by Anna Campbell
I'm delighted to welcome back to the lair my good friend and critique partner Annie West, who has become a regular on the Waldenbooks bestseller lists!
A lot has been happening in her world lately, including the inclusion of the wonderful THE DESERT KING'S PREGNANT BRIDE in Michelle Buonfiglio's list of Barnes and Noble's Best Books of 2009. You can see the complete list here - some more for the TBR pile!
For more information about Annie and her books, please visit her website.
You can order her U.K. releases from the Book Depository. This wonderful bookstore ships books all around the world and they charge NO POSTAGE AT ALL! Great deal!
Annie, December’s a really exciting month for you with not one, but TWO releases! Firstly, can you tell us about your latest American release BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE. I’d love to know something about the inspiration behind this story too!
Hi Anna. Thanks so much for inviting me over and helloooo to all the Banditas and their buddies. Hope you’re all thriving! I’m thrilled with the feedback I’ve been getting on BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE. I didn’t deliberately set out to write this book. It hi-jacked me along the way. I was writing an article and looking for examples to illustrate my point about how a character’s perception of scents can tell us a lot not only about a setting but also their emotions. I picked on a wedding (hey, I write romance) and gave an example of a bride walking up to the aisle. Instead of floating on air as the scent of orange blossom filled the church, she was sick to the stomach. The scent of flowers cloyed and she wanted to be anywhere else but there. Instantly my writer’s brain kicked up a notch. WHY didn’t she want to be there?
I let myself get distracted pondering her story and found Alissa had to marry, despite her ingrained fear of marriage. Bad situation. Then, of course, I made it worse. She felt safe with the man she’d arranged to marry. So when she gets there, he’s nowhere to be found. Even worse situation – she must marry within a short time frame. Could things get worse? When she arrives she finds the one man in the world she absolutely, categorically doesn’t want to see. Alissa’s having a monumentally bad day by this stage, so of course I just had to increase the stakes yet again.
If you want to find out what happens you can read an excerpt here (yes, aren’t I blatant?). Dario and Alissa both decide the person they’re marrying is the one person in the world who epitomises everything they dislike. It takes them a long time to realise they’ve actually married the one person in the world just perfect for them.
This book is just delicious! And you made me cry, you rotten so and so! Also in December, you have a new release in the U.K., FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE CHILD. Can you tell us about that story?
“He’s forgotten their past, but not her body…” Like the tag line? I do! Take one very controlled, successful, sexy Italian who’s lost a snippet of his life and won’t be satisfied till he fills in the blank spaces. Add a woman who’s loved and lost and had her dreams shattered in the process. She’s determined to move forward and forget the past. When Alessandro discovers Carys, he realises she’s the key to those missing months. He’s determined to regain his memory of that time. In the process he discovers there’s unfinished business between them. But given their past, Carys isn’t prepared to bow to Alessandro’s wishes. Trouble is the more she resists the more ruthless he becomes.
Yum! Readers have a treat in store there. What’s coming up next for you?
I’m trying desperately to finish a story inspired by all those fairy tales I read as a child, and a more recent visit to Europe in winter. Think handsome princes in cavalry uniforms, castles and balls and sleigh rides. But that’s still a way off. Before that FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE CHILD will make it to North America in April and in July my debonair hero Tahir wanders out of the desert in his tuxedo (I was channelling 007 as I wrote him) and onto the pages of SCANDAL: HIS MAJESTY’S LOVE CHILD.
I love how you use classic romance themes and give them an individual twist. In the case of BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE, it’s a marriage of convenience. In the case of FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE CHILD, it’s amnesia AND a secret baby (double whammy, that one, no wonder it’s such a doozy of a tale!). Do you start out with the theme in mind or does the theme develop with the story? Do you have favorite examples of either of these themes that perhaps inspired you when you were writing both books?
Oh dear, it sounds like I tried to make Carys and Alessandro’s story as difficult as possible! For years I’d read secret baby stories. When they work I adore them. When the reason for the hero not knowing about the baby is too flimsy, I sit there wishing the heroine would assert herself and make him believe, or have the gumption to break the news to him though she doesn’t want to. I wanted to write one but when I tried to think of a reason he didn’t know about the bub I came up with an idea so thin you could see right through it, or one straight out of someone else’s story, which I couldn’t steal. Finally (to much rejoicing) an idea hit me of why he wouldn’t know, and better yet, why she wouldn’t be hammering on his door daily, making him take responsibility for his child. The fact that the two reasons were linked, and played on Carys and Alessandro’s deepest insecurities, made it more fun.
No, I didn’t look to other stories for inspiration. I steered clear of anything that might influence me. They say copying is the sincerest form of flattery but I wanted this to be my take on these ideas. As for the amnesia plot, I’ve written one before (an unpublished ms) and it was great to give it a whole new twist. This book is one of the few cases where I set out with a theme in mind. Often I just come up with a pair of characters in a difficult situation and enjoy applying heat to see what happens (Like Dario and Alissa above)!
You haven’t been in the lair as an official guest since April, although you often pop in to say hello as a Bandita Buddy. Well, either that or check out the gladiators, I haven’t quite worked out which is more important! What exciting things have been happening in your world since then?
Me, check out gladiators? Surely you jest. What would the men in my life say? My husband and whichever male is demanding all my time at the computer would have their noses put out if I came across here just to drool. But then, what they don’t know…
As for exciting things – Having my 10th and 11th books accepted by Harlequin. (yay! I still find it hard to believe I’m into double digits). Writing my first continuity story too. What a fascinating process that was – four of us writing independent but linked stories. I loved it but then I was lucky to work with marvellous writers (Carol Marinelli, Trish Morey and Jennie Lucas). I can’t wait to see our four sheikh stories out next year. In August I made my way not only to the RWAustralia Conference in Brisbane but for the first time to the RWNew Zealand Conference in Auckland. I had an absolute ball! I wanted to stay and keep enjoying the wonderful discussions. Getting together with other writers is the best. More recently, I just heard that the Barnes and Noble blog, Heart to Heart, picked THE DESERT KING’S PREGNANT BRIDE as one of their two best category romances of 2009. Squee!
Congratulations on the Barnes and Noble list! Wow, that's huge! And well deserved. Now, onto some seasonal stuff - how do you and your loved ones celebrate Christmas?
Oh, the usual – too much food and talking but lots of smiles and hugs and laughter. This year we’ll have a special dinner on Christmas Eve with my family, then lunch on Christmas Day with my husband’s and just to top it off, dinner at a friends. I’m looking forward to getting out the wonderful Christmas decorations I got in Germany and Austria last year. We were in Europe for Christmas which was just marvellous. We visited Christmas markets which were fun and picturesque and attended concerts in baroque buildings and even in a private castle. We tasted all sorts of wonderful treats and of course came home with some lovely festive decorations.
Sounds lovely! What were your best reads of 2009?
Now that’s a really difficult question, Anna. There have been a lot. Here are a few romance reads that spring to mind, in no particular order:
LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD (a fun feel good debut) by Kandy Shepherd
CAPTIVE OF SIN by Anna Campbell (maybe I’m biased, Anna, but this is one of your best to date) (Anna responds: Perfectly fine with me, hon!)
WICKED LITTLE GAME by Christine Wells (the title says it all)
THE ARISTOCRAT AND THE SINGLE MUM by Michelle Douglas (a sweetly compelling read)
HELL WEEK by Rosemary Clement-Moore (a YA story I couldn’t put down).
SINGLE FATHER: WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED by Sharon Archer (a fantastic debut medical romance)
THE FRENCH TYCOON'S PREGNANT MISTRESS by Abby Green (yum!)
MY LORD AND SPYMASTER by Joanna Bourne (a cracking good read)
SPANISH ARISTOCRAT, FORCED BRIDE by India Grey (another cracking good read)
Fiona Brand’s suspense trilogy: DOUBLE VISION, KILLER FOCUS and BLIND INSTINCT
Ooh, great list, Annie! Thanks for a fantastic interview and best of luck with your new releases. They sound like more bestsellers in the making!
Anna, it’s been a real pleasure being interviewed for the Banditas. You make Q and A painless! Or was it the promise of tasty drinks served by skimpily-dressed male waiters? No, I’m not so shallow, surely. It’s great fun dropping by the Lair so I’m absolutely thrilled to share news of my new releases. So, of course, being thrilled and being among friends I’d like to give away a prize or two. How about a copy of BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE to one contributor and a copy of a backlist book to another? I’d love to offer FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD but I’m waiting for more books to arrive.
Here’s a question to get you thinking. Did any of you see LOST IN AUSTEN where the modern day heroine Amanda Price walks through a door in her bathroom and discovers herself in the world of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE? She lives with the Bennets and falls for Mr. Darcy. Imagine you’ve accidentally stepped out of your real world into a new fictional one where you are the heroine of a love story. What sort of story would it be and why? Would you be a heroine in an existing novel like JANE EYRE or would you prefer a story you don’t know? Would you be in a romantic suspense, chased by villains and protected by a hard-eyed agent from a shadowy organisation? Would you be swept off your feet in an arranged marriage by a hot blooded Mediterranean lover, or pitted toe to toe against a sexy foe in an office romance? Or would you prefer something with corsets, buckskin breeches and boots? Which would suit your temperament, skills and fantasies? Remember, you’d be living it, not just reading about it!