A lifelong reader, Anna wrote a book about boarding school aged 10. Leaving university, she moved to Lancashire working in production management in Courtaulds textiles.
“I loved it, but I wanted to get into marketing, and after three years I moved with the company to Derbyshire, as part of the planning department.”
It was then that she met the man who became her husband,
“He was the factory manager,” she says. “It didn’t feel healthy to live and work together, and he said, ‘Why don’t you write?’ So I did.”
She wrote a contemporary novel and got her agent Kate Shaw – but they failed to sell the book. She turned to historical fiction, and with the second, found a publisher. She wrote a trilogy under the name, Joanna Courtney, and has begun writing a further series.
“I also write short stories and serials for women’s magazines.”
When the chance to write contemporary fiction came, Anna was thrilled.
“The editor, Sam Eames read an article, and had the idea for a plot. She was talking to my agent, and she thought of me. It’s been wonderful,” says Anna, “I’m not constrained by dates so could make everything up.”
Who is Anna Stuart?
Date of birth: 1972 in St Andrew’s, Scotland.
Education: Loughborough High School; Cambridge University, English Literature.
Family: Husband, Stuart, step-children Emily, 25, and Rory, 22. Children, Hannah 17, and Alec, 15.
The Day Job: “I teach creative writing with the Open University.”
In Another Life: “I’d love to have been an architect, but I don’t have the skills.”
Favourite Writers: Nick Hornby; David Nicholls; Liane Moriarty; Michel Bussi; Thomas Hardy; Ruth Hogan.
Second Novel: Four Minutes to Save a Life, comes out next Spring.
Top Tip: “Don’t spend too much time going on writing courses or reading how to do it. Just write. That’s where you learn.”
Website: www.annastuartbooks.com Twitter: @annastuartbooks
The Debut: Bonnie and Stan. Trapeze. €16.99. Kindle: €0.99.
Since Stan met Bonnie in the Liverpool of the sixties, his main aim in life has been to make her happy. Facing a terminal illness, he fears leaving her alone, so, along with his granddaughter, he forms a plan to ‘date,’ potential replacements.
The Verdict: A touching, tear-jerking story about the enduring nature of love.
Published in The Irish Examiner, 6th July.
© Sue Leonard. 2019.