Angela Wren is a multi-talented artist. Starting from writing, acting to directing, she tries her best at whatever she does. Currently, she is busy with several literary projects and working day and night to complete them within the deadlines. She also runs a blogsite on which she posts various information like book reviews, literary criticisms, previews, news and much more relating to upcoming books and new releases.
A few days back, TheCheckerNews invited her to take part in this interview. Despite her busy schedule, she agreed for it.
We, at TheCheckerNews, are extremely delighted to feature her exclusive interview on our news site. It was indeed an enlightening and fascinating experience to talk to her and understand her perspective on various issues.
Here Are the Excerpts
Hello Angela. Welcome to TheCheckerNews. Please introduce yourself.
Ans: Hi, Atish, and thanks for inviting me to take part in your programme of author interviews.
I write the Jacques Forêt cosy crime mystery stories which are set in the Cévennes – a sparsely populated mountainous area – in south central France. I’m an avid reader, always have been and I love history. I travel a lot, mostly in France, when I can.
I did once have a proper job as a business change and project manager – but it was very pressured and very demanding. When I escaped the rat race in 2005, I decided to try my hand at writing – a goal I’d had for a very long time.
How has been your professional journey so far?
Ans: Quite amazing, really. My job in project management required me to draft documents all the time. So, writing has been a part of my adult life since I left school. Deciding to write creatively meant a very significant shift in style and I realised that, despite being good with words, I needed to re-skill. I joined a local writing group – which I now jointly manage – and started writing short stories.
My first short story was published in 2011 and I was paid 40 Euros. I was so surprised that someone wanted to pay me for my words that I spent a week staring at the cheque!
That first success spurred me on to try a full-length novel. It took another two books – neither of which will ever see the light of day – a trip to the Cévennes, an overnight change in the weather and, four years drafting when I could find a spare hour or so before my first book, Messandrierre, was published. In that time, I learned a great deal and realised that getting the book published is not the end of the journey. It’s the start of a new and completely different journey. And I’m still here, I’m still writing and I love it.
What are your current projects that keep you busy these days?
Ans: I’m currently writing the sixth Jacques Forêt book. It has a working title only at the moment and it includes a murder, naturally. The story revolves around a small art gallery in the city of Mende – a real place I’ve visited many times – and a particular painting. And I can’t really say much more than that at the moment.
I’m working on a short story set in Paris that is almost complete. This one is a departure from my usual writing style, but mystery and death are still involved. If the story is accepted, it will become part of an anthology that is being created to raise money for charity.
I’m also part of another group of authors who are mostly located in Canada. We are in the final stages of putting together a collection of short stories that is due to be released soon. There will be more about that in my weekly blog posts and on my website in the next month or so.
Were you always passionate about writing? Comment on it.
Ans: Yes, I suppose I have been really. I’ve just never thought about it in those terms before.
I’ve always loved stories and one of my earliest memories is of visiting Foyle’s Bookshop in London with my parents and being overawed at the acres of books – I was about four years old at the time and at that age everything seems vast! I was allowed to choose a book, and that little book went with me everywhere and I’ve never stopped reading since.
I suppose it was a natural progression to write stories once I’d stopped writing for business. Stories are much more fun, though!
How many books have you written so far? How can we buy them?
Ans: I’ve had five Jacques Forêt stories published and they are all available on Amazon in e- and print format.
I’m a contributing author to the Miss Moonshine anthologies of feel-good romantic stories and we recently published the third in that series. All of those books are available on Amazon too in both e and print format.
I also have a story in the Dark London series of collections. My story is in the second volume and is an historical piece that involves a bit of a mystery. This story was inspired by some research into my family history. It’s set on the docks of nineteenth century London and tells the story of a family of Deal Porters. This is also available on Amazon.
Please comment on your journey as an actor and director?
Ans: This was something I happened on as a child. I had a speech defect and my parents thought it should be corrected and enrolled me in Speech and Drama lessons at the age of six. I quickly realised I’d discovered something that my brothers couldn’t do and I loved it. Working on and behind stage has been a part of my life ever since then.
I’ve been a member of various theatre groups and have enjoyed many and varied roles in plays from writers as diverse as Shakespeare, Alan Bennett, Alan Ayckbourn and John Godber. I’m a character actor and that brings great scope and stretches you as an individual.
Directing for theatre was something I discovered much later. I’ve put on stage various types of plays; romantic dramas such as ’84 Charing Cross Road’ and ‘Travels with my Aunt’; to children’s theatre, ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and ‘James and the Giant Peach’ to name but a few.
I love the thinking time that directing requires – choosing what the set will look like; how the costumes will work against that background; working out the human and emotional dynamics between the characters. All of that is the best bit. Taking rehearsals is fun but, essentially, it is about managing people. When the show goes to stage, as the director you just sit back and let the Stage Manager take the reins. I always feel bereft at that handover point.
Which one do you enjoy most: acting, writing, or directing?
Ans: That’s a really tough question to answer. All three have good and not-so-good aspects. I suppose I would have to say that, with writing, I have the best of all three worlds.
When I’m drafting I live in my character’s heads, so I see what they see and feel what they feel. From an actor’s point of view, I’m on stage in my mind when I’m at my keyboard without the need to learn the lines first or put on the make-up and costume! As the author, I create the plot and let my characters wander through it. My skills as a director are necessary when my characters suddenly take me away from the plot. Then I have a mental debate with them to decide what to do next. Often my characters are right.
So, apart from the glaring fact that I spend a lot of time talking to imaginary people, I think writing is absolutely the best!
You must have read a lot of books. Please name your favourite authors and books.
Ans: Another almost impossible question to answer.
I love reading crime and I started that around the age of 11/12 when I discovered Agatha Christie. I’ve read all of her books and her short stories. I’m a great fan of her counterparts through the ages and her contemporaries too – Wilkie Collins, Conan-Doyle, Allingham, Sayers and others right up to and including Minette Walters, P. D. James, Ruth Rendell et al.
There are many more authors that I could name. If you could see all of my bookshelves you’d understand just how difficult a question this is. As for favourite books, I’m going to say, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn, The Lost Girl by D. H. Lawrence and Travels with a Donkey by R. L. Stevenson. But, there are so many more that I could go on, and on!
How has your life changed due to COVID-19? Is everything returning to normalcy in the UK?
Ans: Yes I suppose my life has changed as result of the virus. More importantly, I think the world has changed irrevocably as a result. And what is normal? Yes, restrictions have been lifted, but getting from here in the UK to France is still problematic. I can’t just get in the car and drive onto a ferry as I’m used to doing. People are continuing to work from home rather than the office and I can understand their reluctance to travel on commuter trains and spend all day in an office environment. We live in a different world now and I think we have to accept that. For some of us, this new world has much more for some than for others.
How do you envision the world in which we live in your own imagination?
Ans: I have an excellent and very vivid imagination. I always have. I think it is a fundamental requirement for an actor. As an actor, I simply think myself to where I want to be. I’ve had to do that every time I’ve stepped out from the wings onto the stage. I’ve had a lot of practise, so it just seems to me to come naturally.
Finally, please tell us what you think is next for you in 2022 and beyond?
Ans: More writing, obviously, and more books. I’m hoping that the anthology I’m working on with the Canadian authors will go really well. I’ve created some new characters for that story and if it is well received, then that will be the spring-board for another series of mystery stories set in central France, around the city of Blois, with a whole set of new characters. At the moment, I have ideas and notes for at least four full-length novels. It would be good to be able to explore those ideas and let that new cast of characters live on the page. They’ve all been trapped in my notebook for far too long!
Angela Wren is an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where she lives in the county of Yorkshire in the UK. She worked as a project and business change manager – very pressured and very demanding – but she managed to escape, and now she writes books.
She has always loved stories and story-telling, so it seemed a natural progression, to her, to try her hand at writing, starting with short stories. Her first published story was in an anthology, which was put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ in 2011. She also works with 8 other northern writers to create the series of Miss Moonshine anthologies. Most recently, Angela contributed a story set in the 19th century to the DARK LONDON collection. You can follow her on GOODREADS.
Angela particularly enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery, and historical. She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.
Her full-length novels are set in France, where she likes to spend as much time as possible each year.