Wednesday, January 09, 2008

CELEBRATING 50 BOOKS!

Today the dh asked me if I ever thought, when my first romance was published, whether I'd ever be at this point in my career, celebrating the publication of THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE -- Book # 50. The answer was that I was just so thrilled to have my first book accepted, I couldn't possibly have imagined anything more exciting.

That's probably still true, actually, but there is something about a nice round number like 50 that demands a party so I thought I'd invite my friends to come and join in the cyber fun!

Each week during 2008 -- on Thursday (except for a couple of important dates when I'll post them a little earlier -- I'll tell you) -- one of my much admir'd authors will drop by to share the fun, and since all parties need games, offer a signed book for one lucky reader.

Today I have great pleasure in welcoming Presents/Modern author, Annie West. Annie, who has recently been nominated by Romantic Time for Best Presents of 2007, hails from Australia's east coast and once received a marriage offer which included a herd of camels!

Here's Annie...

Liz, thanks so much for inviting me to help you celebrate your career success so far – 50 books! From where I sit that’s almost unbelievable. Almost – because I and so many of my romance reader/writer friends have been enjoying your stories for a long time now. Congratulations on this landmark achievement!

I’m thrilled to start 2008 with the release of THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE, and to talk about it here.

This book emerged from a title that popped into my head one day: The Unwanted Wife. Once I had those 3 words I knew I wanted to write the story even though I didn’t know what it was about! For about 6 months as I worked on other projects I wondered why this particular wife was unwanted. I even became desperate enough to ask friends! They humoured me, supplying all sorts of reasonable explanations but none were quite right. Then, finally the story came to me and I became completely absorbed.

I enjoyed so many aspects of this story. A Greek island setting that made me long for another Aegean visit. A strong couple who were perfect for each other, if only they could overcome their differences. A good dose of melodrama (hey, I write for Modern/Presents), deep emotion, gorgeous gems and a situation that kept hero and hero in sizzling suspense. All I had to do was write it! Easier said than done.

Stavros is a powerful, obstinate man, used to getting things his own way. I took great delight in putting him in a situation where all his careful plans are destroyed, as well as his assumptions about Tessa. Poor Tessa doesn’t realise the trouble she’s unleashing when she arrives at his villa to return his ancestral ring.

'I'm sorry if I've come at a bad time. It wasn't my intention.' She tugged at her hand but he kept it in his. 'I'll leave now that you have your property.'

Would she indeed? And no doubt she'd head to the nearest press agency to sell her story.

Not if he had anything to do with it!

'I'm afraid not,' he murmured.

'But I'm not welcome here. That much is obvious.'

He nodded, acknowledging her point. 'True. But do you really think I'm so stupid as to leave you to your own devices?'

She opened her mouth, no doubt to protest. He cut her off with a single, abrupt gesture.

'Enough! I want no more of your pretensions to innocence. You will not leave the estate until I have the whole story from you and we come to some...accommodation about our circumstances.'

'Accommodation?' She shook her head, the very picture of bewilderment.
Her dramatic skills had improved in the last four years, he realised. When they'd first met he'd found her amazingly transparent in her thoughts and emotions. Now look at her: an accomplished liar.

'Of course, an accommodation. The situation requires careful...attention.' His fingers tightened round hers as he smiled.

'You surely don't think I'd have celebrated my betrothal quite so publicly tonight if I'd known I still had a wife?'


Writing about this story has reminded me of the fun I had creating Stavros’ Greek island. What is your favourite ‘exotic’ setting for a story? Maybe a place in one of Liz’s books, or elsewhere. Perhaps even a place you think would be perfect for a romantic story? I’d love to hear. And I’ll give away a signed copy of ‘The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife’ to one of the readers who provides a comment.

Happy New Year everyone, and happy celebrations, Liz!

Annie


Whew! For a longer excerpt and to find out more about Annie and her books, check out her website

In the meantime you have until Monday morning (US time) to leave your comments and have a chance to win a copy of THE GREEK TYCOON'S UNEXPECTED WIFE.

74 comments:

Anna Campbell said...

Well, Miss Annie, fancy meeting you here! I look forward to the day when you have 50 books under your belt because it means I'll have had 50 fantastic reads. Congratulations on your success and on the RT nomination which is VERY well deserved. Love the sound of the new book and the extract is intriguing. Stavros sounds dreamy in an arrogant alpha sort of way ;-) Actually I'm a sucker for exotic locations (which for me includes the US and the UK!). I spent my teenage years devouring hundreds of Mills and Boons and as a result, I'm a killer in the geography section of Trivial Pursuit. Anne Weale's West Indian Islands and Anne Mather's tempestuous Latin settings and Anne Hampson with her Greek settings and Violet Winspear who used to set books almost everywhere and make it sound fantastic. Sigh. Turned me into a travel animal! I don't think I have a favourite but I love it when a setting is integral to the story and the story couldn't take place anywhere else.

Annie, can you think of any books in your reading that fall into that category? Where the setting is as necessary as the main characters to the story? I think that's true about your stories, by the way!

Annie West said...

Hi Anna,

How lovely to see you. And thanks so much for the kind words about my stories. Whew! I think I may have broken out into a cold sweat at the thought of writing 50 books. I don't know how Liz has done it! Ah well, I'll concentrate on one book at a time.

I'm so pleased you believe my settings are integral to my books. That's a lovely compliment. It's one aspect of writing a new story that I thoroughly enjoy - getting a setting fixed in my head. It makes the action more vivid for me, though often I find myself deleting description to cut down word length.

I'm smiling and nodding at your list of Mills and Boon authors - I roamed the globe with those very same authors and others. I'm sure my smattering of foreign languages and geography knowledge came from romances. I seemed to read a lot of Spanish and Caribbean stories at one stage and they seemed so exotic. And as for a great British hero in a quaint village, isolated artist's retreat or magnificent home - sigh, that always worked for me in far off Australia.

Oh, so many books I've enjoyed had a setting that was almost as important as a character. Going back to some of the earliest romances I picked up there was Mary Stewart with 'My Brother Michael' and 'The Moonspinners'. I'm sure she set me on my love affair with Greece. And her books in France and the Isle of Skye were so evocative too! Hm, Victoria Holt's 'Mistress of Mellyn' in Cornwall, which set me on a long-lived reading jag for gothic romances. Liz's sheikh stories have to come in for a mention too, and what about Trish Morey's story set on the pearl coast of Australia at Broome or Robyn Donald and Susan Napier with their New Zealand settings? Then there are old favourites like 'Enchanted April' with that magnificent Italian location, and Dickens' 'Bleak House' where London is a character in itself. Daphne Du Maurier too. Oh, and discovering a little bit of Russia through writers as varied as Tolstoy and Constance Heaven! Can you tell I enjoy books with interesting settings?

Thanks, Anna, now I'm going to go off and start a list...

Annie

Emma said...

Great interview.Congratulations on the RT nomination. Your new book sound like a great book to read.

Liz Fielding said...

Annie, I'm desperate to see the movie Enchanted April, but it isn't available in DVD. Maybe I'll just have to bite the bullet and read the book!

JOYE said...

Just curious. Why are all the tycoon's from Greece? Why can't they be an Alaskan tycoon or one from Argentina? What is the appeal for them to be from Greece?

Annie West said...

Hi Emma,

Thank you so much for the congratulations. I'm glad you like the sound of this book. It's one of my favourites. Am I allowed to have favourites when I've only had 7 accepted by Harlequin Mills and Boon? Perhaps I should just say that I smile when I think of the story.

Annie

Annie West said...

Liz, I'm astounded that 'Enchanted April' isn't available on DVD in the UK. It's been on sale in Australia for years. It truly is one of my favourite movies. Not just for the wonderful actors (Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright, Josie Lawrence, Michael Kitchen etc). It's such a feelgood movie without being overly sentimental. I love the humour in it too. It's strange you don't have it in the UK where it was produced. I hope you manage to find a copy to enjoy. It's perfect to watch in wet wintry weather, which I suspect you may have a lot of right now.

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Joye,

I'd love to write a tycoon from Argentina or Alaska one day. Though I suspect the Alaskan climate may be a little too harsh for me (I'm used to sun and lots of it). Our Modern/Presents stories can be set anywhere exotic as long as there's a touch of glamour and that's really individual to the story. Greece is certainly an exotic location for many of us.

Personally I've set books there because it's one of the countries I know best after my own and so I feel more confident writing about it, even though I don't get to include travelogues about the place! I can visualise the setting for my story vividly and I find that makes it easier to write.

But perhaps the most serious answer to your question is that writing about a powerful Greek hero taps into the romantic idea of the passionate Mediterranean hero who has very strong feelings about honour, family and even possibly, 'suitable' or 'convenient' marriages. That's not to say men elsewhere don't have strong views on those things. However, it's about acknowledging some of the traditions associated with that area and the romantic perception of hot-blooded males, bound by strong codes of honour. I suppose too, the fact that Greece produced one of the first well known modern tycoons (Aristotle Onassis) adds to the feeling that it's the sort of place where you might find a tycoon.

I should add that two of the Presents/Modern stories I've enjoyed recently have had a south
American twist. One was set in the Amazon jungle (a book by Sarah Morgan) and the other has a Brazilian hero (by Abby Green).

I'd love to hear about readers' favourite settings.

Annie

Lois said...

Oh geez, it feels like I'm surrounded by lots of people I know! :) The thing is with just really starting with the Harlequin Presents line or the like a while ago, I sure have been introduced to plenty of exotic locations. . . I tend to stick with the US for the contemporaries that I read and England and related for all the historicals I read. . . so I'm still fairly new to other locations and people like Sheikhs. :)

Lois

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, I just read a great Jane Porter set in Argentina called THE LATIN LOVER'S SECRET CHILD. Was nice to have the South American setting as a change. As I said in my original response to you, I have very fond memories of the Anne Mathers set in South America that I read during my teens. I've read the Sarah Morgan. It's great - she really uses the setting to evoke atmosphere. I must check out the Abby Green.

Anna Campbell said...

Lois, waving madly back. Sheikh books are such fun! Try Annie's. They're wonderful. I love the Greek Tycoon but I think my favourites of her books (although it's hard to pick between such great stories)are The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride for which she received a Top Pick from Romantic Times and also a nomination as best Harlequin Presents of the year (given the competition, that's really saying something). And the follow-up story, For the Sheikh's Pleasure is just to die for - absolutely gorgeous hero. Seriously, you won't be disappointed! And I really enjoyed the most recent Sheikh book of Liz's I read too - The Sheikh's Guarded Heart. Made me cry, that one! ;-)

Annie West said...

Hi Lois. I read plenty of books set in the US too. I find it interesting that Australia is a popular setting now as well. Even though I love the place, growing up here it seemed anything but exotic, but it apparently has international appeal.

As for reading sheikh stories, I'm coming to that pretty late myself. I don't recall reading lots of them in the past, even though I've been reading Presents/Modern stories since my teens. I've been catching up in recent years though. I hope you get a chance to dip into them one day and enjoy them. I can't wait to get my hands on Liz's 'The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride'.

Annie

Annie West said...

Anna, thanks for the tip about Jane Porter's book. It's one I haven't read yet and I'll make sure I do.

And thank you so much for the very kind words about my two sheikh stories. That's lovely to hear - I'm glad they were so memorable for you.

Snap on 'The Sheikh's Guarded Heart'. That's one of my favourite desert stories.

Annie

Estella said...

Congratulations on your Rt nomination. I'm looking forward to reading more of your books.

Annie West said...

Hi Estella, and thank you. To say I'm thrilled to be nominated for the award is an understatement. It's such an honour to be included there with some of my favourite Modern/Presents writers.

Annie

Michelle said...

Hi Annie, I'm with Anna C - I lurrvved the Sheik's Ransomed Bride (though I am dying to read your new one - I love to see a big, strong, arrogant man brought to his knees by a good woman ).

Favourite setting? London, absolutely. For pretty much everything. A hangover from all those Dickens's that I read as a teenager. But the hot and steamy locales certainly seem apt for your stories:-)

My mother and my sister will read anything with an Australian outback setting, and I also love romances set in small country towns/villages where the tall, dark and handsome hero arrives and turns the heroine's world (as she knows it) upside down (or vice versa, I like tall, dark and handsome heroines too).

You do an alpha hero so well. Tell me, how do you manage to keep him so sexily wonderful without him becoming an overbearing boar? All of your heroes are to die for. I wouldn't mind riding off into the sunset with any of them

Nathalie said...

Amoung my 2 favorite authors at the same place (other than the PinkHeartSociety...) I am in heaven, almost!

Lily said...

Liz... congrats on Book 50!!!

Annie, I have to say your newest book really appeals to me, it seems great by the excerpt I have read... the concept is quite fresh!

Eric said...

Wow Liz 50 seems like such a large number to absorb, you must be very proud. Sadly (for me) I’ve only read three, so I have a lot of catching up to do, I promise to try harder this year. – I’ll report back in December.

Annie, congratulations on your latest offering and the wonderful nomination, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you (us – everyone needs to feel they know someone special). Anna educated me earlier; your characters are always linked tightly with the environment of the plots setting. --- I must admit I sometimes privately wonder why Greece and Sheik billionaires always seem to be a sexier catch on paper than poverty stuck, bald, goat herders.

Your latest had extra spice for me. There are aspects to it that are funny beyond you knowing for us. We have a neighbour who has two Staffordshire Terriers, an old male who is a darling, except that he won’t let us walk past without collecting a biscuit toll. We call him Boofy. There younger female has canine ADHD. She runs everywhere and wont let us past without jumping to catch a biscuit and I’m sure she would swallow an old boot just as happily; we call her Gulp. I sware I not lying, there real names are Stavros and Tessa.

I have a problem with romantic settings. I like nothing more than to witness the isolation of seeing the horizon in every direction without a living sole or human manufactured object in view. I just melt with the romance of the feeling of comfortable it generates. --- A sample: http://www.au6.com/theoutback --- A romance problem: Not a heroine in sight – There’s a thought – Annie, A Sheik may ride by, with a broken sandshoe.’

Thank you for the hours of reading pleasure, Annie (and Liz) -- Eric

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle, thanks so much for the feedback on The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride. It's fantastic to hear. I have a very broad grin on my face, knowing you'd ride off with one of my heroes.

London is definitely a place I love to read about. Just wish I could get back there some time soon for a 'research' trip!

I know what you mean about small towns where the hero arrives and sets the heroine's world upside down. Yes, please! They have such appeal - I always have a sense of anticipation when I start such a story. Rather like your recent 'His Christmas Angel' where the hero disrupts the heroine's neatly planned world and the mayhem is lovely. (I'm guessing here that you're Michelle Douglas, who I know loves London). Congratulations, by the way, for your RT best first book nomination too. That's fantastic.

You asked about my alpha heroes not being boars (or bores for that matter). For a long time I didn't believe I cold write a convincing, strong alpha hero. (I'm still pinching myself to believe I write for Modern/Sexy.) Then I realised I had to focus on the sort of hero I respond to most strongly. It's the honourable protector archetype. The one who will do whatever it takes to look after those he feels responsible for. I love a strong sense of integrity in a man. In the case of my stories, if I can link that to a man who's human enough to be focused on getting the woman he wants, the situations can be so interesting. My heroes make life difficult for their heroines but there are always good reasons for it. In this current release Stavros mistrusts Tessa from the first and busily tries to protect those he feels responsible for. Given his experiences, he has good reason to be suspicious. But then he does have the grace to feel genuine remorse later. I suppose it's as simple as trying to write a hero I like.

Thanks for the question. That's now got me thinking about my hero in the book I'm starting.

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Nathalie,

Another Pink Heart Society girl! Glad you're enjoying yourself here.

Annie

Annie West said...

Lily,

Isn't Liz's 50 books an amazing achievement?

I'm so pleased you like the sound of my latest book. I have to say that when I came up with the idea I was thrilled. I took enormous delight in putting Stavros and Tessa in such a difficult situation. At the time I wasn't sure how they were going to resolve it but the opening was so strong in my mind I just had to get it down on paper.

Annie

Annie West said...

Eric, are you kidding? You know two dogs called Stavros and Tessa? Actually, my poor Tessa almost had a name change. I'd had her character in mind for ages, but by the time I wrote the story I also had an editor named Tessa and I felt it might be hard on her, asking her to read a Tessa heroine. Fortunately she had no qualms about it so Tessa stayed as she was.

Hm, if ever I read a romance about an outback goat herder I'll think of you.

I love stories set in the wilderness, or at least partly set there. After many years as a bushwalker, I'm now happy to include a little luxury in my settings. Creature comforts can be fun too.

Annie

catslady said...

Congratulations on the RT nomination - it's always nice to be recognized. I look forward to reading your latest book!

Sandie Hudson said...

Congratulation Liz on your 50th book. Annie your interview was great and very interesting. Putting a novel together just from a title WOW.
Ladies I am looking forward to getting both your books to read.
Best wishes for the New Year.
Hugs
Sandie

Annie West said...

Catslady, Hi! Yes, it was nice to be recognised in this way. It really was a complete surprise (I didn't know nominations for reviewers' choice were coming out) and that made it even lovelier. I do like pleasant surprises (G). I hope you enjoy Stavros and Tessa's story.

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Sandie. Happy new year to you too. I hope 2008 is a bumper year.

Actually, writing a story from a title is rather fun. So long as it's a title that inspires you to wonder 'what if?'. I've done the same a couple of times and they were always very strong in my mind. The other catalyst for my stories is usually an opening scene that catches my attention and won't let go.

Liz, are you there? I'm wondering what sort of things inspire you to write (other than deadlines)?

Annie

Anne Gracie said...

Liz, congratulations on your 50th book. It's a brilliant achievement, especially since yours are books I also love to re-read. They always leave me with a smile. I wish Harlequin would release a pack of some of your favorites from the past - the ones I missed.

Annie, congratulations on the RT nomination. Proposals that include camels, eh? I think you need to get together with Trish Morey...
I enjoyed the GTUW excerpt and will look forward to reading the book.

Annie West said...

Hi Anne. How lovely to see you here. And what a good idea - letting Liz choose her favourites to rerelease. If only! Hm, maybe you could suggest it, Liz.

Thanks for the congratulations. I'm glad to have surprised you about the marriage proposal with camels! Not that the camels were actually present at the time. They were waiting in the wings, so to speak. Now I'm intrigued about getting together with Trish. I didn't know she'd had a camel-marriage proposal too. Or were you thinking of the link to her book set in Broome, where there are camel rides on the beach?

You mentioned looking forward to Stavros and Tessa. Speaking of books to look forward to, I've already been in contact with my local bookshop. We're expecting your Stolen Princess book in the next fortnight. Yippee!

Annie

Michelle Douglas said...

I am that masked Michelle, Annie. Sorry, I wasn't trying to be enigmatice, but obviously forgot to type in my surname.

I love your definintion of an alpha hero. But then, any hero worth his salt has to have an inner core of integrity, don't you think?

But, to the REAL question. How on earth could you turn down a proposal of marriage when camels were involved?

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle. Yes, of course you're right, heroes do need that core of integrity. Hm, maybe my answer to your question wasn't very complete now I think about it. I suppose for me it's a matter of focus. That's where I start from with my alpha heroes - what motivates them and where they'll draw the line. Then I work from there. Put an essentially honourable man in a situation where there's a pull between what he believes he should do and what he wants to do and it can be such fun! (Did I tell you that one of my favourite pastimes is giving my hero and heroine a difficult time?) In this current story Stavros is definitely an honourable man but he's also a guy used to getting his own way at the snap of his fingers. He wields plenty of power and makes quick decisions. The idea that one of those decisions may have been wrong is something he has to learn to deal with. Where do you start with your heroes?

How did I turn down a marriage offer that included a herd of camels? Tempting, eh? Well, it wasn't as hard as you think. I'd been personally acquainted with a few camels by then and, though they have nice eyes and I rather like the ride, I have no real desire to be lumbered with a herd of them. Besides, the man who was to become my dh was waiting for me at home. He was a much better deal than the dromedaries!

Annie

Dena said...

Hi Annie, your new book sounds really good. I love stories that are set in Greece and the surrounding area,it's so romantic.

Annie West said...

Hello Dena,

I'm glad to hear you like to sound of my story. I rather enjoy Greek settings myself (as you may have gathered). I'm currently getting feedback from people via my website on a number of places in Greece that would be good to set a future story. It's wonderful hearing about so many tempting spots. The only trouble is that now I want to book a flight to the Mediterranean!

Annie

Liz Fielding said...

Hi everyone! Sorry I went MIA yesterday, but we had a storm and power cuts and then the internet seemed to be on a go slow and since we only get dial-up in our tiny village I was tearing my hair out!

Thanks so much for all the kind words and congratulations.

Annie -- inspiration. That's actually a tough one. My latest book was inspired while I was up a stepladder doing my wallpaper thing. A sort of renovation idea came into my head. I ran it by my editor, who was looking for particular elements in this book and batting it back and forth between us we beefed it up into a "story". It's still a bit vague and I'll be working on it over the weekend -- thinking about names, etc. Then on Monday I write Chapter One and fly off into the mist :)

Snookie said...

Congratulations on the RT nomination. Will have to check out your new book :)

Annie West said...

Liz, commisserations on the storm and the power cuts. What an excuse to cuddle up with a good book.

So, hanging wallpaper helps with story inspiration. That's useful to know. Though I think I'll keep that as a last resort for the moment.

I love renovation stories! I do hope this one gets off the ground. The first romance I ever wrote (which is now carefully hidden away from the light of day) was a renovation story. I'm not quite sure what the appeal is, but it works for me. Best of luck flying into the mist on Monday!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Snookie. I hope you find the book. It should be easy to locate if you're in the UK. But if by chance you're from North America you'll have to wait till late May to see it on sale, unless you buy over the web. Hm, wouldn't it be easier if it was released at the same time across continents? Easier for writers, that is. Possibly not for everyone else.

Annie

Anonymous said...

Annie great to see you here and Liz congratulations on 50 books...wow! Annie as I've had the untold pleasure - and I really mean that - of already reading this book then obviously you don't have to count me into the giveaway - it's been such a treat to see all the exotic places mentioned. Mine would have to be somewhere in Malaysia, one of my favourite countries and I haven't set a book there yet. But I love Langkawi island the most. It's extremely quiet and feels very remote. The people are gorgeous, the weather hot and humid - just right for passion!
x Abby Green

Cryna said...

Congratulations on the RT nomination and your book sounds like an terrific read. Will have to look for it.

Annie West said...

Hi Abby. It's lovely to see you here. Now Malaysia is an interesting choice for a steamy romance. I'd love to see what you could do with that setting. Friends of ours have holidayed in Borneo a few times and think it's one of the best places to get away. It sounds magnificent.

Happy writing. I hope you think of a good Malaysian plot one day soon.

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Cryna. Nice to see you here. Thanks for the congratulations. It's great to hear like the sound of my book.

Annie

CrystalGB said...

Great interview. Major congrats on your RT nomination. The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife sounds fabulous. I love Greek heroes.

Annie West said...

Hi Crystal. Glad you liked the blog, and that you like Greek heroes. I hope you enjoy the book!

Annie

deseng said...

Wow! A big hearty congratulations on your RT nomination!

I love exotic locale settings in books! My favorite locations are a deserted island in the tropics, the bahamas, Hawaii or any island in the south. Oooo how about Aruba? I have never been there but is supposed to be so beautiful!

ENCHANTED APRIL is one of my favorite movies! The first time I saw it, I called up my mom and told her about it and then watched it again at her house. It is such a lovely movie that leaves you with a warm and happy feeling at the end. I couple of years ago I found the book at a used book sale. I haven't read it yet but I am sure it is as good as the movie!

Michele L.

Annie West said...

Michele, Aruba sounds fantastic. Not that I've been there either. I've read lots of romances where the heroine is swept of to an exotic tropical Island. Works for me! That's just the sort of thing I'd like a hero to do for me.

So nice to find another fan of 'Enchanted April'. After talking about it here I want to watch it again. It always makes me feel refreshed and happy.

Thanks for the congratulations on the RT nomination.

Annie

Maguy said...

Hi Annie... I have to admit I have never read any of your books... but that latest has grabbed my attention, discovering a wife alive... must be traumatizing and I am sure I would like your book! I will see if they have it in my local bookstore :)

Michelle Douglas said...

Where do I start with my heroes? Ooh, Annie, have to admit, that got me thinking. And I have come to the conclusion that I'm more heroine-focussed than hero-focussed. As a reader, if I like the heroine and if she loves the hero, then I will too and I want her to have him by ANY means possible.

With His Christmas Angel I started with idea of a heroine who was determined never to remarry. Then I had to set about finding a hero scrummy enough to change her mind. In my April release I started with a heroine who is in serious need of a holiday and some fun and laughter. So what do I do I make things tough for her and give her a lonely mountain and a hero who is a hermit.

So generally speaking I think I approach my heroes through my heroines. I find the hero the heroine most needs and I try to deliver on that. Oh yes, and they all have to have that inner core of integrity and be drool-worthy, of course.

And the camels... well, frankly, they really are filthy, disgusting creatures, don't you think? I've met your dh and I think you made the right decision ;-) And in all the sheik books I've read I'm glad to say the stead of choice for the hero is not a camel but usually on a beautiful Arabian horse. Which for some reason is so much more romantic

Annie West said...

Maguy, I'm glad the premise of this book grabbed your attention. Once I came up with it I was hooked (G). Good luck finding it in your book store. I hope they have it and I hope you enjoy it!

Annie

maguy said...

I just realized it will be available in May here! How will I be able to wait ;) The premise is very enticing... congrats!

Why are your books - as almost all M&Boons are pulished in the UK before North America... it is so unfair ;)

Annie West said...

Hi Michelle, that's an excellent point you've raised - approaching the hero through the heroine. In The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife I definitely came up with Stavros first and couldn't wait to see what he did when faced with his wife. It was strange - writing the opening to see what he did next, rather like reading to find out what a character does. Don't get me wrong though, I did some planning over what Tessa would be like.

However, in at least two other books I've thought of the heroine first and then worked through to the hero. As you say, it's a matter of finding the hero the heroine most needs. It sounds like you've got an intriguing set up for your next release.

I thought your hero was definitely drool worthy in your recent Christmas book. Can't wait to see what you come up with for your hermit hero.

Liz, do you tend to imagine your hero or your heroine first? Or does it vary?

Camels. Well, I don't really mind them, though I don't trust them. I'll tell my dh that you think he's a better choice than the camels - I'm sure he'll be impressed!

Actually, I did once see a camel as part of a very romantic scene. It was evening, full moon, on the edge of the desert. I looked through an archway out across a rising hill. There was a lone palm tree, a tall man in long robes and not far away a camel. The stars were very bright above them and for one instant I thought it the most romantic picture I'd ever seen. I could just imagine him sweeping a heroine off her feet and off to some luxurious tent or palace or something. However, reality soon intruded as I was struck by an awful gastric bug and all thoughts of romance disappeared very quickly.

I agree about the appeal of horses. The book I've just written starts on a sheikh's horse stud. I could have made it a camel stud but it really didn't appeal!

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi Maguy,

Yes, it would be easier if the books were all out in the same month - less confusing at any rate. If you're really interested you could always order online from Mills and Boon UK or UK Amazon but then there's postage. To make things a little more complicated, there will soon be 2 Presents releases in North America each month, instead of simply at the beginning of the month. Stavros will come out in the 2nd half of May instead of the beginning.

I think the reason for these particular books being published first is that they're edited out of the UK, then the other releases are scheduled after that. Is that right, Liz? I've had one book released simultaneously in the UK and US so far but I always have to wait longer for them to appear here in Australia.

I'm glad you're looking forward to seeing the book.

Annie

Virginia said...

This books sounds fantastic. I really enjoy the excerpt. I need to put this one on my to buy list.

Annie West said...

Thanks, Virginia. I hope you enjoy the book!

Annie

Liz Fielding said...

Golly -- I go to sleep for eight hours...

Fascinating stuff being discussed here. Michelle, you're so right. Camels are disgusting creatures, although they look good from a distance!

Annie, I usually start with the heroine because in "Romance" it is, basically, her story. With The Sheikh's Unsuitable Bride I knew who my hero would be, because he'd been in an earlier book, but it was still Diana who dictated what that story would be and that it would, in effect, be a Cinderella story. Even if the pumpkin was a dark red Mercedes and the ballgown her "best" chauffeur uniform.

Annie West said...

Liz, welcome back. Yes, it makes sense to me that your heroine 'leads' in crafting your story. It's so obvious now you mention it, but I hadn't thought of the "Romance" books being her story.

I love the idea of Diana's ballgown being a chauffeur's uniform and her pumpkin a red Mercedes. Isn't it nice to add a different twist to the Cinderella theme?

Annie

Ally Blake said...

Annie, you've made me wanna go to the Greek Islands!!! Anna, I reckon my locations are always secondary characters and looove it when authors do the same.

And to have a book that speaks to you for such a long time is such a guilty pleasure, no?

Good luck with the RT awards!!!

Ally

Annie West said...

Ally, so glad you're another one who likes locations so much. That's obvious from your stories. It certainly helps to write a story where the setting is vivid.

I hadn't thought of it in those terms before, but yes, having a book call to me for so long while was a guilty pleasure. I couldn't wait to get started on Tessa and Stavros' story.

Thanks for the good wishes and good luck to you too in the Romantic Times Awards. This is exciting - I know a few of the nominees!


Annie

Snookie said...

Hi Annie,

I'm in Hawaii... which means I'll probably get it late May or early June unless I order it online... Sometimes books get here at our bookstores (Border's, Walden's, etc.) on the date they are suppose to appear and other times, they're late. More often then not they seem to be late :(

Snookie said...

Just thought of something Annie, by any chance will M&B have it as an ebook? Postage always kills me and if I order it the cheapest way it takes forever to get to Hawaii... I've waited 4 weeks or more from stuff coming from the US, can't imagine how long the slow boat rate might take from UK

Liz Fielding said...

Oh, it's years and years since I went to a Greek island. On my honeymoon cruise, in fact. We embarked in Beirut (you can tell how long ago this was!) and sailed to Venice via Istanbul, Rhodes and Athens. Magic. :)

I love it when a location becomes part of the story. And it doesn't have to be exotic. My fictional (on paper -- it's a real place) village of Upper Longbourne feels like a character to me.

Snookie, I think from the beginning of this year all Harlequin books are going "e". You'll certainly be able to get Romance and Presents/Modern as a download from eHarlequin.

Annie West said...

Hi Snookie,

Speaking of exotic locations - Hawaii sounds perfect!

I just checked on the UK site and can't find a reference to the ebook yet but I understand the book will be available in ebook format. As Liz says, you'll definitely be able to order it from eHarlequin closer to the May US release date. I hope you manage to get a copy without waiting too long! (And that you enjoy the story).

All the best,
Annie

Annie West said...

Liz,

Your honeymoon cruise sounds idyllic. The first time I went to Rhodes I met an American couple who'd been going there every year for about 30 years. They'd met on the island and always celebrated their anniversary there. It's a lovely part of the world. You must have some wonderful memories from the trip.

I agree, the setting doesn't have to be exotic to work well. My first book was set near Sydney Harbour. I know that's exotic to a lot of readers, but to me it's territory I know well so could get the feel of the place as I wrote.
Now, if I wanted to write a setting I know intimately, it would be in a messy room with a snoring beagle and teenagers hoping to use the computer when I finish!

Do you have a favourite setting Liz, or are there too many to choose from?

Annie

Liz Fielding said...

Annie, I have to admit that I use London a lot. I do have a series of fictional places in the UK that turn up in a lot of books, too, all based on places I know.

I rarely use real places because even if I've been there, it's usually after a long gap and things change so much, but I loved writing about Africa in my first book.

I think the important thing is to get the scent, the feeling of a place and they never change.

I do enjoy books set in Australia, though. I does seem incredibly exotic to me!

Annie West said...

Liz, I agree absolutely about getting right the scent and the feel of the place. To me that's so much more important than the details of the name of a cafe and what street corner it's on and so forth (which is likely to change). I remember so many places by the sounds, smells, mood and even sometimes the quality of the light or air if it's very different to what I'm used to. That's the sort of detail I'm most likely to think of when I'm creating a location for a story.

My very first book (prior to my acceptance by Harlequin) included scenes in the Australian bush. I was very wary of not including too much description yet one thing readers commented on was how real the bush scenes seemed. When I went back I found there was very little description and I'd included described the smells, birdsong and filtered light.

I love UK settings. I wouldn't call them exotic, but I'm very comfortable with them, probably because of all the British books I've read from childhood on. To me exotic is South America, Morocco, the Caribbean...

Annie

Nicola Marsh said...

Hi Annie,

congrats on the RT nomination.
And to Liz with her 50 books...WOW, what an awesome achievement :)

I'm a location gal too. If characters keep me turning pages, the location helps sweep me away into the story.
And if it's a place I haven't visited, it gets added onto my 'to do one day' list!

Michelle Douglas said...

The discussion about setting is really interesting, Annie. You've covered some great stuff in the last few days.

Like Liz I have a tendency to set my stories in fictional locations - often because they're an amalgamation of several different places. In the case of the book I'm about to start, though, I have a very definite town in mind. However the heroine has never felt accepted by the people in the town (of course this is just her perception and she does have a huge chip on her shoulder about it) but if I gave the town it's real name I feel as if I'd be misrepresenting a whole population, as well as possibly alienating or offending them. Something I should hate to do. Has this ever been a consideration for you?

Some other writers I've spoken with (not romance writers) have told me they think it's immoral and a cop-out to write fictional locations, which just seems very strange to me.

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Jodi said...

Any warm island works for me! Annie West's book has caught my attention. I'll have to look for it now!

Annie West said...

Nicola,

Your 'to do' list must be getting huge. I've read about so many places I've yet to visit. But it's good to have goals...

Annie

Annie West said...

Michelle, what interesting questions.

I've certainly created fictitious locations based on real ones, or taken something from one place and moved it elsewhere. It's my world I'm creating so I have no qualms about that. For instance, Costas, my hero in my second Modern/Presents (The Greek's Convenient Mistress) had an architect-designed villa above an olive grove overlooking the sea in Crete. I knew the spot but when I was there it was all fields and olives. Not a mansion in sight (though who knows what it's like now). For 'The Sheikh's Ransomed Bride' and 'For the Sheikh's Pleasure' I created an archipelago south of the Arabian peninsula. The settings there were based on real places but the country itself was fictitious.

I wonder why your friends don't like fictitious locations? Personally I can't see the problem. I draw on what's real but I'm not writing a travel guide.

I understand your point about not naming the real town you're writing for your next book. Someone could decide that you really don't like the place! I tend to be vague about locations. My next book opens in an alpine ski resort but I decided not to name it, partly for the same reasons as you and partly, I think, because the name didn't matter.

I'm glad you've been enjoying the discussion. Me too! I've had a great time, with so many interesting issues raised. Thanks so much for contributing.

Annie

Annie West said...

Jodi,

Warm islands, eh? You'll have to come to Australia!

Annie

Serena said...

Hi Annie,
Coming in late to your party, but thought I should at least say hi! Congratulations on the RT nomination. SOOOOOOOOOOOOO deserved!!
Hugs
Serena
xx

Annie West said...

Hi Serena,

It's great that you took the time to pop in, especially as you come bearing compliments! Thank you so much.

Annie

Annie West said...

Hi everyone,

It's evening here in my part of Australia and tomorrow I head off for a trip interstate. Unfortunately I won't be around to say hello to Melissa James, Liz's next guest. However, I did want to say thank you so much, everyone, for making me welcome. I've enjoyed my time here enormously.

Happy new year to you all and happy reading. Most importantly too, happy 50th book, Liz!

Annie