by Anna Campbell
I first had the great pleasure of meeting today's guest, Christina Phillips, at the Romance Novelists' Association Conference in Leicester in the U.K. in 2004. We were the lone Aussies (well, Christina was born in the U.K. but currently lives in beautiful Perth, Western Australia) and immediately formed a bond. We've stayed in touch since, although sadly because Perth is on the other side of a huge continent, we haven't actually met up again until this year at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney. When I was so happy to give Christina a big hug and congratulate her on her fabulous debut sale to Berkley.
I've read Christina's FORBIDDEN, a very hot and emotionall complex tale of the love between a Roman commander and a Druid Priestess in Roman-occupied Britain. Nothing like a couple of small impediments in the way of a couple's happiness, snork! It's fantastic and I highly recommend it!
You can find out more about Christina and her books at her website: http://www.christinaphillips.com/
And watch out for her next release CAPTIVE in February, 2011!
And don't forget if you click on the cover of FORBIDDEN, it takes you right to Amazon! Or you can order Christina's book post free to anywhere in the world from The Book Depository in the U.K. http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780425238080/Forbidden
Welcome, Christina! As you know, I was utterly blown away by your debut historical romance for Berkley, FORBIDDEN. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about this story?
Thanks, Anna! I was so happy you enjoyed FORBIDDEN!
The story is set in AD 50 Britannia. My heroine, Carys, is a Druid princess and acolyte of the Goddess of Wisdom, Cerridwen. As the Roman Legions sweep through her beloved land, she and the rest of her clan escape into a magical enclave and are waiting for a sign from their gods before they attack their enemy. They were only supposed to remain there for a short time to rebuild their defences, but their High Druid has other plans.
My hero, Maximus, is a Roman Centurion, a patrician and loyal to his Emperor and Rome. When he discovers Carys spying on his bathing ritual (a scene I quite enjoyed writing!!!) he’s instantly captivated. Who is this woman, and why hasn’t she been seen in any of the villages the Legion has vanquished?
Maximus has been charged by his Emperor to eliminate all Druids. And Carys has sworn to rid her land of the barbarous invaders. Yet despite everything that conspires against them they are irresistibly drawn to each other.
Well, just between you and me and the doorpost, I enjoyed READING that scene of him bathing! In the lair, we love call stories. Will you share yours with us?
I’d love to! I love call stories too. I’d been writing for nine years when, at the encouragement of my CPs, I wrote my very first erotic romance. It was very short, very dark – and it sold to a small press. I was so excited by this – OMG a real live editor loves my writing! – that I decided to write a full length erotic romance.
FORBIDDEN took me nine months to write, I queried twelve agents, and a day to the month later my agent offered representation (not that I’m obsessive or anything but she actually offered representation at 11.30 pm on a Friday night and I didn’t sleep at ALL that weekend!!) Three months later we had a two book deal from Berkley Heat.
FORBIDDEN is set in Roman-occupied Britain. This is an unusual (while fascinating) setting, to say the least! Can you tell us a little about the rewards and challenges of writing in such a non-Romancelandia time period?
For me, the rewards of writing in this time period come from the mystery that surrounds the whole Druid culture. While I researched and used known fact as much as possible there are still huge gaps in our knowledge. So I improvised and wove a world where the goddess culture still predominated and women held equal status to men.
The biggest challenge was the setting and the time period. I knew that even before I started writing the book, but this book was one of those that I just couldn’t ignore. I had to tell Maximus and Carys’s story even though I knew it could be very difficult to place in the market. Thankfully I not only found an awesome agent who loves my world as much as I do, but also an amazing editor who believes in my Roman/Druid stories as well.
FORBIDDEN is hotter than July in Florida (yeah, I went to the RWA conference and I cooked!). I’d love to know how you approached the love scenes and how you kept the sensual and dramatic tension so taut while your hero and heroine were so…uh, busy!
I look at the love scenes as emotionally charged action scenes, essential for the growth of my hero and heroine as well as ratcheting up the tension in the overall plot. Although they may be getting naked physically – getting down to the action! – it’s really about what’s happening to their emotions, their pre-conceived convictions and in the case of Maximus and Carys, the prejudices they’ve held their entire lives about each other’s culture and heritage. So I don’t really approach the love scenes in a different way than I approach any other scene in the book. I do tend to write in a sensual manner in any case and I find the sensuality naturally heightens and heats up when my hero and heroine get, um, busy!!!
Can you give us a glimpse into your working day?
After the school run, shopping and the usual boring chores (which I do my best to put off until the last possible moment) I go into the spare bedroom which is now my official office *happy sigh*. Checking emails is an obsession and I need to get that out of the way before I can even think of opening my current document. This is not always a good move since I often get caught up in riveting online conversations and before I know it, it’s lunch time (but don’t tell anyone!) I tend to give myself lots of short term deadlines, i.e. five pages a day, finish chapter xx by the weekend, and so long as I meet them I seem to muddle through OK!
Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?
Not advice as such. Every writer’s path is different. But one thing I’d like to share about my own journey is this – sometimes trying something completely different can be the turning point. Eleven years ago I started out by targeting Harlequin Mills and Boon Presents, was told by a lovely editor my voice fit the Romance line, but still couldn’t sell. I then tried chick lit and then paranormal romance. It wasn’t until I attempted the one sub-genre I always maintained I would *never* write (because it was far too hard!) – erotic romance – that everything fell into place. And of course you have to enjoy it – happily I discovered I absolutely *adore* writing about hot sexy warriors!!
Christina, it's been fascinating getting a glimpse at your debut book and your writing life. Thanks for swinging by today!
Thanks so much for having me in the Lair today, Anna! It’s been so much fun. I’d love to give away a signed copy of FORBIDDEN to one commenter. Which is your favourite unusual historical time and setting? What kind of smoky, sexy warrior is your secret fantasy – and who would you love to see play that warrior in a movie? (See what I did there – brought the conversation round to hot guys again!!!)Thanks a bunch!!!!!
Hot guys? That always gets the gals talking (and the cabana boys blushing!). Good luck, people!