Monday, January 21, 2008

Anne Gracie visits the Banditas!

by Anna Campbell

I'm delighted to welcome multiple RITA finalist, multiple award-winner, esteemed President of Romance Writers of Australia and all-round mover and groover Anne Gracie to the lair! Anne writes wonderful luscious, emotional Regency historicals and if you haven't read them, you're missing out on a treat. Anne, lovely to see you here.

First up, thanks for inviting me, Anna and Banditas -- you seem like a fun crowd to hang with, and I've read so many of your books, I feel as though I know some of you. And I do know some of you ;) waves.

Congratulations on the release of The Stolen Princess, the first book in a new series, The Devil Riders. Can you tell us a little bit about the series and what inspired you to write it?

Thanks. I needed to come up with a new series, as I'd run out of sisters in my previous one. ;) and I had these guys in my head -- guys who'd been at war for years and now they were back in peacetime England, but no way were they settled down. Also I wanted to do a "friends" story rather than another family one. My editor suggested I make them all second or third sons, so they have to make their own way in life, as well, and that's been interesting. So, there are four ex-soldiers, all gorgeous, all horse-mad and still a little bit haunted by their years at war: Gabe Renfrew, his half brother Harry Morant, the elegant Rafe Ramsey, and Luke Ripton, the fallen angel of the group.

Can you tell us about The Stolen Princess?

It's about Callie, a princess whose child is in mortal danger, and Gabe, a man who makes it his purpose in life to protect them. He comes into the story as a protective warrior (and something of a flirt) and discovers he has much more to offer than he believed. And both Callie and Gabe learn that unconditional love transforms life. It's a convenient marriage story -- one of my favorite story hooks -- and the Princess isn't happy about it. She'd planned never to be under any man's thumb again... but as Gabriel pointed out, it's not his thumb she should worry about... ;) There's an extract here:

What's next in the series?

The book I'm finishing up now is about Harry Morant, Gabe's half- brother, the result of an affair between the earl and a maidservant. Harry and Gabe were raised separately from the rest of the family (long story). Harry is building a horse racing stud, and plans a convenient, bloodless, unemotional marriage with a woman of unimpeachable virtue. He meets Lady Helen Freymore, Nell, destitute daughter of the late Earl of Denton, a woman who wants nothing to do with him. Harry won't accept that, and in the end, his actions force them to get married. But Nell is on a secret, heartbreaking quest. Of course, Harry, being a hero, joins her on the quest and they both discover love on the way.

You're a writer whose work breathes Regency atmosphere. Can you tell us what attracted you to this period?

Thanks, Anna, she says cautiously, hoping that "Regency Atmosphere" doesn't mean BO overlaid with perfume. Please note, my characters wash, often. There are bath scenes to prove it. ;)

What attracted me? For a start, I've been reading and rereading Georgette Heyer since I was 11, so the Regency (or Heyer's regency) is a place I'm both familiar with and fond of. When I started writing romance I had no idea it was a popular period -- I had very little idea of anything then. LOL

There are heaps of things I like about the period - there's glamour, and exclusivity, and ritual, and there's also hardship, and poverty lurking very close by. There's foreign travel, there's a war, there's an industrial revolution, there's societal change where people are moving up--and down-- in the world. Women were married for property, for bloodlines, for connections, and occasionally for love. So it's a period where can place my characters on the fine line between happiness and disaster and let them negotiate it.

Do you have any hints on research? Are there any books or resources you find particularly helpful when you're writing?

I have a pretty good feel for the era, I think, but I have to research particular things for different books in the same way a contemporary writer has to. I have stacks of books -- my local library used to have a fabulous research section, but they had an appalling clear out a few years back and a lot of my favorite references disappeared. I've had to chase them up on I often chase up footnotes and, where possible, get my trusty research librarian to help me find a copy of the original source -- a diary or book of letters. Librarians are wonderful people. I also use the web a lot -- and I bookmark all useful sites while I'm using them. Afterward I'll put them onto the links page on my site. I have a stack of good reference links there, though it probably needs a clean up. Soon, I promise.

Can you give us an insight into Anne Gracie's working day? Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have a set routine or do you move as the muse moves you?

I *never* use the word pantser. The word gives me a vision of my grandma's bloomers flapping in the wind, and no way do I want to be associated with them! shuddershuddershudder! I am an organic writer. That's a term that the fabulous Robyn Donald taught me. In my case it means I generally don't have a clue what I'm doing until I'm nearly half way through a book. By then the plot is firmly in the grip of the characters, and I have a deadline looming and am in a panic.

And I plot obsessively, sometimes right up until final revisions.

So that's me, calm, organized, totally in control of my process... Organic and bloomer-free.

My day: I usually start off the day with email. I used to fight this, but I have no will power, and besides, my editor or agent might have contacted me in the night and it would be rude to ignore them. The only times I don't do this is when I'm in a Dorothea Brande phase, where the first thing I do every morning is write for fifteen minutes by hand, but after a few weeks the creativity is flowing and I forget why I'm doing Dorothea and email sneaks back in. I work every day, but as soon as I've finished this current book, I plan to structure my working week so I have more structured time off. Refill the well. I try to write a thousand words a day or three handwritten pages, but towards the end of the book when it's all flowing (and a deadline is looming) I write a lot more.

I've gone back to doing bits in handwriting - I think it frees up my writing. If I'm not sure what to write next or how to approach whatever scene I'm on, I go and lie on my bed and dream it up. When it's good, it's like tapping into a continuously rolling movie in my head. So I write scenes and notes and snatches of conversations or thoughts by hand and then go and type them up.

If I've had an unproductive day, I'll take the dog for a late walk and come back and write again. When I was working full time I used to write a lot at night, starting around 10pm, and that's what I pretend to my brain I'm doing.

You're a master at writing emotion. I rarely finish one of your books where I haven't both laughed and cried. Do you have any specific techniques to help you achieve this depth of emotion in your writing?

Thanks, Anna. I dunno about being a master, (scuffs foot in pleasure at the compliment) but I do try. Actually it's Charles Dickens's fault. When I first started writing, the only piece of writing advice that I'd heard of was "Make them laugh, make them cry, make them wait." I hope you waited, too. ;)

I think to achieve emotion in your writing you have to try to climb into your character's head and heart and the deep dark places in their souls. Work out where they're coming from, what they're feeling, what they fear, what they secretly dream of... and when you go there, go deep and let it unfold in detail, don't rush it, take the reader through it with the character. I figure if the scene touches me, it will touch readers.

What do you hope 2008 will bring?

A holiday. I'm really hoping to go to the US and UK and maybe some of Europe. I haven't done any real traveling for ages -- recently it's always for conferences, but in 2008 I want to go play in the world.

Anne has brought booty to the lair! She will pick one commenter at random to win a signed copy of her wonderful new release The Stolen Princess. She wants to know your favorite story hook: eg convenient marriage, Cinderella story, bad boy/spinster, etc, and what do you love about it?


Helen said...

Is he back in Australia
Have Fun

Anonymous said...

helen, you naughty thing, I was so close!! so close!!

Anna Campbell said...

Ha, what a neck and neck race! Sooo exciting to stand on the sidelines. Helen, you won by a mere nose! Congratulations! Feed him Tim Tams and tell him he never wants to leave us.

Caren Crane said...

Tricksters! I was still commenting on TODAY'S post! Ack! Anyway, Helen, you will find the GR rested and refreshed. Quite his old cocky self!

His toenails are a lovely shade of bronze. I tucked a bottle of polish in his rucksack. It may take him a while to thaw out, though. It was dead cold here!

Anonymous said...

Anne, welcome to the Lair! We're not as crazy as Anna may, maybe we are. But we blame the Aussies for that.

Oh, wait, you're one of them, aren't you? Ah well. I guess we might as well give up. The Aussies are taking over!

Seriously, though, I adore your books. I started with A Perfect Rake and haven't been the same since. Anna said it perfectly--you tug on all of those emotions, from laughter to tears. Just perfect.

I don't really have a favorite hook (though I suppose I'm partial to a good ugly duckling story), but I've heard a lot of readers say they liked Beauty and the Beast best. A couple of weeks ago, someone (remind me who, please, so I can give you proper credit?) said they wanted to see a female beast. So I've been putting my head to that ever since and just this weekend plotted it out! I'm far too superstitious to tell you all what I've got planned, but I can say it involves michevious faeries, and when I'm done writing, I'll share! :-)

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Anne, welcome to the Lair! I adore a Cinderella story. I think we all want to be swept away and kept in luxury. Okay, maybe that's just me. *g*

I do love, though, for the hardworking girl with the heart of gold to win out in the end. I also love a prince who recognizes her worth despite her circumstances!

Anonymous said...

I think it's not quite fair, by the way, that you Aussies can ply the GR with Tim Tams.

Caren, you're a Girl Scout leader aren't you? Why don't you try some of those Thin Mints on him next time? Surely there's something from our native land that can compare!

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, great idea! It is Girl Scout cookie time. If the GR is not seduced by Thin Mints, surely he would be enticed by Peanut Butter Patties - my favorite!

Helen said...

So close Kirsten what is that 3 seconds. I have the Tim Tams ready we are going to have a wonderful day sorry Kirsten.

What a great interview Anne and Anna loved it.
I have read the first 3 perfect books and I have the Perfect Kiss and The Stolen Princess here waiting for me to read them I loved the first 3 and am really looking forward to starting the new series I love books that are in a series thanks Anne. Totally agree with Anna I love the way you write emotion.
I am very partial to a Cinderella story where the Heroine has had to work very hard for what she has with heartache along the way and then a wonderful Hero comes into the picture and has to work for her love, to convince her he will treat her well then carries her of to a wonderland of love joy and a HEA.
I also love a marriage of convience story where they finally realise they love each other after some fun and games.
Thanks again Ladies for a great interview.
Rest assured the GR and I will enjoy the Tim Tams.
Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Welcome, Ms Gracie! So glad you could join us in the lair. Thanks for the great interview, Anna.

I really identify with Anna's comment about laughing and crying in your books, Anne. That's always been my experience, too and I can't wait to read The Stolen Princess and the rest of your new series.

As for favourite hooks, I must admit mine is the convenient marriage. Just love that sense that the hero and heroine will be living together from early on in the story.

Helen said...

It won't take him long to thaw out over here although not too hot today it has been raining and humid I will look after his nails thanks for the polish.
Have Fun

Christine Wells said...

Mischievous faeries with a female beast? Sounds intriguing, Kirsten!

Congrats on the GR, Helen. After Caren spoiled him rotten, you will definitely need Tim Tams to keep him happy.

Amy Andrews said...

HI Anne. I was so happy to come back to the lair after holidays to discover your happy smiling face.
Is that water you're drinking?

Don't know if this is a hook but I'm a sucker for a cowboy. Love blue collar men - hard working, hard drinking, hard loving but would lay down his life for his woman. Not to mention his work honed body and those rough hands....

Big waves and a hug to Anna. We dined together last week and as usual I had a blast. Thanks for the brainstorming session.

flchen1 said...

Woohoo, Helen! (And Kirsten, and Anna!!)

Thanks for the wonderful interview, Anne! I keep hearing wonderful things about your books and have a couple of them and will have to move them up the TBR!

One of my favorite "hooks" is the two long-time friends who finally realize there's more to their relationship than being buddies. I also love the plain-jane wins the prince type of story also--extra points if the hero's won over by her brilliance and incredibly personality rather than her having a fab makeover so that every can see how gorgeous she was under all those sacky clothes and thick glasses. :)

Sharon said...

Hi Anne

Loved your doggie picture - the red boa suits so well, obviously a dog with taste!

Great Q&A session with Anna. I'm always fascinated by other writers' work process -- I think part of it is because I'm still looking for a system that works for me. Of course, a bit of self-discipline would be a huge help in my case! LOL

I do love a good Beauty and the Beast story - the power of love to reveal the true worth of a ravaged soul.

Your books covers have all been elegantly gorgeous and The Stolen Princess is no exception.

Thanks for having Anne to visit, Anna!


Keziah Hill said...

Hi Madam Prez! I've just bought The Stolen Princess and look forward to curling up with it. My favorite hook is the ugly duckling/plain Jane. I think that's why Jane Eyre is still one of my favorites.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, lots of action here already! I think this might turn into a bit of a party. The go with the boa is a dead giveaway of that, methinks!

Anna Campbell said...

Um, that's meant to be 'dog' with the boa not go with the boa. What's a 'go'?

Sandie Hudson said...

Hi Anne and Anna

Thanks so much for sharing your writing process. I love coming to these type interview blogs, I learn so much.
Anne love the book cover so elegant. My I don't think I have a favourite hook. I love them all, as long as the story is well written it gets me in.
Good luck with the new series Anne.

Anne Gracie said...

Caren, thanks for explaining. I was confused for a moment there.

Hi Kirsten, so glad you liked my Gideon. He just strolled onto the page and took over the story. I 'm partial to a B&the Beast story, too. A female beast? Interesting idea. I think it's much harder to get readers to sympathize with badly behaved heroines -- we're much more forgiving of a bad boy. I suppose it depends on how you define her "beastliness." I look forward to seeing yours.

squiresj said...

s335I like romance stories set in palaces, Indian folklore, historical places I can see in my mind and feel like I've been there.
I found while recovering from surgery Mae Nunn sent me Mom in the Middle and it helped me through the recovery. Why? The Mother fell in a HOme Improvement Store and had hip replacement (I've had a knee replacement) and Dad was in a wheelchair (where I ended up for 8 weeks). I could relate to the heroine as a caregiver taking care of me.
Enjoyed your blog. God Bless.

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Caren and Helen. What's with the tim-tams? (Here have one, she offers a cyber tim-tam, grinning evilly.) Do you know, my first RWA conference I took 8 packets of tim-tams for a whole bunch of authors. Made the mistake of telling the guy at customs they were chocolate covered biscuits -- he looked sooo horrified. Just in time I remembered to say, "No, no, chocolate covered cookies!"
Yep. I like a Cinderella story too. Though I think 'recognizing her worth' has to be a lot more than just her foot size. ;)

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Christine (waves madly)
Love me a MofC plot. I think the MofC is a really good excuse to lock the heroine and hero together in a situation that forces them to work it out. Actually I think our Ms Campbell uses a similar device in her books, only hers are not so much Marriages of Convenience, but Lairs of Convenience...

Anna Campbell said...

I think lairs of inconvenience, Anne. There's not a terrific amount of convenience in ANYTHING I write! From the process up ;-)

Anne Gracie said...

Amy, don't faint, but yes it's water I'm drinking, (pause to polish and emphasize halo). That pic was taken in San Diego last March. I 'm a sucker for a cowboy, too. I'm sad that Anne McAllister isn't still writing her gorgeous cowboys. And what's not to like about a man who's good with his hands... ;)

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, while we've got you here, I wanted to ask you about using collages which I know you do. I just ran out of room on the interview but I'd love to know how collages help with your inspiration. I'd also love to know where else you go to get inspiration.

terrio said...

How in the world do you guys get 26 comments before 2am EST!? Amazing! I'm just going to bed and y'all are just getting going.

And I thought I might get lucky and get the GR. Ha! Not even close!

I'll check in tomorrow, when I'm awake. *g*

Anonymous said...

I’m out wandering in cyber-what’s-it and come upon a small offering from a favourite writing heroine.

I thought your latest cover was the prettiest thing I’ve even seen and then you go and show me your puppy in fancy pyjamas. I find myself wanting to read the autobiography, ‘Untold Secrets of a Writer’s Trustworthy Companion’

There’s something about your writing that hooks me, I haven’t yet read ‘The Stolen Princess’ and you drop your next hero is Harry Morant and I’m off wondering why you would pick that name, and plan to read it to see if your teasing me without our American friends ever knowing. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see if Peter Handcock also has a place in your novel.

Favourite story hook: That’s way to complex for me; I'm just a simple guy who jumps in feet first, goes with the flow and hopes the Author is as gentle with me towards the end.

Thank you Annie (and Anna) ----- Eric

Anne Gracie said...

Flchen, I so agree I hate those stories where she takes off her glasses and pulls down her bun and hey! a raving beauty. I've had a couple of my heroes think the heroine is utterly gorgeous when everyone else thinks she's plain. Gideon in Perfect Rake did.
I think it can be true, too. A friend of mine's husband told me when she had long hair, she looked exactly like Daryl Hannah in Splash. I can't see it at all but it was sooo gorgeous, him saying that.

Anne Gracie said...

Thank you Sharon, she is a dog of great taste, and she thinks you are a woman of exceptional perception. ;0 Amazingly, she loves dressing up. It started when someone gave her a bandana and I had to put it on her and she loved it. So she's an accessory dog. She doesn't chew the boa at all, just prances around in a 'look at me" way.
I loved what you said about the B&theB theme: "the power of love to reveal the true worth of a ravaged soul." That's it in a nutshell -- so beautifully put.

Anne Gracie said...

Anna, I got interested in collage when I heard other writers talking about the process; Barbara Hannay, Jenny Crusie, Susan Wiggs, Barbara Samuel. All good reasons to think it might have something to offer a writer. I do like it -- I like the pre-thinking as I'm sifting through pics and images, rejecting this one and choosing that one. Each choice adds to the story, even if I'm not sure where I'm going. (Which I usually don't.)
It helps me get the mood too. For instance, say I envisaged Richard Armitage as my hero, (as you do) I might wast--er spend a lot of time browsing through photos of him, and end up with nothing but drool, because there was nothing with the right feel for my character. It's the mood of that the pic that matters, not the features of the character.
I think collage is probably harder for historical writers - I get most of my pics off the net, which takes time and costs in ink and photo paper, so I do wonder if I'm really only procrastinating. And doing a search is not the same as letting your subconscious select the pics.
But when I have the collage assembled and on my wall, one glance and I'm plunged into the world of my story, and for that it's gold. There's a pic of the Perfect Kiss collage here: and anyone who's read that book will recognize it, I'm sure.
I've also got 3 collages done by friends here: for series books in 3 different lines and you can really see the difference in the tone of each line. Fascinating. Well, I think it is.
Plus it's fun. I like doing crafty things, like making cards and dolls house bits; while my hands are doing something, my brain is often unraveling a plot knot.

Anna Campbell said...

Terrio, living on the other side of the world helps ;-)

Anne Gracie said...

I also use music. I have a range of CDs I listen to while writing, and sometimes one song becomes a theme song. For Stolen Princess that song was Katie Melua's 'Halfway Up the Hindu Kush.' The hero shows the heroine just exactly what she's been missing out on all these years...
For the book I'm finishing up now, (Harry's story ) it's not just a song, it's a youtube - song and pics together. You probably all kno it -- it's utterly brilliant -- every historical romance writer' and reader's mantra.
Sharon I can guarantee if you start off every writing session with that, it'll fire you up.

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Keziah, I love Jane Eyre, too. I once read a simplified version of it with a group of older ladies learning to read in English and they sobbed happily through it from the Lowood School onwards...

Sandie, (and others) thanks for commenting on the covers. I've been very lucky with all of mine, I think. My fave so far of the Berkley covers is Perfect Kiss. I like the brighter colors - with Stolen Princess the print is a bit pale, I think, but the pic is lovely. I love the embossing on them, too. Yes, I stroke my books. LOL

Anne Gracie said...

Hi squiresj, I hope you're all recovered now. Yes, palaces and exotic countries - sigh. When I was a kid I had this big book of folk tales from other lands and it was brillliant. And as an adult I remember being blown away by Mary Jo Putney's Veils of Silk, set in Colonial India. Fabulous book.

Anne Gracie said...

Eric asked: "I haven't yet read ‘The Stolen Princess’ and you drop your next hero is Harry Morant and I’m off wondering why you would pick that name."
He's a breaker, Eric - a heart breaker, a horse breaker and a soldier. How could I not? But my Harry isn't a poet. So now you know, you were right.

Keira Soleore said...

*thud* Foanna, this truly is thudding moment of thunderous proportions. THE Anne Gracie is in the Lair. I mean, the one whose big fan I am, whose prose makes it difficult to get much more than a grunt from me once I start reading, and whose layered and filligreed storytelling is awe-inspiring. Anne Gracie deserves a hundred thousand *thud*s.

I'm partial to a marriage of convenience plot. There's just something as enforced cohabitation and supervised at that (by family and society) that tends to lay all emotions out on a buffet table. All this emotional overload means that it brings out the best and worst in everyone, thereby proving a true test of whether the hero and heroine are well suited, the compromises that need to be made, the quirks that need allowances, and an infinite ability to forgive and forget/not begrudge.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, your wish is my command. I knew you wanted me to lure her wonderfulness here and I did! Just for you *g* And hey, you really did thud! I heard it all the way down here!

Anne Gracie said...

Keira, thudding fabulous to see you, too ;) Filigreed storytelling, eh? Are you telling me it's full of holes? Hmm? LOL. Thud!
Seriously, thanks for the lovely compliments. I know what a prolific reader you are, so they're greatly appreciated.
I love your description of the convenient marriage situation, too. They're stuck together and everyone is looking on: exactly. Some writer whose name I can't recall at the moment said it was a good technique to stick your hero and heroine in a pot and then add heat, ie pressure. Same kind of thing.

Anna Campbell said...

Um, Anne, are you talking about my crucible romance theory? I'm flattered that you're quoting me, dear! I said the kind of romances I write are crucible stories - I put the hero and heroine in a situation they can't escape and then apply heat until the chemical reaction takes over *g* Actually I can remember goddess Robyn Donald saying a good technique for romance writing was to get your hero and heroine under the same roof as soon as you could and then keep them there. Not bad advice, is it?

Eleni said...

Hey Madam Prez, Anne
Looking forward to reading the new series. I just lurvvvved your Perfect series.
I don't have a favourite theme - there's too much fun reading all the different stories out there.
Great interview Anna.

Anne Gracie said...

Crucible-- dang! I knew it was something glass and scientific. All I could think of was test tube or bunsen burner...
So it was you, eh, Ms. Campbell, you clever thang you.
Very useful analogy... for those who can remember it's a crucible. LOL

Anne Gracie said...

and yes I know a bunsen burner isn't glass.

Serena said...

Hi A & A,
There's something about a tall, dark and handsome prince who finds his princess no matter what. Guess loving the fairytale ending dates back to being a wide-eyed young girl and reading Cinderella, and also those girls annuals. Some gorgeous stories in there! (I remember one with the comicbook-style story of Lorna Doone. I htink I read that a hundred times or so :) )

A great interview with one of my favourite ladies with questions from another of my favourite ladies.
Hugs to you both

Serena, Melbourne. Australia

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Eleni (waving)

Thanks for popping in.

Back to the crucible discussion, I tell my romance writing students to fishbowl them, which is a bit similar.
The very first romance I wrote when I knew noooothing, I had them quarrel at the end of the 3rd chapter, and he stayed in the Kimberly and she flounced off to Perth, thousands of kilometers away. That was the end of my Presents career.

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Serena, (waving madly)
The happily-ever-after ending is emotional justice. The prince wins the heroine by recognizing her unique qualities and taking emotional risks to win her, and we think that deserves a happy ending.
Me, I do so love a happy ending. I have this compulsion to match up practically everyone in my stories.

Keira Soleore said...

Ah yes, that would be the beaker and bunsen burner. However, Anne, I have it on good faith that it's not her hero and heroine she's warming up, but rather, she's roasting The Golden Rooster (mascot of the Banditas) in that crucible.

Another *thud* for recognizing my name. I went over to your site to check out the collages and an outline of how to have a perfect writers' retreat. Fabulous!! It's a dream of mine to make happen. Until then, there's always National...

Do say, you're doing to come to National!! Oh do.

And Foanna, million smooches for requesting Anne Gracie to visit us.

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks, Eleni and Serena. I've wanted to have AG here as a guest ever since we started. I'm delighted she fitted us into her schedule! She's one of the best writing teachers I know. So seriously, if anyone has any writing questions, Anne's the person to ask. She explains everything so beautifully - clearly and concisely and generally with a twinkle in her cyber eyes.

Hey, Keira! Only smooches? I was hoping for at least a drink with an umbrella in it!

Malvina said...

Anna, thanks for the great interview, and Anne - great to have your new series out! I was very sad when you ran out of sisters in your 'Perfect' books. The theme I love the most is best friends to lovers - and, if I may please get specific - the hero falling for his best friend's sister. Ooh. Brings out the heroic, protective, astonished, wonderful lover, often a little bit scared of losing his best friend (in secret, of course), and rather amazed to discover this brilliant woman he's had under his nose for years... Oh, and can I please add a few scars for him, inside and out? I do love a wounded hero, where love heals all. :)

Denise Rossetti said...

Heya Madam Prez!

You know, you're an evil woman? I was all set to make some wise and witty comment and then you distracted me with tight breeches and derring-do on YouTube and I've only just clawed my way back out - a trifle breathless now. Can totally see the attraction for writing Regencies. If it wasn't for all that research I'm too lazy to do... I am in awe - loved your Perfect series!

Um, where was I? Oh yes, a plot hook. I like 'em all, provided the ole sexual tension is there. And hoo boy, I do lurve forbidden love.

And then there's the rescues. I particularly like it when the big hunky hero gets himself into trouble (doing something heroic, of course) and has to be rescued by the heroine. He can return the favour later.

It's possible I'm a leetle twisted...


Gillian Layne said...

Anne, I am so glad you are here!

You are the reason I read romance. I didn't cut my teeth on Jane Austin or Georgette Heyer, my first romance was The Gallant Waif. I still have my copy, battered and dog-eared. I joined up the Harlequin book club after that and never looked back. :)

Can't wait to read the Stolen Princess.

Gillian Layne said...

Oops, favorite hook--the marriage of convenience. Definitely. And all those fairy tales....:)

Anne Gracie said...

Ah, so that's what she does with that crucible, cooks chickens in it! Hah, the pot calling the kettle a crucible, eh?

Keira, that retreat was magic. I truly believe it got a few of us through the hard writing times. Certainly the friendships it formed have been fantastic. I can certainly recommend organizing one.

Not sure whether I'm coming to national, sorry. I'm going to NINC (Novelists Inc) in NY at the end of March, and then I hope to be heading for Europe for that holiday I mentioned. but I haven't booked anything yet -- have to finish a book first before I can think of anything else -- so never say never...

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Malvina (waving madly)... oohh, you've sparked a thought there. I've never written a best friend's sister story, but I do love them as a reader. Hmm, might have to play around with this idea. Not in this series -- they're all kind of planned out, or as much as I plan, but maybe some time down the track...
And yes to a wounded hero. Always. sigh...

Anne Gracie said...

Denise (tossing rose petals your way... or should that be tiger lily petals, yes definitely the latter) Evil? moi? Nevvver.
But yes that youtube is just the most fabulous thing, isn't it?

Mm, yes, I like a romance where a hero rescues the heroine in some fashion and she rescues him right back in a different way. That way they make a great partnership.
Does shooting the hero count as a rescue? I've had a heroine do that.

"It's possible I'm a leetle twisted..." Really? You? (falls back in badly overacted amazement) How could that be? ;)
Seriously folks, go over to Denise Rossetti's site and read some blow-you-away erotic fantasy. Definitely tiger lily petals.

Anne Gracie said...

Gillian Layne, I heart you!

" I didn't cut my teeth on Jane Austin or Georgette Heyer, my first romance was The Gallant Waif. I still have my copy, battered and dog-eared."
I am completely stunned. That was my first ever book.
And my dog hearts you too!

Denise Rossetti said...

Oooh Anne! Remember when Mary shoots Vidal in Devil's Cub? And his reaction? Oooo-errr. *shivers* I first read that at around fourteen and it made a HUGE impression. You too?


PS Thanks for the tiger lilies! I'm sitting here in my tatty nightie attempting to look suitably exotic right this minute. Hmm, wonder if flowers would help at all? Maybe an entire truckload...

Anne Gracie said...

Denise, yes I remember that brilliant scene when Mary shoots Vidal. It's probably the moment he first really looks at her. And starts falling in love with her.
And I love the lines at the end, when she's telling his father about shooting him, unaware that he's Vidal's father, and she says, 'it sobered him, you see."
"I imagine it might have done so."
"Yes, he began to perceive that I was not being vulgarly coy, but was in deadly earnest."
His father finishes taking his snuff and says "A gentleman of intuition I perceive..."
I'm paraphrasing here, going from memory, but it's fabulous.
My heroine is actually shooting at a highwayman, and he gets in the way.

Deb Marlowe said...

Hi Anne! Thanks for the great interview Anna!

Oh, I've been an Anne Gracie fan since The Gallant Waif! I finished The Stolen Princess this weekend! Just a fabulous book. And you are indeed making us wait--we must find out if Tibby and Ethan get together.

Love the series idea, Anne, and marriage of convenience stories are some of my favorites. The enforced intimacy can lead to so many exciting possibilities.

Enjoy your stay in The Lair!

Suzanne Welsh said...

WOW! It's only 6:52 a.m. in Texas and we've had 58 comments already! Geesh! What a great welcome to the Bandit lair for you, Anne. As I worn every guest, beward of Banditas swinging from the rafters and Joan's Romans serving as cabanna boys.

It's interesting that you write bits of your book by hand, too. As you said, I find it frees up my brain and lets the words flow. I think it also requires you to use a different set of brain cells.

The Stolen Princess sounds so good! I do enjoy a marriage of convenience story. I also love the American mail order bride stories. In fact, REFUGE, my first book was a mail-order bride story.

Gillian Layne said...

Anne, just speaking the truth :)

The part where she trails little kisses down Jack's chest when she thinks he's asleep, or their encounter in the library when he's drinking...but at the end, when Jack dances with Kate when the entire gathering is shunning her--I cried through the whole thing.
It ought to be required reading when you join RWA.

Helen, way to go with the Rooster again! He must be loving your place:)

Buffie said...

Hello Anne! By reading all the comments, I feel as if I should bow down to you :) And one day someone is going to have to explain to this Southern gal what the heck a Tim Tam is!!!!

On to the plots . . . I really like all of them, but marriages of convenience are my favorite. I love the idea of two strangers coming together, of seeing them get to know each other and realize that this one time stranger is the love of their life. And you tend to see more compromise in these stories, which make them more real to me.

Beth said...

Fabulous interview, Anne and Anna!

Welcome to the lair, Anne. The excerpt of The Stolen Princess is wonderful!! I MUST have this book *g*

My favorite hooks are reuinited lovers, friends to lovers and like Amy, I love blue collar heroes :-)

Okay, I'm off to Amazon to order The Stolen Princess. It's my reward for surviving the these past few very cold days (below zero - but not as cold as it was in Green Bay last night during the football game *g*)

Gannon Carr said...

Fantastic interview, ladies! I've never had a Tim Tam, but I've had Hob Nobs. Any similarity? Of course, if it's covered in chocolate, it has to be delish!

I'm partial to the marriage of convenience plot and all that the hero and heroine go through to reach their HEA! The Beauty and the Beast plot is another good one. Kirsten, your idea sounds really interesting. I'd love to see how that would play out.

Off to find a copy of The Stolen Princess....

Caren Crane said...

Gillian, never forget you can click on the gorgeous cover of "The Stolen Princess" and order from Amazon in just a few clicks. Hey, we Banditas aim to enable--er, facilitate--your book buying. You know, for your sake! *eg*

(Btw, I am relieved not to be posting in haiku!)

Caren Crane said...

Sorry, Gillian, I meant that for Gannon. The haiku has scrambled my circuits!!

Donna MacMeans said...

GOod Grief - It's not even noon on the east coast and there's 64 comments! What a testament to your popularity, Anne *g*.

Loved the pic of your canine companion. What a cutie.

Maureen said...

Hi Anne!
I do enjoy your books and am looking forward to this one. The marriage of convenience is a favorite of mine, especially in historials.

Gannon Carr said...

You are too right, Caren, about ordering from Amazon. But sometimes I get impatient about waiting for my book to arrive in the mail. :) But since we are expecting more snow tomorrow and again on Thursday, maybe I'll just let the mailman bring me my book.

Caren Crane said...

Gannon, good thinking! Let the mailman risk life and limb rather than us. *g* No offense, postal employees! We love your consistently efficient service and variety of colorful stamps.

Letters in mailbox
Bring such joy and excitement
Book from Amazon?

Ack, the haiku followed me over here from RNTV!!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hmmm...favorite hook? I'm currently working on a Marriage of Convenience story but I do love the Beauty and the Beast hook (Kirsten - yours sounds like fun, can't wait to read). Cinderella is good...hmmm what's left? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? I can see some possibilites there! Oops, or maybe that's for the erotic market *g*

Beth said...

Oh what a great interview between two of my favorite authors. As soon as I finish Untouched (today) I will be picking up The Stolen Princess.

My favorite plot lines - beauty and the beast and the ugly duckling. There is just something about a romance when the hero or the heroine never thought it would ever happen for them so when it does it is even more overwhelming and beautiful. I also like it when the hero or the heroine (doesn't matter which) falls for someone they have known for years, but something happens and they finally see that person as if for the first time.

Thanks for such a lovely start to my day - now I have to go paint my bathroom before I am allowed to read.

Suzanne Welsh said...

ASK! Donna...just spewed protein drink over the keyboard at the Snow white erotica reference!

Joan said...

but as Gabriel pointed out, it's not his thumb she should worry about... ;)

Oh, my.....I love Gabriel all ready!

Welcome to the lair Anne. Excuse me while I go to the Borders to buy ALL YOUR BOOKS because if your writing is as good as your

If memory serves (and that's a long shot) you and Anna critique together? I was struck by the energy of your post and couple that with Ms. Campbell and WOW!

And excuse me, as good as Tim Tams and thin mints are, the GR loves MY scones!

AndreaW said...

Hi Anne! I am a total sucker for the Cinderella theme, but in reverse...when the hero feels he isn't worthy of the heroine. Love it!

Congrats on the GR, Helen!


jo robertson said...

Great interview, Anna. Welcome to the Lair, Anne. What interesting and informative comments. Thanks so much for sharing with us today. I'm going to whip over to Amazon and put your book on my order!

I love marriage of convenience stories. There's something so powerful about two people thrown together who HAVE to fall in love (for their HEA), but start out as manipulators, friends, or enemies. I love to watch and write that evolution.

p226 said...

What's a "story hook?" I'm sorry, my writing terminology is weak. Though, if it means what I think it means, as a reader, I have a favorite "hook" that immediately sucks you in.

I prefer a hugely significant, but seemingly completely disconnected event. An event that's full of foreshadowing. An opening paragraph that maybe goes like this.

"The motorcycle hummed along at a docile five thousand revolutions per minute as the rage continued to build. The deeper the reality of what he'd just seen and heard sank in, the angrier became. Soon, the engine speed began to increase in a parallel curve with his anger. Over the wind noise he could hear sirens in the distance. He knew where they were headed. And he knew what they'd find when they got there. The maelstrom in his mind reached a stormy crescendo as he veered of of highway thirty three and up the interstate ramp. With a pair of quick taps, he dropped the bike's transmission down two gears to fourth, sending it into a high pitched scream as he rolled into the throttle. Approaching the top of the ramp at fifteen thousand RPMs, and a hundred and thirty miles per hour, he knew he was running well beyond safe limits. As he shifted into fifth gear at one forty five, it dawned on him. After what she'd done, he didn't care about safety."

Now... I'm not a writer. The above was just kind of stream of thought. But I'm throwing it out there as an example of the kind of thing that might "hook" me in. As a reader, an intro, a "hook" like that (if I'm even using the term correctly) fills my mind with questions. Questions that MUST be answered. I'll read an awful long ways through back story and character development to get those questions answered. "What'd he just see? Who is she? Why's he angry enough that he's doing 145 on a public road? Why doesn't he care about his own safety? Is this guy nuts?"

I'm sure all of that comes off as sophomoric to you guys... but hey, I'm a simple guy. I love it when that type of thing is used to suck me into a story.

Joan said...

p226...fess up. You're really John Grishom aren't you?

If you do not get serious and get down to some writing I will...I will...I will send the GR back to you with "persuasion" techniques!!!!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Okay, now I want to hear the rest of P226's story. As a general rule I tend to favor the ugly duckling, not that she changes so much as he comes to see her as beautiful, I know you all know what I mean. To anyone and everyone else she is still an ugly duckling. I really like them all though.

p226 said...

There is no "rest of the story." I made that up in as much time as it took me to type it. And I type fast. Real fast. 150+WPM fast. The idea was just to give an example of the kind of thing that sucks me into a story.

Is that a "hook?" Do I have the term right?

Buffie said...

p226, you got it right, really right. You really need to sit down and write a book. That paragraph was fabulous!

Cassondra said...

226, you do have the term "hook" right actually. But it's used in different ways. The "hook" at teh beginning of a book is what you have--the thing that first grabs the reader.

I think what is also being called a hook here is a "story archetype" sort of thing. You know, is this a "Cinderella" story--or a "Beauty and the Beast" story--assuming most stories are of a "type" based on one of the classic fairytales.

There's all this story theory out there--we who are gluttons for punishment read that stuff--and we learn to identify characteristics of archetypal stories in ANY story. So there is the opening "hook" of a story, which you've written, and then there's the overall story hook, which is the fairytale or classic story "base" which that story can be compared to....and which is the overall them of a story that hooks the reader...okay I'm going in circles...I have no idea....

Anna Campbell said...

Buffie, Tim Tams are the world's greatest invention. Beat the X-ray and the electric light hands down. They're a chocolate cookie (biscuit here - you'll have to learn the lingo before you visit). Here's a link:

If you're coming to San Francisco and you're REALLY nice to me, I'll give you one ;-) How's that for graft and corruption?

Cassondra said...

Hi Anne! Welcome to the lair. I got going on story theory there and got lost....hmmm.

Wonderful interview, and we're so glad to have you with us. You're an amazing woman, and love the boa on the dog...

I guess I like the ugly duckling stories best. THere's that old story about the man who married the ugly daughter, took her away, and after he brought her home her own father didn't recognize her..

When I was a little girl nobody bothered to tell me I wasn't ugly. And then you got to middle school and the teenage boys--well, they don't do much for a girl's self esteem at that age--what with acne and all--so I grew up thinking I was ugly. Took me a while to find out I was not. And I'm really aware of how our inner self is formed by the reflection we get from other people. So I love stories like those I guess because I can believe they're true. Someone who sees you differently can actually transform you--inside and out.

After that, hmmmm...I'd guess it'd be the Beauty and the Beast stories--they're similar in some ways to the ugly duckling--seeing the inside of a person and all. Kirsten, your premise sounds AWESOME, btw. That's turning the hook on its head right there.

Anna Campbell said...

OK, just had some fantastic news! I interrupt this broadcast to bring you a newsflash. Our wonderful Trish Milburn has made it through to the next round of American Title IV! Huge congratulations, Trish! I'm not surprised. Your story sounds great.

Bandits and honorary Banditas, ahoy! Go to

And please vote for her story OUT OF SIGHT. Think of the party we could have here if she wins! Yes, it's all about self-interest, isn't it?

Cassondra said...

Anna said:

Buffie, Tim Tams are the world's greatest invention.

I dunno. I was at a plot group recently and Anna Sugden brought these really addictive things--Aerobubbles. OMG! She put them in the middle of the bed where we were all sitting around brainstorming.

The recorder was in the center of the bed. On the recording, there are ideas tossed about, me swearing a lot (yes, I have quite the potty mouth) and the constant crinkle crinkle of the aerobubble wrappers. Couldn't STOP! Wanted more. STILL want more...

Are Tim Tams better than that?

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

P226, if that is just a paragraph (spur of the moment yet) then I really think you need to consider writing a story.

catslady said...

I don't think I have a favorite hook either. I seem to like a variety and if there is good characterization, a good read is a good read.

Anna Campbell said...

There was a young lady called Gracie
Whose bloomers were pretty and lacy...

Sorry, I seem to be channelling verse today after all the fun over at Romance Novel TV. If you guys haven't visited, seriously take a look! Caren is lighting up half of Manhattan with her brain power!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, I'm a sucker for most of the hooks. Even the one when he takes off her glasses and says, "Why, Miss Jones, you're beautiful!" Fairytales work for me especially Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Ugly Duckling, Cinderella. Love friends into lovers (Christine's Scandal's Daughter is a masterpiece of that particular genre). Love opposites attract. Love nice girl/bad boy. Love bad girl/nice boy. Love spinster/rake. Love redeeming power of love stories. Love marriages of convenience - hmm, perhaps because of the nooky opportunities ;-) Love sheikh stories. Oh, man, I could just go on and on! Actually love geek stories!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Anne, just checked out the video. Very...inspirational! Just what a girl needs in the middle of a haiku marathon, some Richard Armitage in the morning! ;-) Thanks for sharing!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Denise, forbidden love. That's one of my absolute faves. I love cross-class romance too (obviously!). I also love fish out of water romances. Isn't it great that there are so many wonderful hooks (um, although perhaps not for the poor fish out of water!)?

Anna Campbell said...

Beth, thanks for those kind words. Paint fast ;-) Just to put Matthew and Grace out of their misery!

Gillian, how gorgeous that Anne was your pathway into becoming a dedicated romance reader!

Joan, you're the baking queen. Seriously, folks, she wins PRIZES! No, Anne and I don't critique but we spend a lot of time on the phone commiserating because our characters don't behave!

Anne Gracie said...

Deb, wow, another one who's read my first book. Fantastic. Thanks.
Tibby and Ethan ahhh, wait and see ;) I actually didn't plan to make you wait quite that long, but there was just not enough room - I had to cut. Hence the waiting, which I won't blame on Charles Dickens this time.

Anna Campbell said...

P226, for someone who's not a writer, you can sure write! I think by 'hook', we mean the underlying theme of a story. You know how Pretty Woman is basically a Cinderella story. Or Claiming the Courtesan is basically Beauty and the Beast.

jo robertson said...

Wow, p226, great hook! Uh, yeah, I'd say you hit the nail on the head.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, and by the way, Hob Nobs are good but Tim Tams are sublime! So no, they're not really alike.

Anne Gracie said...

Suzanne, yes, this is what happens when you get people from all parts of the globe together - the party never stops.
Writing by hand is supposed to have a deeper connection to the brain, I think -- you can see I'm no psychologist -- but it works for me. Some of my strongest scenes have been ones that I wrote by hand first, usually when I'm about to drift off to sleep or just as I've woken up. That scene Gillian mentioned from Gallant Waif I still have in a note book somewhere, and the final ballroom scene, too. And the scene where Prudence meets Gideon in Perfect Rake --if you haven't read it, it's the same scene that's on the extract:

Anna Campbell said...

We have Aeros in Oz. I wonder if they're the same. Sort of chocolate full of air and it tastes fantastic? There are mint ones too which are even yummier!

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, as you know, I'm trying to do the first draft of the current story by hand in a notebook. Actually, it's been lovely sitting outside with the book on my lap and not poring over a computer all day (well, I'm still addicted to emails but at least I'm getting a break from the screen!). I think you're right about it connecting to the creative part of the brain better.

Gillian Layne said...

I've always wondered why I could blank out in front of the screen, then plod off to bed, and just as I'm slipping into dreamland--wham! There's another scene to be written! Drat those crossed neurons.

It's really hard to get back up when it's this cold, though :)

P226--please tell me that took at least a little effort. (banging head on keyboard...)

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Buffie, I think we've met cyberly before, too. Google tim tam and you'll find out. They're Australia's favorite cookies - two flat chocolate flavored cookies (similar texture to oreos) with a chocolate filling sandwiching them together, then the whole thing is dipped in chocolate. And there are eleven in a pack, which means there's always a dispute as to who deserves the extra tim tam. LOL. In fact a friend of mine once had a hilarious fight with her ex-boyfriend over a tim tam -- I keep threatening to turn it into a story called Tim Tam Tuesday.

Anne Gracie said...

Beth, I love blue collar heroes, too, but in the historical market (apart from westerns) there's just no demand for them, I'm told. :( So that's why I'll often have a secondary romance for blue collar characters. Like Ethan, the Irish horse whisperer.

Beth the story I'm finishing up now (Harry's story - His Captive lady is one of those "she never thought it would happen to her" stories. I love them too.

And mail order bride western is another favorite hook -- I'm going to have to buy Suzanne's REFUGE.

Anne Gracie said...

Gannon, they're not the same as HobNobs -- we have them here, too. They're also similar to our chocolate wheaten biscuits. I once met a guy on a plane trip from Salt lake City to LA and he was a mormon who in his youth had been on placement (not sure what the term is) to Australia. He was quite well traveled by now and he told me Australia had the best candy and cookies of any country. LOL. Our claim to fame. It had been 15 years since he'd been here and he still could rattle off names, like Cherry Ripe, Violet Crumble and yes, Tim Tams. We have most of the good English ones, plus more of our own.

Anne Gracie said...

Donna, yes, she's a gorgeous dog. A dog is a great companionfor writers -- apart from being wonderful animals, when it's walk time, she'll come to the computer and nudge me until I remember to take her for a long walk. Good for her and good for me.

Anne Gracie said...

Donna said: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? I can see some possibilites there! Oops, or maybe that's for the erotic market *g*"

I don't know, how about a regency-era story where an innocent young teacher gets art lessons from seven quite short men, each of whom specializes in one aspect of "art." ;)

Anne Gracie said...

Donna said: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? I can see some possibilites there! Oops, or maybe that's for the erotic market *g*"

I don't know, how about a regency-era story where an innocent young teacher gets art lessons from seven quite short men, each of whom specializes in one aspect of "art." ;)

Anne Gracie said...

Sorry about the double post -- I thought I'd missed the click button and must have hit it twice instead.

Joan asked: "If memory serves (and that's a long shot) you and Anna critique together?"

Nope, but I do claim credit for introducing Anna and the wonderful Annie West, her critique partner. It was at a RWA cocktail party, and we'd formed a small tribe of annes (as you do), and we talked and laughed, but then I confess I abandoned them in pursuit of a prawn toast... so they formed a critique partnership instead. LOL

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Anne, that's perfectly true! It was my first conference and I was sooooo nervous. I really felt like I was playing out of my league talking to not one but TWO published authors. But that's one of the lovely things about conferences - you meet all sorts of interesting Annas/Annie/Annes. In fact, it's hard to remain Anne-onymous!

Anne Gracie said...

Andrea, yes a humble-yet-gorgeous hero is a fine sight to behold, isn't he? Psyche wrote: "Women dream of me who give themselves wholly."
So true, isn't it?

Anne Gracie said...

dream of men - not me, LOL.

Christine Wells said...

Hey, Foanna, you're still after that kidney of mine, aren't you? Thanks for saying that about Scandal's Daughter.

As you went through the list, I decided I'm a sucker for most hooks, too. Just not the secret baby or twins. Or amnesia. But you know, in skilled hands, they could work...

Anne, I'm so glad you got another puppy. It sounds like you really needed her. And what a great dog for a romance writer to have--one who likes wearing feather boas!

Anne Gracie said...

p226, that's a grrrreat opening.
And, sorry to contradict you, but yes, you are a writer.
What you wrote is what I call raising the first story questions, or the opening hook(s). I think any good opening needs to raise story questions that entice/impel/ force/ the reader to read on. They hook you in to the story.
The way we've been talking about hooks is a kind of short cut -- meaning the kind of story. It's what people might mention in a query letter, for instance.
If anyone is interested in reading some really excellent discussions about opening hooks and beginning stories, nip over to the word wenches blog - they've been discussing it for more than a week. Warning though, they're very effective hooks -- I've had to order a number of them.

And p226 -- keep writing.

p226 said...

P226--please tell me that took at least a little effort. (banging head on keyboard...)

No... it really didn't. It came out at the "speed of type."

Anne Gracie said...

Just anothr point about p2226's paragraph -- another reason we're all responding to it so well is that there's a real sense of authority behind it. It's another thing I think is so important - for the writer to be extremely comfortable with the details and setting. When I first read Christine Wells's Scandal's Daughter it was one of the things that struck me -- she has such a deft grasp of regency-era detail. It's not something you immediately notice unless you're like me and look for it -- it doesn't come from cramming detail into the book to show you know it, but when it's done right, it carries that effortless sense of authority that also hooks the reader in without them realizing it.

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, I 100% agree with you about the fact that you pick up Scandal's Daughter and you trust that this writer knows the Regency and therefore you trust the story. I do a lot of research for all my stories and very little of it makes it into the final version - I now know ALL about madness in early 19th century England and very litle of that appeared in Untouched. But it made me sound like I knew what I was talking about with Matthew's illness and treatment. It's that iceberg thing, isn't it? 10% shows above the water. The other 90% just helps the 10% float.

Anne Gracie said...

Cassondra said:
" I grew up thinking I was ugly. Took me a while to find out I was not. And I'm really aware of how our inner self is formed by the reflection we get from other people. "
That's so true. I think a lot of girls grow up thinking they're unattractive, because they think they have to be perfect. Or they focus on the less attractive aspects of themselves. I don't normally have beautiful heroines for this reason, so it was a real shock to the system when I sold Perfect Rake to Berkley and then my editor said, "And what about the sisters' stories." Ack! I hadn't even considered a series. I'd made all of Prudence's sisters beautiful. I nearly had a melt-down, LOL, until I realized that with the upbringing they'd had they wouldn't think they were beautiful anyway. And in any case it's mostly the hero's story in those books.

Nathalie said...

I love marriage of convernience because antagonism between characters grows into love and the author usually shows us different sides of the heroes... which make them even more human :)

Anne Gracie said...

"if there is good characterization, a good read is a good read."
Catslady, I absolutely agree. As a reader I want characters to worry about, cheer for, weep with, fear for and be happy with.

"There was a young lady called Gracie
Whose bloomers were pretty and lacy..."

Mz Campbell, I refer you to the first part of our interview, which points out very clearly and without equivocation that I do not wear bloomers. You clearly have an appalling case of versification limerickitis, so see a doctor immediately.

Anne Gracie said...

"I've always wondered why I could blank out in front of the screen, then plod off to bed, and just as I'm slipping into dreamland--wham! There's another scene to be written! Drat those crossed neurons."
Yes, that's why I keep a notebook under my pillow. I've even perfected the art of writing legibly (almost) in the dark. Because no matter how brilliant the idea that comes as I'm drifting off, and how I'm so sure I couldn't possibly forget it, in the morning it's gone. And all that remains is the memory that it was brilliant! So I spend the first part of the morning kicking myself. LOL.

Anne Gracie said...

" And what a great dog for a romance writer to have--one who likes wearing feather boas!"
Christine, it's not just a feather boa -- it's a Harlequin feather boa. At the annual Harlequin author lunch one year, the conference had a retro theme and Harlequin Sydney got into the swing of it and gave every author a red boa to wear at the lunch.
I eat at that restaurant often, and afterwards I mentioned I'd been here that day. And the waiter said, "Oh when all those romance writers were upstairs? Weren't they so noisy?" And we were picking up red feathers for days afterwards. LOL.

Anna Campbell said...

AG, don't say you're like our Kirsten and you occasionally go commando!!! No bloomers indeed! Kirsten did a hilarious post that I'm sure a lot of you will remember about her day without undies. Yes, we cover the whole gamut of human experience here on the Banditas.

Anne Gracie said...

Anna, yes, I agree about the iceberg and the amount of detail not used. It's not visible, but it casts a shadow (she says mixing metaphors with blythe disregard)
One way I have of getting into the feel of the regency is to remember how my grandmother did things. A lot of methods for doing things were the same for hundreds of years until someone invented it.
Of course the terminology isn't always the same. I remember some regency gal heading down into the root cellar...
And then there's the class difference. A regency lady didn't need to starch a shirt, she just needed to know how to make someone else do it.

Anne Gracie said...

Nathalie, yes, with a convenient marriage story, we get to see the growth of the intimate side of the marriage (and I'm not just talking sex.)
Though not all of them start off antagonistic. Remember, there was virtually no divorce in those days, so they had to learn to live together - though it was usually the woman who was supposed to bend.
Several of my friends' parents had what we'd call "convenient marriages" -- ie arranged marriages, and they've lasted really well because both sides wanted to make it work.

Anne Gracie said...

AG, don't say you're like our Kirsten and you occasionally go commando!!! No bloomers indeed! Kirsten did a hilarious post that I'm sure a lot of you will remember about her day without undies.

LOL. There's a family story about my paternal grandmother -- the Extremely Proper one -- who was in the main street one day when her undie elastic snapped and they dropped to her knees. Apparently she stood stock still, gave a very dignified wiggle, stepped out of them, kicked them into the gutter and kept walking, as if nothing had happened.

Annie West said...

Hi Anne,

How lovely to see you here. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview, and the sound of those upcoming books. I've been searching high and low for your Stolen Princess in two cities but they're in transit. Gr. But I do like to go in and buy the book in person if I can. I LOVE walking out with it in my hand, chuckling over how soon I can read it.

Had to laugh at your assurance your characters do bathe. Of course they do - I can vouch for that!

Loved reading too about your writing day. Made me feel so much better about my own er...fluid writing arrangements.


Suzanne Welsh said...

I wish you could buy my book, Anne! From your lips to an editor's ears!!

I've heard of Tim-Tams for years and am looking forward to getting some this year. Maybe, if I'm a really good girl and stand 20 feet from Anna's Avon signing again telling people to get her books, she'll give me more than one?

Anne McAllister said...

Whoa, you guys, what a lot of comments! Anne G told me she didn't see how bloggers got anything done. Well, given this level of commentary, I don't either! Really interesting discussion, though. Esp the part about the TimTams! (love 'em)

Favorite sort of story? I like marriages of convenience. Love wounded heroes. Love a hero who has something to prove -- even if not to the heroine.

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, I owe you a whole packet for bullying, uh...persuading people at the door they needed to buy my book OR ELSE! There's something in the tone of authority a nurse can generate, isn't there? The girls on either side of me at the signing kept looking at my line in bewilderment, thinking who the h*ll is this chick? I've never heard of her but everybody wants to buy her book. I told them it's not what you know, it's WHO you know!

Anne, squeal of excitement! One of my favourite authors just entered the lair. Quick grab the lasso and the handcuffs. We never want her to leave!

Anne Gracie said...

Suzanne, they do say that western historicals are coming back -- and I, for one, have missed them, so fallopian tubes crossed for you. (sorry, I need my fingers to type, but the fallopians aren't doing anything useful, so they might as well bring people luck)

Annie, getting a writing ritual in place is also useful when you have as much on your plate as I know you have. It sort of clicks the brain into gear.

Do others use writing rituals to help?

Anne Gracie said...

Hey there Anne McAllister (waving madly) we were talking before about how fabulous cowboy heroes can be, and now, here you are, creator of some of the most fabulous cowboy (and other) heroes.

What's the secret to a great hero, do you think?

Anne McAllister said...

Hey, Anne, you just don't want me to get any work done either.

Great heroes? Guys with a flaw. A blind spot. Something that they've dealt with on a superficial level and think is behind them and they've got things under control -- and then, whoops, bang, it's back -- and it threatens to undermine the most important things in their life.

Almost every hero I've fallen in love with has had to make a major readjustment during the story. He has to rethink his fondest views or come to terms all over again with an issue he's figured he has already resolved -- and very often it involves the one woman he discovers he can't live without -- damn it.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Can I point out something?

There's Anna Campbell
Annie West
Anne Gracie
And Anne McAllister

uhm, are most writers from Australia named Anne or some form of the name?

Anne Gracie said...

Anne McAllister said: "He has to rethink his fondest views or come to terms all over again with an issue he's figured he has already resolved -- and very often it involves the one woman he discovers he can't live without"

I purely LOVE that moment, too, when he has to really dig deep -- and guys hate that so much -- and then make the difficult decision. It's what I meant when I talked about taking emotional risks.

Anne Gracie said...

Suzanne asked:
"uhm, are most writers from Australia named Anne or some form of the name?"

Well, Anne McAllister is from the USofA, but the thing is, there's this secret international tribe of ann(e)s and we are compelled to cluster and hang out together... Remember the cocktail party story? ;)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Okay well, I'm an anne...a Suz-anne.hehehe...Do I get to play?

brownone said...

I like a good "widow" finding true love story! :-)

Annie West said...

Anne Mc, great definition of what makes an unforgettable hero. That point about the hero needing to deal with something he thought he'd already finished with is so right. And isn't it lovely when that blind spot is something to do with the heroine? That's when it all comes together for me. She makes him face up to the truth he's been avoiding.

Anne G, writing rituals certainly help me, was do writing bribes (I only came here after I'd done a little more writing of this new story - this was my treat). I like to try to get a certain amount of email stuff done and a few chores around the house so that when I sit down with my cup of coffee I'm ready to write. It works sometimes (G!).

Suzanne - an interesting idea. I wonder if we could persuade the other writers to change to versions of Anne too?


Caren Crane said...

Anne, thank you for your astute diagnosis of Anna's versification limerickitis. We have been trying to get her into a treatment program for months, but she refuses to go! Surely your Presidential authority will convince her. It's for the good of RWAus and RWA, Foanna. Go, for the sake of the children!!

Caren Crane said...

Annie West, I do believe I included you in a haiku today on RNTV. I hope you don't mind your name being passed around cyberspace! *g*

Haven Rich said...

I really enjoy reading marriage of convenience and scandal-forced marriages.

I just really like seeing how two characters who might no have gotten married or together any other way must now find a way to work things out.

Sorry I'm so late to this party, but I've had a busy day counting syllables for my haikus

Caren Crane said...

Haven, great to see you here! See there, I can speak in regular prose. Wonders never cease! *g*

MsHellion said...

I love everything, Anne, if YOU'RE writing it!

Okay, and I do have a horrible soft spot for "bad boys"--my first book I read by you was with that adorable rake. The Perfect Rake! *swoons* I was in love with him instantly!

And in your newest list, the one you termed the fallen angel--HIS was the book I immediately thought: OOooh, he's going to be DELICIOUS!

Haven Rich said...

I know, it almost feels funny not counting syllables or rhyming.

Oh but it is so much fun :D.

Christine Wells said...

Anne, I think I've just had one of Keira's *thud* moments. (although that sounds funny when I think of my husband's definition of that word, eek!)

But I just choked up when you said such lovely things about Scandal's Daughter. Coming from you, that's such a compliment. I might print it out and stick it on a wall somewhere:)

Oh, and it's a Harlequin feather boa! Even better. Perhaps your canine friend might be up for a bit of collaboration?

My goodness, I think you must hold the comment record, Ms. Gracie. Thank you so much for visiting us in the lair today. You've been a wonderful guest

Anne McAllister said...

I'm very impressed with all you syllable-counters. Can't do it. Not enough fingers and toes.

Annie W, yes, when the heroine makes him face up to that unresolved issue, you've definitely got a great story. Or at least 'my kind' of story!

Will have to take some of Anne's question and stick it on my blog. If I do, will you all come over for a visit?

Oh, and regarding the abundance of Annes bit, I'm also an honorary member of the "Kathy chapter" of RWA! Once upon a time there were sooo many Kathy, Kate, Cathy, Cait, Catherine, Katharyn, etc writers that they had their own "chapter" with badges they used to wear at the literacy signings. I felt very left out, so they made me an honorary "cathy." We could make anyone who wants to be, an honorary "Anne."

terrio said...

I can't believe I got burried under laundry and all the other things I've been putting off and forgot to come back! Dang it.

I'm really liking this collage idea. I've been toying with finding images for the settings of my stories (contemporary) and I have a restaurant so I think having a picture or pictures of what I think it might look like in my head would be a tremendous help when writing about it.

Now I have a new project to work on while at work. LOL! Not that I'm not working but, you know, in my spare time....*g*

Caren Crane said...

Terrio, I know exactly what you mean. You learn to switch those windows really fast while at work! *eg*

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, drop me a line when you do the blog and I'll chase up the Bandits.

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, you've been an AMAZING guest. Thank you for coming to the lair. I think this is our most comments ever. Is that right, Banditas? Thank you so much to everyone who commented and joined in the party. Oh, and don't forget to check back to see who won the fantastic signed copy of The Stolen Princess.

Anna Sugden said...

Wow what a party!

Sorry I only just managed to pop in - family crisis.

But I had to drop by and say a big hi and welcome to my Ping-loving pal, Anne! And, I'm definitely going to check out The Stolen Princess (*grumble, grumble* I'm not a fan of Regencies, but there are too many of you great Regency writers convincing me otherwise!)

How cool that you mention Robyn Donald - the first romance I ever read was by Robyn. And it still has one of my favourite scenes ever!

Anne Gracie said...

Caren said:
thank you for your astute diagnosis of Anna's versification limerickitis. We have been trying to get her into a treatment program for months, but she refuses to go! Surely your Presidential authority will convince her.

Caren, I've tried. As a founding member of Punsters Anonymous, I've had punning battles almost to the death with her on the aussie RWA loop, so I recognize critical wordopathy.

I fear, though my dear Caren, having seen your prodigious Haikuity on romancenovelTV that you might need treatment yourself... LOL.

Anne Gracie said...

SuzAnne, of course you can play.

And brownone, you might enjoy my Stolen Princess story, in that case. She's a widow.
And my theme song for her is a Katie Melua song that goes:

"The first time that I saw you
I said for goodness sake
That man's got the power
He's a charmer with a snake
I was thrilled and fascinated
and somehow liberated,
When you took me to a place I'd never been.
You showed me lots of things I'd never seen

You set me free
as if you'd taken me,
Halfway up the Hindu Kush
And I love you,
for showing me the view
from halfway up the Hindu Kush "

Fabulous song. Fabulous album with lots of fabulous songs, actually. Katie Melua is a singer/songwriter from the UK.

Anne Gracie said...

Hi Anna (another wonderful member of the tribe of annes)
Hope the crisis isn't too bad and that it's all ok soon.

"How cool that you mention Robyn Donald - the first romance I ever read was by Robyn. And it still has one of my favourite scenes ever!"

Robyn is a fabulous writer and a gorgeous person. She's also amazingly wise. She has given me some of the best advice ever.
Did you guys know she and Daphne Clair run a live-in writing workshop called Kara School of Writing. I know a few people who've done that -- combined a holiday in beautiful New Zealand with Kara. They only take 4 people at a time, and focus really intensely on your own work. Even published authors do Kara, as these two are so good.

Kirsten said...

Sure, I go to work and somehow you start talking about my unmentionables! Why in the world did I think that would be a suitable blog topic? ;-)

Anne (Gracie that is!) thanks for being such a lovely guest and I hope you had fun today in the Lair. I've been waiting for this for a long time! Now we've just got to get Eloisa and Mary Balogh in here and my hero worship will be complete!

Anne Gracie said...

mshellion, thank you! I'm so glad you liked my Gideon. He was such a wicked charmer. I wrestled with him for ages before I decided to let him go his own way, and I'm so glad I did.

"And in your newest list, the one you termed the fallen angel--HIS was the book I immediately thought: OOooh, he's going to be DELICIOU"

I hope so. At the moment Luke's the last book, so he's here in all his glory in my head. Before him, we get the cool, elegant, controlled Rafe, who nothing ever ruffles... of course, he's going to lose every little bit of his cool over the heroine I have lined up for him... heh, heh.

Keira Soleore said...

Anne: My fav bookseller called me earlier today saying they had TSP in, so of course, I had to run out and get it. And while I was there, both she and I oohed and aahed over the cover. The embossing makes the diamonds believable. Verrry nicely done.

Anne said, "Writing by hand is supposed to have a deeper connection to the brain"

Tracy Chevalier said the same thing in a talk she gave here in Seattle a few years ago. She writes her entire manuscripts by longhand. The other thing she said was that writing by hand moves at the same speed as her mind, typing gets ahead of her.

Anne said, "there's a real sense of authority behind it"

So true. If the writer tiptoes around the story, the impression is one of incompetence, not nervous/shy. Not very nice on the part of us readers, but there you have it.

Anne, I'm so going to quote you on the crossed fallopian tube bit. I have talked about crossed eyes, but you're a true goddess (or would that be princess?).

Anne asked, "I wonder if we could persuade the other writers to change to versions of Anne too?"

If changing my name to Keira-ann will get me published, get me in front of a judge ASAP.

I'd love to see that view of the Hindu Kush, too.

Foanna: A drink with an umbrella is definitely going to be on me in July for the sheer pleasure of reading Untouched. I love, love, love, love (um, ok) it.

Lacy bloomers? BTW, you were headed down Limmerick Lane, instead of staying on Haiku Road.

Buffie: I hope the Down Under gals will not only explain what Tim Tams are, but will have a few at hand for tasting at National.

Beth: Blue-collared heroes, eh? I bet you're dying to read Lisa Klepas's second contemp. I've been foaming at the mouth for months now.

Trish: A HUGE yay to you for moving up and up and up in the Title IV contest. And yes, I voted.

Christine: I'm a tad nervous about this talk of Foanna extracting kidneys out of folks. I better give her two umbrella drinks instead of one. And instead of asking your husband for his definition of "thud" I'll just treat him to a drink, too.

Kirsten: Surely your epitaph is going to read you went commando and enjoyed it. Just as there's a picture of Anne Gracie's grandmother hanging over your mantlepiece. :)

AnneMac: So great to see you here in the Lair. Welcome, welcome.

Brownone: Have you read Candice Hern's Merry Widows series?

All this talk about chocolate sure warms the heart of this gal who has liquid chocolate instead of blood in her body.

doglady said...

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Helen! Hey, Caren. For thin mints, I'LL come to your house! Of course I said the same thing about Tim Tams. I am just a chocolate tramp!

Okay, now here is the really awful thing. Don't hate me and please don't throw anything unless it is covered in chocolate. I have never read any Anne Gracie!! I know! I know! It is a mortal sin!! It has to be in the Romance Writer / Reader's Bible somewhere. Thou shalt read all of Anne Gracie! So what is my penance, La Campbell??

I loved this interview. I loved the description of a pantser as an organic writer. It describes my process so much more clearly. Although I think Ms. Gracie would be considered quite scandalous in some time periods for going sans bloomers! (SNORK!)

I too tend to go back to handwriting when things are not coming they way they should. Do the scenes come to you in order, Anne, or do they sometimes come out of order and you have to shuffle them like cards to get them in the right place? I have scenes that come to me out of the blue and it sometimes takes me a while to figure out where they go in context.

Of course your dog is just darling! Look at that face! And definitely a fashion icon!

My favorite hook? Hmmm. I love a marriage of convenience that is most INCONVENIENT! I love a "clueless" like story where the guy is the one who is clueless! I am a real sucker for a Beauty and the Beast story because you can go so deep to find out what makes the man a beast. You can delve into some real character with that one.

And I love opposites attract stories where he or she is the very last person anyone would ever expect him or her to fall in love with. I am off to find some Anne Gracie books online.

Gillian, I thought you were my friend! Why didn't you TELL me about this fabulous author?? You too, Anna C!!

Gillian Layne said...

Oh, Pam (hangs head in shame). I'm sorry! Get Gallant Waif---really. Set aside enough time for start to finish. After you've read the entire book and you realize there are no explicit sex scenes and yet the sensuality level of the book is amazed.

Then go back and read it again. :)

Kirsten said...

Keira, we don't SEE you often enough lately! Darling, we MISS you when you aren't here!! Shall we ply you with Thin Mints? Or perhaps La Campbell will dangle Tim Tams in front of you?

Anne Gracie said...

Keira, the embossing is gorgeous, isn't it? Now you know why I pat my cover.

I think handwriting works for me because I do it in short snatches. The key is getting into that dream state. That's what the Dorothea Brande stuff is about, too; training yourself to enter that creative dream state. She calls it 'harnessing the unconscious."
I should confess, another reason why handwriting works for me is that I'm a rotten typist. If you've ever seen me in a live chat, you'll know.

Anna Campbell said...

Pam, I just thought the universe knew about the glory that is Gracie! No penance. Just hie thee to a bookshop pronto, bud. Actually, you two would get along like a house on fire. You're both dog mad! ;-)

Anne Gracie said...

doglady (what a gorgeous name. My Chloe-dog approves and thinks you're a person of great taste in recognizing her darlingness)

"I think Ms. Gracie would be considered quite scandalous in some time periods for going sans bloomers! (SNORK!)"

Actually, in the early 1800's, the scandalous galz were the ones wearing the bloomers! It was a shocking new fashion from the French, who'd invented such wispy little dresses that women needed undies to be warm as well as decent. When this fashion crossed the channel, it was condemned as a French Plot to undermine English Morals, ranted about from pulpits (scandalous for women to wear pantalooms, which were items of MALE attire) and doctors warned that the impeding of the natural flow orf air to women's reproductive parts would cause all kinds of dreadful diseases and result in infertility.

"Do the scenes come to you in order, Anne, or do they sometimes come out of order and you have to shuffle them like cards to get them in the right place?"

Yes, scenes from all kinds of stories come to me out of the blue and I write them down in notebooks and keep them. Sometimes they're about the characters in the story and I'll use them in that story. I'm finishing off a story now, and I've bookmarked my current notebook with orange sticky labels to go through and see if I've missed out anything I want to put in. Not every scene I write for a story goes into it.

Sometimes the scenes that come are about different people and they give rise to different stories. Often it's just a fragment or an exchange of dialogue.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Keira, at one 'love' for Untouched, you still owed me a drink. At three or more, hey, the drinks are on me! ;-)

Kirsten, your unmentionables made a FAB blog topic. Goodness, I still remember it so vividly which says a huge amount!

Anne McAllister said...

Keira, thanks for the welcome. You guys are amazing here. How do you find time to write????

Anna, thanks for the willingness to round up people to drop by the blog on "heroes" day. I'll do it on Wednesday of this week -- Jan 23 -- so will probably post late Tuesday night (so mid-day Weds your time) and if you guys want to drop by and discuss heroes, that would be spectacular! (ps: I've been reading Matthew, speaking of HEROES! Great job!)

Anne Gracie said...

Gillian said:
"After you've read the entire book and you realize there are no explicit sex scenes"

Thanks for the lovely compliment. I really do heart you!
Partly it was because I was so ignorant when I first started writing romance and I thought it would be a problem if I included sex scenes in a mills and boon. Though it wouldn't have suited Kate in that book because of her circumstances.
But my second book, Tallie's Knight, was a convenient mariage story and I knew sex had to be part of it, or it wouldn't be real. One of my critique partners was sure it would be rejected because of all the sex. LOL. In those days it was really hard to get romances in Australia.
I met my English editor later that year and asked her if the book had too much sex in it and she gave me such a dry look and said in the manner of an austere schoolmistress, "There is no such thing as too much sex." LOL

Keira Soleore said...

Anne: the Banditas know me for the atrocious errors in my comments. So, typing is as typing does. Now handwriting, that's an art.

Anne wrote, "doctors warned that the impeding of the natural flow of air to women's reproductive parts"

Doctors have always predicted great disaster for our repro organs, haven't they?! Remember the hoo-haa over high heels?

Kirsten dear, I've been gone on a long family holiday. I'm back now and commenting regularly. I thought I'd mentioned the holiday before I left, but knowing how absentminded I can be, I must've forgotten. Oops.

And no mere dangling of Tim Tams will do. They better be: in the mouth and sending taste buds to seventh (and seven hundredth) heaven.

Anna Campbell said...

Anne, I've stuck your blog in the diary and I'll remind the Banditas. Anne G was such a special guest, there was a lot more activity in the lair than usual. I mean, we're usually a chatty lot. But sheesh! She's such a fantastic guest, though, isn't she? I really have been looking forward to having her as a guest since we started this gig 12 months ago. So glad it finally happened, and in such a spectacular fashion.

Um, blushing wildly to think you're enjoying Untouched. You know how much I love your writing so this is like Nureyev telling the girl in the back row of the corps de ballet that she's doing OK!

Anne Gracie said...

Terrio, Harelquin Presents author Carol Marinelli blogged about her first experience with collage recently. She was on that retreat I mentioned and she wasn't at all keen to do it. But one of hers is on my website, and you can pick that it's Presents, I think.

She blogged about it here:

Anne Gracie said...

"You know how much I love your writing so this is like Nureyev telling the girl in the back row of the corps de ballet that she's doing OK!"

Anna Campbell-- you said I'd never catch you in a pair of tights! hah! gotcha!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, no, sprung!

Keira Soleore said...

That would be "hung" for Nureyev.

Anne Gracie said...

Anna, Banditas, old friends and new, visitors, drop-ins, cats and dogs, thank you so much for inviting me to play with you in the Lair. I knew you were a fun bunch, and wow! it's been fabulous. I've had a brilliant time, and also enjoyed popping in to the romancenovel TV haikufest. You galz sure know how to party.

As for booty (sigh, that word always gives me a Johnny Depp moment, sigh) I'll get my dog to pick a winner in the next few days.
Ciao, adieu, adios, kalinichte (sp) and hoo roo
Anne Gracie... thud!

Keira Soleore said...

Thuds to you, Anne, for such a fabulous party!!

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Miss Keira! Better to be hung like a sheep than a lamb!