About Anna Romer
Anna Romer was born in Australia to a family of booklovers. She led a nomadic life for many years, travelling around Europe and Britain in an ancient Kombi van where she discovered a passion for history. These days she lives in a little old cottage surrounded by bushland, writing stories about dark family secrets, rambling houses, characters haunted by the past, and settings that feature the uniquely beautiful Australian landscape. Anna’s debut bestselling novel was Thornwood House, followed by Lyrebird Hill and Beyond the Orchard. See more at AnnaRomer.com.au
Your latest book, Under The Midnight Sky, is about a missing girl and a journalist that connects her disappearance to some murders that happened years earlier. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
Journalist Abby Bardot is haunted by the deaths of three young girls who were found buried in the forest twenty years ago. Even though the killer is in jail, Abby’s own childhood encounter with him still gives her nightmares. When a teenage girl goes missing from a remote campground, Abby fears that the real killer is still at large. Her investigations lead her to an isolated mansion at the edge of the forest, owned by reclusive writer Tom Gabriel. Abby and Tom join forces to untangle a kidnapping from the late 1940s, in the hope that it will help them find the missing girl before it’s too late.
What inspired the idea behind this novel?
Years ago I lived on a remote property out west. Hidden in the bush about five kilometres from my cabin was a tiny old abandoned dwelling. It had been carefully camouflaged so was very hard to find, and I became obsessed with it. Every day for about a year I trekked through the scrub trying to find it; mostly it eluded me, but sometimes I was lucky. One day I pushed through the overhanging vines and branches and netting and ventured inside. It was incredibly creepy and dark; there were moth cocoons covering the grimy windows and huge spider nests on the walls. When the door slammed shut behind me I was trapped for a few wild moments in the blackness unable to budge the rusty latch. My imagination (and heart rate) went into overdrive! Later, as I hurried home, I started thinking just how easy it would be for someone to vanish in the bush and never be found.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I get up about 5am and meditate, then walk the dogs. There’s a hundred acres of bushland behind my house, so we do a lot of exploring. Back at home I feed the animals and do some housework or gardening to prepare my mind. Then I retire to my writing studio around 7am with a pot of rosehip tea and something yummy – date balls or cashews or a fruit smoothie – and get to work. I used to be a rabid plotter, but these days I find that a loose outline is enough. Often I’ll spend ages pondering the pictures on my inspiration board until something sparks. It’s fun to let the scenes materialise and take me somewhere interesting. I can write a scene or two in a day, but then I need to stop and let my creative juices revive. I finish work by late afternoon (unless I’m close to deadline!) and then head off into the bush again with the dogs. Walking and being outside is a great way to disengage from my fictional world and return to normal life.
I’m currently in the planning stages of two novels – both revisiting my old favourite Beauty and the Beast theme, but of course in very dark and mysterious ways. I’m having a lot of fun collecting pictures and objects and quotes etc. to pin on my inspiration board, and dreaming up possible scenarios. At some point, one story will take shape more vividly in my mind. That’s the story I’ll focus on and work into an outline. And then the fun begins!
In your downtime, what do you enjoy reading?
I love anything set in the near future that involves a post-apocalyptic adventure – preferably with tons of romance. I’m currently loving The Passage by Justin Cronin. I seem to go through stages; sometimes I’ll get obsessed by historical fiction, or binge on current bestsellers, or murder mysteries, or romance. Give me anything with a good suspenseful story and I’m happy!
You were nomadic for many years, travelling around Europe and Britain in a Kombi. Can you tell us more about that?
It was a long time ago! In my twenties I was a bit of an adventurer, trekking about Europe in my old vintage Volkswagen, earning a living as a pavement artist. I lived mostly in Italy but went on some memorable road trips through Germany, Spain, Portugal, France and England. Camping on clifftops and waking to astonishing views; bathing in cold rivers, washing my clothes in streams, cooking on campfires. Weathering violent storms with just a sheet of tin between me and the elements. I met some wonderfully eccentric people – artists and musicians, hippies and poets and disinherited princes; many became dear friends. We would often meet up in a designated town and crowd into some dark little tavern, strumming and singing till dawn. I also got to explore some fascinating places – frozen forests in Italy, subterranean chapels with walls made from human bones; crumbling Portuguese nunneries; abandoned orchards and secret walled gardens in Spain. My adventures inspired a deep love of history, and made me aware of the stories that exist all around us.