’s going to be the most wonderful feeling, and in some ways it is, but the publication process is quite strange at times. It turns out the writing is the best bit.
Is truth really stranger than fiction?
You honestly need to ask me this after Trump’s election?
If you could genetically cross an animal with a fruit or vegetable what would you choose and why? I'm currently keen on a cauliflower/caterpillar, a cauli-pillar, a bumpy white caterpillar affair that would be nice with cheese...
How about Tatergaters? Potatoes crossed with alligators. Snappy chips.
If reading and writing were banned on pain of death, what would you do instead?
Oh god. I actually don’t know. Probably just stare blankly into the void, occasionally playing mournful piano tunes.
If you could bring a dead person back from the dead for one day to have tea and a natter with them, who would you choose and why?
I think I might drag Shirley Jackson back from the dead, partly so she can give me a writing tutorial, and partly so she can see how work is appreciated now in a way that it never really was during her life. I think she’s just marvelous.
Thanks to Anna for answering my, often silly, questions. You can grab a copy of her fab book, The Unseeing, at Waterstones and of course, all good bookshops.
You can follow Anna on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and her website .