Today it is my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour for Songs of Innocence, the latest Hannah Weybridge novel from Anne Coates. I have a wonderful guest post from Anne to share with you all just as soon as we’ve taken a look at the all important book stuff.
About the Book
A woman’s body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend’s horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn’t want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.
The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.
The third in the bestselling Hannah Weybridge thriller series, Songs of Innocence provides Hannah with her toughest and deadliest assignment yet…
Hurting your Heroes
by Anne Coates
Violence was one of the first things I had to come to terms with in writing my Hannah Weybridge thrillers. Dancers in the Wind is set in the seedy world of Kings Cross and prostitution in 1993. There is a flashback to a rape of an under age girl which sets off a chain of devastating effects in her life. It was hard to write – and for some people hard to read. One friend who read before publication told me I should have warned her and my daughter’s reaction was “OMG that’s my mother writing this!”
What was almost more difficult was hurting my protagonist. I was very close to Hannah as the plot evolved from articles written for a national newspaper. After an early draft (written many years ago) I realised that I couldn’t be precious about her. If she was going to investigate prostitution and corruption, she’d have to face the consequences. One was being beaten up as a warning to back off. She manages to fight back but is not without minor injuries. I remember sitting at my desk holding a knife to my throat to see how it felt.
Fortunately I’ve experienced very little violence in my life. As a prefect at school I intervened when a group of girls was beating up another girl in the toilets. I received a few punches for my pains and can still remember the shock – and pain – of being hit. Another girl decided to practice her strangling technique on me. Not recommended.
Years later this memory was revived when a boyfriend punched me in the stomach during an argument. I froze in disbelief … needless to say that was the end of the relationship.
My experience of seeing dead bodies is mercifully limited as well. I was at my mother’s side as she died but it was a gentle slipping away from life. More traumatic was discovering, with a police officer, that a neighbour had tried to commit suicide. When we walked into the house we had no idea if she was still alive. If I close my eyes I can still see the blood streaked walls as we went upstairs. It transpired she had taken an overdose but when that hadn’t worked had slashed her wrists in the early hours of the morning. The stench of vomit, urine and blood in her bedroom was overpowering and I had to sit with her for two hours trying to get her to agree to go to hospital…
And so fragments of my own experiences crept into my fiction. I surprise myself with the situations my characters find themselves in. Especially Hannah. I had finished writing Dancers in the Wind when I thought the ending was too tame and introduced a terrible encounter in the penultimate chapter. This has become a theme for my books but fortunately always takes readers by surprise!
In Songs of Innocence, Hannah once again suffers a violent attack and I felt every blow…
Thanks Anne, what an absolutely fascinating post. Writing is such a personal experience and when you feel the scenes you are creating as deeply as this, your audience does too. Really looking forward to reading the book.
If you would like a copy of Songs of Innocence, it is available now from Amazon UK
About the Author
Reading and writing has been Anne Coates’ passion for as long as she can remember. Instilled and inspired by her mother and by the Deputy Head at her secondary school who encouraged her hunger for reading by granting her free access to the books not yet in the school library, and she feels still grateful for this, in her eyes, amazing privilege.
After her degree in English and French, Anne moved to London to stay. During her career she worked for publishers, as a journalist, writer, editor, and translator. The birth of her daughter, Olivia inspired her to write non-fiction books, such as ‘Your Only Child’ (Bloomsbury, 1996), books about applying to and surviving university (NeedtoKnow, 2013), but also short stories, tales with a twist, and stories exploring relationships, published in two collections by Endeavour Press (2015).
The sometimes strange places Anne visited as a journalist often made her think “What if…” And so, investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge was born… The Hannah Weybridge series currently consists of three books, all published by Urbane Publications: ‘Dancers in the Wind’ (2016), ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ (2017), and ‘Songs of Innocence’ (2018).
Anne Coates lives in London with three demanding cats and enjoys reading, going to the theatre and cinema, wining and dining.
My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to join the tour. Make sure to check out some of the other fabulous blogs taking part.