Author Anne Allen tells us why she loves writing in Devon
PUBLISHED: 12:44 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:44 18 September 2018
© National Trust Images / Chris Lacey
An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon
Anne Allen adores being near the sea and has spent most of her adult years moving from coast to coast. The Teignmouth author’s lifelong passion for the sea inspired her to write The Guernsey Novels.
She was born in landlocked Rugby, yet was fortunate to spend her summer holidays with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey.
“Our summer holidays were magical. We would spend all day on the beach with our buckets and spades digging up the masses of golden sand,” she recalls fondly.
As a young girl, Anne longed for her seaside holidays and promised herself that when she grew up she would live beside the sea. In her twenties, her restless soul grew strong and she travelled to many European destinations.
In her mid-thirties, her husband tragically died, leaving her with three young children to raise alone.
Overwhelmed with grief and a sense of loss, she wanted to be beside her beloved sea and relocated to Teignmouth. It was a brave move to make as it meant moving away from family and friends. Yet, it is thanks to Anne’s strength and sense of adventure that she successfully created a new life in Devon for her children.
She explains: “I wanted to provide my children with the idyllic summers that I had as a child. Devon’s beautiful beaches were a perfect playground for them.”
Whilst Anne felt content that she was finally living beside the sea, she craved creativity. By profession she was a qualified psychotherapist, yet juggling a career and raising three children meant she had limited time to express her creativity.
One fateful weekend, Anne formed a connection with some ladies on a self-awareness course in Glastonbury. A few months later, they invited Anne and her children to visit them in Guernsey. As soon as Anne set foot on the island, creativity flowed through her and she became inspired.
A year later she sold her home in Devon and moved to Guernsey. Her desire to provide a good life for her children prompted her to open her own psychotherapy practice there. She enjoyed living on the island for 14 years, however, when her children flew the nest she returned to England, initially to Bath and eventually Teignmouth.
“I love Devon’s coast and feel invigorated walking along the beach,” she explains.
Anne’s muse is the sea and it inspired her to draft her first novel, Dangerous Waters. A few months after first putting pen to paper, she entered a national true-life writing competition and was surprised when she won. It boosted her confidence, so she completed her novel and pursued a new career.
Publishing her debut novel was not plain-sailing though. Her sheer determination and support from her loving family made Anne continue even when times got tough.
“Authors invest so much time writing and researching their novels, and it can be tough when success doesn’t immediately follow,” she adds.
Anne’s debut novel was well received and it was even awarded Silver in the WishingShelfAwards. Positive reviews from readers encouraged Anne to write another novel set in Guernsey, Finding Mother. It was then she realised she was creating a series, The Guernsey Novels. To date she has written six novels which provide an ongoing story of a ‘village’ spread, over time.
Anne’s love of the sea provides her with her best inspiration and when she needs a break from writing at her Teignmouth home, she enjoys visiting many of Devon’s beautiful beaches. The author is also fascinated by history and frequently visits the county’s many stately homes.
“I am fascinated by the past and I imagine the lives of the people who lived in these historic homes.”
Her interest in history has led her to undertake thorough research for her novels. She is currently researching the time of Victor Hugo, in 19th century Guernsey for her next novel The Inheritance.
Anne’s commitment to detail and writing authentic stories has won her a loyal fan base. She regularly receives e-mails from fans expressing how her books have encouraged them to visit Guernsey.
Anne’s tips for budding authors
- Write as if you’re writing for yourself, your own sense of satisfaction and achievement.
- Be patient and don’t give up if writing is really important to you.
- A writer has to write regardless of the potential for negative criticism.
- Build up a loyal base on social media before you publish.
- A good website will also act as a great advertisement for you and your writing after publication.
Anne’s favourite places in Devon
Teignmouth: Anne loves her home town’s large sandy beach and fishing port. She feels extremely lucky to live by the sea.
Shaldon: This archetypal English village is a favourite hotspot for Anne, with its narrow lanes, several pubs and cafés where she likes to sit outside with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
Exeter: Exeter is a beautiful, historic city only 30 minutes from her home and she enjoys going there to shop as well as to sightsee.
Greenway: This is the gorgeous holiday home of Agatha Christie, near Brixham, and Anne fell in love with it. It has a fantastic position overlooking the River Dart, with beautiful gardens to stroll around once you’ve devoured the house itself.
Coleton Fishacre: This National Trust property was built by the D’Oyly Carte family in the 1920s and evokes the Jazz age wonderfully. Anne loves the light, airy rooms with views of the super garden which has a bubbling stream which runs down to the sea. Magical!