DUCK CHAT: Perfect Fun with Anne GracieWednesday, April 28, 2010 10:00
Anne Gracie is our guest and you’re in for some fun!
Her books have garnered awards and fans clamor for them, of course. Anne’s historicals are touching, emotional, humorous, poignant, and if you’ve read her books, you have your own adjectives to add to the list.
I’m getting to know Anne myself with this interview, and I also found some terrific things on her website I wanted to tell you about. I had to chuckle reading her story about how she got into beekeeping, and I wish every author would have a page on how they came to write their books, just like Anne’s here. Just a couple of tidbits I thought you might find as interesting as I did, along with our chat below.
But if I’ve not asked something you’d like to know or if you have a comment for Anne, go right ahead and leave it here. We’ll include your name in the giveaway for a copy of To Catch a Bride, Anne’s latest release.
Now let’s chat!
DUCK CHAT: Anne, welcome! We’re so glad to have you here at The Pond today! For those readers who have yet to read your books (shame on them!), would you tell them a little about yourself, maybe something even your die-hard fans may not know.
ANNE GRACIE: Thanks for inviting me, Sandy. Ok, I never know what to say when people ask me to tell them a little about me. I live in Australia in a small wooden house which will soon be remodeled. I have a dog, I keep bees and I like to travel. I’m published with Berkley, but was first published by Harlequin. I’ve written 14 books, including a contemporary romantic comedy and a novelization of the first “The Tudors” TV series, and they’ve been translated into about 16 languages, including two manga comics.
And something my die-hard fans don’t know? I eat seaweed every day.
DUCK CHAT: If you could retire any interview question and never, ever have it asked again, what would it be? Feel free to answer it.
AG: The one above. LOL. [Ed. Hey! Not one of my questions! LOL!]
DC: You’ve traveled the world and also lived in Scotland, Malaysia, and Greece. I have to assume that you’ve drawn inspiration for your stories from many of these places. Is there one or two that stand out that you can tell us about?
AG: The thing about inspiration is that you don’t always know what will inspire you. For instance, I briefly visited Egypt when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I really haven’t thought much about it since, but when I started writing a book partly set in Egypt, and was ‘dreaming my way’ into the early scenes, so much came back to me; smells, textures, the press of people, the beggars and street sellers, the narrow streets, the colors, the light.
I think every experience a writer has is stored up somewhere, quietly waiting for the right time.
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions, or dialogue flows from some unknown place. Is it the same with you? Do your characters surprise you sometimes?
AG: Definitely. Obviously all characters come from me in some way, but the most lively and interesting ones come “un-made-up” and unplanned. They’re the ones who surprise me, when I’m writing dialogue and they say something I never planned them to say and often take the book in a different direction. I’ve learned to go with it, rather than fight against it, because at some level the subconscious seems to know what its doing.
AG: Not so much argue with them, but certainly wrestle with them. An example of that was Gideon in The Perfect Rake. I had planned for him to be dark and dangerous and brooding, but instead he walked onto the page being funny and flippant and charming. I fought him for ages, but he kept on popping out these funny lines, so in the end I let him be who he was. Thank goodness. Here’s the scene where he first strolls onto the page — judge for yourself how dark and dangerous he isn’t. LOL.
I wrote that by hand in bed one morning – I woke up and it was as if the scene was rolling in my head. It’s almost unchanged from the notebook.
DC: Like most of us, you’ve been a voracious reader since you were very young. Do you remember the first romance novel you read?
AG: Not really. I fell in love with Georgette Heyer’s books when I was 11, but I didn’t know they were romance. I came to romance novels later in life. And quickly became addicted.
DC: Let’s talk about your Devil Riders series. First would you tell our readers about the series as a whole, please. Has it evolved as you originally envisioned?
AG: I wanted to write about four men, close friends and born dare-devils who’d been to war together and who were now back home, trying to adjust to peacetime life and not finding it easy. These guys are strong, protective and honorable, but also deeply flawed in their understanding of what love really is. And one by one they meet the woman who can teach them, though the lessons don’t always come easily, and I love watching that happen.
As I originally envisaged? I’m not a big pre-planner and every book comes out different from what I expect.
DC: What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?
AG: When I’m struggling with the story, anything and everything can distract me. But when the story is flowing and I’m in the zone, I can’t stay away from the computer.
AG: The cover for my new book, The Accidental Wedding, is beeyootiful. See for yourself. I love the image, and the textures and it reflects the appeal of the story, I think. I also loved the covers of An Honorable Thief, The Perfect Rake, and The Perfect Kiss.
DC: How about your least favorite cover? Why?
AG: I was disappointed in the cover of To Catch a Bride, because it’s a bit dull and generic and doesn’t reflect anything about the book, which is actually quite exciting and different.
DC: How do you feel your male or female characters have evolved over your career? Do you think you write them differently now than you did when you started?
AG: I really couldn’t say. I’m not very good at being able to stand back and look objectively at my books or characters. To me, they’re each unique and each character had his/her own challenges and joys in the writing. Some leap onto the page fully formed and others take longer to reveal themselves.
DC: The Stolen Princess is the first in the series and it was released in January 2008. Would you give us a look at Gabe and Callie?
AG: Sure. Here’s an early conversation between Callie (who is a princess) and Gabe who’s a bit of a bad boy.
“Don’t play the innocent with me!” Callie said.
“Never, my sweet. Innocence is over-rated, I quite agree.”
He said it with that— that look. She felt herself flushing. “And don’t call me my sweet, either.”
“No, my dear.”
“Or that. And you know perfectly well what I meant by not wanting to be under your thumb. My entire life has been spent under the rule of two extremely autocratic men — first my father and then my husband. Now I have had my first ever taste of freedom, and nothing — no man —could ever taste sweeter than that.”
“Is that a challenge?” he said softly.
“No. Do not be so frivolous.”
“I wasn’t,” he said in a meek voice, but his eyes were dancing.
It was the color, she thought irrelevantly. She’d never seen such blue, blue eyes. Like sunlight sparkling on the sea. Another thing that wasn’t fair. Men shouldn’t be allowed to have eyes like that.
They walked on and as they turned a corner the house came into view. Thank goodness, Callie thought. She might have been walking on a firm graveled path, but it had felt in some ways like she’d been negotiating a marsh, full of traps for the unwary.
He was a very dangerous man! She glanced at him and found him watching her.
“I’m so relieved,” he told her.
Callie could not imagine what he was talking about. “Relieved?”
“That you’re not afraid of my thumbs. I think they’re quite nice thumbs — for thumbs, that is. Don’t you think?” He spread his hands out for her to inspect, and though it was clearly ridiculous, she couldn’t help glancing at his hands.
“What do you think?” he asked.
She gave them a second critical look and sniffed. “All I can see is that your thumbs are rather large,” she said in a quelling voice.
He gave her a slow smile. “Exactly.”
DC: Is there a genre you haven’t tackled but would like to try?
AG: I wrote one contemporary rom-com and I still get a hankering to write more, but it’s hard enough keeping up with the demand for my historicals, so I don’t have time to write anything else. I’d also like to write a crime and also fantasy — I read a lot of them before before I discovered romance.
DC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
AG: Do more, play more, risk more.
DC: Second in the series is His Captive Lady, which was out in September ’08. This is Harry’s story. Can you tell us about him and his heroine?
AG: I love Harry. He’s the strong, silent type who’s deeply passionate underneath. He’s planning an arranged marriage, but he falls for Nell at first sight. Nell doesn’t come to Harry easily, though. She has her own secret, desperate quest and the last thing she expects is that Harry would join her in it.
“So,” Ethan said. “What’s her name?”
“She wouldn’t tell you?”
Harry shook his head. “I didn’t ask.”
“Well, where does she live?”
“She didn’t say.”
“What did she say?”
“God give me strength. And what did you say – no don’t tell me, nothing.”
“Not everybody is as garrulous as yourself, Delaney.”
“No, but Harry-lad, even stumps have to talk if they’re to find themselves a woman.”
Harry said stiffly, “My aunt is finding me a wife as we speak.” He wasn’t ‘finding himself a woman.’ The girl on the cart looked pathetic, that was all. And he just. . . gave her his hat.
“Your aunt,” Ethan said in deep disgust. “What kind of man gets his aunt to find him a bride?”
“A prudent one.”
DC: If you were a book, what would your blurb be?
AG: Beware, here be dragons. LOL
DC: What would be your ‘voice’s’ tagline?
AG: I went to a retreat once with a small group of other writers and we brainstormed taglines for each other. They came up with these three for me: 1) Laughter, tears and warmth 2) “Putting the devil in Mr. Darcy” and 3) Boots in the ballroom.
DC: To Catch a Bride, is the third installment of the series and it was published this past September. Would you give us a look inside Rafe and Ayisha’s relationship?
AG: Rafe is in Egypt to find a long lost heiress… The trouble is, Ayisha doesn’t want to be found.
Here’s a short extract:
At that moment a ray of moonlight lit her face. Rafe stared at his prisoner. She was… lovely. Her eyes, blue, or green, or somewhere in between — were fringed with dark lashes and set at an intriguing angle. Her nose was small and straight, her lips full and lush. And her skin, under the truly amazing amount of dirt, felt soft and smooth.
“My God,” he whispered. “What a rare little beauty.”
She jerked her head back and biffed him on the nose, hard.
“Oof!” It hurt like the very devil. His nose ached. His eyes watered. “Whoever brought Cleopatra to Rome wrapped in a rug knew his business,” he told her with feeling.
DC: What romance book would you recommend our readers pick up during their next bookstore run? (Well, in addition to an Anne Gracie book too!)
AG: Kelly Hunter (Harlequin Presents extra) has a couple of books out at the moment that are just brilliant. Even if you don’t read category, read these. I’m also a huge fan of Nalini Singh’s shapeshifter series. And in June, Joanna Bourne’s third book is out and if you haven’t read her, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore.
It felt like a bosom.
His body was like ice. And like fire. He tried to move.
“Don’t move.” Soft voice. Bossy. Female. Cool fingers pressed him against something warm and soft.
It was definitely a bosom. Whose?
A cool hand cupped his cheek, held him still against the bosom. “I need to tend to your head wound.” Her voice was soft, gentle. Low.
‘An excellent thing in a woman,’ he finished the quote in his head. A spurt of ironic laughter racked him. He bit back on the pain. Fool. He tried again to move. Agony.
Was he going to die?
If he was, he decided, this was the way to go, his face buried blissfully in the fragrant depths of a bosom. This bosom. Gentle hands soothing him, a soft voice murmuring.
This bosom, these fingers, this voice.
Whoever they belonged to.
DC: If you had never become an author, what do you think you would be doing right now?
AG: Teaching. Or maybe traveling. And still writing.
DC: Which book of yours would you recommend to someone who is getting ready to pick up their first Anne Gracie read?
AG: The Perfect Rake
DC: What’s on the horizon for Anne Gracie?
AG: House renovation (shudder…)
- dark or milk chocolate? – Dark
- smooth or chunky peanut butter? – Chunky
- heels or flats? – Flats
- coffee or tea? – Coffee
- summer or winter? – Winter
- mountains or beach? – Beach
- mustard or mayonnaise? – Chilli relish
- flowers or candy? – Both
- pockets or purse? – Both
- Pepsi or Coke? – Coke
- ebook or print? – Print
And because we still enjoy the answers we get:
1. What is your favorite word? – Chocolate
2. What is your least favorite word? – Gymnasium
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Music.
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? – Arguments.
5. What sound or noise do you love? – Little kids laughing.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? – Jack hammers.
7. What is your favorite curse word? – Starts with f.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – Hypnotherapy.
9. What profession would you not like to do? – Accountant.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? – “Turn left.”
DC: Anne, thank you so much for such a fun day!