Anne Perry’s biographer, Joanne Drayton, has been here in London with a New Zealand television crew, filming an interview. The biography, In Search of Anne Perry, comes out next month from HarperCollins.
From the moment Anne’s past was revealed by Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, I knew someone like Jo would come along. An agent’s nightmare is that the biographer will betray your client, bringing some agenda of their own or just wanting to be sensationalist. Anne’s no shrinking flower when someone criticises her from the audience – she can come back with a devastating riposte – but here she was facing having her whole life examined.
Luckily, Jo’s turned out to be empathetic and intelligent. She also ‘gets’ Anne. Naturally, Anne’s past has had to be thoroughly probed, but Jo’s also chronicled the 30+ years of Anne’s writing career and life since then.
A life of two halves? Before that terrible mistake, and after? Maybe not; Anne never set out to be a writer of murder mysteries, but being a writer was always Plan A for her. As she says, ‘there was no Plan B’. We could wish that her past had guaranteed her even better sales, but I can’t see there was any profit in it for her. However, it’s given her an authenticity with which to write, and reinforced her compassion for everyone caught up in a human tragedy.