Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Ann Bennett. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Ann Bennett. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

500 Words From Ann Bennett

500 Words From...is a series of guest posts from authors, in which they talk about their newly-published books.  Here Ann Bennett explains the background behind Bamboo Heart, published in paperback today by Monsoon Books.


Ann Bennett is a UK-based novelist and lawyer. 

Set in South East Asia both in the present and before and during the Second World War, Bamboo Heart captures the suffering and courage of prisoners of war of the Japanese. It tells the story of Tom Ellis, a prisoner enslaved on the infamous Death Railway in Thailand, and charts the journey of his daughter, Laura, who turns her back on her comfortable lifestyle in eighties London to investigate her father's wartime experience.

So: 500 Words From Ann Bennett

At the end of the Second World War allied intelligence services surveyed newly-released prisoners of war with so-called liberation questionnaires. My novel, Bamboo Heart, started life when I discovered my father’s liberation questionnaire in Britain's National Archives. It was an amazing moment when I first saw it; written in his perfect copper-plate hand, it answered so many questions I would like to have asked. From that moment I knew I had to write about his experiences as a prisoner-of-war on the Death Railway in Thailand.

This discovery was the culmination of a lifetime’s quest to find out what had happened to my father during the war. He died when I was only seven, and growing up I became increasingly interested in his past. He hardly spoke about the war, having started a new life with my mother on his return to England in 1945. I was interested enough to travel to Kanchanaburi to see the railway in 1988. On that trip I fell in love with South East Asia, but found out very little about what had happened to my father there.

I took the tragic events Dad described in his questionnaire as the basis of Tom’s story in Bamboo Heart. I wanted to write about those events from the perspective of one man, within the framework of a fast-moving narrative. My aim was to bring those events alive without it feeling like a history lesson.

The events I was describing were harrowing. So to lighten the mood, I broke it up with flashbacks to Tom’s pre-war life in colonial Penang, where he fell in love. I also introduced a parallel modern plot, the story of Tom’s own daughter’s search for the truth about the war. For Laura’s story I drew upon my own life as a disaffected young lawyer in the eighties, and upon my memories of those times. The novel touches on the Wapping Riots, famous in the UK, which I remember well. Co-incidentally the first day of serious rioting was 15th February 1986, the anniversary of the Fall of Singapore.

I tried to tell a story of hope and survival, to examine the reasons why some survived the worst of ordeals and others sadly did not. I also wanted to show what an important role history plays in all our lives; how powerfully our family’s past affects our own choices and values.

My research for Bamboo Heart taught me so much more about the war in the Far East than I had expected. I had not previously known how civilians suffered; about starvation and massacres, about bravery and sacrifice. It inspired me to explore those events from other angles and through other peoples’ stories. 

Bamboo Heart is the first novel in a planned trilogy. I have just finished writing Bamboo Island, about Juliet, a plantation owner’s wife, who has lived a reclusive life since the war robbed her of everyone she loved. The sudden appearance of a stranger disrupts her lonely existence and stirs up unsettling memories.

I’m also working on a third novel: Bamboo Road, about of the daughter of a member of the Thai resistance which tells how the influx of prisoners-of-war into that remote jungle region affects her life.

Click here for Ann’s website.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Indie Spotlight, introducing Ann Bennett

Ann Bennett has just taken over our monthly column, Indie Spotlight, which focusses on indie authors and self-publishing.

Ann published her best-selling Bamboo trilogy, Bamboo Heart, Bamboo Island, and Bamboo Road, conventionally, through Monsoon Books. All three novels are set during and after World War Two, in Burma, Malaya and Thailand.  Bamboo Heart won the inaugural Asian Books Blog Book of The Lunar Year, for the Year of the Horse.

Ann chose to self-publish her most recent novel, The Foundling’s Daughter. It concerns a mystery with its roots in British India, during the Raj.

To kick-off as our new columnist, Ann here introduces herself, and her work.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Bamboo Trilogy / Ann Bennett

UK-based Ann Bennett’s newly-published Bamboo Road is part of a Second World War trilogy of historical novels set in Southeast Asia. Her trilogy can be read in any order and includes her earlier titles Bamboo Heart and Bamboo Island. Here Ann explains what inspired her to write a trio of linked, standalone stories.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

500 words from Ann Bennett

500 words from...is a series of guest posts from authors writing about Asia, and published by Asia-based, or Asia-focussed, publishing houses, in which they talk about their latest books. Here Ann Bennett writes about Bamboo Island, the second book in her World War II South East Asian trilogy.  Last year, in the Year of the Horse, the first book, Bamboo Heart, won the inaugural Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar New Year. The trilogy is published by Monsoon, a company specialising in books that open windows onto South East Asian history.

So: over to Ann…

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Big Brother Mouse / Ann Bennett

Ann Bennett’s novel Bamboo Heart won the inaugural Asian Books Blog Book of The Lunar Year Award, for the Year of the Horse – click here for details.  Ann’s (ahem) prize was to write a guest blog about a charity dedicated to promoting literacy in Asia... 

My chosen charity is one you probably won’t have heard of. It is called Big Brother Mouse and is based in Luang Prabang in Laos. Before I stumbled across it I did a fair amount of internet surfing, and made enquiries of several friends with knowledge of the region. I discovered that there are many projects working on improving literacy in Asia, including UNESCO, and other well-known names such as Save the Children.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Book of the Lunar Year: full results

As announced yesterday Bamboo Heart by Ann Bennett has won the poll to find Asian Books Blog’s Book of the Lunar Year. 

Most people simply voted, but some included comments explaining why they’d made their choice. Here are some comments typical of those made about Bamboo Heart:

The story is gripping, the characters well-drawn and believable and it is very well written. 

A truly compelling read.

This was such a moving story, beautifully told, balancing a flavour of the place and time with a deep involvement in the lives of interesting, well-drawn and, above all, credible characters.

A wonderful uplifting read - a new perspective about the death railway.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Book of the Lunar Year: Bamboo Heart

The winner of the inaugural Asian Books Blog Book of the Lunar Year, in the Year of the Horse, is Bamboo Heart, by Ann Bennett, with 34% of votes cast.  

Congratulations Ann!!!  

Blog readers have said some lovely things about Bamboo Heart. Full analysis of the results, and comments from voters, will follow tomorrow.






Sunday, 17 January 2016

Monday, 2 December 2019

Indie Spotlight: The Scent of Frangipani - Dollarbird's first book launched

Last month on Indie Spotlight, Phil Tatham, publisher at Monsoon Books, told us about their exciting new hybrid imprint, Dollarbird. This month, Anjana Rai Chaudhuri, author of Dollarbird's debut novel, tells us about the inspirations behind her book, The Scent of Frangipani and her road to publication...

Welcome to Indie Spotlight, Anjana. Tell us about your writing journey. Why did you become a writer?
I am a research scientist by profession with a PhD degree in Chemistry, and I have done technical writing from the age of 25, research publications, book chapters and research funding proposals. Having had an interest in English Literature from young, I graduated with a BA degree in English Literature at the age of 54. Then I started to write creative fiction.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Indie Spotlight: Dollarbird - Monsoon ventures into hybrid publishing

Apologies for the late posting of the October Indie Spotlight. This month we're taking a look at an exciting new development from leading independent publisher of books on Asia- Monsoon Books who have recently launched a new imprint, venturing into a new business model - hybrid publishing. Over to publisher, Phil Tatham for the detail...


Monsoon Books launched its second imprint, Dollarbird, in late 2019 with half a dozen exciting new titles in the pipeline or already in stores. The first title to be released, The Scent of Frangipani by first-time Singaporean author Anjana Rai Chaudhuri, will be officially launched at Singapore Writers Festival 2019 at an event moderated by award-winning author Suchen Christine Lim.

Although Dollarbird continues Monsoon Books’ specialism in concentrating on books set in Southeast Asia, what differentiates it is the business model. Dollarbird is a hybrid imprint, a business model fast gaining ground amongst independent trade publishers in the UK and US. The hybrid model pays authors royalties of 50% of the publisher’s net receipts in return for an upfront payment to help subsidize the publisher’s production costs.

The benefit for Monsoon Books is that the financial risk of producing the book is mitigated, meaning we can afford to widen the net and publish quality manuscripts by new authors or in new genres that we would otherwise have rejected for financial reasons. Like most other indie trade publishers, Monsoon Books is constrained by financial resources and, with some exceptions, tries to publish what it hopes will become profitable for publisher and author. Monsoon typically publishes 12 to 15 new books a year and, increasingly, we are only accepting works in existing series or standalone books by existing authors. It is hoped that Dollarbird will enable us publish more books by new authors and in new genres.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Indie Spotlight - Myanmar - A Daughter's Promise - Ann Bennett


In my first blog post as Indie Spotlight contributor, I wrote about The Foundling’s Daughter, set partly in India in the days of the British Raj. This was my first foray into self-publishing. Since publishing the book through my own Andaman Press in December 2018, I’ve learned marketing through trial and error and the book has been more successful than I could have hoped – staying in the top 10 of Historical Asian fiction category on Amazon.co.uk, and the top 20 in the same chart on Amazon.com. Sales have tailed off lately, but have led to a two-book publishing deal with mainstream digital publisher  Bookouture. The book will be published (freshly edited and under a new title – yet to be revealed) for pre-order in December 2019, publication date February 2020.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Indie Spotlight: Researching the Raj - Ann Bennett

In this post I talk about my fascination for India, and my research into the British Raj for my novel 'The Foundling's Daughter.'

Me on a trip to Udaipur in 1990
I’ve been fascinated by India from an early age. My father was posted to the North West Frontier – now the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan - in the 1930s, and used to tell many stories from his time there, as well as speaking fluent Urdu. This kindled my interest in the region.

On trips to India in my twenties I was struck by how British influence still pervaded, largely in the buildings and architecture, but in other ways too – in the bureaucracy encountered in booking a rail ticket, in the love for the English language, and in some traditions - the love of cricket, and tiffin in the afternoons. In some of the towns I visited – Agra and Jaipur for example – there were many forlorn, abandoned bungalows where British officials would once have lived, now derelict and crumbling, their gardens overgrown, together with churchyards full of graves of the British who had met an early death far from home. This got me wondering about the lives of those people – what must it have been like to make a home in such a different culture, so far from your roots, often in lonely and difficult conditions?

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Indie Spotlight: The Imperial Alchemist - AH Wang





As the new contributor to the Indie Spotlight, I'm thrilled to introduce my first guest, AH Wang who has been inspired by ancient Taiwanese history and mythology to write The Imperial Alchemist - a gripping archeological thriller with a difference, to delight fans of Indiana Jones and anyone interested in the history of this fascinating land. 

In this post she gives us some background to the book and the inspirations around it....