Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Lair Heads West!

by Anna Campbell

It is with great pleasure that I welcome my wonderful critique partner Annie West back to the lair. She's here to give us an update on what's been happening over the last few months and also to talk about her two new Harlequin romances.

Annie, congratulations on all your success since we last hosted you in the lair. THE SHEIKH’S RANSOMED BRIDE has been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, FOR THE SHEIKH’S PLEASURE has finaled in the National Readers’ Choice Awards and you’ve contributed to an anthology to celebrate Mills and Boon’s centenary. Can you give us an update on what else has happened in your world lately?

Gee, Anna, isn’t that enough? I lead such a quiet life and you’ve stolen my thunder here with all my big news. First let me say thanks for inviting me back to the lair. It’s a real pleasure to be here as I always enjoy the camaraderie. I’ve even (ahem) managed to snare the GR once for Down Under. As for news – the RT nomination and finaling in the NRCA have been fantastic. It’s great to see both my boys (my first 2 sheikhs) doing so well with readers. I’m more or less a U.S. contest virgin (I didn’t enter American contests before publication) so color me chuffed! Apart from that – work and lots of it. Things have been rather unsettled on the home front this year for a number of reasons so focusing on my writing has been a challenge. However, I’ve managed to get my third sheikh accepted (wild shrieks of joy over that one) and have just submitted another story to my editor. Now I’m looking forward to a writers’ workshop in Brisbane in May, and the RWAus conference in August, and wishing I was going to the San Francisco conference (where my critique partner has a double RITA nomination!).

Hmm, who could your critique partner be? Snork! Your latest U.S. release is the wonderful THE GREEK TYCOON’S UNEXPECTED WIFE. Can you tell us about this story?

This is a book that had me chortling with glee as I started writing. I put my hero in the worst possible circumstances then waited to see how he got out of them. Silly me – I forgot that I was the one who had to help him find his way! Stavros Denakis has everything: wealth, power, status, a gorgeous home, an even more gorgeous fiancée and he’s celebrating his engagement with a huge A-list party when he gets a surprise visitor – his wife. I loved Tessa, his wife. She was so stoic and strong in a quiet, dignified way that made me wish I could be just like her. It’s in North American bookstores from mid May under the label ‘Presents Extra’.

It must have been a great thrill to be asked to contribute to an anthology to mark Mills and Boon’s centenary (available here). Can you tell us about THE BILLIONAIRE’S BOUGHT MISTRESS, your story in the collection?

You’re absolutely right, Anna, this was an enormous thrill. I’ve been reading Mills and Boon/Harlequin books since my teens (only a few years ago, of course) so being asked to write for a centenary anthology was fantastic. The idea was to showcase three new authors so the edition is a whopper, with full length stories by Annie Burrows (Regency historical), Margaret McDonagh (medical) and me (Presents). Ms. Campbell can take some of the credit for this story as the initial idea emerged as we lolled in her sitting room discussing plots (yay, Anna!). The opening scene came to me in a burst of energy. I had a vivid picture in my mind of Antonia, huddled into a long coat as the alpine wind whips past her cheeks. She’s in a churchyard, burying her father, when a man with a face like a fallen angel appears and proceeds to turn her life upside down. It’s a very sexy story about a man who wants to buy a mistress to help his plans for revenge and a woman who gets caught up in his schemes. I loved the fact that though I put Antonia in a terrible situation, virtually powerless to begin with, she never caves in and always manages to assert herself. As for Rafe, he learns about true strength and the redemptive power of love. I had enormous fun watching him learn about himself as well as Antonia. It’s a high stakes drama with loads of passion – the sort of story I love to read.

In publishing, a week is a long time. Why do you think Mills and Boon (Harlequin in the U.S. and Canada) has had such great longevity with their love stories?

You mean apart from having terrific writers! (G) It has to be because they listen to their readers and change with them. Harlequin Mills and Boon is meticulous in tracking reader demographics, likes and dislikes, as well as sales. As a result, the stories sold now are very different to the ones sold 5, 10, 20, much less 30 years ago. They follow readers’ preferences. The company aims to give what readers want, delivering on the promise for satisfying romances intrinsic in each line.

A week or so ago, we had some wonderful advice from Jane Porter for people who are aiming to write Presents. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers targeting this particular line?

Ah, Anna, the big question. I read Jane’s advice and, as usual, found her words of wisdom spot on. The big thing I think (and this goes for any line) is that I’d only recommend trying to write for Presents if you LOVE those books. If you find yourself swept away with a smile on our face by larger than life heroes, deep emotion, sizzling passion and a touch (or more) of glamour then this could be the line for you.

As you know, originally I wasn’t aiming for Presents. It was the line I’d read consistently for years but I didn’t think I had what it took to write these books. I sent manuscripts elsewhere and got encouraging feedback but there was always a ‘but’ (funny about that). My voice didn’t quite fit. Finally, just before I gave up trying to get published, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying to write for the line I loved best. Sitting down to write the story that became A MISTRESS FOR THE TAKING was a whole new experience. I felt I’d come home and the writing flowed from some inner well I’d never tapped before. (Do you tap a well? You know what I mean.) It still required lots of hard work but I felt I was in my zone and that some part of me knew what it was doing with this story.

I know it’s been said so often we tend to discount the advice, but I firmly believe in writing what you love. Apart from that? I’ve seen manuscripts written to target Presents that have glamour, an alpha hero, a feisty heroine and a conflict, but they just don’t make the grade. The main reason is that the conflict isn’t necessarily about the characters, that it’s more a disagreement or a surface level misunderstanding that can easily be resolved. A great Presents story is driven by two strong people (by ‘strong’ I don’t mean loud or aggressive) who are driven by circumstance and their own characters into conflict with the other. Delving deep to discover what the characters feel most strongly about, and then using that to develop the story seems the best way to go.

Too often I’ve seen contest entries where the ‘conflict’ arises from a hero who instead of being an alpha hero is an ugly-tempered brute who does outrageous things without any provocation or reason. Or a heroine who turns her nose up petulantly at the perfectly understandable actions of a hero. All, I suspect because the conflict isn’t really deep and driven by honest emotions. I think this is about digging right down to let your characters drive the conflict. Sorry – am I on my soap box? I hasten to add I’ve read some wonderful contest entries too, where I’m ready to be swept away in a terrific story, but have to stop because I don’t have the whole manuscript.


What are you working on now?

I’m tinkering with ideas for my next book. I’m in the unusual position (for me) of trying to decide which of three options is the strongest to write now. The passionate Greek who gets up to all sorts of mischief on a private beach, the buttoned up Italian businessman who catches up with an old flame and gets more than he bargained for, or the Aussie tycoon who discovers the love of his life in the boardroom. Votes or suggestions willingly accepted!

What do you find inspiring?

Talking to other writers. Nothing beats the buzz from being with people who ‘get’ what you’re trying to do or understand (some of) the publishing world. Hot showers (a great way to work on plot problems – I’m sure it’s the hot water). Walking on a long deserted beach (there should be more of it).Visiting places I’ve never been before.

Annie, do you want to come up with some fantabulous question we can use to get the conversation going?

Argh! That’s typical of you, Anna. No pressure...no pressure...fantabulous? No, sorry, I can’t manage that, but I’d love to hear from people about the stories that really strike a chord with them. You know, the ones that you reach for as comfort reads, or grab off the bookstore shelves as soon as you read the blurb. I love marriage of convenience stories or situations where I just know hero and heroine are going to be stuck with each other despite their best intentions. Or witty comedy of manners like Georgette Heyer. Or high stakes drama and passion (can you see why Anna and I critique together)? And, are they the ones you love to write best or is there a difference between your fave read and your fave story to write?

Annie has very generously offered a signed copy of her newest U.S. release THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE to one lucky commenter today. Good luck, everyone!

129 comments:

Carol said...

Is that birdie back in aus...?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Carol, I hear a squawk from down the road. Methinks it is the Golden Rooster checking out the Aussie chicks again! Congratulations on a fantastic chook nab!

Jane said...

Hi Annie and Anna,
I also love reading about marriages of convenience. The Cinderella theme and revenge are also favorites. Nowadays, romantic suspense and paranormals are filling up my tbr pile. I like my romantic suspense to be heavy on the action and I don't mind the heavy violence.

Annie West said...

Anna, only here would I find a hostess congratulating someone on a 'fantastic chook nab'! Snork.

Congratulations, Carol. You're quick off the mark.

Jane, another marriage of convenience girl - yay! I can't get enough of them. And Cinderella - I love the transformation theme. My first Presents story definitely fell into that category. Do you find you get the romantic suspense with action and violence more in the single title stories than the category length?

Annie

Carol said...

Hi, I am a reader, not a writer.
I find it really interesting to listen/read how the ideas for characters come about.

Many years ago I loved Lucy Walker romances set in outback australia, many of those had the marriage of convenience theme.

Really great to hear Annie and about her books!

Cheers Carol
The dog will sulk and snarl!!!

Carol said...

Hi Anna, Annie and all...
Thanks for the congrats!

The local school near us has a lovely pen of 6 lady chooks... I did notice him missing for a while last time he visited!

Wonderful posts this last week!
Cheers

Annie West said...

Hi Carol,

Yep, Lucy Walker had some great stories in the outback. Sometimes I wonder how much our Aussie writers' books have influenced people to come and visit us Downunder. I know some of the places I most wanted to visit came about from reading romances. That's how I came to visit Crete for a start, and Skye. And I went out of my way to see the Toplitzsee in Austria (a tiny little lake surrounded completely by forest). Unfortunately I didn't quite make it. Next time...

Like you, I love to hear how characters come into being. Looking back this current book had so many influences: a trip to Hydra with it's gorgeous half moon harbour for starters. Ancient Greek seal rings (with engravings in the central stone). Friends who were living in the wilds of South America, telling me stories of guerilla fighters and emeralds (the backstory is in a nameless South American country). And even the scene in 'Notorious' (Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman) at a party with crates of champagne on ice. All those snippets and more somehow came together as I was writing. It's rather fun to look back now and try to pick some of the things that might have influenced the story.

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Jane, don't you sleep? ;-) And the word from the rooster is that he had a wonderful time at your house but those chooks down the road from Carol were sending him come-hither glances.

Ooh, Annie, I LURVE Notorious! They were such a great match in that! And Devlin is such a cool hero's name, isn't it?

Annie West said...

Anna, Notorious is a great film. We'll have to have a B&W movie session some time and include that one. Devlin was such a fascinating hero, letting her marry another man (even if it was to save the free world!) before finally realising he had to save her. And she wasn't the average heroine either. I loved that she was a party girl. Boy, I felt for her when the man she loved rejected her. Talk about suffering!

Annie

Christine Wells said...

Wonderful interview, as usual, Annie and Anna! Annie, welcome to the lair! Yes, I think I can see what drew you two together as critique partners.

Authors like Georgette Heyer and PG Wodehouse have always been fallback comfort reads for me and I'll also go back and re-read Jenny Crusie and SEP and Loretta Chase, knowing I'll enjoy the ride. I tend to like writing witty banter between hero and heroine but I also like the undercurrent of deep conflict in humorous stories, too.

Congrats, Carol! Great to see the GR back Downunder!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, you're a master (mistress?) of the sheikh book. Do you have any thoughts about the enduring appeal of the desert king romance?

Annie West said...

Hi Christine, thanks for the welcome!

Like you I love the witty banter. Loretta Chase absolutely and Georgette Heyer, and yes, Wodehouse too (love the Blandings books!). Have you tried EF Benson's Mapp and Lucia novels? They're not romances but that surface wit layered over deeper meaning is so clever (and barbed!). That's one of the things I love in some of the historicals I've read lately. I'd mention more names specifically but you might start blushing.

And Jenny Crusie - some of her scenes have had me in stitches!

Annie

Helen Bianchin said...

Hi Annie and Anna,
Love your work, and really enjoy the marriages of convenience theme.
Annie, you write great sheikh stories
Lucy Walker? I have her entire collection, and adored "The Distant Hills".
Annie .. Greece. I'm truly envious. I have a picture of Santorini on my wall ..

Helen

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Annie - Welcome back!

I love marriage of convenience stories and am working on one now. When I get a chance to read I love stories that are so emotional that you suddenly discover tears in your eyes, or something fun that gets me chuckling. I guess I like extremes *g*.

You mentioned how snippets from the past resurface to influence the book. Do you sometimes feel like you're a magnet for current experiences that surprisingly pop up in the story? It's like the Universe sent them to you on this day just for this purpose.

(How if the universe would just send me a shiek ... or a greek tycoon...)

Annie West said...

Anna, I'm sitting here grinning over the idea that I'm the mistress of the sheikh (er, book)! You know exactly how hard it was for me to contemplate writing a sheikh romance in the first place. But I enjoyed the first one so much I'm hooked.

Hm - the appeal of them? To me it's sheer escapist fantasy: the idea of being swept into the arms of a mysterious, handsome stranger and carried off to his lair, away from everyday concerns like earning a living and paying the electricity bill. I don't think I'm alone in finding that appealing.

I love too, that in these stories the hero often is in a position of total power, more so than we'd find in a contemporary romance set elsewhere. It creates a whole new set of dynamics and tension as I wonder just how far this man will go to get what he wants. Will he be ruthless enough to use that power to get the woman he desires, or will he use restraint and woo her? And, since he's so powerful, the heroine has to be strong to match him, which works for me. I don't like wimpish heroines.

What else? Well, I'll have to be shallow and say the clothes! (G). I still sigh over Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. And to me sheikh heroes conjure up wild places, they're warriors, strong, honorable and protective of their own, even if they're dangerous to their enemies. Perfect alpha heroes! Plus there's the tradition in fiction of sheikhs as great lovers, expert in the sensual arts. Ooh, so much to draw on for a romance.

Anna, did you have to ask that? I'm not supposed to be writing a sheikh next. Now I'm thinking perhaps...

BTW, if anyone has suggestions about which of my 3 options (listed in the post) sound appealing for my next story, I'd love to hear.

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Donna, snap, I'm working on a (sorta) marriage of convenience story too. Although in my characters' case, I think it's more a marriage of IN-convenience! Hmm, must remember that line. I think I can use it...

Annie West said...

Hi Helen,

How marvellous to see you here. Grinning like a loon at your compliment! Helen Bianchin likes my writing (G). Actually, I don't think I've heard of a Presents reader who doesn't like marriage of convenience stories. Is there anyone out there who doesn't? I'd be fascinated to hear.

Love the sound of Santorini on your wall. I have a marvellous pic of it, with a table and 2 chairs looking out over the sea. I used to imagine myself sitting there sipping something exotic and watching the sun set. No room for it in the house at the moment. May have to wait till one of the kids leaves home and resurrect it from the garage!


Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, my goodness, hyperventilating here! Helen Bianchin is in the lair! Helen, hold on, let me tidy up, dust off the red carpet, get out the Doulton. Our usual tin tankards and paper plates aren't nearly good enough for a writing goddess such as yourself! Lovely to see you!

I don't think I ever read a Lucy Walker. They had REALLY horrible covers which turned me off. My mum absolutely loved them though. She was a sucker for a sweet English rose battling the outback and winning story - especially if the outback was personified by a long, lean Aussie cattle rancher!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, do you think the charm of the marriage of convenience story is that there's so much opportunity for nooky? Or am I being shallow? And please don't answer that honestly!

Annie West said...

Hey, Donna, we're on the same wavelength and so is Anna. The story I've been working on is a marriage of convenience story too! Don't you just love it when they realise exactly how inconvenient the arrangement is?

Oh yes, snap, too, to the tears in the eyes or the laughing out loud. I love the emotions I feel when reading romance. That's part of the attraction for me.

Love your description of being a magnet for current experiences. That's exactly how it feels, isn't it? You find yourself using stuff and you just know it was sent to you for that very reason. Wouldn't you laugh if your magnetic aura led to a gorgeous, heroic sheikh or tycoon ending up, puzzled on your doorstep? I love it! Do let me know if it happens one day. You never know...

Annie

Annie West said...

Anna, what's wrong with you? Personally I find the idea of the sweet rose battling the long, lean cattle man...er...the outback, and winning, works for me.

Or forget the sweet English rose and let me have a try! (Don't tell my husband).

Annie

Annie West said...

Madam Campbell! You? Shallow? What a thought! (snicker)

Trust you to reduce the wonderful, timeless romance convention of a marriage of convenience to 'an opportunity for nooky'! But, you have to be right. I remember years and years ago when I was just a teenager, reading a Violet Winspear story about 2 stranger who jointly inherited a house on condition that they both lived there for a certain period of time. I was absolutely thrilled at the premise because it was going to keep them (shock) so intimately close. Same sort of thing as the marriage of convenience. And, if I recall correctly, nooky there certainly was.

Actually, Stavros and Tessa's story is a marriage of INconvenience story.

Annie

Helen Bianchin said...

Anna, forget the Doulton etc.
Paper plates and styrofoam cups are fine!

Annie,
You're welcome.

Best,
Helen

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, another plot device I really like is the Ugly Duckling story. I love to see a heroine blossom before the hero's eyes. I don't even mind if it's ONLY in his eyes, as you get with Anne Gracie's first Perfect book, the Perfect Rake.

Annie West said...

Helen, I'm still thrilled! Actually, I think you should make Anna lay on the good china and silver service. And dainty food too!

Anna, yes, that ugly duckling theme is so good when done well, as Anne Gracie did. It's wonderful when the hero sees the heroine as she really is and falls for her. Sigh. You've picked another of my soft spots. Maybe that's part of why I like Cinderella stories appeal to me so much.

Actually, I loved Anne's latest hero in The Stolen Princess especially. His inquisitiveness, his determination, his not-take-no for an answer, plus that charm and wit...!

Annie

Amy Andrews said...

Hey Annie - nice to "see" you here again.

Just had to say that I loved Arik in For The Sheik's Pleasure and the broad rich sweep of the landscape you painted for the background. Fantastic book. Very sensual and evocative.

I vpte fpr the buttoned-up Italian and the old flame- I love seeing powerful men put on the back foot.

Eric said...

Hi Annie,

It's always wonderful to hear about your success. It's well desired. (Even with Helen is keeping an eye on you).

My pick write all three. Three novels, the passionate Greek, the buttoned up Italian businessman and the Aussie tycoon who discovers the love of his life in the boardroom. But I want a twist. Each novel should somehow introduce the other two.

Thank you for the hours of fine entertainment.

Eric

Annie West said...

Hi Amy, great to catch up with you here. Not long till I see you in person!

Thanks for the vote for the buttoned up Italian. Its fun watching them on the back foot, isn't it?

Thanks too for the nice comments about For the Sheikh's Pleasure, too. 'Sensual and evocative' - love it! I can feel my head swelling with this praise. Fortunately the family have just arrived home so that will counteract it!

What's your fave romance theme? Or do you like them all? I've got a couple of your books on my pile to be read and various readers have recommended them to me, especially for their emotion. I'm looking forward to finding out what stories you like to write best.

Annie

Annie West said...

Eric, you don't ask much! Each one leading to the next story...

Actually, I intend to write all 3 at some stage if my ed likes the ideas. It was a matter of deciding what next. I hadn't thought of them feeding into each other, just that they were ideas that appealed to me. I've never done and office romance though I love them, so that would be something new.

Now, you've got me wondering how I could link them. Last line of the novel becomes first line of the next? That would be fun. Somehow I suspect you mean something meatier.

Annie

Eric said...

Annie,

Remember my rule is all three introduce the other two. Not one then the others. --- I know you can do it. (Penny Richards blow me away with Sophie's Scandal, Lara's Lover and Judging Justine. They can be read in any order.) ----

Good for sales too.

Eric

Carol said...

Anna,

The come-hither looks have worked!
The GR has cleared out up to the school!
He left a note ... scratched out!

'Gone to the henhouse, back tomorrow in time for travel plans'

I think he's been reading certain sections of all of your manuscripts...

Sorry ladies, he's hard to control,mind of his own!

Helen said...

Well done Carol he obviously wants a bit of autumn weather

Great interview ladies as always
I love a story where the hero and heroine are thrown together I love the tension and the highs and lows they go thru to end up very happy together I also love some laughs thru the story.
It also depends on what I feel like reading at the time I love dark love stories with mystery in them as well they will grab me too.
I have read lots of mills and boons over the years and have always enjoyed them love Penny Jordan and Charlotte Lamb and I also loved your book Annie The Greeks Convenient Mistress and will be looking for the new ones as well.
BTW I am looking forward to meeting you with Anna in October.
Have Fun
Helen

Annie West said...

Argh, Eric. You can talk to my editor about linked books in that case!

Annie

Annie West said...

Carol,

That GR sounds like quite a lad. I'm sure he was no trouble when he was staying here. Well...almost no trouble. There was a lot of squawking at one stage.

Annie

Annie West said...

Helen,

You'll be there in October? Tremendous. I love meeting other romance readers. It's like being part of a big clan. Glad to hear you enjoyed the Greek's Convenient Mistress - that was such an emotional draining story to write.

You sound like me - different stories for different moods. That's the wonderful thing, you can pick up something light and witty or something dark and brooding or exciting to suit your mood. I'm with you, definitely, on H&H being thrown together!

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Amy and Eric, lovely to see you here. Amy, I SOOO agree with you about the gorgeous Arik. He's still one my favorites of Annie's heroes. And that's a hard list to pick from, they're all so great. I've got a really soft spot for Rafe from the Billionaire's Mistress book in the anthology too. Oh, and Stavros, who's so at sea when he falls in love, poor dear. And... Oops, better stop!

Carol, that rooster is a lad, isn't he?

Helen, Annie and I are really looking forward to our joint library gig in October. It was such fun last time.

Eva S said...

Hi Annie and Anna,
thanks for a great interview and thanks for your wonderful book "The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife"! Even my daughter read it, and she seldom reads books in English!
I have always loved fairytales and that's probably why my favorite romances all are books like "Cinderella", "The Beauty and the Beast" or "Ugly Duckling Story"...

Santorini is so great, someday... I'll just have to get my husband interested too...

Annie West said...

Oh Anna, I love hearing you wax enthusiastic about my heroes. Poor Stavros IS all at sea when love hits, isn't he? Such fun! I'm a bit like you - I find it hard to to choose my fave hero. And I have the same trouble with yours too. Though Matthew is pretty scrumptious. Your latest one (yes, gentle reader, I get to read Anna's latest hero even though the book's not finished) is fantastic!

Annie

Annie West said...

Eva, wow, that's fantastic. You and your daughter both liked Tessa and Stavros' story? I'm so glad.

Nodding here at Cinderella and Ugly Duckling stories. Anna is the real Beauty and the Beast fan. She was horrified to discover that I didn't read it as I child (what can I say? It wasn't in my fairy tale compendium). But I've come to appreciate a good 'beast' story since. They can be so moving, can't they?

Good luck getting your husband interested in a trip to Santorini. If you can't convince him, maybe you and your daughter could go?

Annie

Sharon said...

Hi Annie and Anna
Thanks for a great blog and congratulations to both of you on your fabulous writing successes! Well deserved and I have my fingers crossed for you both!

If I had to chose a favourite plot line, it'd be the 'desert island' sort of thing where they're stuck with each other. But then there is that Ugly Duckling story line that Anna mentioned. Actually, I love a well-written anything! And you two are on my fav authors list!

In fact, I'm just about to settle down in front of the fire with your anthology story, Annie! How's that for a perfect Saturday evening!

:)
Sharon

Annie West said...

Ooh, Sharon, I hope you enjoy that new story. Rafe is a real challenge - definitely an alpha to beware of. But fortunately he met his match (at least I think so). As the story starts in a snowy alpine churchyard, sitting in front of a warm fire sounds just perfect.

Desert island type stories are so great aren't they? Where hero and heroine have noone but each other to rely on. I've read some great variations on that theme too, set in South American jungles! Actually, in some ways Anna's Untouched is a little like that. They're (almost) alone together and have to come to trust each other in order to break out of the terrible circumstances holding them captive.

Lovely to hear from you.

Annie

Joan said...

No wonder I couldn't sleep last night with all the animated chatting of you Aussie gals (my computer is next to my bedroom) :-)

Welcome back, Annie. You're books sound fantastic. One question. Have you ever MET a sheikh?

And I vote for the Aussie tychoon....I mean you live in a country with the likes of Hugh, Eric, Heath, Keith (Urban)...the inspiration must be overwhelming at times.

Gotta run to the hair salon....chat among yourselves

Annie West said...

Hi Joan! Sorry to keep you awake with our nattering. Glad you decided to join us.

No, I haven't met a sheikh, though I did once met a man who proposed marriage and offered a herd of camels to sweeten the deal. Apparently camels are very expensive (who knew)? Does that count? And in case you're wondering, I turned him down. My own husband has never owned a camel.

Hm, a vote for an Aussie tycoon! Great. You're right, we do have some excellent inspiration. Personally I don't think you can go past Hugh. I saw him in a stage show here a couple of years ago and as well as looks and talent I can tell you he has amazing charisma!

Have a good time at the hair salon. See you later.

Annie

Annie West said...

Oh, by the way, there are so many people commenting here that prize I'm offering won't go too far. So if you miss out check out my website. I'm happy to be part of a contest with two Aussie buddies, Kelly Hunter and Michelle Douglas and we're offering 3 signed new release titles.

I'm curious too. Is anyone here fond of the sweeter, boy next door type stories? Or are you mainly into alpha heroes?

Annie

Dina said...

Hi Annie and Anna,

I actually do like the sweeter, boy next door type stories, they are more attainable, lol. Well, not really cause there is no boy next door, but somewhere this there. :)

Annie West said...

Hi Dina,

I know what you mean. They're a bit more like real life. I've read some faaantastic boy next door heroes. I'm trying to remember the name of a book I read several years ago about a college professor boarding for the summer in the heroine's house. He eases his way into her heart by fixing things round the house. He's not at all handy and pays someone to do the odd jobs. But he was so appealing!

For me it's a mood thing. I love dark, brooding and exciting best of all but sometimes a change is nice.

Annie

Nancy said...

Annie, welcome back! Congratulations on your award nominations. You're really on a roll this year.

Carol, congratulations on snagging the bird. I saw your note about his cutting out. Cages help, if you have one handy. Or dogs. :-)

I also like marriages of convenience, especially when they turn out to be not so convenient. I also love Georgette Heyer. I managed to find several of her books in hardback when we visited England.

The Aussie tycoon sounds good to me. I saw the references to Hugh from Joan and Annie. He was a wonderful romantic lead in Paperback Hero and Kate and Leopold (better than the movie, IMHO, in the latter--and Meg seriously needed better hair. Maybe she could've gone with Joan to the salon!). And he brought wonderful depth to that most ferocious of X-Men, Wolverine.

Ann M. said...

Enjoyed the interview a lot.

jo robertson said...

Great interview, Annie and Anna. You always know the good questions to ask, Anna, and obviously Annie knows how to answer them.

I love your struggle with writing other kinds of stories before deciding to write what you love to read. I think we writers are very guilty of that mistake. Often we don't feel we're good enough to write what we love.

I've heard writers say they can't read what they write while they're writing. For instance, if they're writing mysteries, they don't read them. What about you, Annie? What do you read while you're writing for Presents?

jo robertson said...

Yay for Down Under, Carol!!

jo robertson said...

LOL on the "nooky" comment, Anna. I suspect that slang word is far more risque here in the states than in the Outback.

I too like the marriage of convenience stories for what Anna said (G), but also because of the paradox b/t what the characters are allowed to do morally and legally -- the physical intimacy --and the utter emotional, intellectual and psychological distance b/t two people who are essentially strangers.

That paradox is always interesting to me -- and sexy!

Keira Soleore said...

You guys, it's barely 9 o'clock here on the west coast, and there are 51 messages already!! The Lair's one very vocal club. So glad I belong here.

((Annie)) Yay! The wonderful Annie's in The Lair! Welcome, welcome. How are you doing, dear?? Life's been a bit of teeter-totter for you, hasn't it? I'm :( :( over your final decision not to attend RWA National.

Many, many, many congratulations to you for your NRCA final and RT nom. Your mantle is sure getting crowded with those award plaques. And congratulations for selling your "shrieking sheikh."

I loved THE GREEK TYCOON’S UNEXPECTED WIFE. I just finished my second read of it couple weeks ago, as I was telling Foanna. That first scene is so much fun.

Anna Sugden said...

Hi Annie - as always - great to see you. Fun interview, Fo.

I love the Cinderella/Cinderfella theme as well as best friends and boy next door. Oh and Ugly Duckling and Beauty and the Beast *grin*

Good question about what I write ... hmm ... yes, I probably do write these themes. Although, there's always a twist *grin*

Oooh Notorious! Can you feel that sexual tension?! And as for Charade ... sigh. Oh to be Audrey Hepburn.

Carol - glad to see that chook is enjoying his stay Down Under. What a wily rascal - I blame P226.

Eva - great to see you - hope you're better.

Nancy - loved Paperback Hero.

Joan said...

Back from the salon, snipped, trimmed and coiffed :-)


Oh, Alpha hero all the way....just to the point where the strong heroine matches his strong will with her own....and tames him with it.

Another question for you Annie. What is it like being crit partner with Anna? (Psst...any secrets stay in the lair....)

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome back to the Lair, Annie! So happy you could join us today and congrats on your nominations.

...the idea of being swept into the arms of a mysterious, handsome stranger and carried off to his lair, away from everyday concerns like earning a living and paying the electricity bill.

I think this is the reason I read ANYTHING! LOL! Getting away from the electric bill and all the other everyday stuff are the whole reason I read AND write. As long as the writer is skillful enough to engage my imagination, I'm good to go!

Annie, someone offered CAMELS as an inducement to marry him??? YOU GO GIRL! Nobody ever offered camels to me. (AC pouts in a pique of jealousy)

MsHellion said...

ANNIE! *screaming in pure groupie fashion, bouncing* I'm so excited to see you here...and especially that you're going to be blogging with the pirates on Wednesday!

Favorite stuff I love to read. NOT glamour. (I'm so prejudiced against millionaires/billionaires, it's ridiculous.) I want "real" guys. Someone who can change my tire...and maybe has a ragamuffin who looks charmingly like him. Emotional drama--love it. I loved your story with Arik. *swoons* I managed to get past my prejudice of rich men to embrace him entirely.

I like the stories about what happens after the honeymoon. More than the marriage of convenience. I like the ones where they were in love when they married and all was rosy--then they realized once married this was a lot more work. It might be very rocky, and this couple has to decide do we scrap it or do we salvage it? I think that's the real love story.

My expectations in romance has moved from the Disney channel to the WE channel. And I ain't even married, never been. I'm extremely single. *LOL* But I watch my friends, the ones with good/great marriages...and they marvel me. I like to read stories that remind me of them.

MsHellion said...

Anna, Marriage of Conv=opportunity for nooky is not shallow. It's just the truth. *LOL* You can't have an entire relationship based on sex...but you can try. Oh. I mean, it IS important. Great sex can help you overlook a lot of things, I'm convinced.

But as I said, I'm single. I still believe in myths like great sex. *laughs*

Anna Campbell said...

Eva, you're right - those mythological underpinnings really enrich a romance, don't they? Beauty and the Beast would probably be my favorite! Although Sleeping Beauty has crept into a couple of my recent books. So glad you enjoyed Annie's latest - it's a fantastic read!

Annie - by the way, I SOOOO agree with you about Peter O'Toole in his Lawrence of Arabia gear, and Omar wasn't too bad either - thanks for saying that about Matthew. I thought he'd appeal to you. The latest one is another knight in shining armour type like him - you can see a pattern in Annie's preferences, can't you?

Anna Campbell said...

Sharon, bet you had a wonderful time with Rafe! Lucky Antonia ;-) Thanks for those kind words. I love the desert island thing too - I love that they're stuck together and just HAVE to come to terms with what they feel with each other. All of my books so far have had that slight desert island feel - although I call them in my mind crucible romances. You know, put them in an inescapable situation and then apply lots of HEAT!

Joan, hope the hair looks fantastic! I must admit I've never met a sheikh! But then I've never met a Scottish duke either!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, I have to say if it's well written with compelling characters, I'll read just about anything. I've read some really nice boy next door stories although at a pinch, I think I probably go for the larger than life stuff by preference.

Hiya Dina! Lovely to see you here! I used to enjoy some of the Harlequin lines where the hero was less lord of the universe but those stories seem to be harder to find now. I remember some lovely Temptations where the hero was sexy but definitely closer to someone I was likely to meet than your average sheikh or Greek tycoon! Anne McAllister did some lovely cowboy stories where the hero was definitely a man of the people.

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, that sounds like such a cute story. I wish you could remember what it was called.

Nancy, wasn't Hugh just gorgeous in Kate and Leopold? And he was definitely on the sweet side which was interesting as he WAS a duke. One thing I love about him is he's always so modest and unassuming and charming in interviews. I think he's a genuinely nice man! Eric Bana (waving to Aunty Cindy) is another in that same mould. One of the things I love about Georgette Heyer is that her heroes cover the gamut. You've got sweet men and arrogant men and all-round b*stards who find redemption. She really is an amazing writer.

Anna Campbell said...

Ann, thanks for calling around again! Glad you enjoyed the interview.

Jo, I think it's easy to interview someone you know well and it's pretty apparent Annie and I are good friends. I've also read and loved everything she's written which means I'm coming from an angle of sincere appreciation of her writing.

Jo, interesting question. I look forward to Annie's question. I know I have trouble reading dark, intense historicals when I'm doing one of my stories. But I tend to read right across the spectrum anyway. What about you?

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, clearly I am much more shallow than you are. You're right - it's not just the nooky. It's the physical versus emotional intimacy thing which was what I was trying to do with Courtesan. I like it when those two things are out of sync and have to be brought back into balance. Is nooky really a naught word in America? Who knew? Fanny is quite naughty here but it's not there, right? English people call it bonking which always gives me a giggle. What would be a nice, neutral term for doing the deed in the States?

Anna Campbell said...

Actually speaking of terms having different meanings, there's a venerable English film of the 1940s called Fanny by Gaslight. Always gives me a giggle too. But then we've already decided I'm shallow as a puddle! By the way, the film features a heroine called Fanny in the late 19th century - hence the gaslight.

Anna Campbell said...

Hiya Keira! You sure do belong here!!! You're right about the first scene of the Greek Tycoon - it's so vivid and unrolls just like a great film. And you can see disaster coming down towards Stavros like a tidal wave. Don't you just love it?

Anna, one of the things I love about Charade is that the girl is the predator. He's really trying SOOO hard to do the right thing, poor lamb. But she's just irresistible. Yeah, I want to be Aud too! At least you look a bit like her!

Anna Campbell said...

Joan, this is Annie West here! I want to say that working with the incomparable Anna Campbell is the best fun you can have standing up. She's unfailingly kind, perceptive, charming, gorgeous, sympathetic, darling, sparkling, graceful, musical, witty...

AAARRRRGGGGHHHH! All right, all right, I'll stop. Just don't hit me again with another rotten mango!

Anna Campbell said...

AC, you're worth a thousand camels!

Hellion, I too am looking forward to Annie's visit to the Revenge. If she plays up, just tie her to the mast and lash her with boiled noodles! Personally I like a story about a rich man - it's not that I'm obsessed with money but I like the interesting plot points that throws up. People often ask me why I always write aristocrats or at least very wealthy characters. And I tell them that in the Regency, if you had no money, you had no choices. Poverty in the Regency (like now) was both boring and depressing. I like seeing my characters make those choices - especially when they're the wrong ones so I can torture them some more.

Anna Campbell said...

Hellion, actually that's one of the things I love about marriage of convenience stories. Sometimes the characters need to learn that lesson that great sex does not a complete relationship make!

Phew! Caught up! Lucky Annie, waking up to all these amazing comments. I bet she's really happy. Oh, that's right - she was here earlier talking about her most wonderful critique partner, wasn't she? ;-)

Annie West said...

Whew,

I sneaked out of bed (still dark here) and look what I find! You people are so nice to a new chum, aren't you? Will start now going through and seeing what everyone has to say.

I say 'sneaked' because it's Mothers Day here and I was told by several people to sleep in this morning. I suspect there may be a breakfast in bed planned for later. But it should be a while before the others wake so I thought I'd pop in and see what people are talking about.

It may take me just a little while to catch up with the posts...!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Nancy, thanks for the congrats on the award nominations. I'm so thrilled about them. Unlike my esteemed CP I haven't been a contest diva and so this is wonderfully exciting.

How terrific that you got the Georgette Heyer's. A friend of mine was recently disposing of a lot of GHs (she was getting new editions) and I scored some old faves that I didn't already own. It was like Christmas!

Yes, wasn't Hugh J great in paperback hero? And he's certainly the only reason to watch Kate and Leopold (have to say I won't be watching it again). Meg R was just too annoying in that for me! Possibly because she had Hugh on a string?

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Anne,

Thanks for popping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I always fear I'm dreadfully mundane and dull, so that was nice to hear.

Annie

Beth said...

Thanks for joining us again, Annie, and congrats on all your success!!

I vote for the buttoned up Italian businessman - because I love reunion stories *g* I also love stories about redemption or second chances of any sort.

Great interview, ladies :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Happy Mother's Day, Annie!

Beth, I'm hoping eventually Annie will write all these stories. I'm already sharpening my red pencil ;-) Bwahahahahahaha!

Annie West said...

Jo, I'm fascinated now. 'Nooky' is risque? Wow! Here in Aus it's very mild.

Great point about the appeal of the marriage of convenience stories. I knew Anna has some insightful friends over here! Yes, I think you're absolutely right about the paradox implicit in these stories. The twin aspects of what legally and morally the characters can do vs the completely emotional issues around them being strangers. That's part of the sexy premise of the plots. I love the tension that comes with that sort of plot - works for me, which is probaby why I've used it myself. They say write what you love and I try to.

Thanks for contributing that!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Keira, it's wonderful to see you here. I hoped you'd pop in today so we could catch up. Yes, it has been a bit of a teeter totter year here so far. Even now, having been responsible fiscally and family-wise, I'd LOVE to fly across for my first ever RWA conference. Especially since you know who has a double RITA nomination! Sigh. Wouldn't it be fabulous? But things are going well here, thanks, so I'll try to be content.

No, no, darling Khalid wasn't shrieking (LOL)! He's far too stoic for that! That was my sigh of relief that he was finally on the way to production. You know some books, however much you love the characters, are just more of a trial than others?

Am sitting here grinning hugely at the fact that you've read The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife not once but twice! Woohoo! Can I clone you? Thanks for sharing that. And, like you I loved that opening scene. I was snickering quietly to myself as I wrote it - poor Stavros, he just digs himself deeper and deeper, and the situation was really appalling. Initially I'd thought of him just thinking of getting married, not actually engaged, but my mean streak won out! It was terrific anticipating watching him find a way out of that hole and win Tessa's heart. Thanks so much for the feedback!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Anna. How terrific - Cinderella, ugly duckling, boy next door...I love a woman who has broad tastes in romance! I find it so hard to pick a fave. And isn't it the twist on the theme that just makes a story stand out?

Notorious is one of the best - the tension in that is just great. I've got Charade too - which I love for the lovely light-hearted wit that shows their growing affection overlaid on the thriller story. Have you seen How to Steal A Million? Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole - they're trying to steal a painting from a well guarded museum to save the reputation of her family (they're all forgers). It's got such a light touch with the wit and the sexual tension between the two is great.

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Annie, I think HOW TO STEAL A MILLION is my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie. The script of that is just so clever - now that's where you learn to write great dialogue! And Peter O'Toole is to die for. I wish he'd move into one of my cupboards (which will only make sense if you've seen the movie!).

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome back to the lair, Annie! We're always interested to see what you've got going on.

I like to think of "marriage of convenince" stories as "marriage of inconvenince", because once they're committed to be married all their expectations clash and they have to change and grow in order to make the marriage work. :) OOOOOOOOO conflict!

Annie West said...

Hi Joan, I can see you look incredibly elegant after your trip to the salon.

Know what you mean about the alpha hero being matched by a strong heroine. If she's a wimp it's just not going to work, is it? And there are so many ways of being strong, aren't there? Tessa in this new release is quiet and stoic and puts up with a lot before she finally retaliates (verbally). But I recently wrote Antonia (Billionaire's Bought Mistress) where she was in a terrible position and it seemed Rafe had all the power (by the terms of their agreement she had to go along with what he wanted) but her approach to it was to be defiant and provocative and keep her inner self and her real feelings as deeply buried as possible. I love reading a really great heroine, who is a match for the hero in ways he never expected. After all, these alphas are far too used to getting what they want!

As for being Anna's CP...is she around to hear? This could be dangerous! Actually teaming up with Anna is one of the best things that's ever happened to me, and not just writing wise. But on the writing front? She has an unerring nose for problems in stories, for which I'm grateful and she really cares, which is most important of all! I'm careful now, though, not to let her near sharp blades when I'm critiquing her stuff. She gets that gleam in her eye and has been known to brandish a knife. So scary but definitely worth it!

Annie

Annie

Annie West said...

Aunty Cindy, it's that wonderful escape from real life that appeals to me too. And not just in romance.

Glad you're impressed by the marriage offer with a herd of camels! Now, if it had been a fleet of Rolls Royces, he might have had a chance (snicker).

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Hellion! Waving enthusiastically from across the Pacific!

Ah, interesting your prejudice against rich men. You know those books I was writing before Harlequin bought my stories? None of the heroes were rich. All everyday guys. And I adored them Actually, all bar one (who was published by a small press - who was in fact wealthy). Like you I want a guy who can help me when I need it. I wanted to write him changing the tyre or fixing the plumbing. But now I find my heroes fit the best of both worlds (in my mind at least). They can fix that tyre if they need to, even if they've got the money to just buy a new car.

So glad you got over your prejudice against wealth enough to read Arik. If you ever see the linked book - The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride that might be worth looking at. Rafiq is incredibly wealthy but he's a man of action (with a strong streak of pirate). He's actually part of a huge search for our kidnapped heroine when the story opens because he refuses not to take responsibility.

Fascinating that you like the story after the honeymoon, when hero and heroine come to grips with things going wrong. Does that mean reunion stories too?

Annie

Annie West said...

It's just occurred to me. We haven't had any votes for stories of mistaken identity or hidden identity. That's another wll known romance theme. Or seducing the loner. Or the wounded hero (one of Anna's faves) - though I suppose Beauty and the Beast falls into that category.

Annie

Annie West said...

Ah Hellion. That's one memorable quote I'll take away with me after today: You can't have an entire relationship based on great sex ... but you can try!

Will make a note for a future book! LOL

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, might be worth looking at? Oh, you're doing it too brown, my dear! Hellion, GET THAT BOOK!!! It's absolutely amazing. Rafiq is a hero to die for - not to mention he has long hair and an earring. Sigh! And he's such a wonderful manifestation (with the emphasis on MAN!) of the warrior-protector archetype. I dare you not to sigh! Many times! All right, he's rich - but I'm sure you can overlook that in this case!

Anna Campbell said...

Yanno, you ONCE wave a Wiltshire Staysharp carving knife at your critique partner and she never, NEVER lets you forget it! Sheesh! And are you saying I've got a big nose?

Annie West said...

Anna, you're here again. Yes, I know you love Omar in Lawrance of Arabia. Whoever cast him and Peter O'Toole in that role did a magnificent job. Both stunning men in that film and the clothes sure helped.

You're dead right about my preference for the knight in shining armour (even if he first seems like the villain in besmirched armour. Sigh, especially if he first seems....). I want a hero I know I can believe in in the long term. Have you ever read a book where the hero and heroine ended up together and you just KNEW it was going to end in tears? I want my characters to be happy together and if he doesn't have that inner core of integrity in some form (even if it doesn't conform to the standards around him), I worry about him.

Which makes me wonder - no one has mentioned the bad boy romance. Especially the ones where the bad boy returns after years away. Now there's an interesting premise!

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Our fantastic Tawny did a WONDERFUL bad boy comes back romance in Does She Dare? It was also one of my favorite genres of the uptight woman finding her inner vixen. Annie, I've lent my copy out but if you can find out before it comes back, grab it. You'll love it!

Actually I'm seriously considering doing a bad boy once I've got this current Knight in Shining Armour off my plate. I haven't done one yet. Kylemore wasn't bad - he was tortured. And Erith in Tempt the Devil was meant to be a bad boy but then he morphed into a wounded hero acting out his inner conflicts.

Ah, Omar! Ah, Peter! My best friend and I were both big Lawrence fans. And it was like Jack Spratt and his wife. I drooled over Peter and she drooled over Omar. No conflict at all!

Annie West said...

Jo! Just realised I forgot to answer your question. And it was such a good one - about whether I can read a similar book to what I'm writing as I write. I hope to hear from others on this one!

I find there's no hard and fast rule on this and in the past I used to read in the same line voraciously as I wrote. Now I tend to glom onto such stories more when I'm between books - possibly because I'm wary of being influenced. I'd hate to find myself adopting someone else's turn of phrase, when it catches my fancy! But on the other hand, there's nothing like losing myself in a great romance to help the creative juices flow. So, a little of both, I think. I'd probably not read an office romance as I'm writing an office romance but if it was all I had on my TBR pile (cue maniacal laughter at the thought of seeing the bottom of my TBR pile) I'd read it!

What about others? Yes or no?

Thanks for asking, Jo.

Anni

Annie West said...

Anna, you're so right about Anne McAllister's down to earth cowobys. Sigh. There are some memorable guys there. And not just cowboys. I love the McGilvray series too. There's even one about a retired soccer star with busted knees who's been forced into retirement. Great book.

And you hit the nail on the head about Georgette Heyer and her ability to write the whole range of heroes. They are just so real. Trying here to remember the name of the one who never fully redeems himself. I'd got and search him out on the bookshelf but I don't want to wake people. He marries the drab, practical little heroine whose grandfather is a mill owner. She saves the family finances and she loves him. He cares for her in his own way but it never seemed to me that he appreciated her the way she should when she made his life so comfortable and looked after him totally.

Annie

Annie West said...

Ah, typical. I scroll down eager to read the next pearl of wisdom and there's Anna asking about a neutral term for 'bonking'. All class, that girl!

Actually, Anna, I have to say I feel quite humbled hearing that you love all my stuff. Awww. That's so nice! And such a relief that it's mutual! That's one thing about being Anna's CP. I have to be on my toes and try to deliver at least the bones of something good. High expectations can help sometimes.

Annie

Annie West said...

Anna, I love that image of disaster rolling in towards Stavros like a tidal wave. Thanks! You put it so well. That's just how it felt to me.

But PLEASE dear, do try to stop these attempts to pretend to be me. Sniff. So obvious... (Annie shakes her head).

Annie

Annie West said...

Hellion! You didn't tell me that when I come to the visit I could get tied to the mast and lashed if I misbehave. Who has the lash? Some hunky pirate? Is he corruptible? Now there's a thought.

Anna, good point about Audrey being the predator in Charade. It does make it funr - that role reversal. But on the other hand he's the one who turns the table on her, isn't he? Actually, thinking Cary Grant and role reversal, what about To Catch a Thief? Grace Kelly goes all out to seduce him. Boy is she pushy. And she gets to wear that fabbo ball dress! That must have been a fun role to do.

And following up your point about historicals, Anna, I totally agree. For my entertainment I'd much rather read about people a few centuries ago who had the money to buy them the leisure to indulge in romance and frivolity or dark brooding revenge that backfires, instead of the poor sods who had to work every waking hour just to feed themselves and their families. I'd love to think that in another life I'd be a witty woman about town but chances are I'd be a scullery maid with dishpan hands!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Beth,

I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview! Thanks too for the vote for the buttoned up Italian with his old flame. Redemption stories are great aren't they? Anna did a great one - CTC was all about redemption.

Hm, wonder if I SHOULD tackle the second chance one next?

Annie

Annie West said...

Ooh, Anna, a young Peter O'Toole in my broom cupboard! Fantastic! You know, I'm going to have to get my hands on a copy of that film. I haven't seen it in years.

Thanks for the Mothers' Day wishes - much appreciated. But you can stop sharpening those pencils and laughing gleefully. Can I just mention that you're the one with a ms that will soon need critiquing. Hmmmmm?

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Suzanne, thanks for that point about marriages of convenience. (Didn't I say, Anna, that you had some insightful people here?). You're dead right. The fact that the characters have to grow and change in order to make the marriage work is part of what makes MOC books work! I think the difficult part is sowing that convincingly.

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, was that A Convenient Marriage? That one tends to divide people, a lot of people hate it, because as you said, he sort of settles rather than decides the heroine is the one for him. I loved it - think it had so much heart and truth. And you KNOW I love your stuff. I'm always telling you!

I'm really excited - since I moved up north, Annie and I don't get together nearly enough and she's coming to my new house for the first time in a couple of weeks. And I have HOW TO STEAL A MILLION!!! How cool is that? We can watch and drool. All right - I'll give you a towel!

I love the car ride in To Catch a Thief. I imagined as a wee gel that's what life would be like. Sigh.

Annie West said...

Anna, you can't resist a pun can you. Love Rafiq as the MANifestation of the warrior-protector archetype. (Well, you know I did try very hard to get that right. We spent years discussing the lure of the sheikh story before I finally dared to attempt one).

Thanks for recommending Tawny's bad boy story. I'll look out for Does She Dare? and try to get myself a copy. Love the uptight woman discovering her inner vixen! In some ways that's another take on the disguise theme - where the woman beneath isn't the woman the world (or even she) knows. Sounds delicious!

Laughing here, Anna at your straight-faced announcement that Kylemore wasn't bad. Really? Believe me, he was a bad man - that mad, bad and dangerous to know fitted him to a T. I do agree that he was more tortured than innately bad but I'd hardly call him good. That was part of his appeal!

Annie

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Good Googly Mooglies! What a day y'all are having in the Lair. First Carol snags the chook, and the misbehaving lad ducks out on her, then Annie spills the beans on Anna about waving a carving knife about. Wow. Serious. Grins.

(BTW, I hopw y'all note that Jane nearly snagged the old GR again. Carol beat her out by less than 5 minutes. :>)

Annie! Welcome back to the Lair! It's such a pleasure to have someone "in the house" who can dish on Anna. Grins. And with such wit and verve too.

I love the sheik stories, as well as the glamour and glitz. I also love the boy next door, esp. if he's like Cassondra's Tractor Guys (see Thurs. blog) and is Capable. Grins.

As to those universal themes, I'm with Anna and Eva on the Beauty and the Beast theme. I also like the reunion stories. Okay, so I like virtually everything. Ha! I'm also big on hidden identities...stopping now.

Great to see every one here today. *waving madly and giggling* at Helen B. And Hellion, how fun that you're already encouraging Annie to misbehave! Heehee.

Happy Mother's Day to all our Aus pals! (My boys just brought me day-early roses - awwwww!)

TTFN!

Annie West said...

Ah, Anna, I think you're right. The GH was A Convenient Marriage. I've read it several times - it's a great story - but increasingly I feel the urge to bop the complacent hero over the head with a frying pan. As you say, it's so real. I think it depends on my mood. Most of the time I want the full hea ending!

Hey, you have How to Steal a Million on DVD? We're set! This trip will be such fun. I can bring Richard Armitage with me in North and South. You'd better get yourself a bib!

Annie

Eva S said...

"Does She Dare" was a great book! I love bad boys, tortured heroes, sheihks, billionaires, all alpha males, everything else but the nice boy next door! Perhaps I have enough of them here at home with brothers and my husbands brothers...Or is this still my fairytales ...

Annie West said...

Hi Jeanne, thanks for the warm welcome. That's something I loved about visiting here last time, and why I try to pop back in when I can. It's such a terrifically friendly place to be.

'Wit and verve' eh? Did you hear that, Anna? Maybe I should spill some more of your secrets. (Mentally calculating the nature of Anna's retribution if I did. She's a tough cookie and life might not be worth living).

Oh, Jeanne, like you I love a capable hero. What sort is there? Must check out Cassondra's tractor guys.

Good on your boys bringing you roses. That's lovely!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Eva,

Thanks for the recommendation. I can see I'll definitely have to grab a copy of Tawny's book.

Interesting that you go for the alphas when you've got so many 'nice' men. Part of the joy of reading is that you can safely experience something a little different, don't you think? Like being the one woman who catches the eye and snares the heart of the most eligible guy around. Sigh.

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Jeanne, don't be too nice to her. She'll stay and drink all our likker!

And Ms. West, I'm currently hunting up that Wiltshire knife! It was the only way I could keep you under control!

Annie West said...

Ooh, BREAKING NEWS! How's this for a scoop? (and I will demonstrate my maturity by ignoring that crack about the Wiltshire, Madam CP!).

Just heard that our own Anna Campbell is a finalist in the Booksellers Best Award contest. She's in the Long Historical category with 'Claiming The Courtesan'. Hope whoever is at the awards night will cheer her on!

YAAAAAAY! So very pleased.

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Annie, that was a nice bit of promo! Thank you. Actually, the Banditas have had a bit of success out in the world lately. Check out our sidebar to see!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Weeeeeel, since it's Mum's day over there already, we could probably spare a shot of the hard stuff...or maybe two. A casque of wine perhaps, shared out among...hmmm 103 commenters?

Well, no that give Anna and Annie an unfair drinking advantage if we go one glass per comment. Then again, maybe if we get 'em soused they'll tell stories on each other and sing silly songs. Grins.

That's good blackmail material. (Oooh and another storyline... blackmail gone over to real attraction....)

Annie West said...

Anna, I've seen that side bar and am very impressed! What a talented bunch you all are. And you let Anna come to play too. (argh! Ducking now).

Still smiling here, Anna. This is lovely news.

Annie

Annie West said...

Jeanne, no, you don't want to get Anna sozzled on too much liquor. It's not the singing. It's the puns. Though I have to say a drink is a very nice notion.

Yesss - a blackmail story. I do hope Rafe and Antonia (The Billionaire's Bought Mistress) makes it to the US soon as it's got just a touch of the blackmail about it (wink) and it's fun (I think). Isn't there something fascinating about a blackmail scheme that goes awry and the power in the relationship shifts...

Annie

Nancy said...

Eva and Anna S., I like fairy tales, too. Urban fantasy is huge fun, but a little fairy dust now and again doesn't hurt.

Joan, I hope the salon did its job well.

Anna C., I agree about the Divine Georgette's heroes. She really did do all types. You surely see more Jackman interview than I do, but I've never heard him come across as anything but courteous. I'm always impressed with actors have long-running marriages (Newman and Woodward, for example), and he does. Yeah, he made a heckuva duke. I think I prefer him without the Woverine uni-brow look. *g*

Annie, I envy you snagging Heyer giveaways. I never have that kind of luck! I think I'm close to a complete set of her Regency romances, though. I agree, the hero in A Convenient Marriage is an ass.

Nathalie said...

I also hope your book in that anthology gets in the US... I have heard so many great things about it!

Thanks for blogging here with us :)

Lily said...

I have won the great collection on another blog... and I was really appy as it is not yet available in the US!

I love those witty regencies à la Georgette Heyer where the heroines always seem to get in trouble and love always comes from odd situations... Anyway, I like to read books where love is triumphant.

Annie West said...

Hi Nancy,

Yes I was pretty impressed to score the GH books! And the same person also gave me her Edith M Hull books 'The Sheik' and 'Son of the Sheik' so I'm looking forward to some riproaring 1920's sytle romances.

I've also just started Anna's copy of a bio of Georgette H while I sat in bed awaiting my breakfast (I had to scurry back from the computer - sh!). Looks like a fascinating read. Who'd have guessed her family was half Russian?

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Nathalie,

Thanks for the welcome. It's really nice to be here. I feel like I'm among friends.

I have my fingers that the story from the anthology will make it to North America one day. I've just heard that it's getting an Aussie release just before Christmas this year (yay! Can't wait to see the cover). So hopefully one day Rafe and Antonia will step of the plane onto American soil too.

Cheers,
Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Nathalie, the anthology book is great. Really passionate and sexy! You can order from Amazon in the UK.

Lily, I think it's the wit in the Georgette Heyers that I respond to most strongly. Fantastic stuff!

Annie, glad you're reading that book - how's this for a lovely critique partner, girls? I lent it to her before I READ it! And then she accuses me of threatening her with the cutlery! I didn't know GH was half Russian. How interesting.

Annie West said...

Hi Lily, nice to see you here. Georgette Heyer's wit is terrific, isn't it? And the way she rescues her characters from such difficult situations. Actually, I'm hoping one day Anna will do a bit more work on her regency comedies. They're witty and fun but with a depth of sensual tension I love. Maybe one day... I'll have to crack the whip harder so she can finish her 'regency noirs' ahead of time and work on some witty comedy of manners books.

Annie

Annie West said...

Anna, don't think I don't appreciate the sacrifice involved in lending me the book. Crikey, I'd better finish it now before I see you, hadn't I? I even put it aside so as not to get it marked while I ate pancakes and maple syrup. How's that for patience!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi everyone,

I've got to get ready now for a special Mothers Day outing with my family. (Nice, eh?). I suspect that by the time I get back the day will be over for most of you so I wanted to thank you all for welcoming me so warmly. It's been a real pleasure joining you all and hearing about your likes and dislikes.

Am still tossing up which story to do next but I found the input from those of you who voted really helpful. Thanks!

Annie

Anna Campbell said...

Thanks for a great party day in the lair, Annie. And congratulations on the release of BOTH your current books.

Don't forget to check back in the next couple of days to find out who won the signed book!

Cherie J said...

Story plots that resonate with me are Cinderella stories and lovers to friends. I also love parnaormal and fantasy a great deal.

jo robertson said...

LOL, Annie and Anna. Nooky is naughty (at least to me). Boinking would be the term here instead of bonking. Of course, Shakespeare called it the beast with the two backs. I've heard horizontal mambo, getting it on, hooking up (teen-speak). My gyn just called it intercourse, which ticks me off a little because of course intercourse used to also mean dialogue or discourse.

Sorry I'm just getting back to these wonderful comments. I've been away most of the day.

Anna Campbell said...

Cherie, isn't it interesting how these fairytale plots resonate with so many of us?

Jo, laughed at your list. I think nooky is quite a cute word! And here it's VERY mild where we do tend to call a spade a spade and nooky a good...

Keira Soleore said...

Nooky is cute to me, too. Boinking always has me laughing. Boffing. Snogging. Looks like the ING has a magical effect from taking a word from cute to raunchy. How about a vote for nookying, as in The Greek Tycoon Caught Unexpectedly Nookying his Wife. :)

Anna Campbell said...

See, Keira, snogging here means kissing. Which I think is a great term! Boffing I think is new on me - it doesn't sound very romantic! Rooting is a fairly coarse Australian expression for the act - it's often used in American books at moments which cause great hilarity to local readers. Um, he's rooting around in her skirts looking for the key or something. Snork!

Keira Soleore said...

Phooey! I had a brilliant comment and Blogger ate it. Well, I'll go read some comments and return here to comment.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Keira! And your brilliant comments are...BRILLIANT!!! See if you can resurrect it! Are you blogging this week? I love your blog!

Keira Soleore said...

Annie wrote, "I'd LOVE to fly across for my first ever RWA conference. Especially since you know who has a double RITA nomination! Sigh. Wouldn't it be fabulous? But things are going well here, thanks, so I'll try to be content."

I'm glad things are becoming a bit more settled (positively I hope). I am going to miss you at RWA. But I have an idea about the ceremony. Please e-mail me your phone number and I'll send you my cell number. That way, you will be able to hear as start the award roll calls and who's winning what. Probably not for the entire ceremony, because then my nipcheese phone company will charge me enough to kill me and bury me thrice over.

Annie West said...

Home again after a loong but satisfying afternoon out. Intend to relax in a bath with my new pomegranite (!) bubbles and a book (not Anna's of course but one of mine). Great to see you girls still chatting.

Cherie, yes, those fairytale stories just keep on keeping on, don't they? They've well and truly withstood the test of time and we still love them!

Keira, what a lovely, lovely offer to contact me during the awards ceremony. What a girl you are! How about I contact you privately a little closer to August so we can discuss. That's so very nice of you. I so want to be there. And yes, (cross fingers) things are definitely improving here after an 'interesting' period on a number of fronts.

Thanks again, everyone. It's been such fun!

Annie

Eve Powers said...

Hello Annie and Anna!! I ADORE Presents books . . . and I have only recently read Annie West and LOVEEEEEEEE her books! I am now greedily buying them all. As I am new to your blog now, Anna, I will endeavor to read yours asap too!!! Lovely post and keep writing these yummy books if you please! :)

Annie West said...

Eve,

Obviously you're a woman of great taste and discernment (LOL). Glad you could drop by. Happy reading.