Ten Books That Changed Me featuring Annie Seaton
My mother introduced me to the wonders of the public library system before I could even read and this began my journey of loving books—and more significantly—wanting to create my own worlds and characters like those in the wonderful stories that I read.. The highlights of a childhood in Brisbane were our weekly visits to the public library and the annual Christmas visit to the book department of McWhirters in the Valley. I still have all of the books my mother bought for me at McWhirters department store many years ago.
- Enid Blyton and her Famous Five guided me into reading mystery, and began my love of suspense. Five Go to Smugglers Top introduced me to England and began a lifetime love for everything English. The sprawling house was a dream for imaginative nine-year-old Annie: hidden passages, secret panels and trapdoors, sinister servants, not to mention smugglers, tunnels and catacombs beneath. I read my way through every Enid Blyton book I could get my hands on.
- A Little Bush Maid. A year or so later, when I’d read most of Enid Blyton’s books, the librarian suggested I try Mary Grant Bruce’s series. I guess Norah Linton and her life on Billabong, the Victorian property and the adventures of her brother Jim and his friend, Wally, were my first introduction to Australian rural life. Who would ever have guessed I’d write about Australian landscapes more than a hundred years after Mary Grant Bruce wrote A Little Bush Maid?
- The Anne books…particularly Rilla of Ingleside. My mother named me after Anne Shirley and for a couple of years she tried to entice me into reading Anne of Green Gables. The older language and the Canadian setting turned me off until I sat down one night and became immersed in the world of Anne. Over fifty years later, I still discover kindred spirits and those who belong to the race who know Joseph! Rilla of Ingleside shaped my love of history introducing me to the battles and tragedy of the First World War. I still have and treasure my mother’s 1930s copies of Anne of Green Gables and Rilla of Ingleside.
- Come the high school years and a whole new world of books… my first foray into literature that culminated in a love of the English classics as well as the completion of a degree majoring in English literature. One that changed my life…and my reading tastes…was Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. I am sure Bathsheba’s struggle to break free from society’s expectations in a man’s world has moulded many of my stronger heroines.
- To escape the heavier study of themes, symbolism and Virginia Woolf’s stream of consciousness, I balanced my high school and university study with escape into romance. Again my mother was instrumental in introducing me to Essie Summers, a New Zealand romance author who write from the 1950s to the end of the 1980s. I have collected each of her books over many years, including her biography. Essie’s books instilled in me a love for setting, making the reader feel as though they are in the location, through the use of brilliant descriptions. When I was in New Zealand for work a few years ago, I took a drive to as many of her settings as I could visit… Paradise and Glenorchy were memorable. My favourite Essie Summers books is Sweet are the Ways, the story of a young woman who gives up her city job and buys a dream cottage in a country village to become a freelance writer. Wouldn’t we all love to do that!
- I discovered Nora Roberts as my children grew up, and as I do with all my favourite authors, I have read my way though each of her books and series. Another favourite romance is the Donovan series by Nora Roberts. These four are books that I revisit each Christmas holiday. Captivated, the first in the series, is a fabulous romance, where a hard headed sceptic falls in love with a witch. I love this story! It’s another series I replaced in print when the original books fell to pieces.
- The Chesapeake Bay series by Nora Roberts. Another romance favourite is the four book Chesapeake Bay series, a saga about the lives and loves of four brothers on the windswept shores of the Chesapeake Bay. I love the family aspect, and the hint of paranormal that Roberts introduces.
- Katherine by Anya Seton. I discovered this 1954 historical novel twenty-five years after it was published when I was studying British history at university. I can say out of my ten books, it remains my favourite book of all time. So much so that I have four copies of it, in case I lose one. It tells the story of the historically important, 14th-century love affair in England between Katherine Swynfordand John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the third surviving son of King Edward III. It made such an impact on my love of history…and all things English, (see above)… I cried many years later, when I visited the ruins of Kenilworth castle when they had lived.
- Here be Dragons My love of history continued to be fed by the wonderful trilogy by Sharon Penman set in thirteenth century Wales. The way that Penman conveys emotion woven through actual historical events in this trilogy is wonderful. It took me back to my adventurous Enid Blyton days with princesses held captive in stone towers, bloody wars, princes scheming to dethrone their own brothers as well as exploring the Plantagenet kings and the violent history of Wales. And yes, you guessed it; I visited the castles that they lived in when I visited Wales.
- Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy was a book I discovered when I took a break from work after having my children. The raw emotion of the story of his families left me sad for days. I still remember sitting on the sofa sobbing after I had read those last words as Tom Wingo drove home over the bridge. Conroy’s writing is lyrical and some of the lines have stayed with me for thirty years:
At the end of every day I drive through the city of Charleston and I cross the bridge that will take me home. I feel the words building inside me, I can’t stop them, or tell you why I say them, but as I reach the top of the bridge these words come to me in a whisper. I say these words as a prayer, as regret, as praise, I say: Lowenstein, Lowenstein.
I am sure that each of the books above has had an impact on my writing, and that my writing has matured the more I read and write. My next print book, Whitsunday Dawn, is currently in edits, and for the first time in my writing career, I was able to indulge my love of history and research. Whitsunday Dawn is a dual time line book set in Australia in World War Two, as well as exploring contemporary environmental issues. Interviewing people who experienced war time in the Whitsundays enriched my writing process. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing the story.
Annie’s latest release is His Outback Nanny which is out on January 15th
His Outback Nanny
Jemima Smythe is over the world of fashion. But when her dream of teaching falls through, Jemmy is determined to show her hometown she’s ready to put down roots. Three beautiful and boisterous kids in need of a nanny offer her an opportunity to prove just that. But their smoking-hot dad, Ned, offers her another—become his wife, as a matter of convenience only.
Ned McCormack is at his wits’ end. A single father to three kids, he quit the city and moved home to the Australian Outback in order to spend more quality time with his family. Unfortunately, the farm needs a lot of work. Just when he’s ready to give up, help comes unexpectedly in the form of a supermodel mistaken as his wife-to-be.
Not a bad arrangement, if only they can stick to the rules of their strictly-business marriage—no kissing and absolutely no falling in love allowed.
About the Author:
Annie Seaton lives on the edge of the ocean with her own hero of many years. When she is not writing or travelling Australia looking for new stories, Annie can be found in her garden or walking on the beach…or most likely on her deck overlooking the ocean, camera in hand as the sun sets. Her writing career began with e-book romances form a number of US publishers and self publishing, and then she moved into the print market with Pan Macmillan Australia
Annie’s inspiration comes from the natural beauty of Australian landscapes and she is passionate about raising awareness of the need to preserve the pristine areas that surround us. Each winter, Annie and her husband leave the beach to roam the remote areas of Australia to research her eco-adventure stories. Her print and e-book Porter sisters trilogy, Kakadu Sunset, Daintree and Diamond Sky will be followed by Whitsunday Dawn in August 2018.
Annie is also published internationally in e-books in the romance genre, and in 2015 and 2017 was voted Best Established Australian Author by romance readers in the AusRom Today Readers’ Choice Awards. Her Prickle Creek Farm series has been well loved by romance readers all over the world. Book 3, His Outback Nanny is a January release. Book 4, His Outback Temptation, will be released in June. You can find the Prickle Creek Farm series here.