After university Anne went into the Motor Trade, where she stayed all her working life as a senior executive. She always wrote, but did so in secret.
“I always assumed that writers were other people,” she says.
However she likes to do things properly.
“And I was keen to know if I was writing well, so I entered short story competitions with some success. And I wrote a couple of books about the motor industry.”
Taking early retirement in order put more effort into her writing, Anne took a primary degree, then signed up for a PhD.
“I was looking for ideas for stories, and when I saw a picture of the Tolland Man, and heard that a book had been dedicated to East Anglia schoolgirls, I thought, there had to be a story there. I started with one letter and it grew into an epistolary novel.”
Sold worldwide, it has made Anne the oldest author to be shortlisted for the Costa Debut Novel Award.
Who is Anne Youngson?
Date of birth: 1947 in London. “My father was in the military, so we travelled widely until he retired.”
Education: The Abbey, Reading. Birmingham University, English. Oxford University, degree in 2004. Oxford Brookes University; MA, and now taking a PhD in short stories, looking at how stories start.
Home: Near Burford in Oxfordshire.
Family: Husband, Paul. Children Ailsa and Douglas, and grandchildren, Frank, Cormac and Holly.
The Day Job: Writer.
In Another Life: “I be an artist. I did try, but felt I wasn’t good enough.”
Favourite Writers: Penelope Fitzgerald; Anne Tyler; Elizabeth Strout; Ali Smith.
Second Novel: “I’m working on another novel.”
Top Tip: “Finish what you’re writing, because if you don’t, all you’ve got is regret.”
The Debut: Meet me at the Museum. Transworld. €15.19. Kindle: €10.80.
This delightful debut follows the surprise correspondence between Tina, an unhappy English farmer’s wife and Anders, a bereaved Dutch museum curator. They’re strangers, yet their letters help them to explore their lives, whilst highlighting their joys and frustrations. Can their friendship flourish?
“When we’re 65 or 70 there are new opportunities. You don’t want to waste those years.”
The Verdict: An insightful novel about love, loss and new beginnings. It’s my debut of the year.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 29th December
© Sue Leonard. 2018