Hi Anna, thanks for dropping by my blog. It’s fantastic to be able to welcome you here. Congratulations on your recent ARRA Awards – Favourite Australian Romance Author and Favourite Historical Romance, woohooo!!! Well deserved wins. Since we finalled in the Emma Darcy you have been an inspiration to me – and your support and encouragement have been fantastic. It’s a bonus that I love your books too!
Hélène, it’s brilliant to be here. Thank you for inviting me! I’m so excited about BORDER WATCH coming out and seeing a book of yours on the shelves. I’ve been waiting for this moment since I met you all those years ago. Congratulations! I hope you’re enjoying life as a published author!
Hmm, life as a published author and a pilot still feels a little frantic some days but I am enjoying it! Themes are important in your stories, Anna, and that’s a big part of what makes them so wonderful to read. CAPTIVE OF SIN has a hero who is captive to his own fears and incapable of moving forward until he’s faced them. (He’d be treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in today’s society…) What’s the theme in MY RECKLESS SURRENDER?
Thank you, Hélène. There’s a Shakespeare quote that I kept in mind the whole time I wrote MY RECKLESS SURRENDER. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.” Wow, just looked that up and it’s actually not Shakespeare (I thought it was MACBETH!) but Sir Walter Scott. We live and learn!
Diana Carrick is offered the chance to make her dreams come true but first she has to commit what she believes is a victimless crime and seduce Tarquin Vale, the Earl of Ashcroft. But of course there’s no such thing as a victimless crime. So it’s a story about temptation and the consequences of giving into it! I think of this book as a ticking bomb romance – because of course the reader is waiting for the revelations to come out and mayhem to ensue!
Yep, we do love mayhem! So do the themes come first or do the characters bring their own themes and conflicts with them? How do you strengthen those themes?
What a great question! Actually what comes to me first is sort of a job lot! I get an opening scene, generally involving my hero and heroine (I like them on the page together as soon as possible), and there’s always a problem there. The story grows organically from that. With CAPTIVE OF SIN, I had that really vivid image of Charis cowering in the stables on a cold winter night and Gideon coming to her rescue like a knight in shining armour, which of course is exactly what he is, even if the armour is slightly tarnished! With MY RECKLESS SURRENDER, my opening scene has a woman going against her deepest instincts to offer herself as a notorious rake’s mistress—and finding that the rake isn’t at all the selfish, careless debaucher she expected. I then write the story pretty much without editing and the themes emerge as the story does. Once I’ve got a whole story arc from go to whoa, I know what those core issues are and I go back and strengthen their presence throughout the novel.
Tell us some more about MY RECKLESS SURRENDER.
I describe this book as a dangerous seduction in Regency London. It features two strong, complex characters who get more than they bargain for when they begin a liaison to while away a few summer weeks. Diana is a woman who sees a chance to break out of the strict class barriers of 19th century England and exercise all her frustrated talents and ambitions so I think people will relate to her, even if they don’t 100% approve of her actions. Tarquin is a real change for me – my first non-tortured hero, or at least he is until Diana starts turning his life upside down. He’s a man with a reputation for debauchery but he’s also got a powerful sense of personal honor, evidenced by his reformist politics. I really had quite a crush on Tarquin when I was writing the book!
I always think it’s vital to love my leading man and your heroes are very easy to lust after… Your books are often described as Regency Noir. What influenced you to write the darker side of human nature?
This always makes me laugh because as you know, I’m not actually that dark in real life! I think my natural voice is comic but one day, I came up with an idea for a book about a courtesan and the Scottish duke who wants to marry her. Definitely not a comedy. I was positive I couldn’t write that story but the characters wouldn’t leave me alone. So one day, I sat down to write the first chapter to shut up these people and show them they had no place in my universe. And CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, my first published book, was born. Sometimes working against the grain can have its benefits!
Whose books have had the most impact on your writing?
Oh, how long have you got? I’ve got a career writing Regency romance because of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I love the Brontes and in terms of voice, I’m close to the gothic feel you get in something like JANE EYRE. I devoured Victoria Holt and every Mills & Boon I could get my hands on when I was a teenager. Then I discovered historical romance starting with Kathleen Woodiwiss. I adore Dorothy Dunnett, Loretta Chase, Laura Kinsale, Anne Stuart, Liz Carlyle. I’ve always been a voracious and omnivorous reader so I think everything has had some influence! As a how to book, I love BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott and BECOMING A WRITER by Dorothea Brande.
Your sex scenes are hot, Hot, HOT! How do you go about writing them? I need to be sitting under a fan to read them, so I’m wondering, do you turn up the aircon, grab a good glass of wine and take the phone off the hook? Phonus interruptus might not be a good thing…
Phonus interruptus? Ouch! That sounds really uncomfortable! LOL! I’m so glad you love the naughty bits. Thank you! I really work hard on those – MY RECKLESS SURRENDER is my sexiest book yet. The nature of the plot means that these two people spend a lot of time in the bedroom! In the early drafts, the love scenes are usually pretty prosaic, but I love the way a good sex scene doesn’t just get your characters naked physically. They’re naked emotionally too, even if they don’t want to be (believe me, Diana and Tarquin don’t want to be!). Then I go back and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite – generally I shorten to make it more intense. My first draft love scenes meander on for pages and pages but in there, there’s the germ of something really strong, both emotionally and physically. Actually I think the emotional heat of a love scene is much more important than the physical heat. And I always try to have something at stake with the plot. They’re never just having good (or bad, as sometimes happens in my books!) sex – there’s lots of other stuff going on at the same time. You need that dramatic tension to keep the reader involved.
I know you’re up and working early in the morning. Gives us a glimpse into a normal writing day – if there is such a thing…
Snort! Is there such a thing as a ‘normal’ day? My routine varies according to how close to deadline I am. But you’re right, I always wake up horrifically early, check emails, do anything urgent like blogs or interviews or promotion. Then I work through until around 11, 11:30, have some lunch, a snooze, then go back in the afternoon for another few hours.
Where to for Anna Campbell’s next story?
I’ve written the first draft and it features my first genuinely bad boy hero. He wants to put his evil plans in motion but finds himself distracted by the last woman he ever thought he’d be attracted to. I’ve always adored stories about alpha males completely at sea after they encounter lurve! At this stage, it’s scheduled for the middle of next year.
Oh no, that’s such a long time to wait… sigh…
Anna, it’s been fantastic to have you on my blog and, as always, I’ve learnt so much.
So folks, tell us your favourite love scene – book or movie – and why it resonates for you. Anna will draw a winner on 25th May and that lucky person will receive a signed copy of My Reckless Surrender.
MY RECKLESS SURRENDER – Anna Campbell, Avon Books, June 2010