ANNA: As regulars to the blog know, my third book for Avon, TEMPT THE DEVIL, comes out at the end of December. I thought it might be interesting if Marisa of Romance Novel TV, who has read TTD, and I had a bit of a chat about my upcoming release!
So today the tables are turned and I'm playing guest on the Banditas! I hope you enjoy the change of pace!
MARISA: I had the special privilege of receiving the ARC of Anna Campbell’s TEMPT THE DEVIL. It is now one of my top picks for 2009! A MUST READ. It’s one of those books that take several days to recover from, where the characters linger in your head long after you’ve turned the last page. TEMPT THE DEVIL is a true romance in every sense of the word. It focuses on the hero and heroine, Olivia and Erith. It is about passion, promise, heartbreak, joy, revelation and all that comes with falling in love. The way is not always easy, but the journey is well worth the effort and immensely satisfying. TEMPT THE DEVIL is a symphony of words that will have you reading long into the night. It’s my great good fortune to be able to interview Anna today about her new book, and I have many questions for her – so please grab a cup of tea and stay a while.
For Olivia Raines, London’s most notorious courtesan, and the infamous Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith falling in love will be the greatest risk of all in this wicked and wild romance from ANNA CAMPBELL.
Any man in London would worship her. Yet Olivia is, quite frankly, bored of them all. Despite her many dalliances, she’s never felt true passion, never longed for any lover’s touch . . . until Julian, London’s most notoriously wanton rake, decides to make her his mistress. From the moment he first sees her, Julian knows he must possess her. And when he discovers her greatest secret, a scandal that could ruin her reputation and end her career, he knows just the way to use this damaging information to his most delightful advantage. He offers Olivia a deal with the devil: he’ll keep her secret . . . if she allows him the chance to show her true ecstasy. But Olivia must be careful, for Julian has a secret of his own: he will not rest until she is completely, shamelessly his.
If you want a serious taster of TEMPT THE DEVIL, you can read the first 20% of the book on Love Gives Back and with every page you read, Avon makes a contribution to literacy charities.
Your first two books were hero-centric, would you agree? But TEMPT THE DEVIL focuses on the heroine’s emotional journey. I’m so curious – what made you decide to focus on the heroine? How different was this one to write?
Marisa, thank you for that stellar introduction! And I swear no money changed hands! Actually all jokes aside, I’m so happy you really got what I was trying to do with this book. It was a bit of a departure for me – nobody got kidnapped for one thing!
What a perceptive comment to say that the book is heroine-centered rather than hero-centered like both the other two. Not that I think Verity or Grace were slouches in the heroine department but in both those books, the people with the hardest, longest road to travel were Kylemore and Matthew.
Strangely, when I started TEMPT THE DEVIL, I also thought it was going to be hero-centric. I was well into it before I realized that Olivia was the one with the biggest hurdles to overcome. Please don’t ask me why it took me so long to recognize that! You’ve read the book, it should have been clear from the start.
This threw up all sorts of problems for me in writing the book because while I generally get the hero’s voice and motivations immediately, the heroine is a little slower to arrive and she generally only comes together in the furious storm of the last rewrites I do before I send the book off. A major problem when basically this was Olivia’s story! So I had to keep digging and digging to get her right.
In the very first scene you set up the stakes. We are immediately introduced to your heroine Olivia, a courtesan who is looking for her next and perhaps last patron. Her ennui is palpable. When you started this book did you create an extensive back story for Olivia?
Oh, great that you felt her ennui. It’s like she’s grown out of the life she’s set for herself but she doesn’t know where to go next.
What happens when I start a book is that two characters present themselves fully formed but I have to dig to discover their layers. Kind of like getting to know someone in real life! I knew about Olivia’s horrific background from the start, I knew about her secrets and I knew she’d fight falling in love tooth and nail because it threatens everything she’s struggled so hard to create out of the ruins of her childhood. I wanted to write about two people for whom falling in love was the most dangerous thing in the world! But the way she developed through the story, her courage, her determination, her heart – they were all wonderful discoveries as I wrote the book.
Erith is a hero who surprised me at every turn. His dominance and true alpha nature is a bit different from your past heroes. For me, I found him a bit more willing to try and understand both his actions and reactions. What made him different for you?
One of the obvious differences with both Erith and Olivia is that they’re older than my other protagonists. Kylemore was 27, Verity 28. Grace and Matthew were both 25. Olivia is 31 and Erith is 38. I think the landscape of your world is different in your 30s compared to your 20s. For a start, both Olivia and Erith have responsibilities they can’t ignore so they can’t consider the world well lost for love. Or not without making some majorly wrenching decisions! Also Erith was deeply in love with his late wife (don’t think that counts as a spoiler). Olivia is a complete stranger to love, but he’s experienced it before so he recognizes the symptoms, unwelcome as they are!
I said that you set up the stakes in the first scene. But as with all your books (which is one of the reasons I love them) you have layers and layers of subtext. When you begin a book are the characters fully developed or do you discover things about them along the way? If so, what did you discover about Olivia and Erith that may have surprised you?
I definitely discover things about them along the way. That’s one of the fun things about writing a book. The characters never turn out how I think they will when I start! I’m definitely a pantser – I let the story unfold organically so there’s constantly new things popping up to surprise me. A minor example is Olivia’s intellectual curiosity. That came from nowhere but in fact, it’s among the things that draw her so strongly towards Erith who has traveled the world and met so many amazing people during his career as a diplomat.
Erith was originally meant to be an ultra alpha like Kylemore (I keep trying to write another one of those – Matthew was meant to be an ultra alpha as well!). I set out to make Erith really hard-edged and ruthless, a sexual predator. It didn’t work out that way! While he’s strong and he knows what he wants, he’s actually enormously perceptive and willing to sacrifice immediate gratification to achieve long-term goals. Of course, when I finished the book and looked back on the story, I realized that an ultra alpha wasn’t going to lure Olivia out from behind her defenses. But on the other hand, her match had to be a man strong enough to prevent her walking all over him, the way she usually does with her lovers. It’s weird how often your instincts know considerably more than your conscious mind does!
There is one scene in the book that I think is the most romantic scene I’ve read in a long time. You know which one I mean – THE KISS. It’s a delicate scene where all the hope, fear, promise and passion of these two people hang in the balance. Where did you get the idea for this scene and what makes it romantic for you?
Oh, Marisa, thank you for picking one of my two favorite scenes in the whole book! The other’s the ending where for some odd reason, everything all seemed to come together just right (well, at least that was how I felt about it!). The kiss is actually more emotionally significant than any of the hotter scenes leading up to that point.
All right, here’s the lowdown. You know how I LOVE North and South and the gorgeous Richard Armitage? Well, I snitched a whole stack of details from the beautiful kiss at the end of that series where they meet on the railway platform. He touches her as if she’s the most precious thing in the world and he looks at her as if she just fulfills his whole life. Sigh!
Of course, that’s the end scene in a TV show and this is a middle-story scene in a book so the results are rather different but I wanted to create that same glowing, passionate tenderness. The kiss is the moment where Olivia and Erith realize that they’re in BIG trouble!
Your dialogue is always superb. You exposition spot on. What is your favorite part to write?
Marisa, thank you! I’m definitely an auditory person so I hear my people first and once I’ve got the sound of them right, I can go through and put in the rest. The dialogue tends not to change terrifically much from the first draft. The stuff in between changes enormously! I write a really dirty draft that has the skeleton structure of the story and the dialogue and then go through and layer and layer and layer. Hey, did you in the U.S. get that Sara Lee ad where she’s making the Danish pastries layer upon layer upon layer? Anyway, that’s sort of what it’s like. Going over and over it to try to get to the emotional truth that’s hidden away in what I’ve got already.
Don’t throw a book at me – but why do you write historicals as opposed to contemporaries? We’re always telling you that we love your contemporary voice – would you ever consider writing a contemporary?
Hmm, what book will I throw at you? I have a nice hardcover of UNTOUCHED here! Actually I think that’s a lovely compliment. Thank you.
I’m not sure if you know, but I tried for years to write Harlequin Presents because I thought that would be the easiest way to break into the romance business. Ha! I think, unless the bottom completely falls out of the historical market, that I’ll be writing about the olden days until they pack me away to the great copy edit room upstairs. I love the way you can write larger than life stories (heroes?) in historicals and I love the rich detail of language and setting you can use. I’m not saying you can’t do those in a contemporary but I do think it’s a different beast.
One day, though, I’d love to write romantic comedy, even if still in a historical context. And it might be interesting to explore a few different settings. But right now I’m loving the late Regency and the dark, dramatic stories it lets me tell!
A huge thank you to Marisa! OK, now for the GOOD stuff. I'm giving away an ARC of TEMPT THE DEVIL. It's the very last one! So I'd like to know what tempts you this Holiday season.