Hello everyone! I have a very special guest for you this morning! As part of Transworld’s official Wake blog tour, I had the chance to interview debut author Anna Hope and ask her about her first novel, which was published by Doubleday earlier this month. And - to celebrate Anna’s astonishing novel and to make this grey morning a little bit brighter – I also have three copies to give away, so make sure to read on to find out how. Now, come take a seat, help yourselves to tea and biscuits and please give a warm welcome to our guest, Anna.
V: Hi Anna, welcome to Books, Biscuits, and Tea! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: I was born in Manchester, studied English at University, then went to RADA for three years. I’ve been an actress ever since. But along with acting came a lot of unemployment, and writing was a way of keeping me sane while waiting for the jobs to come. Eventually I took a Master’s in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College and decided to take the writing more seriously.
V: Your début, Wake, revolves around three women dealing with the aftershocks of WWI and its impact on the men in their lives. What inspired you to write a novel about the post-war era?
A: I knew that I wanted to write about WW1 from the perspective of the female experience; so many of the known tropes of the war are male – the trenches, the barbed wire, the mud. I wanted to look at what the fallout of the war was for the women who lived through it. I was fascinated by the graveyards in France, by the decision not to bring any of those bodies home. How must it have been if your loved one was in a graveyard miles from home? Or if they didn’t even have a grave, but were just one name amongst thousands on a memorial? When I came across the story of the Unknown Warrior I was fascinated. Using the five days from its disinterment in France to burial in London seemed a great opportunity to explore my themes within a tight time frame.
V: How much research went into writing Wake?
A: I read for about a year before writing, and then carried on reading for the two years it took me to write. I became a WW1 geek in the process! I found all sorts of books useful, but it was great to read women’s fiction of the time – most of it now out of print.