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An Interview with Annie Hayes-Allan, author of Now You See Us, Now You Don’t

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I am 36, married, with many fur children of various types (living human ones are yet to happen for us). I have written three full-length novels, yet to be published, and a children’s book, which would have reached publication without my health issues. I have had several short plays performed by amateur companies.

Over the last year, coming back to writing after a long health and caring forced break, I have had a poem, articles and letters printed in The Writers’ Forum Magazine, before its closure, and short stories shortlisted. I have entered various competitions with NYC Midnight and took part in Mary Adkins’ 10,000 Words in 10 Days Challenge. I am currently doing a creative non-fiction course with Nicole Breit.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I took part in Mary Adkins’ free challenge to write 10,000 words in 10 days. I achieved it, amazingly, and she encouraged me to sign up for NaNoWriMo.

The inspiration for the kernel of the idea came from a sentence my husband came up with: ‘Cousin Francis was eighteen the day he was told he would never work’. Although it is not the first line of the story, some of the characters grew from there.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The title Now You See Us, Now You Don’t came from a long short story that I originally entered for a Writing Magazine competition. It did not succeed in the competition, sadly, but the characters and story line fitted well into this novel. Given the ephemeral nature of the characters, the title fits the entire story.

Describe your dream book cover.

My dream book cover for this book would be a wild, dark oak tree, on its own in a field, with a dark night sky and stars behind it, with an owl in the branches, a fox in a den below in the roots, and two hares, either side of the tree. The title would be in silver above the tree and gold below.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

All my books and short stories seem to have soundtracks in my mind, funnily enough. The overall theme of the book would be King Crimson’s ‘Moonchild.’ Without giving too much away, other aspects of the book would be encompassed by Holst’s ‘The Planets,’ Handel’s ‘WSater Music,’ Greig’s ‘Peer Gynt,’ ‘Danny Boy,’ ‘The Grey Selkie of Sule Skerry,’ ‘The Ash Grove,’ and ‘Aderyn Du.’

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

For research purposes, I have just finished rereading various books of mine on myths and legends, including The Sagas of Icelanders, The Mabinogion, and The Folk Tales of Scotland and Ireland. For distraction, I have been reading The Girls Who Disappeared by Claire Douglas and The Gathering by Lisa Stone. Mary Adkins’ When You Read This is next on my list.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked briefly around caring responsibilities and my own health issues, some of which I have had from birth, others ‘collected’ during my life, in a bookshop, a relief lamber, a relief milker, a soft play centre, including duties as a barista and chef there. I volunteered for years at Riding for the Disabled. I am a qualified LAMDA speech and language teacher and am trained in the Level 1 Horse Boy Method, for children on the spectrum. I have worked as a carer, and have cared for various family members, despite my own health conditions, for the last twelve years.

Something my readers may not know about me is that I would love to breed and train sheepdogs, and trial with them, I would love to compete seriously in the Paralympics for both dressage and showjumping, and I would love to compete with both horses and dogs at Olympia. I would also love to perform with the RSC. I also hope to break into voice acting, particularly storybook narration and character acting.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have always loved writing; it is my way of escaping and keeps me sane. My grandfather encouraged my writing and wrote himself—one day soon I hope to publish his memoirs, as I promised him. He was an amazing person and inspired my love of history. My friend Pat Burgess taught me to ride and also encouraged me to be myself, in life and in writing, something I try to hold onto when low.

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, Joyce Stranger’s Nobody’s Dog, and Jenny Nimmo’s The Snow Spider trilogy are works I read at the age of nine which I still admire. Nicole Breit and Helen Forrester have written memoirs and essays that are outstanding.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I will write anywhere where I have a writing implement and a piece of paper to hand. If I have an idea, I want to get it written if I can.

Do you have any writing rituals?

If I have time, I like to meditate or do Tai Chi before I write. I then reread the previous section I’ve written…and hope to carry on. My poetry in many ways often serves as my diary, and I do keep a gratitude log as well as an actual diary. These can all help calm me and clear my head for my longer writing.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope that my readers have a chance to both laugh and think when they read my book. I would envision my perfect reader as someone who cares about the future of our world whilst respecting the past. They should ideally have a sense of play and an interest in the supernatural.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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