Saturday, 17 October 2009

Eleni-fest: chatting with Anne Gracie

Today I have as my special guest the superb Anne Gracie, author of wonderful regency romance novels. Her book The Stolen Princess won this year’s R*BY (long category). Anne was the well deserved recipient of the Lynne Wilding Meritorious Service Award

Welcome Anne to Eleni’s Taverna and  Eleni-fes

Congratulations on your R*BY win. How did it feel to win?
 Thanks, it was a huge thrill, Eleni. It's actually my second win, but the first was a long time ago and the field has really grown. We have so many wonderful authors here now, and the competition is fierce.

The Stolen Princess is book one of the Devil Riders series. How did this series come about? 
I was thinking about how difficult it must be for soldiers to settle back into peacetime life. These days it’s recognized, but not so much in the past. So I decided to write about a group of school friends, who joined the army together and spent years fighting. They're dare-devils, which served them well during war, but now it's peacetime, and they're finding it hard to settle. My editor liked the idea and suggested I make them younger sons, which means they have to make their own way in the world.

Your latest novel To Catch A Bride was released last month. Congratulations. How long does it take you to write one of your books?
Thanks. How long? How long is a piece of string? Seriously, sometimes a book will just fly along, and other times... not! Most of the time I allow 8 or 9 months, but when stuff happens, it slows me down.

You began writing books set in the Regency period, but you also write a contemporary romantic comedy.  Do you think you will write another romcom?
In some ways I'd love to — I often get ideas for contemporary romantic comedies — but believe it or not, it's a really tough market. Besides, I don't have time to write both historicals and contemporaries.

What attracted you to the world of the Regency?
I grew up reading Georgette Heyer who pretty much single-handedly established the Regency as a sub-genre and associated it with comedy. So it was an irresistible combination. The period had so much happening that it allows me to explore some of the darker areas, as well as the fun stuff.

Your character Gideon from The Perfect Rake was a fun character. Was he as fun to write as he was to read?
No, he was a complete pest! He was supposed to be dark and dangerous and he just would not behave! He utterly refused to brood or smolder or loom threateningly, and insisted on being funny and flippant and totally charming. So what can you do? I let him have his way. ;)

How much research do you do for your books (they are extremely in-depth but it’s flawlessly added through the writing)?
Thank you. I do quite a bit of research but it's part of the fun. It's a form of procrastination. ;)

That said, I try not to let the research dominate. Its job is to serve the story — to make the world real and alive and fresh to readers, not to give them a history lesson. My biggest compliment is when I get an email from someone saying, "I don't usually like historicals but I really enjoyed yours."

How do you think your writing groups and associations have helped you in your writing?
When I first started writing, I didn't know any romance writers at all, and because of that I made every mistake in the book. I eventually found a small group who came together for critique, and that was great, but I only joined RWA after I'd finished the full manuscript of Gallant Waif, my first published novel.

Since then however, I have made a bunch of friends that are the best in the world. I've got friends who will brainstorm plot problems with me, and who'll give me feedback on scenes and whole manuscripts. They help me through the tough times, and help celebrate the good times and generally keep me sane...ish. ;)

You are now part of the blogging team at Word Wenches. How did this come about?
In 2008 Mary Jo Putney interviewed me as a guest on Word Wenches. Later, when Loretta Chase decided she needed to spend less time blogging and more time writing, they were discussing possible replacements for her and my name came up. I was thrilled to be invited to become a Word Wench — it's a very cool group.

Many unpublished writers believe that once you get the call, you’re in. What is your experience with this?
Getting published is just the beginning of the next, very steep learning curve. I don't think you ever stop learning. This business is changing all the time and you have to keep adapting along with it.

Publishing can be very ruthless. You're only "in" as long as you're selling well. Or the line you're in is selling well. Or your editor likes your ideas. Or the publisher you have keeps making a profit. Or... you get the idea.

At the Awards ceremony, you get people to stand up if they have been accepted, or won a competition, or... and the list goes on. By the end of the night, pretty much the whole room is standing. What inspired you to do this? (BTW – I think it’s a fantastic idea.)

Thanks, I love it, too. The first time, it was just a spur of the moment thing. I was MC for the awards night at the first Gold Coast conference, and I sat there watching people get up and accept awards, and I thought, they were winners, sure, but the others weren't losers. And there were so many people not in any competition who'd still achieved wonderful things. So I thought we should celebrate everything people had achieved, from major prizes and bestselling authors, to people who'd sent off their first partial or simply entered a competition. So when it came time for the MC’s wrap up for the night, I did the first “stand-up,” making it up along the way.

Then the next year, Kerri Lane was the MC and I was thrilled when she decided to do the “stand-up”, too. And so it became an RWA tradition. It's been going 7 years now.

A few years ago a woman came up to me at the end of the night and said that at the end of the previous conference (her first) she'd been left sitting down. She said the “stand-up” made her determined to have something sent off by the next conference, so she'd be standing up, too. And she did, and wanted me to know it. I loved that.

What are you working on now? And what’s in the near future for Anne Gracie?
 I'm writing a new book. LOL. I'm always writing a book. This one is a spin-off from the devil riders — one of the brothers, Nash. It's a twist on an amnesia plot and has a very naughty hero. I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Yia sou Anna – um Anne *grin* for joining us. Anne has kindly offered a copy of ‘TO CATCH A BRIDE’ as a give away .
 Evharisto, Eleni. It was my pleasure.

For your chance to win Anne’s new book, TO CATCH A BRIDE leave a comment about your thoughts on any aspect of the interview, or answer this question: who or what helps you through the tough times in writing?

Comments will be open until end 22nd. 

Comments now closed.....

To read a blurb and excerpt from To Catch A Bride or any other of Anne's books, visit Anne's website.

Good luck!!
~yia sou~
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