Today we welcome not one, but TWO special guests to the Lair! Anthea Lawson is the pseudonym for a husband-wife team who write spicy Victorian romance. Their debut novel, PASSIONATE, was nominated for a Best First Book RITA in 2009 and was a Golden Heart finalist (under a different title) in 2006. Their newest book, ALL HE DESIRES, hit the shelves on November 3rd.
Today, one lucky commenter will win a copy of their first book, PASSIONATE!
AC: You are a husband and wife writing team. Please share how that partnership came about. Any particular challenges with having a spouse as a co-writer? Advantages?
A&L: We didn’t plan on writing together, but like many projects that one of us starts, the other gives it a look and says “hmm, that seems interesting.” It’s a natural extension of our relationship—we’re used to working closely together on all kinds of things (music, house remodels, raising a kid) so it made sense to figure out the craft of writing fiction together. It can be challenging to live with your co-writer, especially when you have different ideas of how much writing is reasonable to do in a day. The advantages are multifold—we get to really explore the depths of the story together and it’s wonderful to have another perspective to bounce plot ideas off and problem solve with.
AC: We love "Call Stories" here in the Lair, please share yours with us.
A&L: Our agent had been shopping around our first book, and we’d gotten a number of rejections – in hindsight we realize that a Victorian-set story featuring a botanical expedition to Tunisia is a hard sell in the publishing industry. Our agent finally called one morning, telling us that Hilary Sares at Kensington loved the story and wanted to offer us a two-book contract! Much rejoicing ensued. Then we looked at each other with wide eyes and said, “We’d better get to work on that second book.”
AC: Please tell us a little about your new release All He Desires. How did you come up with the plot and characters?
Were there any special things that happened during the writing of this book? Anything that made it easier or more difficult than other books you've written?
A&L: We knew we wanted to take one of the secondary characters from the first book, and we chose the hero’s sister. That way we could continue to use the villainous cousin, and we knew our heroine’s backstory—so those parts were easier. We also knew we wanted to use another unusual setting, and chose Crete as the background for part of the book.
ALL HE DESIRES is a more emotionally-driven story than our first book, and it was a challenge to learn how to get deeper inside the characters up the emotional intensity.
AC: Your first book Passionate was a Golden Heart and a RITA finalist! Can you share any special tidbits with us about the writing of this book?
A&L: PASSIONATE was actually the first manuscript we’d ever written,
although we did rewrite it a number of times as we learned how to write fiction. The publisher didn't require any editorial changes, just copy edits, so what you see in print is pretty much what we submitted. Mostly we wrote PASSIONATE because we wanted to see if we could do it—write a fun story that satisfied us and was a complete and solid piece of fiction. Being nominated for the Golden Heart, a RITA, and seeing the book in print really felt like success.
AC: Any tips on researching historical details or the exotic locations you use for settings?
We use the internet to track down source material, then use our fabulous interlibrary loan to get a copy. (The Tunisia of Ahmad Bey, 1837-1855 by Carl Brown was a particularly good find, brought to us from the University of Oregon library.) We have not been to the Mediterranean basin (yet!) but the climate is similar to Southern California, where we’ve spent a lot of time visiting with family. We were able to take some of those sensory impressions of warm days and the scent of orange-blossoms and transmute them into our books.
AC: As a multi-published Golden Heart and Rita finalist, what advice can you give the AYU (As Yet Unpublished) writers out there?
A&L: Persevere. It’s something you’ll always have to do, published or as-yet-unpublished—we’ve found that out in the two years since the “sold” call.
Share the journey with others. It makes writing and waiting so much more fun. The romance writing community is a fabulous resource for support, information, and connection. You’re not alone as you work toward publication.
AC: What is next for Anthea Lawson?
We’re waiting to hear back on an exciting proposal we have out to editors. We’re also delighted that we’ve been asked to contribute a story to the Mammoth Book of Regency Romance, out next summer.
AC: Thank you Anthea and Lawson for being here today and sharing a lot of great info with us! Here's wishing you MUCH SUCCESS with you new book, ALL HE DESIRES and your future projects! Anything you'd like to add? How 'bout a question for our readers?
A&L: It’s great to spend a day at the lair with our ’06 GH Finalist friends! And so exciting to see everyone’s successes, large and small.
Our question, appropriate for the upcoming holiday season– What’s your absolute favorite kind of cookie? (Extra points for links to recipes) And don't forget, one lucky commenter wins a copy of PASSIONATE!