Posts Tagged ‘Annie West

04
Jan
09

Tempting the Devil AND Anna Campbell

This week our guest is ANNA CAMPBELL, down-under author of hugely popular and always-desirable historical romances for Avon. Her first two novels, Claiming the Courtesan and Untouched won plaudits from reviewers, readers and contest judges–both were RITA finalists, amongst numerous other awards–and with her much anticipated Tempt the Devil now available (run, don’t walk, to grab your copy!) we invited Anna in for a quick chat over a glass or two of bubbly.

Welcome, Anna. Let’s start with a quick introduction. Who is Anna Campbell?

AC:  What can I say about Anna Campbell? International woman of mystery. Black belt in karate. Danced with the Bolshoi. Modeled for Picasso. Fought off Japanese whalers on the coast of Greenland. Worked for the CIA… Oh, you mean me? THAT Anna Campbell! Sigh. She’s much less interesting! Book nut. Always wanted to be a writer. Completed her first novel after finishing high school and then it took her 27 years to get a publishing contract (during which time she COULD have done all that other stuff!). First book came out in 2007, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. Second book UNTOUCHED. Third book TEMPT THE DEVIL has just hit the stands in America. I live on the Sunshine Coast in subtropical Queensland in Australia.

Have you always written historical/regency era romance or have you dabbled in other genres as well?

AC: The nice thing about having 27 years to play around and experiment is that I got to try an awful lot of genres! The book I finished after high school was a medieval romance (the romance element has stayed pretty constant). I tried to write Harlequin Presents and completed eight manuscripts that will never see the light of day, a fact for which the world ought to be grateful! I tried family sagas, both contemporary and historical. I tried romantic suspense – believe me, not my strength! I tried historical romance set in a variety of periods and places including Elizabethan England, Renaissance Italy, late 19th-century Australia, 18th-century Hungary. Anything but the Regency in fact! Then one day, I sat down and wrote a comedy set in the Regency and felt like I’d come home. The period suits the way I use language and the larger than life stories I want to tell.

What is it that makes the Regency era so popular with readers?

AC: I think the Regency period is so popular largely because Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer set stories during that time! Since then, because those two writers were so influential, thousands of books have been set in the Regency and I think readers love the familiarity of it now. The Regency is popular because of the clothes (especially the men’s!), the elegance, the wit, the style. Not to mention that anyone who married in the Regency in the British Isles had a long period of peace and prosperity to look forward to. So the happy ending could be just that! The Regency is long enough ago to still have that fairytale flavour that historical romance readers love. But it’s also modern in many ways – there was a proto feminism, for example, the rise of companionate marriage as the ideal, the industrial revolution, people speaking in a way that’s generally intelligible to a modern reader.

Your books have been described as “regency noir”; how would you describe your style?

AC:  I love that phrase ‘Regency noir’. Stephanie Laurens coined it when she gave me a quote for CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. It makes me smile to realize it’s since become the name for a whole genre of darker historicals. I think the books I’m writing now are dark and tackle powerful themes. Regency noir for some reason also makes me think of dark, delicious chocolate – and I hope my books are a luscious, sensual experience too!

Tell us about your new book, Tempt the Devil? What will tempt us inside that cover (which is gorgeously tempting, BTW)?

AC: I’m billing TEMPT THE DEVIL as a Regency noir AFFAIR TO REMEMBER. It tells the love story of Olivia Raines, London’s most notorious courtesan, and the infamous rake, the Earl of Erith. Falling in love is the greatest risk these two jaded, sophisticated people can take. Hey, thanks for saying that about the cover – it’s pretty delicious, isn’t it? I’m hoping that aside from the cover, the rich sensuality and deep emotions of this story will tempt you! Not to mention that I actually got to write some banter between my hero and heroine. That was fun and took me back to when I used to write comedy!

Courtesans: are they the new black? (And did you start the new fashion?)

AC:  LOL. I’m not sure if I started it. I’ve certainly noticed more courtesans gracing the pages of historical romance. I do think modern readers like a more sexually experienced heroine. Mind you, I’ve just handed in my fourth book and it features my first virginal heroine so I’m hoping readers like the younger, sweeter ones too!

What temptations can’t you resist?

AC:  Sadly, far too many! A good book. Smith’s barbecue chips. My email inbox! Etc. Etc.

We know you read widely and often; what do you look for/get from a good book?

AC:  Oh, I’m still a voracious reader but sadly, since I’ve been published, I don’t seem to have nearly as much time to lose myself in a great story. I look for something that sweeps me away to another world. I love a writer whose words sing to me – Shana Abe comes to mind! I like something that engages my brain and my heart. I want to believe in those characters so strongly, it’s like they’re flesh and blood, and I want to be sorry when I close the cover on the last page because I’m leaving a place where life was vivid and engrossing.

What was your best read of 2008?

AC:  What a great question! I love to talk about great books. I re-read Laura Kinsale’s FLOWERS FROM THE STORM for a review and rediscovered what a masterpiece it is. I hadn’t read it since I bought it in the mid-90s and it was a revelation just how much depth and intelligence and emotion that book contains. Otherwise I’ve read great books by Annie West, Christine Wells, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Tawny Weber, Nicola Cornick and Madeline Hunter. New authors I’ve discovered and now love are Elizabeth George, C.S. Harris, J.D. Robb and Kathleen O’Reilly.

What are you looking forward to in 2009?

AC:  The first thing is the release of TEMPT THE DEVIL. I didn’t have a book out in 2008 so it’s been a while between drinks! I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the new story. I’m looking forward to visiting Washington for the RWA National Conference in July. In Australia, I’m looking forward to the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Melbourne in February and the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Brisbane in August. I love to catch up with readers and my romance-writing friends.

What can we expect next from Anna Campbell?

AC:  My next release is in November 2009 and it’s another Regency noir (the virginal heroine story). As yet, it hasn’t got an official title but the book’s all approved and at Avon. It’s about a runaway heiress who finds shelter with a man suffering from PTSD after being tortured in India. A lot of this book is set in Cornwall and I had great fun writing the house which is like Manderley in REBECCA. The book I’m currently working on is, like TEMPT THE DEVIL, set in London and it’s one of those “oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive” stories.

Thank you, Anna. As always it’s been a delight to sit and chat. We’re all looking forward to reading about Olivia and Erith, and wishing we were eligible for this week’s giveaway. :-/ That would be an autographed copy of TEMPT THE DEVIL, awarded a TOP PICK! by Romantic Times and described as “an unforgettable powerhouse romance.” Read more at Anna’s fabulous website.

Talk to us about your greatest temptation at the moment — have you discovered a new favourite author you can’t get enough of, a new TV fascination, a new shop, chocolate, wine? — and you’ll be in the draw to win. (One entry per IP address; winner drawn Jan. 10.)

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02
Nov
08

The Lure of the Sheikh Hero by Annie West

Thanks, Desirabelles, for inviting me to your fantastic site! It’s so exciting to have such a strong group of Aussie and New Zealand Desire authors. I’ve been reading your books with enormous pleasure!

For those who don’t know me, I’m another girl from Down Under and I write for Harlequin Presents/Mills and Boon Modern. I’m absolutely hooked on reading (and writing) romance and I’m thrilled to say my ninth book for Harlequin has recently been accepted.

In the meantime, since my latest release is about a desert prince it was suggested I talk about the lure of the sheikh hero. I wonder how many of you share an appreciation of that particular hero?

It took me a while to come to the sheikh hero. In my early days of reading romances the heroes I discovered were usually European or American or occasionally from Australia or New Zealand. There were swashbuckling men in boots, regency rakes, businessmen, boys next door, bad boys on motor bikes, occasional cowboys, aristocrats or gothic antiheroes. Why would I need a sheikh with that sort of variety on offer?

But somewhere on my radar I was aware of the fact that sheikhs (or sheiks, depending on where you’re from) loomed large on the list of potential romance heroes. I knew women had swooned in droves when Rudolph Valentino appeared on the big screen in ‘The Sheik’ in the 1920s, but I couldn’t quite see what the fuss was about.

My curiosity was aroused and I sought out books featuring desert princes. I watched Valentino and ‘Harem’ and read more on the subject. Soon I was in no doubt why so many women love a sheikh hero.

Dangerous and Delightful
There’s something scintillatingly dangerous and delightful about the sheer escapist fantasy of being swept into the arms of a mysterious, handsome stranger and carried off to his lair. What a set up for wonderful conflict and tension! What heroine worth her salt wouldn’t revel in the challenge of a man who can have whatever woman he wants, yet chooses her?

In these stories the sheikh is so intrigued by the heroine’s beauty/character/defiance/intelligence/ stupidity in venturing into this domain that he has to have her for himself. He rules his world with absolute power. He has utter dominion over the woman he’s lured/seduced/kidnapped/rescued/found. We sit on the edge of our seats wondering whether he’ll use that power for his own ends, or will he refrain, and meet her on her own terms? Will he relinquish that power for love?

Or perhaps they meet elsewhere, in her home town for instance. He stands out from other men as different, intriguing and compelling. He’s drawn to her, whether he likes it or not. Even though she’s not obviously the right woman for him, instinctively he knows there’s something in her that calls to him and he can’t ignore that. His single-minded focus on learning more about her can lead them both into dangerous waters where attraction and duty collide.

The quintessential male
The sheikh is the quintessential male, won over despite himself. Initially he holds the power in their relationship and he may be ruthless in using it, which can put the heroine in a terrible situation – something we romance readers adore.

The heroine is likely to be vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean weak! After all a strong hero needs a strong heroine. Even if she’s usually self sufficient and even if her sheikh isn’t the rampaging, ride-across-the-desert-to-kidnap-her sort, something about him will challenge her – her freedom, her perceptions or her plans for the future. Whether he wears Armani and runs a multi-national company, or lives the life of a nomad, he’s a threat, the most powerful man she’s ever met, and the most fascinating. He threatens her peaceful world.

If you love a strong alpha hero then these romances may be perfect reading for you. If you enjoy stories of Cinderella transformations or the tug of duty versus love or the strong man brought to realise love is a force he can’t conquer, you may want to pick one up.

For centuries sheikhs, sultans and pashas have intrigued audiences, perhaps in part because of Western perceptions of the sexual power play associated with harems. Maybe too because they just seem so exotic! Think of Mozart’s ‘Escape from the Seraglio’, Edith Maude Hull’s ‘The Sheik’, Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. Which reminds me – did I mention the clothes and the terrific horses?

The Settings
Then there are the settings: desert strongholds, romantic oases, sprawling palaces with hidden treasures, or perhaps a penthouse apartment in the heart of an exciting metropolis. The world is this man’s oyster. For background colour there are silk carpets, souks, glittering jewels and an exotic ‘Arabian Nights’ aura.

I’ve read desert princes who are men of action in thrilling stories of adventure, or honour-bound men whose primary aim is to protect those they’re responsible for. I’ve read sexy seducers who have the tables turned on them and suave, powerful captains of industry who learn to their cost that one woman can disrupt all they’ve planned.

In part it’s the power play between two apparently unequal characters that fascinates me. There might be a clash of different worlds with all the challenges that can throw up. Above all there is sense of the power of love overcoming difficult circumstances to bring our heroine and hero together in lasting happiness.

Have you read a sheikh story? Was it what you expected? What stood out for you? And if you don’t read them, why not? I’d be fascinated to hear (and I’ll give away a copy of one of my sheikh stories to someone who posts a comment, chosen at random).

ABOUT ANNIE: Annie’s third sheikh hero is making his appearance right now. Khalid is a man on a mission to save his country from years of mismanagement. He has no time for complications like love or marriage. But a chance encounter with Maggie, the most unlikely of potential brides, brings consequences neither of them expect. Their marriage will be one of duty and convenience. At least, that’s the plan…

THE DESERT KING’S PREGNANT BRIDE is available now in Australia and New Zealand or you can buy it on the web from the UK. It will be released in North America (Harlequin Presents Extra) in April 2009. In the meantime you can read more about it on her website.