by Anna Campbell
It's my enormous pleasure to welcome back a favorite in the lair, my dear friend and critique partner, not to mention fantabulous Harlequin Presents writer, Annie West.
Annie's been a busy bee since she last popped in to see us! And don't forget, it you want to know more about Annie and her wonderful books, check out her website.
Annie, welcome back. We love to have you visit although the cabana boys always need a break after you’ve chased them all day. Your latest U.S. release is THE DESERT KING’S PREGNANT BRIDE which is out in April 2009. Can you tell us about this story?
Anna, thanks so much for inviting me back to the lair. You girls have gone from strength to strength. Whenever I pop in there are great blogs to read and you’re all having a rip roaring time! Congratulations too on the terrific successes the Banditas have been having. This really is the place for good news and camaraderie.
As for Khalid and Maggie’s book, it’s a Cinderella story with a marriage of convenience just to spice things up. To me it seems very spicy (G). Maggie is a hard-working country girl who doesn’t believe she’s got a seductive bone in her body. (She’s wrong!). Khalid is a powerful, duty-driven man from the other side of the world who’s haunted by the past and definitely isn’t looking for love. Each lets their guard down one memorable night and the consequences change their lives forever.
Soon Maggie finds herself in the Kingdom of Shajehar, plucked from the racing stables and straight into a royal marriage. She expects a marriage in name only but finds Khalid has other things on his mind:
‘Come.’ Beside her Khalid rose, tall and imposing in his fine embroidered robes.
As she looked up at him a hush fell over the crowd. He held out his hand and she had no option but to place hers in his. It closed warm and vital around hers, drawing her inexorably from her seat till she stood before him. She trembled as his heat curled around her, inviting her to lean close to his strong, perfect body. Instead she stood ramrod straight, her gaze fixed on his broad chest, rather than meet those dark eyes that she suspected saw too much.
He turned and led her from the raised dais. As he did so, pandemonium broke out. Cheers and laughter and music.
Maggie faltered and looked questioningly at him.
‘What’s going on?’
She couldn’t read his expression. It was set in severe lines yet even with his back to the lights she sensed his intense regard. His eyes glittered like black diamonds.
‘They’re encouraging me.’ His lips quirked up then in what should have been a smile. ‘They approve of the fact that I’m finally going to bed my new bride.’
I did enjoy finding out what came next, right till the end of the book! It was one of those stories where the characters were so vivid in my mind they set off at a cracking pace and I struggled to keep up (oh, boy, did I struggle!).
Yummy excerpt, Annie. What else have you been up to since you last visited us?
My big news is that I’ve just sold my 10th book to Harlequin. YAY! I’m into double digits. Does that make me a troublesome teenager? (Editor's note, YES!!!) I took a moment to enjoy the feeling and then dived into the next story. And, on another exciting note, I attended the first ever Australian Romance Readers’ Convention in Melbourne which was a huge success and lots of fun. On a non-writing note I just have to share, we finally have our new oven after the old one died. I hadn’t realised how much we’d miss it. Now we’re making up for time cooking luscious goodies. Which means, I suppose, more visits to the gym!
Annie, huge congratulations on your latest sale! What’s next for Annie West?
Sleep! A week dozing and getting up only to read fiction would be wonderful. I wish! But there are some really exciting things on the horizon. BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INNOCENT WIFE is a U.K. release in May. I adored working on that book, ever since the opening came to me, where poor Alissa turns up ready to marry, despite her misgivings, only to find the wedding’s been sabotaged and a big, sexy Sicilian demands she marry him instead!
In June THE GREEK'S CONVENIENT MISTRESS is finally on sale in North America. I say finally because this was my second book for Harlequin but it got bumped off the publication list by my first two sheikhs (I love those guys, but really!). So to see Sophie and Costas hitting the shelves in the U.S. and Canada is a real thrill. I received my U.S. copies the other day. It was lovely to open the book and find I was just as enthusiastic about it as I was when I wrote it (whew!). Take one determined (but definitely hunky) Greek who’ll stop at nothing to save his family, and put him toe to toe with a Greek/Australian girl with a severe distrust of powerful men, and Greek ones in particular, and watch the sparks fly… Plus I’ve just made preparations to attend the RWAus conference in August and the RWNZ conference (a first for me) in Auckland. Can’t wait. I love writers’ conferences.
For anyone who wants to read BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INNOCENT WIFE, you can get it sent post free to anywhere in the world from the Book Depository in the U.K.
Annie, I know you’re not long back from an amazing trip to the U.K. and Europe. Will your recent travels inspire future stories?
Anna, you read my mind. How do you do that (G)? Could it be your own delight in travel for research purposes? (Snork) Definitely you’ll read about places I saw or ones very like them in future books.
I’m busy constructing a fictitious alpine kingdom that owes a lot to the towns and villages of Austria and southern Germany. We had a magnificent horse-drawn sleigh ride in the Alps which was pure magic. If I shut my eyes I can hear the bells and the soft shushing of the sleigh in deep powder snow, smell the pine trees and feel the icy wind on my cheeks. The experience was THAT good. I feel sure one of my heroines deserves to enjoy it too. It was like something out of a fairytale.
Plus we visited castles that will definitely feed into these books. There was a tiny baroque chapel in a privately owned castle where we attended a very special Christmas concert. We visited another private palace (yes, really, it was a palace and enormous!) for a Christmas market, and even stayed in a medieval castle overlooking the Rhine. That was sooo fantastic.
I posted some pictures of it on my website and still sigh when I think about it. I just hope I can inject the magic of those places into my books. I’ll have fun trying, especially since I’ve got ideas on how to give my characters a hard time despite their lovely surroundings. What me, cruel? And for something completely different a stopover on the Arabian Peninsula was great research for another sheikh story. Watch this space…
If you could do your dream trip, where would you go?
No fair. I can’t choose just one. That’s one of the great things about writing. Whenever I start a new book I visit somewhere new and exciting and live there, off and on for the months it takes me to finish the story. I can tell you there’s talk in this house about a couple more dream trips to Europe starting in a few years time, including taking a canal boat on some French waterways, another to Sicily, the Amalfi Coast and Venice. Another taking a slow walk for a week beside a river stopping in lovely wine-growing villages. Then there are vague plans for Morocco, Mexico, St. Petersburg, and would you believe, Samarkand?
Wow, that's some travel plan! Do you have anything you want to ask our Bandita Buddies to get the conversation rolling?
April is change of season weather here in eastern Australia where we start to feel the autumn nip in the air and start thinking about cosy slippers in the early morning. Changes of season are also when I find myself tackling life with renewed vigour, whether it's a spring clean, an autumn tidy up ready for the cool winter months, or planning to tackle projects that I've put off for a while. At the moment I'm working with my new oven to plan some great meals, while I tackle a brand new book, reduce my tbr pile and organise the jungle that is my garden. My dh is planning our next trip. Fantastic!
What are your favorite change of season activities? Do you have plans for the approaching seasons? Are you having your cabana boy tidy up the cocktail cabinet? Planning trips? Writing a book you'd always wanted to write? Tidying? Creating or just dreaming?
Annie has very generously offered two signed copies of her latest American release, THE DESERT KING'S PREGNANT BRIDE with bonus TURKISH DELIGHT, as prizes today. Good luck, everyone! You'll love this story - believe me!