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~


Anonymous said...

Hi Eleni & Anne :)
Thank you for the great interview & thanks to Anne Gracie for sharing here today. I love learning more about the author behind the books.
Thanks again,

The Scarf Princess said...

Thanks for visiting us today and congratulations on your win! I'm intrigued by your writing process and never realized how long it can take to get from beginning to end of a book.

And whenever I need help, it's always my friends and family that are there for me. And they're the ones I can always whine to when things go bad.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Suzanne Brandyn Author said...

Hi Eleni and Anne,

Don't you just love typo's) Hence the deleted post. Now where was I, lol....

Great interview. I'm fasinated how authors tackle their daily life. I also love the 'stand up' idea at the conferences.

Your book title, 'To Catch a Bride' sounds intriguing. I love marriage of convenience stories. :)

All the best,


17 October 2009 2:15

Linda Henderson said...

I really enjoyed the interview. I always like to read about the author behind the book. I'm not a writer but my daughters get me through any tough times I am having. I also have a great sister that I can always count on.

Bronwen Evans said...

Thanks for the interview Anne. I had the pleasure of a one on one chat with you at the RWNZ conf in 2008 and will never forget the advice you gave me. Anyway I can't wait to read your knew book and would love to win it.
Thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

Lovely interview. Really enjoyed it. :)


Anne said...

Thanks RKCharron. I enjoyed answering Eleni's questions.

Joder, friends and family are sooo important, but once you're a writer, writing friends become crucial, because nobody else really *gets* it. One time when I was running behind with my schedule, a beloved family member suggested that I take typing lessons, which would make me a faster writer. LOL.

Anne said...

Hi Suzanne, typos and me are best buds. As I implied in the previous comment, I've never learned to type properly -- I'm a pretty fast hunt-and-peck typist but the typos... Actually I love typos -- they're often quite funny.

Glad you like the Stand-up, too. Thanks for dropping by.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Thanks everyone for making Anne welcome.

Rob - Anne is definitely an author you learn from.

Joder - I love Anne's long is a piece of string? That sort of wraps it up for me ;) A support network is so crucial for the down times isn't it.

Suzanne - It's always fascinating to see how every author works. The 'stand up' rocks!

Linda - thanks for dropping in. Thank goodness for having your daughters and sister for those tough times.

Bronwen - Anne is so generous with her advice and time isn't she. Loved the workshop she and Mary Jo Putney did at the RWAus many gems there.

Cait - thanks and glad you enjoyed it.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Hey Anne, glad you liked my questions.... I always wonder if I'm just repeating the same old, same old ;)

Oh and yes writing friends do 'get' it don't they.

LOL - re the hunt and peck typing approach. Typos can definitely give you a good laugh.

(pssst Suzanne, I deleted the 'this was removed by author' so no-one need know about your typo *grin*)

Anne said...

Linda, lovely that your daughter and you are so close, and your sister too. And don't worry about not being a writer -- readers are Very Important People -- ask any author. LOL

Hi Bronwen (waving madly) I loved the 1:1 chat we had in NZ. I had such a great time at that conference -- in the past few years at the aussie ones I've always been working and racing around with no time to chat, and it was a rare treat for me that you and I could just sit for a while and talk.

Anne said...

Hi There Caiut, nice of you to drop in.

Aw Eleni, thanks. I'm a teacher by trade and inclination. And your questions were great. Some classic (which are always of interest) and some particular.

Anne said...

I have to add, Eleni, thanks for putting that photo up of me with Marion Lennox and Trish Morey, two of my aforementioned good writing buddies, where we're all holding our RBY trophies and grinning like maniacs. Part of the thrill of the Awards Night was that as well as the three of us winning a RBY, Trish was awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership of RWA for her wonderful contributions to the organization over many years.

And Cait, what was I saying about my very fine typing skills. LOL. Sorry.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Love that Anne, teacher by trade and inclination :)

My pleasure putting up that photo with you and Marion & Trish. I loved taking it. It was my paparazzi moment. Then again when people pose, it's not paparazzi is it? It was wonderful seeing all get awards that night - the R*BYs, the Honorary Lifetime Membership for Trish, the Lynne Wilding Meritorious Service Award for you. Fantastic.

LOl - re typing skills. I was on an online meeting last night and didn't even type my own name correctly! :))

Eleni Konstantine said...

Oh and thanks for your compliment re the questions....though what are questions without the fab answers? ;)) (See I'm getting very philosophical)

Mel Teshco said...

Hi Anne,
I love you books and admire everything you've done for RWA - and the standup at the awards dinner is a fantastic idea, it really gets the positive energy out there.
My family help me through my down writing times, but it is my writing buddies who understand =)

Anne said...

Eleni, those on-line chats are difficult -- the comments fly so fast, I bet even skilled touch typists make mistakes.

Thanks Mel. Lovely of you to drop in. And yes, if we could bottle the positive energy from our conferences, wouldn't that be brilliant? And yes indeed, it's important to have friends who understand the ups and downs of writing, as well as family who support and care for you.

Anne N said...

Hi Anne

I just wanted to say how much I loved your Gideon from Perfect Rake. After reading heaps of Regencies (starting with the amazing Heyer) I had overdosed, I think, and not read one for years. Then, at my first conference while you were President, I was so inspired by you that I went out and found some of your novels. And Gideon sent me straight back to the Regency genre, where I've now also stumbled over Stephanie Laurens, Eloisa James and many others. He's one of my all time favourite heroes, full stop.

So thanks. (And can I say, sometimes a beloved character like that can be a great 'support' in tough writing times. Revisiting a favourite book or character can charge you up with determination to make your own characters shine with the same light.)

Sue BT said...

Hi Eleni and Anne,
Lovely interview. I remember being at the Gold Coast conference and being part of the 'stand up'. It was great to see how much everyone had achieved.

Note to self - get thee to the next conference.

I love the sound of your 'naughty hero', Anne. Can't wait to read him.

Oh, and Gideon still has a place in my heart, even if he was such a pest to you. At least he was a gorgeous, charming pest.

Tracey O'Hara said...

Woot - #1 Anne Gracie Fan here. Mwah ha ha ha. (okay I'm not a stalker). But honestly form the moment I read the Perfect Rake - I was hooked. I haven't got this one yet - have all the others - LOVE them.

Great interview. I fell in love with Gideon immediately. You are a marvel Ms Gracie. and thank Eleni for having her.

okay to answer the question so I can go in the draw - I would have to say my husband and my writing pals both here and in the US. Espiecally my fellow 2008 Golden Heart finalists and RWAus members. Mwah to you all.

Anne said...

Hi Anne N -- thank you so much for the lovely compliment!

Hi Sue B-T (waving madly) Definitely get thee to the next conference -- it's at Coogee beach and the line-up is going to be amazing, so grab those tickets early.

Yes, Anne and Sue, Gideon was a pest, but only while I was (stupidly) fighting him. I did love him, really. It's pure magic when a character jumps off the page like that, and even better when readers love him too.

Anne it's soooo true, what you said about how revisiting a favourite character or book can charge you up with determination to lift your writing to the next level. It can remind you why you fell in love with the genre in the first place.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Mel - yes indeed what Anne has done for RWAus is fantastic - hence why I think she is the well deserved recipient of the Lynn Wilding Meritorious Service Award (try saying that three times really fast).

Anne - yes bottling that conference buzz would be fantastic. A great pick me up for when needed.

Anne N & Sue - yes, another Gideon fan! In fact the whole 'Perfect' series is indeed one of my favourites.

Sue - I was there that conference too and it was the last conference I went to....6 years later I got to experience it again! And yes, note to for conference, save for conference.

Tracey - LOL - having a fan girl moment hey? Totally agree with your sentiments and my pleasure to have Anne here. In fact loving it!

You know I haven't answered your question Anne- fyi as I'm ineligible ;)) - I think writing buddies help, as well as for me getting inspiration elsewhere - reading a great book and or seeing a movie, which gets you itching to write again. Family and friends have been fantastic in being there in tough times. With CFS, there have been a few.

Janine (Bootcamp) said...

Great interview, Eleni. Well done. Anne Gracie's new series sounds interesting. Not normally a historical reader, but I'm definitely checking out this series.

Rachel Bailey said...

I'm another Anne Gracie fan. And a huge Gideon fan. :) Thanks for posting a great interview, Eleni!

A very naughty, dare-devil hero? I haven't read any of the new series yet, but I see I must. Thanks for bringing us fabulous stories, Anne!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Hello Bootcamp buddies Janine and Rachel! Good to see you here and thank you.

Yes looking forward to that naughty, dare-devil hero too! :))

Trish Morey said...

Hi Eleni and hi Anne! Two of my favourite people in one place - score.

I've read To Catch a Bride and I personally reckon it is the best Anne Gracie yet, and that's saying something. A few others I know think the same thing, so whoever wins, you are very very blessed.

And if you don't win, then make sure you grab a copy, because you will wnat your own. It's fabulous.

Eleni, how fab to see that pic of Anne, Marion and me again! We do look kind of happy:-))

Eleni Konstantine said...

Trish, you are just such a sweet thang! I know it's on my TB list definitely.

And I love that photo - you are just beaming & happy for each other too. Loved taking it. You are all inspiring :) Mwah!

Anne said...

Hi Janine, historicals aren't everyone's cuppa, so don't worry. I thought paranormals weren't my cuppa, either, until I was practically forced to read J.R. Ward, and after 50 pages I was hooked. And it started something -- lately I've been on a Nalini Singh binge, and now there's a Tracey Ohara in the TBR pile as well. Sometimes you just have to be enticed into a subgenre by the right voice.

Waving madly to Rachel Bailey who does so much for RWA members herself, including initiating the first on-line bootcamps, and editing HT and serving on the committee — as well as writing books!

Anne said...

Waving also to my good buddy and writing pal Trish Morey, member of the wonderful SARA group, organizer of so much more and the person who can make me laugh so much she's a danger to underpants everywhere! (how's that for a tag line ;) Thanks for the rave review, Trish. You're maybe just a teensy bit biased, but I love it.

Anne said...

Tracey Ohara, how did I miss your post? Snuck it in, didn't you? Waving madly and spraying cyber champagne around for your debut ST !!! And such great reviews. Congratulations! Fabulous to see! I remember when you got the call just before the Melbourne conference! Such a buzz!

You mentioned your writing pals both here and in the US -- isn't amazing how much we depend on the internet today, and yet it's not that long since we all sent our first email. I, too, have made some really close friends (not dating LOL) overseas because of it.
I remember in the UK someone was really surprised that I'd only met a friend there 3 times, and said "But it seems like you've been really close friends for years." We had, but had only met face to face on 3 occasions. Thank you email.

Trish Morey said...

A danger to underpants everywhere? LOL.

That's going straight to the pool room!


Eleni Konstantine said...

Oh that is a classic line Anne! The thing is that it's true!!! ;))

Oh Joder and Rob, the pool room reference is in the movie The Castle, a great Aussie comedy film.

Christina Phillips said...

Thanks for the lovely interview, Anne and Eleni. Congratulations on your R*BY win, Anne!

What a wonderful idea the "stand-up" is at conference! As for who helps me through the tough times in writing, well no surprises, lol, definitely my CPs, especially during the two tough years when I had no idea what I should write next (did a lot of procrastination during that time!)

I was also inspired by the 2008 Romance Roadshow in Perth, which gave me a much needed kick in the behind, so thank you for taking the time to come West, Anne! (and thanks also to Trish and Marion!!)

Anne said...

Hi Christina, we had a lot of fun at that first Romance Roadshow, didn't we? It was great to meet all you guys from the west, and what's lovely is, it's still going strong.

Good CP's are like gold. When I first started I had 2 CPs. They were both good writers, but procrastinated a lot. Having the deadline every month made them both sit up late every 4th Saturday night as they produced their obligatory 3 pages for our meeting next day. It was good writing, too. They both gave up after their first rejection, which was a shame. Now we just meet for fun, food and friendship.

Anna Hackett said...

Hi Anne and Eleni –
Great interview! Anne, your positive energy shines right through. And you’ve sold me on your charming, dare devil heroes…now I’ll be adding more of your books to my already teetering TBR pile.

To answer your question, the no. 1 thing that gets me through my tough times is my super supportive hubby. He even chases me to my laptop sometimes (-: My CPs and other writing friends are invaluable and I love reading interviews like yours. Great stories from successful authors help keep me motivated.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Hey Christina - yes the Adelaide Roadshow was a fantastic moment too and wouldn't you know it the three authors responsible - Anne, Trish and Marion are pictured in this post! ;))

Anna H - go the supportive hubbys and CPs.

Anne - Good that at least you still keep in touch with your first CPs despite them no longer writing. But it is a shame they gave. :(

Cheryl Wright said...

Anne, I was one of those 'standing' authors at the Gold Coast conference. It was great feeling! But I had no idea it was all done ad-hoc. You are so sneaky!

I'm sad to learn you're not writing romantic comedy anymore - I still think about "How the Sheriff Was Won" -- a lot.


Sharon Archer said...

Hi Anne
Huge congratulations on your R*BY win! And I confidently predict that To Catch a Bride will just as much of a smash hit for you! Rafe and Ayisha's story is brilliant!

I'm so glad you had the inspiration for doing the stand-up at the RWAust awards dinner. It is an amazing moment and I remember well the thrill of my first stand-up!

Thanks for having Anne to visit, Eleni!

Eleni Konstantine said...

Cheryl - I agree - it didn't seem ad-hoc back then on the Gold Coast. I still have yet to read 'How the Sheriff Was Won'. The excerpts I have read have been fantastic.

Sharon - hey there and yes, I'm sure To Catch a Bride will be a smashing success!

Anne said...

Hi Cheryl, nice to see you here. You're one of the few people who've read my Sheriff comedy, I think. I did have a lot of fun with it, and though it's been long out of print, it lives on through my synopsis page on my website. I often get letters from people who've gone to the page to learn how to write a synopsis and ended up wanting the book. LOL.

Ms Archer, thank you so much for dropping by, and also for the ringing endorsement of my book. And Sharon, I think half of RWA celebrated vicariously when you finally got published -- I don't know anyone who had a bigger cheer squad - and thoroughly deserved it!

Anne said...

Anna H, thanks for dropping by to chat. I love hearing about supportive husbands -- the unsung heroes of romance writing -- or maybe not so unsung. They do influence our stories, don't they?

And yes, the community of writers we belong to is such a wonderful bunch, I feel blessed to be part of it.

Fiona McArthur said...

I'm a huge fan of To Catch A Bride, too. Love my Anne Gracie books. Really enjoyed the blog, and great site too, Eleni. Lovely photo of Anne, Linda and Trish.
Friendship isn't a big thing... it's a million little things. (Author unknown.)
warm and fuzzies
w/a Fiona McArthur

Anne said...

Thanks Fi, who writes wonderful books herself and catches babies in between! Or is that Fi who catches babies and writes wonderful book in between?

Fi also does the most brilliant talk at the Pink event (fundraising event for breast cancer research) at the conference, showing us how to check our breasts and all the breast tissue surrounding them for lumps. I learned so much from that, and she does it in such a lovely, warm way. Thank you Fi.

Love that quote about friendship. Thanks for dropping by in the wee, small hours, Fi, no doubt after ushering a new wee babe into the world.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Fi great to see you. Glad you enjoyed the blog and the site as well :) And yes that photo is lovely. You can see the friendship that bonds these three remarkable ladies. Great quote.

Anne - oh yes, what a great service Fi does for the world - ushering in wee bubbas & let educating women on checking their breasts. Thanks for that Fi.

Anne said...

"what a great service Fi does for the world - ushering in wee bubbas & educating women on checking their breasts."

Yes indeed— and writing lovely heartwarming books as well, that give respite from everyday cares and troubles.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Oh yes how could I forget Fi's heartwarming books. :)

Cheryl Wright said...

Anne, loads of people have read the 'sheriff' book, as I'm sure you're aware. So many people told me I just had to read it, and if you recall, I spent months trying to get hold of it. Finally a writing friend lent me her copy, but only with assurance I would give it back. (I did, reluctantly!)

It was absolutely brilliant, and as I said before, I think about that book often. It was a terrific read, and I was quite sad when it finished.


Eleni Konstantine said...

I must track a copy down Cheryl!! LOL - I've placed quests for my website competition - looks like I have my own. Onward!

Anonymous said...

Always a pleasure to pop into an interview with Anne. Thanks so much for having her on Eleni.
I already am an Anne gracie follower and I am sure any of us will be thrilled to win your new one Anne. For those who don't we'll just have to race out and buy it.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Maryde - lovely of you to pop in. I agree anyone would be lucky to get an Anne Gracie book - & yes there's always the ones on the shelves :))

Anne said...

Cheryl, thanks, I did love writing it. But I think it was mainly people who know me who bought it. In the US it came out a few days before that dreadful Sept 11th disaster, and nobody was buying anything. Still, because of that it did go into a few foreign editions until it paid itself off.

Ekleni, it's pretty rare -- I don;t even have spare copies myself. I sent one of my last copies by request around members of the RWAust e-list a few years back, as "the travelling sheriff" and it went to a lot of people before it finally fell apart.

Hi maryde, thanks for dropping in, and for the compliment. You're in the draw.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Nice of you to do that. Poor book though falling apart :(

Anonymous said...

Three years ago at my first conference I was just like the lady you spoke of in your interview. When you did the standup and I was still sitting down, I first of all shed a few tears at being priveledged enough to be mixing with all these amazing writers, and then second, stiffened my resolve to be standign up by the next year. And thanks to your inspiration, I was standing. As an Emerald award finalist and grinning from ear to ear. So thanks.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Suzi, how inspiring that you stiffened your resolve to be standing & and as an Emerald finalist too! Well done indeed! Agree the Stand Up is inspiring stuff.

Anne said...

Suzilove, that's fantastic. It's not meant to make anyone feel bad, just to encourage everyone to have a go. And congratulations on your Emerald Final.

Eleni Konstantine said...

Everyone, thank you for your comments. And thanks to the fab Anne Gracie for joining us in the taverna.

Now the winner of Anne's book 'To Catch a Bride' is Caitlyn Nichols.

Cait - please send an email to
eleni-fest(AT) elenikonstantine (DOT) com

Thank you.

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