Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. For those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or an invite to the clubhouse tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation I’ve had with a guest over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Today I’m finally get to chat with Anna Legat. Lovely to meet you at last, Anna.
I’m sorry it has taken me three weeks to finally get here, Paula but as I work with schools and since the start of this academic year I’ve been swamped with all sorts of emergencies! Anyway, I would love Vodka and orange. It used to be my beverage of choice but since my vertigo I can’t drink so may I have a nice cup of Earl Grey.
Of course let’s order before we start.
Now our drinks have arrived, let me first ask you what writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I like putting myself in other people’s shoes, reading their minds and predicting their reaction. I can be a bit of Jekyll and Hyde and I can relate to both. Maybe it is a touch of some chemical imbalance in my brain though I like to think that I am versatile. I was a tomboy as a girl and would never accept that I had to act like a proper young lady. Scraped knees, boots soaked in mud, being stuck up in a tree, building fires in the woods – that was me. It caused me a great deal of grief!
(😄Me too Anna)
So, to get to the point, I would say that characterisation is my strongest attribute. I love creating personalities and putting them through challenges. I see my stories through the eyes of my characters.
My weakness… Oh yes! I need to work on making compromises with the reader to get him or her to like my characters. I keep telling myself to make my pesky characters likeable. It’s easier said than done sometimes because my characters can be very wilful and uncooperative.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
At the moment I am writing a story provisionally called “Out of Sorts” where my two main characters are forced by circumstances to swap places without realising it. They find themselves in situations where they have to solve the other character’s problems but without the knowledge and emotional baggage the other character has. Again, you can see that my writing is all about characters!
I am really enjoying this project. It is completely new to me. I came to me out of the blue.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have a few. Some I will never go back to. One is a horror (I scared myself witless writing it so I abandoned it). Another one is a time slip novel going back to the Cold War. I may finish it one day soon, but it may have to wait until I have a clear plan for the whole alternative history series. There may be a few more unfinished projects, but they are so minor that I forgot all about them.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
I am greatly influenced by what is happening in my life. A happy day will be reflected in a humorous passage in my WIP even if I am writing about a funeral service. On a bad day I may take my frustration on my characters and put them through a grilling experience. I suppose a problem shared is a problem halved? But when my mood is particularly bad and depressive (and I am prone to depression, I am afraid) then I can’t write at all. That is the worst possible thing that can happen to me because writing is my love, my compulsion and my remedy for everything. Without that remedy I slide into more of the bad thing and it becomes a vicious circle.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
A lot of them, yes! But most of my main characters are conglomerates of real people. I borrow different personality traits from different individuals and from that I piece together my characters. No one can really say I stole their soul to put it into my book, because it isn’t just one soul and no one has exclusive rights to it.
Some peripheral characters are reflections of real people. I hope I haven’t offended anyone in my writing, but then I can always deny that it was them I described as utter and insufferable old so-and-so. I doubt anyone would try to prove otherwise.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books or stories whether that be a long forgotten memory, or a positive experience etc.
Yes, I did. This is such a good question! The more I write and the more I search in my memory for associations, the more I remember from my past. They are just little sensations, smells and sounds, like my mother’s hand when she used to stroke my hair or the smell of her baking, or the taste of hot bread I was sent to buy at Mr Ragus’s bakery and bring it home in one piece (which I didn’t because I loved munching the crust). I remember my grandmother cursing in a foreign language (she was German) and my grandfather hoisting me onto his horse and making me shrill with excitement. Writing does make us reflect and remember, doesn’t it?
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I work full time more or less, so my writing is a luxury. I catch moments whenever I can. Weekends are dedicated to writing, as are all my holidays. I try to edit in the evenings on weekdays, but sometimes, after a stressful day at work, my brain refuses to work. I am looking forward to the day when I retire from my day job and write, write, write.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I am writing under my maiden name so it is a kind of pseudonym. I think my actual double-barrelled name is too long and too ungainly. Sometimes when I consider writing in a new genre, I contemplate different pen names, but so far I’ve stuck to Anna Legat whether it is crime fiction, dystopian or satirical.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
After a few books under my belt, I noticed that I was overusing certain names so I started resourcing names from my local cemetery. I live in a church enclave, right next door to a graveyard so it is handy way to harvest character names.
My characters grow with the story so no, I don’t know everything about them at the start of it. I get to know them as we get on with the story.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Two scenes which were borrowed from my life. I have written them into my new cosy crime series (which is planned for next year). They were the scenes of the heroine’s parents dying, one after the other within one year of each other. Writing those scenes brought back difficult memories and a lot of unresolved regret.
Thank you for join me here at the clubhouse tearoom, Anna. It has been lovely getting to know you. Please come back again.
To find out more about Anna’s books check out these links Blog: http://www.annalegat.com
Twitter handle @LegatWriter
Amazon profile: Anna Legat
It you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.