I wanted to tell the stories that welled up in my mind all the time, to have novels published. But this was before the Internet, and before some of the big writers’ organisations were formed, so I had no support, no encouragement from other writers – and found few channels of information about how to do it.
We emigrated to Australia with our two children and that occupied centre stage for a while.
I had been a head of high school languages department in the UK, but couldn’t rise through the ranks at all in Australia without ‘going country’ ie working in tiny country communities a long way from the city. I wasn’t going to leave my husband and children for a few years to live in the country, nor could my husband give up his job. And even if I had done all this, promotion still depended on seniority ie number of years served, not years worked elsewhere in the world, so we migrants could never catch up, whatever we did.
I therefore lost interest in teaching as a career and it became merely a job. I did my best for the children I taught, of course I did, but my heart wasn’t in it.
The desire to write novels slowly crept up on me again. And this time I did more about it.
I started to write, getting a few chapters into a story, then losing impetus. I knew I was just fiddling around but couldn’t find my way forward. I didn’t give up, but I didn’t get anywhere, either – nor did I deserve to.
Then Georgette Heyer died, still my favourite writer of all time. I think she was far better than Jane Austen as a story-teller. Austen was writing contemporary stories about her own time and Heyer was writing extremely well researched historicals – with the most glorious minor characters and witty lines. I loved Heyer’s historicals and re-read them regularly.
Without an annual dose of a new Heyer historical romance, I felt bereft. And that is when I started to get really serious about my writing. If Heyer couldn’t write that sort of book for me, I’d do it myself. She had been meticulous in her research, I knew. I had no training in historical research, for all I had a degree and post-graduate diploma. I therefore decided to start by taking a university history unit, not as part of a degree, but for my own practical needs. I’ve never regretted it.
I was lucky. There was a unit perfect for my purposes at my local university, dealing with English history from 1750 to 1950. It was only offered every four years part-time, and it was offered that very year. It seemed as if fate was on my side.
I learned so much from the unit, including how to do historical research, which was the foundation for my writing. I had no doubt by now that I wanted to write historical romances – that I was going to write them.
After I’d finished my history unit, I stopped fiddling round and started writing seriously.
Anna Jacobs was born in England but emigrated to Australia. She now lives part of the year in each country. She’s totally addicted to writing, and produces three novels a year. As of July 2012, she has 58 novels published.
At the moment Anna is writing historical novels set in Australia for one UK publisher, sagas set in Wiltshire for a second UK publisher and modern novels for another.
She has been married to her own hero for many happy years, and they have two daughters and one grandson.