Today I’m thrilled to welcome crime author, Anne Coates to the blog to chat about her Hannah Weybridge novels. If you haven’t read them, you should!


Hi Anna, tell me a bit about you and your latest work.

Songs of Innocence is set in the area of South London where I live with my three lazy cats who think nothing of interrupting my writing by sitting on my lapand demanding attention. My Hannah Weybridge thrillers are set in the 1990s and reflect some of my own experiences as a journalist and an editor. Before my thrillers, I wrote short stories for women’s magazines including Bella and Candis and published seven non-fiction books. Currently I am working on Hannah Weybridge book four and thinking about book five.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Determined, honest, optimistic.

What are your top 3 tips for aspiring writers?

  1. Read widely.
  2. Keep writing until you find your authentic voice.
  3. Don’t expect instant success.

Are you a panster or plotter?

Definitely a panster who plots periodically and writes out of sequence. My first drafts are a nightmare.

What does success look like to you?

Success for me is when anyone tells me how much they enjoyed reading one of my books. No bigger thrill. Just like learning something new each day, I think it’s important to celebrate and acknowledge our small successes.

How do you choose your character names?

When I worked for Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home we were very careful about choosing names and often used places as surnames. I did this for my protagonist Hannah Weybridge and found I had a winner as if you Google the name, my books appear. I also inadvertently used a friend’s son’s name for a baby in Dancers in the Wind. His younger brother (now a young man) insisted his name should also be used so Sam Lockwood appeared in Death’s Silent Judgement.To avoid using names which weren’t current for the time, I check the top first names for the year a character is born.

Do you ever Google yourself?

Having registered my name and all my book titles for Google Alerts, I get an email with a link to any mentions. This also means I know exactly what the Rev Anne Coates gets up to and, depressingly, which sites have pirated my books. I had to laugh when I googled my local library – scene of a murder in book four – and my photo came up as I have given a couple of talks there.

What do you do when you get stuck with your writing?

Sometimes just moving into another room helps or I start another scene or chapter to see where that takes me. Writing from another character’s perspective is a fall-back for me even if it gets cut later. If all this fails, listening to music or going for a walk in the park helps as does taking time out to read.

How long does it take you to write a book?

About six to nine months depending on my deadlines and what other work I have.

What do you find hardest/easiest about writing?

Starting a novel is relatively easy for me as my head is full of ideas. The hard part is maintaining the momentum especially as I don’t plan out the book although I know the major themes.

Describe your writing process in 3 words.

Writes, edits, rewrites.

If your book/one of your books got made into a film, who would play the main roles?

A difficult question – one radio interviewer suggested Keeley Hawes as Hannah, which would be wonderful. Rupert Graves would make a fabulous Tom Jordan – loved him as DI Lestrade in Sherlock and I’ve always seen the Deputy Editor on my fictional newspaper as Bill Nighy, a cameo role he’d play to perfection.

Do you prefer pen and paper, or is everything on the computer?

Always write on my computer and have a notebook and pen with me at all times for any notes or inspiration. I also take photos of people, places and things to act as an aide memoire.

How do you relax?

Love going to the cinema and theatre and having a glass of wine with friends. I sometimes sing with a local choir and find that having to concentrate on the music and hitting the right notes means I can’t think about anything else so although not relaxing at the time, I definitely come away more relaxed and less stressed.

And now for some silly questions just for fun…

Tea or coffee?


Beer or wine?


Chips or curly fries?


Puppies or kittens?


Summer or winter?

Summer (although I love the Christmas festivities).


Songs of Innocence

A body in the lake.A sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Still recovering from her friend’s murder and the aftermath of attempts of her own life, Hannah Weybridge is surprised to be consulted by an Asian family whose daughter, the police believe, committed suicide. Her family is convinced she was murdered and Hannah discovers there is a pattern to young Asian girls dying or going missing. Enlisting the help of her friend Joe Rawlington, newly elected as Labour MP in a by-election and the resources of The News, Hannah once again finds herself at odds with the establishment.


Anne has worked for book publishers and magazines both as a staff member and freelancer, as an editor and a writer. She translated an erotic novel and a thriller from French and has had seven non-fiction books published and two collections of short stories as well as the Hannah Weybridge thrillers published by Urbane Publications.


Anne is also the founder/editor of the family website Parenting Without Tears


Born in Clapham, Anne returned to London after studying English and French at Portsmouth and Rouen Universities and has lived there ever since.


Songs of Innocence was on the long list for The Guardian’s Not the Booker and Anne is a member of the SoA and CWA.


Anne’s website is at


Twitter: @Anne_Coates1


If you love crime fiction then I just know you’re going to love Hannah Weybridge!