Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Welcome Annie West

The lovely Australian romance author Annie West has agreed stop by today for an interview. Welcome!

Annie West Bio

Marilyn: Annie, I would like to congratulate on your latest April release, The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride. Can you tell us about the book and how you came to write sheikh romance stories?

Annie: Oh, Marilyn, thank you. I’m excited to have this book available now in North America.

I think my sheikh stories started with me telling my critique partner that I’d never be able to write one! I don’t think I’d read any and just assumed it wasn’t something I could tackle. Then I started reading them and loved them. I began wondering what it was about these stories that appealed.

There’s something scintillatingly dangerous and delightful about the fantasy of being swept into the arms of a mysterious, handsome stranger and carried off to his lair. The sheikh is the quintessential male, won over despite himself by the heroine. Initially he holds the power in the relationship and he may be ruthless in using it, which can put the heroine in a terrible situation – something we romance readers adore! Personally I love the fact that the heroine is usually in a vulnerable position when the story starts, but by the time it ends she has the man of her dreams.

Marilyn: Do you plot your stories or let your characters lead you?

Annie: I used to plot in a fair bit of detail. These days I start with a strong idea of the hero and heroine and a really vivid first scene. I have an idea for a conflict which keeps them apart but the characters lead me into the story and out again. I find this works best for me as I’m following their emotional journey far better than I could if I worked out all elements of the plot in advance. It can be scary at times but very rewarding.

Marilyn: How long have you been writing and what was your first book?

Annie: Hm, let me think. I joined Romance Writers of Australia and started work on my first manuscript in 1996. I had a couple of short stories accepted and then a book called ‘Strictly Business’ which I wrote especially for a small Australian romance publisher. That was published in 2000. Then in late 2005 Harlequin Mills and Boon bought the manuscript that became ‘A Mistress for the Taking’ (my first Presents story). I’ve recently sold another story to Harlequin, which is my 10th title for them. So it wasn’t overnight success, but it’s been a wonderful journey. I’m still learning along the way.

Marilyn: What are you currently working on?

Annie: Marilyn, I’m just starting a new project. Too early really to tell you much as I’m still working out a lot of details. At the moment (and this could change as I write and revise), my hero has just wandered out of the wilderness, wearing a tuxedo and a sexy smile, to collapse at my heroine’s feet. I DO enjoy setting up a new story! (G)

Marilyn: Of all of your characters, do you have a favorite you identify with and why?

Annie: Sorry to disappoint but this keeps changing. There are aspects of all my characters that I love – both the heroes and the heroines, so I can’t single it down to one. Certain characteristics, certain scenes or actions or even bits of dialogue by my characters grab me. I can’t pick just one!

Marilyn: What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you get to visit the places you write about?

Annie: Research varies depending on the book. A lot of locations are based on places I know. If I haven’t been there I either create a place based on locations I know or do lots of research. For this current release I started with a familiar location but Khalid’s kingdom is fictional and based on a number of other places.

I also did research on a number of issues, including the ins and outs of work in a racing stable. Fortunately a friend has first hand experience that came in very handy. I research on the net, from books and as much as possible from first hand experience. I love talking to people who know the details I need. Often the specifics they tell me never end up in the story but they helped me get a feel for a place or a situation which makes it real in my head and therefore easier to write.

Marilyn: Annie, what is something you definitely want readers to know about you?

Annie: I’d love to say that I’m wise, witty and gorgeous but… Instead I’ll simply say I love romance stories. Reading great books is and always has been a major part of my life. That’s why it’s so thrilling to be able to share my own stories with other readers.

Marilyn: What would you say has been your most significant accomplishment as a writer?

Annie: Hearing from readers that my story has helped them when life got tough has been incredibly rewarding. It’s the most wonderful feeling to discover that a story I’ve created, sitting alone here with my imagination and my computer, has impacted on someone I’ve never met, who has connected with my characters and felt better for it.

Marilyn: When the time comes for you to retire from writing, what would you like your readers to remember the most about you and your writing?

Annie: Oh, Marilyn, now that’s an interesting question. I suppose I’d like to be remembered for stories that are genuinely from the heart, that are vibrant and real and pack the sort of emotional punch I love in the romances I read.

Marilyn: Do you see yourself continuing to write contemporary romance or is there another genre you would like to try?

Annie: I have no plans to try another genre. Other than contemporary romance I love historicals so I suppose that’s my second love, but I can’t see myself trying to switch to them. Instead I’ll just enjoy reading them!

Marilyn: Before I let you go, is there anything I forgot to ask that you want the readers and fans to know?

Annie: Only that I love to hear from readers. If you pick up one of my books and want to share your thoughts, feel free! Writing is a lonely business and it’s great to hear from readers, so please, don’t feel shy about contacting authors.

Marilyn: Annie, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me!

Annie: Marilyn, it’s been a real pleasure. Thanks for inviting me over. It’s been a treat!


For a chance to win a copy of The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride, how did Maggie and Khalid meet? Hint:

Please make sure to check back in May to see if you’ve won.


Anna Campbell said...

Annie and Marilyn, what a wonderful interview! Marilyn, you asked such interesting questions.

Actually I'm rather proud of Annie's success with writing the coolest sheikhs around. I remember telling her I loved sheikh books and her being all modest and demurring and then she actually tried to write one and it was a doozy. The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride is still one of the best Presents I've ever read. And wow, that Rafiq!

By the way, Annie, do writers EVER retire? Perhaps they never have the last word. Oh, dear, what a terrible joke!

Hey, if you want to know more about Annie's latest release, pop over to the Romance Bandits where Annie's guesting today. She's doing a big giveaway too.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Thanks Anna, you're such a special lady and friend to Annie. By the way, I really enjoyed the Romance Bandits posts today. Thanks so much for stopping by and posting.

Anna Campbell said...

Marilyn, thanks for popping by the bandits. That's how I found out about the interview here. It's been a fun day over in the lair, hasn't it?

Annie West said...

Hi Anna, nice to see you here. Doesn't the site look great? Yes, I blame you for the fact that I write sheikhs - thanks, mate! I would never have done it without you pushing me. Glad Rafiq still holds a special place in your heart!

No, I'm not sure romance writers ever retire. I shall ignore your pun and just say I'm looking forward to plenty more books - both as a reader and as a writer.


Annie West said...

Marilyn, thanks so much for the interview. It was fun and there were questions there I've never been asked before which really made me think. Good on you!


Maureen said...

She is wandering alone in a downpour and he stops to help her.


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