Guest Author: Annie West
Think contemporary, sexy romance packed with “emotion, excitement and passion” and you’d be spot on in a description of my guest today—USA Today Best Selling Harlequin Mills & Boon author, Annie West.
I first met Annie in 2003 at my first RWAus conference. From memory, we chatted in a lobby bar until quite late that evening and I was very interested to hear about her writing. Neither of us was published at that stage and we talked about the pitches we were preparing to the Harlequin editor at that conference. I had one pitch prepared, Annie had three!!
I’m not quite sure how long it was after that conference, Annie got ‘the call’, but I know I’ve been thoroughly enjoying her stories ever since, and if I see one of her books on the shelf at the store, you can guarantee it makes it to the checkout with me!
Her story Damaso Claims His Heir won the 2015 RWAus Romantic Book of the Year Award for short, sexy category romance, and she’s also been listed on the RWAmerica Honor Roll. As I mentioned last week on my interview with Brenda Novak, Annie offered critiques for authors as part of Brenda Novak’s fundraising auction for diabetes research and I was fortunate enough to have her critique the first chapter or two of my novel, Roses for Sophie, through Brenda’s auction.
Annie, welcome to the blog. It’s fabulous to have you here, and it’s been really great to read your published novels, follow your writing career and hear about all your successes along the way.
Hi Alyssa! It's lovely to be invited. I spend so much time inhabiting the world of my stories that it's great to get 'out' for a visit. As you know, I love talking about romance. So much has happened since we first met, hasn't it?
I always like to ask my guest authors about their latest releases. Can you tell us about that title and whether writing it posed any particular challenges for you?
I'm midway between releases. My most recent book, 'Her Forgotten Lover's Heir' is an amnesia story. Using a light hand to keep the tension tight as Molly gradually discovers more about her relationship with Pietro was, I thought, going to be a big challenge but in the end it seemed to flow naturally. One of the best pieces of feedback I've had is from someone who emerged from a coma with temporary memory loss, who said I'd got the emotions just right!
My Jan/Feb book, "The Greek's Forbidden Innocent, definitely had challenges. Why is it we don't always realise what they are till we start writing? The heroine is masquerading as someone else so there were all sorts of issues to do with when the truth should be revealed and how deep that deceit goes (even if it's for the best reason). On the other hand, this book has high emotional stakes and a real lightning strike of attraction that made it a joy to write.
I haven't caught up on that title yet but it is on my TBR pile!
You have a very close friendship with the wonderful Anna Campbell, and have been critique partners for many years. I know the two of you have recently had a writing retreat together. Apart from feasting on Anna’s fabulous cooking (and I’ve suggested to her that she should write a cookbook!), how does the critique partnership work (ie brainstorming, proof reading, general feedback?)
Anna and I are close friends who bonded over a love of romance books and other things. Fortunately we also genuinely enjoy each other's work! I think that's the reason the critique side of the relationship works - we both love the stories the other one writes. Even though mine are contemporary and hers historical, we both enjoy fascinating alpha heroes and strong heroines. We share drafts for critical feedback and sometimes brainstorm initial story ideas. We're very lucky to have a deep friendship that's also handy for our careers.
I love hearing about authors who can work so well together and hope to catch up with Anna here on the blog in 2019 as she is another of my favourite authors.
You’ve had some sensational covers with Mills & Boon and also your independently published romances. Do you have a favourite?
I'm never good at picking favourites and in this case I've been lucky with so many covers! The two that come to mind are the UK cover of "Girl in the Bedouin Tent" which won a best cover award and "Burning for the Italian" where the cover photo inspired part of the story. ☺
(In case that doesn't make sense, because I usually don't see covers till well after the story is written, this book was independently published and I was looking for a suitable photo at the same time I was working on the book).
Ooh, and can I also include the cover of a recent French edition of "The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife"? Every time I see that cover I grin from ear to ear! I want to be where she is!
Looking at the cover I can see why!!
It’s getting close to Christmas. Do you have a favourite Christmas tradition or memory you’d like to share with us?
One of my earliest memories is of finding a silver coin in my grandmother's Christmas pudding. She had a stash of them that she'd sterilize and put in the pudding mix. Not only was her pudding fantastic, but it was a sign of good luck if you got a coin. It was only later that my mother told me Grandma used to look at the children's portions when serving it up and shove an extra coin in to make sure we got one!
Part of the joy of Christmas for me is sharing wonderful food with friends and relatives, whether as edible gifts or part of celebratory meals. My children insist that we back shortbread every year but, as we started doing that when they were very little, and used their choice of biscuit cutters, I suspect e're the only family around who has Christmas shortbread pigs with silver cachou eyes!
My girls and I also bake shortbread every year, but I have to admit we haven't made shortbread pigs. Those pigs sound very cute! I also remember my grandmother baking plum puddings and hoping to be the one to find the sixpence! I suspect she may also have slipped a sixpence into every child's serving. I'll have to ask my mum about that!
You’ve mentioned to me that you have several projects bubbling away. What’s next for you as an author?
There's always another story on the boil, isn't there? I'm working on a sheikh story which will be the follow up to a book I sent my editor last month. The first book was supposed to be a stand alone story. However, as I learned more about my hero, I also became fascinated with his brother. Soon I was wondering ho the brother coped with a life-changing event and whether he eventually found happiness. Being a romance writer I was determined he should have one! In the end I found myself plotting his story (which I have to say is a corker). Now all I have to do is turn that idea into a book as good as the story idea! We'll find out soon whether I succeeded!
I've got ideas for a couple more novels that I can't wait to get into plus some more novellas, possibly in my Hot Italian Nights series and also in a new series. All I need is time to write them...
Ah...I can so relate to that, Annie! So many ideas...So many fascinating heroes and heroines to write!
Thank you so much for joining me today as my guest.
Thanks so much for having me to visit, Alyssa! Can I just add that if anyone has questions either about my stories, or about writing romance more generally, I'm happy to answer either here or via firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out more about Annie by visiting her website at http://www.annie-west.com/
Thank you for visiting the blog today. I hope you'll join me next week for my special guest, Elizabeth Hoyt, and enter the Elizabeth Hoyt competition. Until then, Happy Reading!
PS. As I had the wrong cover, here's the cover Annie loves!!!
About the Blogger:
Alyssa J. Montgomery is an Australian contemporary romance author who is published by Escape Publishing (Harlequin Enterprises, Australia). She also
writes medieval romance as Alyssa James.