I am delighted to welcome author and fellow Swanicker, Anita, D Hunt, to the blog today. Firstly, thank you very much for agreeing to an Author Interview with me, Anita. I know my readers will be interested to read about you.
Please tell my readers a little about yourself?
I live in the beautiful county of Cornwall and can't imagine ever living anywhere else.
I have three grown up sons and two dogs who go by the nicknames of Fluffy Butt (15-year-old Westie) and Moobag (8 year old black Labrador/cocker spaniel cross called Maisie).
I've worked in care for over 20 years and in that time, I have spanned every type of adult care you could mention. I have now settled with working with adults with learning disabilities and I just love seeing them achieve their goals.
For hobbies I enjoy singing with the Rock Choir, sing and sign, anything that involves a piece of fabric and a needle or a piece of wool and a hook, dog walking, photography and, of course, writing!
What inspired you to become an author?
I have always loved reading. It is in my soul and I cannot imagine not having at least one book on the go. I guess it was a natural progression from there to start creating my own characters and listening to the stories that they ask to have told. However, it was while I was converting some unused university credits over to the Open University and realized I could achieve a second degree by completing the creative writing and advanced creative writing modules that I thought I could actually do this writing thing properly when I achieved a distinction in the advanced module. Of the three degrees I hold, this was the no brainer and easiest of the lot.
My dreams really started to make their way to the forefront when the Open University began their Masters in Creative Writing programme. I enrolled on the two-year course and discovered that my stories really could come to life. I graduated with a pass with merit and my first novel – Behind the Curtain - although in the early stages of development, was paramount in gaining me that award.
At the same time, I was working with adults with cognitive challenges and looking for resources to help with memory and recall. There are pitifully few of these that are aimed at the adult market, so I started writing my own. The guys I work with loved them so much that I decided to put them together into themed workbooks and release them for general sale. They are called The Memory Sessions and are available on Amazon.
What is the best thing about being an author?
Holding the finished manuscript in my hands and looking at it while thinking – did I really write that??? It's such an awesome feeling.
What is your writing routine like?
Unfortunately, sporadic. I really need to get into a routine. I am terrible for flitting around from one idea to another – I just love a big, bright shiny new idea to play with. In my dreams I am a full-time author and the time I am currently in my day job will be dedicated to my writing. While I have to work around the day job though, it's time grabbed in the evenings and weekends. Luckily, I'm pretty good at working to a deadline though and prioritizing accordingly.
How much time do you spend on research?
This one is hard to pin down as it's as much as I feel the story needs. I tend to write contemporary women's fiction which is set in the present day and in areas that I have knowledge of, so most of my research is quite easy for me to find. However, an idea I'm playing around with concerns bringing a dog kennels to life so a fair bit more is going to be required for me to make that one work.
How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
I know the beginning and the end. I have a fairly loose plan of what I want to happen during the story, the essential plot and how my heroine (or heroines as in the case of 'Behind the Curtain') will react to the obstacles I throw in her path. From there, I will plan out in a bit more detail the next ten chapters or so and write them. When they are almost done, I then start to think about the next ten chapters and so on. So, I think I'm more of a planner than a pantser, but there certainly is an element of pantsing thrown in there.
What do you think is most important when writing a book?
For me it is the character first. If you don't get the character right, then it doesn't matter what the plot is, the reader just won't be rooting for them to win.
What is your latest book about?
Behind the Curtain is a story of coercive control and domestic abuse based over seven years. We have two wives. One dead, one alive and one abusive husband. The story begins with the second wife and how she falls under the spell of Sam, the husband. As her life spirals out of her control, she starts to realise that he may not be who she thought he was, she finds the dead wife's diaries and begins to read them to find out what really happened to her perfect predecessor.
What inspired it?
I don't think there was any one thing that was the inspiration behind this book. It is a conglomerate of many different factors that all came together at once. Ultimately, I needed a good story to form the basis of my masters degree and I wanted it to be dark but still have elements of light heartedness that I enjoy when reading women's romantic fiction. I also wanted to play around with epistolary writing and bring out a different narrative voice by using those techniques.
So, I needed a plot that would start off light but then descend into the murky world of a life that is kept hidden. I wanted to play with the themes of perfectionism and how the masks that people wear are adjusted according to the audience they are playing to and I wanted to show that, no matter how hard life appears to be, inner strength is always there somewhere. You just have to find the key.
Any new books or plans for the future?
I have plenty of ideas. The memory sessions are continuing with a new book (the fourth in the series) due to be added in the near future.
For fiction, in the domestic noir genre I'm playing with themes of loneliness, empty nesting and dementia. I don't know at this stage if I can get them all into one book, but it's worth a try! I also have several ideas for more lighthearted romantic novels such as the dog kennels one I alluded to earlier.
I am also a part of Cornwall Writers and we brought out our first anthology – Cornwall: Misfits, Curiosities and Legends last year which I have two short stories in. We are currently working on the edits for the second anthology which we hope to have published early spring next year. The first book was brilliant, this one is even better with more authors coming on board with us and even more stories that envelop most adult genres.
What genres do you read most often?
It depends what mood I'm in. I will read anything as long as it's written in English. Unfortunately my foreign language reading isn't quite up to speed. My go to genres are romantic fiction, crime and psychological thriller with my favourite authors ranging from Jodi Picoult, Dorothy Koomson and Lesley Pearse to Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Sue Moorcroft.
Is there anything else you would like my readers to know?
It is impossible to sing when you are unhappy. If you want to lose those blues, put your favourite album on and sing your heart out. You will feel the benefits within minutes.
Anita Hunt is Cornish and works in adult social care. With an MA in Creative Writing she is a published poet, theatre reviewer and author. Hobbies include walking her dogs, being crafty, sing and sign and singing with the Rock Choir.
When asked how she fits everything in, she shrugs her shoulders, gives you that I don't know look and is heard to mutter: ‘sleep is for wimps__’
My Website – Piskie Dreams - https://piskiedreams.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Janxie12
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/anitadhunt/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/anitadhunt1
Food and Drink Memory Sessions - https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=food+and+drink+memory+sessions&ref=nb_sb_noss
Cornwall Writers - https://cornwallwriters.co.uk