Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Eleni-fest: chatting with Anne Oliver





Today my special guest on Eleni-fest is fellow SARA member, the wonderful Anne Oliver. Anne is a Modern Heat author (Sexy Sensation in Australia) and won the R*BY short category with her debut Behind Closed Doors. She then went on to win for a second year in a row with One Night Before Marriage. Impressive stuff.


Welcome Anne to Eleni's Taverna and Eleni-fest! 






Thanks, Eleni, it’s great to be here!  And thanks, I’d love that glass of cyber champagne while we talk.

What was it like winning the R*BY with your debut book?!  And then another win in the following year?! 

Amazing.  Both these books hold a special place for me.  I wrote One Night Before Marriage before Behind Closed DoorsOne Night came 2nd in the Clendon Award in NZ in 2004 but was rejected by Desire.  I took a year to write each of these books, a luxury I no longer have.  The only downside was that winning with my first two published books also put the pressure on to maintain the standard!


What attracted you to the Sexy Sensation line?
I wasn’t attracted so much as asked to write for them!  And I love reading the lighter, fun stories.  When I sold, the line was very new in the UK and called Modern Extra.  It then became Modern Heat and later in Australia, known as Sexy Sensation.  I enjoy reading Sexy but prefer the Sexy Sensation hero.  He’s more relaxed and approachable unlike the darker, more tortured Sexy hero.  You can have more fun with him!  Over the years the guidelines have changed especially in regards to the hero who has become more alpha.   Writers for this line will agree that getting the light, flirty tone with an alpha male is a fine balancing act. 



You recently retired from teaching. How are you finding being a full time author with no other ‘day’ job? Have you a set routine?
Honestly, I don’t know how I fitted teaching in!  I love being a full time writer especially on cold wet mornings when I get up around the time I’d be driving on wet roads, settle down in my dressing gown and ugg boots with the heater on and a cup of tea and turn on my computer.  I try to write in the morning so that I can relax later in the day.  If I’m working on a book I aim for 1000 words a day.  If I’m going out I try for 500 before I leave.  Other than that, no set routine.




What was your ‘apprenticeship’(ie pre-pubbed years) like?
I wrote from 1997 till I received the Call in December 2005.  I worked on mainstream romantic fiction - a reincarnation story then a trilogy of time/space/fantasy books and another paranormal.  The trilogy is cross-genre in that the heroine travels through space and time to another world.  Even now I can’t compartmentalise where they fit. 


I think those pre-published years were the happiest of all; no deadlines, no one to tell you what was wrong with your work, no having to change it to suit an editor.  They taught me the skills of writing.




Do you think you will ever return to writing speculative fiction ?
Probably not; at least not in the foreseeable future. I loved writing my paranormals and my space/time trilogy - more than anything else I've ever written since. Perhaps that's because I was unpublished and had complete freedom to write whatever I wanted. But it's also where I practised and honed my skills. I might take them out one day, polish them up and send them off, or even write more, but it's not likely. I'm happy where I am now.

  







What is the best thing you have done for your writing?
The best thing I ever did was enter competitions.  It’s how I improved, learned time management, and very importantly I learned to take criticism.  My Call was a direct result from finaling in a competition; RWNZ’s Great Beginnings Contest in 2005.  I didn’t win – I came second, but it was enough!







How do you think your writing groups and associations have helped you in your writing?
It’s great meeting up with other writers.  They’re the only ones who ‘get’ you when you mention your characters ‘talking’ or taking over.  You can bounce ideas off each other, brainstorm, commiserate, celebrate.  There are critique groups and regular groups like SARA.  Writing is a lonely profession and I think we all enjoy meeting up socially now and then.  The other benefit to belonging to a writing association is one I’ve already mentioned; entering contests.



Many unpublished writers believe that once you get the call, you’re in. What is your experience with this?
You might be ‘in’, but I think you have to work to stay there.  In some ways it’s easier because you have an editor who’ll work with you on a story that might otherwise have been rejected.  They’ll make suggestions to improve or tighten the story.  Sometimes it may not be the way you’d have liked to have it go, but if you want to sell it, you have to learn to compromise.  I rewrote the last book I had accepted three times.  Every time I start a new book, the doubts and insecurities flood in; can I do this again?  What if I can’t?  And I always keep in mind the saying that ‘you’re only as good as your last book.’    




Thanks Anne for joining us. Anne has kindly offered a copy of her book Memoirs of a Millionaire's Mistress as a giveaway (or a title from her backlist if you already have this). 


Visit Anne's website to read the blurb.


For your chance to win -
You’ll need to go to Anne’s website and find the name of Anne’s 8th Modern Heat book, to be released in the UK in February 2010.


Send an email to eleni-fest@elenikonstantine.com.
Place 'Anne Oliver' in the subject line and the title of the book in the body of the email, along with your name and email address. 


Please also leave a comment for Anne here (if you are able).


Contest is open until the 18th October.


Contest is now closed. Congratulations email contestant Alison!


Good luck!!





~yia~
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