by Anna Campbell
Amy, welcome to the Banditas, although you’re hardly a stranger to the lair. We came to romances through a similar path – a relative that absolutely devoured Mills & Boons. What do you think appealed to your teenage self about those books? Has that changed over the years?
Thanks, Anna, for the welcome and having me along. I love the Bandita blog – such a great group of writers. What do they call a gathering of writers BTW? A gaggle? A clutch? A throng? Anyway...I digress. I guess I’m a bit nervous being on the other side of the blog *g*
So where was I? Right, yes, my mother. I started reading my mum’s romance novels at about the age of 11 or 12. She loved Charlotte Lamb and Penny Jordan. She thought I was a little too young to be reading them and thinking back now, I don’t blame her - man, those ladies wrote hawt! But I guess I was just preparing her for when I picked up PUBERTY BLUES at 13 *g* Of course my mother instilled in me the joy of reading full stop. Like many romance readers she was/is a voracious reader and reads across genres.
I think what appealed to me then was the whole teenage romantic notion of falling in love, of finding that one special person and all is right with the world. And, if I’m to be perfectly honest, reading the sex was quite titillating….er, educational. I think now I’m older and have lived a bit, the HEA isn’t the be all and end all for me and because it’s a romance novel I know the H and H are going to get that. Now what appeals to me is reading about the beginning. The rush of attraction, of two people having that insane can’t-get-enough-of-you chemistry that we all have at the start of a relationship before life and kids and work and leaving the toilet seat up drives us all mad. The zing. The sizzle. The dance. It’s not the sex – it’s the anticipation, the I-must-be-with-this-person imperative. I love it when an author nails this.
Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
AKA the long and winding road? *g* Three things inspired me to first put pen to paper. Temporary unemployment, minus zero temperatures, needing to keep occupied without getting off my electric blanket. My first ms was written in 10 days – a chapter a day. Yes, yes, I know - talk about ignorance being bliss! Naturally, it was rejected. But it’s amazing what rejection does for the soul. From that point on I became a writer. My goal – publication. To be perfectly honest I never thought I’d make it but I became determined to find out everything I could about the craft. I joined RWA. I joined a crit group. I attended workshops and conferences. I read How To books and even entered a comp. And gradually I honed my craft. I really do think that the majority of writers serve an apprenticeship. Yes, you hear about the lucky ones who get an acceptance on their first ever ms but, by and large, most serve time in the unpubbed wilderness. It took me 12 years. Of course, I wasn’t very prolific in that time – kids, work (that actually paid me) and life got in the way and I mainly just dabbled. When I think back on it, I get really cranky with myself. I think if I’d shown a little more dedication I could have been published earlier. But then, I’m a huge believer that things in life happen for a reason. So, 12 years it was.
You write wonderful Medical Romances published through London by Mills & Boon. I noticed their first romances were hospital stories so it’s a perennial genre and doctor and nurse stories are still terrifically popular. What is the appeal of this genre?
Maybe back when they were first published it was every girl’s dream (and her mother’s) to marry a doctor. At the very core of the doctor hero is a strongly Alpha personality - successful, single-minded and a little arrogant - and all the appeal that has for generations of romance readers. But in their hearts they are also deeply compassionate men. As for nurses, we have been romanticized since Flo Nightingale was coined the Lady of the Lamp, despite the very unromantic nature of our work. A series of wars has helped to nurture this image of us as ministering angels. Of course today the hero is just as likely to be a nurse and the heroine the doctor. Medical romance covers a broad range of health professionals from surgeons to social workers, physios to physicians, paramedics to police medical officers, vets to zoologists.
Television had helped to keep this sub-genre alive particularly well. Who can resist House’s blue, blue eyes or McDreamy’s unshaven sexiness or, my all time favourite, intense, brooding Dr. Doug? And then there’s the sassy smart-mouthed nurses who are more than their equals and aren’t afraid to put the patient first above all else. When you have two such compassionate, committed professionals and have the emotional roller coaster of their work as a backdrop, the relationship is going to be intense and very, very emotional.
You work as a nurse. Does that help or hinder when you write your books?*g*
Well, if I’ve just come off three nights, it definitely hinders *g* No, seriously, as far as research goes, it’s fabulous. I’m a bit of a lazy researcher (yes, Anna, just like punctuation) so I try to stick with situations, illnesses, emergency scenarios I know really well or can at least access a person at work who’ll know. I’ve just written a conjoined twins separation story as part one of a trilogy about 3 sisters and there was a lot of research involved in that trying to portray the separation correctly (thank God for the www). It was even more of a challenge to do it without bogging the chapter down with too much medical detail which can be a tricky balance confronting all the medical authors. I also think, hope, being a nurse lends a certain authenticity to my writing. I have this dream, this goal I’ve been working towards, where I get to give up nursing and write full time but really, deep down, I know I would miss nursing terribly. I think I got really lucky in life. I found not one, but two jobs that I absolutely love.
I’ve just been lucky enough to read your wonderful February release FOUND: A FATHER FOR HER CHILD. And by the way, if visitors click on the cover, they can order it from Amazon. What a wonderful emotional read. I loved that it’s so firmly grounded in reality but still manages to be so passionate and romantic. Could you tell the Banditas about your new story?
I actually got the idea for Carrie and Charlie’s story from the relationship between Cuddy and House on HOUSE. The fiery female administrator there as the brake on the arrogant doctor. Keeping him in line. Ruling the roost. Not that Charlie’s arrogant, in fact Charlie is yummy! A good guy who just wants to be left alone to keep doing the good work he’s doing. Carrie is more like the Cuddy character - uptight and very fond of pin-stripes. I just love that dynamic – where the heroine is calling the shots.
Carrie has a daughter, a black mark against her name and an ex who deserted her at the worst possible moment in her life. Charlie has an ex, a med royalty bloodline his father won’t let him forget and a terminal disease hanging over his head. They’re so not what either of them need. Which made it half the fun! One of the things I love most about the book is the setting. I tend to write about issues, (which makes my ed a bit nuts from time to time) and this one’s no different. It’s set in a neighbourhood drop-in clinic and tackles a lot of issues around community medicine in inner city areas. I like the grittiness of the setting. In fact, gritty settings is one of the best parts about writing for the line.
What are you working on now?
I’m about to start my 16th medical. It involves a heroine who used to be a model but was stung by a box jelly fish while on location leaving her torso terribly disfigured. So she retrains as a lab assistant working in marine stinger research and hides behind her white coat and her microscope. Her boss, who she’s only ever talked to by phone, and who has this amazingly, incredibly sexy voice insists she join him at a symposium on a tropical island to present a paper she’d been working on. She discovers he’s been the victim of an accident too, damaging his larynx, but instead of hiding his scars, he flaunts them.
He’s going to teach her that beauty is more than skin deep and she’s going to teach him that being a one-woman man is infinitely more rewarding than a jack-the-lad with a chip on his shoulder. At least I think that’s what’s gonna happen…. Its still stewing.
Amy, do you have any plans to write outside the Medical line?
I have a project in the wind that's out at a few places at the moment. It's a romantic comedy and in a lot of ways, the book of my heart. It's certainly the one closest to my real "voice" and I've had some very good feedback. I'm forever being asked to tone down the humour in my medicals - I guess a nurse's sense of humour can be a little off :-) - and I find this a little frustrating. So hopefully I can expand into this genre and have the best of both worlds.
Amy has just the medicine for visitors to the lair! One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of her new release FOUND: A FATHER FOR HER CHILD which believe me is a wonderful read. She has two questions for us to ponder today - what's your favorite medical TV show and why and/or what term WOULD you use for a group of romance writers? You can find out more about Amy and read excerpts of her books at her website and she's a regular blogger on Harlequin Medical Romance Authors.