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Guest blogger: Anna Jacobs

10 April 2011

Reading and writing

I was a reader first—weren’t we all? As a child, I went to the library three times a week because they’d only let you take four books out at a time. I soaked up Enid Blyton books, especially her ‘adventure’ series, and read just about anything else, because there was only the children’s library. We didn’t have many books at home.

Aged ten, I graduated to the adults’ library because I’d read all the fiction in the children’s library. I also realised that someone had to be writing the books I loved reading, and decided I wanted to do that when I grew up.

It was Georgette Heyer who got me started properly. She went and died on me. My favourite author by far. How dare she? How could I manage without her books? I’d bought them as new hardbacks all through my teens and onwards, when I couldn’t really afford it, only I had to have them.

I’ve still got them. I still read them. And now my husband has started reading them too. Well, he couldn’t bear to sit near me and hear me chuckle over Friday’s Child without finding out what was so good about it.

The first book I tried to write was a regency romance, like Heyer’s. I spent two years on it, and it must have had six different endings and twenty different middles during those years. As they say, it was my ‘learning piece’. I also found my own voice as a storyteller, instead of borrowing Heyer’s.

I went on to write other sorts of books, historical sagas, historical romances not in the Heyer style, and stacked up four more complete manuscripts and quite a few partials. Then I took long service leave and decided just to enjoy myself, so wrote another regency romance.

Persons of Rank burned out of me white hot, and I had a wonderful time writing it. Then I entered it for a competition—and out of 800 entries, I came in the top three. They flew me to Melbourne, put me up at a posh hotel in a suite—I’d never even been in a hotel suite till then, and I found I’d come second, winning $10,000 and publication.

As it turned out, it wasn’t a take-off book. Management changed at the publisher, the new ones didn’t like regency romances and I had to look elsewhere. I found an English agent and discovered I’d started writing sagas. I didn’t know the label, I just liked that sort of story.

So … reading led me into writing, and as of this month I’ve had 53 novels published. I’d never have believed it possible when I started.

And you know what? I’m still reading at a rate of three books a week, because stories feed my imagination—and anyway, I’m a reader as well as a writer. It’s a great life.

My latest historical novel Destiny’s Path came out this month, set in England, Ireland and Australia in the 1860s. My latest modern novel Moving On also came out this month. You can read about them on my website by clicking the links above.


If you want to try my earlier books, historical romances by Anna Jacobs and fantasy novels by Shannah Jay, they’re for sale as ebooks on my website or on Amazon, or various other places on the Internet. Persons of Rank, my prize-winning regency, seems to be the bestselling of them all, closely followed by Mistress of Marymoor.

Happy reading! You never know where it’ll lead you.

Anna Jacobs

Anna is giving away a copy of Farewell to Lancashire, the first book in the Swan River saga, to one reader who leaves a comment.

The competition has now closed. The winner was Barbara.

  1. 13 April 2011 3:08 pm

    Only four books at a time. How dreadful! I struggled when we moved to Orange and were only allowed twelve. Needless to say I was one of the libraries best customers then too for me and my daughter.

  2. 11 April 2011 5:43 pm

    Anna, I think all writers are prolific readers,they must be. Like you, I haunted the library as a child and had no difficulty in reading a book a day and though that slowed down in adulthood I still read a lot. It was in the library, I found you. Long may you continue.

  3. 11 April 2011 12:31 pm

    Thanks for your comments. I think you’re proving your point that libraries/books often turn people into writers. My library was a gothic style building, Catherine, like the English Houses of Parliament. Even that caught my imagination because we lived in a two-up, two-down terraced house.

  4. 11 April 2011 10:43 am

    I love meeting a fellow Enid Blyton fan! I was weaned on Milne’s Winnie the Pooh series, which must’ve given me the taste for adventure stories. Devoured Secret Seven and Famous Five books, imagining myself in those wonderful tales – she was such a tallented author! And you’ve brought back memories of the local library and our twice weekly visits and those funny old cataloguing cards! How times have changed for both librarians and readers :-).
    How wonderful having two of your books released in the same month, Anna, congratulations! I’m flat having two a year. 🙂

  5. Marg permalink
    11 April 2011 8:49 am

    Oh, I was just looking at Lancashire Lass. Having grown up in Perth, I love the idea of reading a historical book set there. And I love sagas!

  6. 11 April 2011 12:12 am

    Hi Anna!

    I had a similar library childhood. Could never understand why they’d only let me take out 3 at a time when I so obviously read that amount in 1 to 2 days. When we moved house, when I was 9, and I took a long time settling down, I’m sure the library was my best friend.

  7. Barbara permalink
    10 April 2011 11:18 pm

    Hi Anna,
    Congratulations on writing so many books…. I was lucky enough to win one of yours in the silent auction at ARRC but have yet to read it as I bought so many books home with me.

  8. 10 April 2011 8:35 pm

    What a wonderful achievement, Anna, to have written across so many genres. It’s wonderful to see with 53 books published you’re still passionate about writing and reading.

    I wish I could find the time to squeeze 3 books a week into my life – it sounds like heaven.

  9. 10 April 2011 8:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing that, Anna. I also haunted my local library as a child and i whole-heartedly agree about reading firing your imagination. What a wonderful writing career. Bravo to you – and long may you continue to write.

  10. 10 April 2011 5:38 pm

    The important reading we do as children and adolescents mark our minds and form our literary tastes. I shall never forget the individual class library shelves we had at St Catherine’s. Laden with Georgette Heyer and the obvious classics, the simple availability of the shelf pushed me to read and seek more outside the teachers’ recommendations. I have read literally hundreds of books since then, but the memories of those long days, and the significant impression they made on me, live on.

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