I’m delighted to welcome novelist Anne Allen, author of The Guernsey Novels, to tell us what place inspires her writing. Over to you, Anne. 🙂
Thank you, Karen. The place which inspires my writing is Guernsey, in the Channel Islands. I’ve written six books to date, forming The Guernsey Novels series. Looking back, it was love at first sight. This was in 1987 when I first arrived on Guernsey’s shores for a holiday, my three children in tow. I loved everything about the island, particularly being surrounded by sea, never far away on an island measuring seven miles by five!
At the time we were living in my home town of Rugby, slap bang in the middle of England and a fair drive to the nearest coast. Having spent my childhood holidays in Anglesey in North Wales, my father’s birthplace, I had formed a strong attraction to the sea and sandy beaches. Guernsey provided an idyllic substitute. St Peter Port, the capital and only town, is mix of old and new, with cobbled streets and some lovely old buildings dating from Victorian and Georgian times. It has a buzz of its own, with more than a nod to its French past – hundreds of years ago it belonged to the Duchy of Normandy. French was the main language even after it became part of Britain, though not part of the United Kingdom. Guernsey patois, a variation of Norman French, was the dominant language until the early twentieth century and is, unfortunately, not much spoken now. The island has its own government, the States, and all the laws are recorded in French. Everywhere you go French names abound – place names, streets and surnames, creating the ‘foreign’ flavour which draws thousands of tourists each year.
A year later I moved my long-suffering children (who had endured several moves prior to this) to Guernsey. The idea was to set up a residential therapy centre, but sadly this fell through. With support from my friends, I set up a psychotherapy practice and enjoyed many Sunday afternoons driving around the island in an effort to familiarise myself with the many narrow, twisting and unnamed lanes. I loved walking on the fabulous cliffs, with views over to the islands of Herm, Sark and Jersey. Herm is one of my favourite places ever, a beautiful tiny island a few minutes ferry ride away from its big sister, Guernsey. There are no vehicles, except the odd tractor and quads used by the farmer and staff so it’s a wonderful place to walk freely and breathe pure air. And it has the most fabulous beach, Shell Beach, where the ‘sand’ is made up of tiny crushed shells and the jet stream warms the water.
Fast forward nearly fourteen years and I reluctantly left Guernsey and am back in England, via Spain. Long story! A few years later I finally found time to write, something I’d toyed with for years. It felt natural to set a novel on Guernsey, and it became my homage to a place dear to my heart. My older son still lives on Guernsey and I visit regularly, both to see him and my friends and to research for my books. Bliss!
You can find purchase Anne’s Guernsey Novels here: Amazon
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, five having been published and the sixth, The Betrayal, is due out in October 2017.