Both The Chimes and her book of poems, The Violinist in Spring, hint at Anna Smaill’s first love; for years she studied the violin with the intention of becoming a professional performer.
Smaill, a New Zealander, has said that she needed an ‘all-consuming focus for my idealism. Music was that place. If I had been religious, I would probably have tried to join a nunnery.’ When she found that the frustrations of making music had become too great – ‘My fingers not moving fast enough, my bow arm not being as controlled as I would want’ – her focus became writing, although the idea for The Chimes came while she was working in legal publishing in London: ‘It was my worst nightmare combined. Talking on the phone and lawyers.’