A big Maritime welcome to Australian historical romance writer Anna Campbell! Through the magic of the world wide web, oceans and continents fall away and here I am chatting away with one of my favorite writers.
Hi Julia! Thanks for inviting me to be your guest today!
1 - Living in Australia, which has its own vibrant romance writers' community, have you found the new global age has made physical distance an afterthought? Or does it hold challenges for you as a writer?
What an interesting question. You know, like most things, there’s pluses and minuses to being so far away. And of course, the Internet has removed a lot of the tyranny of distance.
I think it would be lovely to be able to meet my U.S. readers at signings on a more regular basis, but I do try to make the Romance Writers of America conference every year and this year, I’m also doing RomCon in Colorado in July.
2 - Is this the first time you've had a North American release and an Australian release coincide? What sparked the decision to bring them out together?
This is my first simultaneous release. I think the Aussies are trying to catch the locals who are so keen to read the book that they order the American edition before the local one is out.
I love having a simultaneous release and the Aussie trade paperback edition is just gorgeous!
3 - Have you had any stories come to you that are set in your native Australia? Or have you only scratched the surface of your London-based Regency Noir settings?
Oh, Regency Noir could continue forever – so many stories in Regency London. I risk being pilloried in my home country but I just don’t find Australian history romantic.
A lot of it is fairly grim (hello, convicts, anyone?) and I love working with the strict social boundaries of an aristocratic society which Australia never really was.
None of which means I don’t love my homeland, I do!
4 - Your debut novel, Claiming The Courtesan, was a publishing world sensation. You burst out of the starting gates and haven't looked back. How long did it take you to write the book that launched your career?
I started Claiming The Courtesan in 2001 and finished polishing it to publication standard in 2006 when it sold. At the same time, I was writing Untouched so I figure about four years on each book, piggybacking on one another if that makes sense.
Of course, I wasn’t working on the books every hour of every day in that time!
5 - I know from observation that you make your presence felt on the net.
I hope so! LOL!
And you definitely travel to conferences to make in person connections. How has your own promo efforts affected your career?
Promo is one of those weird things – nobody knows what works although people know at least some of it does work. Who knows whether my internet presence has affected my career? It’s certainly enriched my life!
I didn’t grow up surrounded by romance readers, although my mum and grandmother both loved a good romance novel. So it’s always a joy talking to other enthusiastic romance readers both in person and online!
6 - What would you say is the percentage of people getting in touch with you to make appearances, as opposed to you approaching them? Do you find that part easy, approaching people?
Luckily, people mostly approach me – probably as a result of the internet presence you mentioned. And even more luckily, people seem to be happy to have me back again once I’ve blogged. It’s always nice to have a return invitation!
7 - Were you ever tempted to surrender your dream of being published? What were your own Dark Moments as a writer?
I finished my first romance – a very Kathleen Woodiwissy medieval – when I left high school and before I started university. It was twenty-seven years then before I sold a book!
In all that time, dark moments abounded, as you can imagine! At one stage, about seventeen years in, I decided being a published author was a childish dream and I should stop pursuing this whim and get a proper job.
I had a really rotten 18 months where life was dull and without flavour. That convinced me as nothing else could that I really WANTED to write but I needed to approach my career differently if I hoped to succeed.
That’s when I joined a few romance writing organizations, joined a crit group, started watching the market, etc. Things started happening in leaps and bounds then.
What would you have told that beginner Anna if you could have Dr. Who's Tardis for a few moments?
I’d tell that Anna to stop being such a wimp and start interacting in the romance community and submitting her work. Books under the bed are never going to sell!
8 - Publisher's Weekly named your previous book Captive of Sin one of the Top 100 Books of 2009 - one of only a handful of massmarket paperbacks so honored. How did it feel to get that news?
Oh, that was fantastic! It took a while to sink in that it wasn’t just Top 100 ROMANCES of 2009, but Top 100 Books!
I’ve been really bowled over at the reception Captive of Sin has received. It recently won most popular historical romance in the Australian Romance Readers Awards and it won the Golden Quill Award. It’s also finaled in a stack of other contests.
I’ve had a lot of fanmail about that book – people just love their tortured heroes.
9 - Your fifth and latest book is called My Reckless Surrender - do you have that aspect in yourself? Do you throw yourself into things?
What an interesting question. First of all, I was going to say I was Miss Caution. But you know, I’m not sure if that’s true!
I think there IS a reckless side to me so it was fun to draw on that when I wrote My Reckless Surrender
10 - You've mentioned that Tarquin Vale, Earl of Ashcroft is the first non-tortured hero you've written. I'm exceedingly fond of tortured heroes - can't get enough of them. Why do you suppose these characters come to you?
You’re another tortured hero fan! How cool!
And Tarquin is well and truly tortured by the end of the book – he just doesn’t start out that way.
I find complex, flawed characters intensely interesting, as I think is clear from my books! And if I torture the hero, it usually puts the readers on his side and gives me high stakes emotion to work with. Not only that, I love the idea of a man purified by fire which I think is true of all my tortured heroes.
11 - Was it easier to write a hero without such dark emotional baggage?
Writing Tarquin was different, I’m not sure it was easier. And as I said, he’s definitely been through the wringer by the time he gets his happy ending!
12 - Your heroine, Diana Carrick, is shockingly forthright about what she does and doesn't want. Is she also a departure from your previous characters?
I tend to write strong women – one of the things I find interesting about Regency England is that women were legally so powerless and yet clearly strong women could exercise power in their own spheres and find happiness.
Diana was interesting to write because I wanted to look at someone who did the wrong thing and learned the error of her ways. She convinces herself that by committing a victimless crime, she’ll get everything she ever wanted but of course she’s deceiving herself!
13 - Do you think all lovers ultimately surrender at some point? Or does the act of surrender imply conflict that no longer exists, once the lovers accept their new status?
Ooh, what a profound question! Actually I think strong personalities will always need a certain amount of give and take in a loving relationship. I hope by the end of my books, the reader feels that the love between the characters is enduring enough to help them weather any storm, as it’s helped them weather whatever storms feature in the story.
In terms of surrender, I think both the hero and heroine surrender to each other so there’s no triumph of one over the other. Of course, the mutual surrender is terrifying and my characters tend to resist that moment as long as they can, LOL!
Anna, thank you so much for dropping by A Piece of My Mind today. I know you're blogging over at Vauxhall Vixens as well. Places to go, places to be...
Wonder if Sven will show up...? Sven is a rather distracting fellow who makes appearances at Anna's group blog, Romance Bandits. ...hmm...maybe that's him, now...
Scotialassie says In reading the responses I felt like she could have been sitting across from me...she was that personable. Glad to hear of Anna's dark periods and that she got out of them. Thanks for the encouragement.
Melanie says Anna you have just been all over the place and I just want to say thanks. Not only do I get to learn more about you and the books that you write, but I have found so many new blogs to follow and in turn am finding a whole bunch of new authors to start reading.
Laurie says Anna, I've started MY RECKLESS SURRENDER tonight and had to force myself to put it down to take care of business. It's fabulous, that carriage ride is hot! I'm forcing myself to leave the book downstairs so I'll get a little sleep - I have to work tomorrow.
UPDATE: The winner of a copy of My Reckless Surrender is...drumroll please...
Come on down!
Actually, please drop Anna a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and give her your snail mail address. Congratulations!