Please give a big RU welcome to Anna Campbell! Anna’s fifth book, MY RECKLESS SURRENDER, was voted Favorite Historical Romance for 2010 by the Australian Romance Readers Association AND Anna was voted Australia’s Favorite Romance Author for 2010. Congratulations!
Anna, thanks so much for joining us today.
You’ve written six books since 2006 and received oodles of awards. Has your writing process changed with each successive book? Was writing your first book, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, easier than writing your latest, MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION?
Hi Jen! Thanks for inviting me to Romance U today. Each book seems to require a different process. Most of the time, it’s really tough, especially writing the first draft. I wrote both Claiming the Courtesan and Untouched before I was published so at least with them I had the luxury of no deadline. The two of them together probably took me five years – I’d leapfrog them by working on different drafts of each one. For some reason that I wish I could figure out, Midnight’s Wild Passion came like a gift. Smoothest bit of writing I’ve done in years. I wish they were all like that!
Romance often gets a bad rap for being formulaic and full of tired clichés. Your books have unconventional heroes and heroines who find themselves in situations which aren’t the norm for most historicals. Your heroines aren’t husband-seeking misses at Almack’s but women who’ve experienced life’s harsher realities. Are your heroines (and heroes) based on historical figures you’ve researched?
As you know, I do a lot of general reading about the Regency and then once I’ve got a story in mind, I pinpoint the things I need to know more about like courtesans or the treatment of mental illness. Many of my characters do have a basis in real people. With Claiming the Courtesan, it was almost uncanny. After I’d written the first draft, I picked up Katie Hickman’s Courtesans which included the story of Elizabeth Armistead, a courtesan who married the aristocratic Charles James Fox, one of the era’s most famous politicians. Elizabeth and my Verity had so much in common, I was astonished at the links. Gideon’s background in Captive of Sin is based loosely on the British army officers Conolly and Stoddart who were captured by the Amir of Bokhara in the Victorian era and kept in a pit in the marketplace until their eventual execution. In Tempt the Devil, a lot of Olivia’s idiosyncrasies stemmed from the famous Victorian courtesan Skittles, including the way she’d have herself sewn into a riding habit to show off her fabulous figure when she rode in Hyde Park. Sorry – I can go on about this stuff for hours! I’ll stop now.
I love reading historicals because of the fascinating tidbits of history, and I know you’re a big history buff. Is the period in which you write one of your favorite periods of history? Can you share a couple of your favorite research sites for the period?
Jen, I love writing Regencies. And not just because of the fashions (although the fashions are pretty cool). I love the way it’s the last hoorah of decadence before Victorian morality hit the scene. I love the elegance and the wit. I also love the contrast between glittering surface of the elegant aristocratic world and the harsh circumstances of life beyond all that luxury. When it comes to research, I mainly use books – I find a lot of internet sites can be unreliable. Favorite resources include The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose (full of wonderfully naughty phrases), my shorter Oxford English Dictionary and What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool which is great for a quick check of things like modes of address. A gorgeous book for anyone, not just Regency buffs, is Steven Parissien’s Regency Style. On the net, I love the BBC resources and the English National Trust sites are always inspirational when I’m seeking a luxurious bower where my hero and heroine can get up to mischief.
Hey, thanks! Actually it depends on the story – whoever has the most difficult row to hoe tends to be the person who gets the most complex emotional arc. While both my hero and heroine generally have big problems, one will have BIGGER problems. So in Claiming the Courtesan, the person who had to come the longest way was the Duke of Kylemore. In Untouched, it was Matthew. In Tempt the Devil, Olivia is the one with the hardest road ahead before she gets her happy ending. With Captive of Sin, Gideon is definitely the one with the major problems. My Reckless Surrender, it’s more heroine-centric with Diana needing redemption rather than Tarquin. In Midnight’s Wild Passion, it’s back to the hero, the Marquess of Ranelaw, needing to learn some big lessons before he gets his happily ever after.
I’ve wanted to ask this question for a while. The BIG words. 🙂 Reading your books has certainly improved my vocabulary. I remember reading Claiming the Courtesan and telling you I had to look up five words in the first two chapters. My CP Carrie said she had to look up words too. So, I have to ask…when you were unpubbed and active on the contest circuit, did you ever get comments from judges about using “big” words?
Ha ha! Yes, I’m fond of fruity vocabulary as you’ve noticed. I think that’s part of my voice and yes, I have had a few people yelping with horror of the idea of having to reach for a dictionary occasionally. One industrious judge even went to the trouble of rewriting the entire first chapter of Claiming the Courtesan in words of one syllable. One of the things I love about romance is that there is such a variety of styles – mine tends to veer toward the baroque. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry, LOL!
One piece of advice for unpubbed authors?
There’s so many distractions out there but if you want to be a writer, you have to write.
Okay, enough with the serious stuff. Vanity Fair Magazine is known for their Proust Questionnaire. Here at RU have the RU-oost Questionnaire.
Three writers (living or dead) you’d like to have dinner with…
Dorothy Dunnett, Sir Walter Scott, Georgette Heyer.
You wish you could write like…
Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
The one word you tend to overuse…
Actually it’s probably ‘actually’.
Two places you’d love to visit or re-visit. (Please note: A tropical island resort with Richard Armitage lounging sans shirt in a hammock outside your tiki hut does not count.)
Dang! You took my answer! I’d love to go to Iceland and I’d love to go back to Cordoba in Spain one day. Can I take Richard?
And finally, complete the following sentence. He silenced her with a….
Goodness me! Let me work on my fantasy life. OK, this really turns me on – he silenced her with a mouthful of Swiss chocolate.
Check out the gorgeous book trailer for Anna’s latest book Midnight’s Wild Passion.
So what do you like to see in a Regency romance? The classic elements like balls and Almack’s and the season (Midnight’s WildPassion is actually pretty much a classic Regency)? Or do you like the stories to range further afield?
Tomorrow, historical author Kris Kennedy talks about “Becoming a Master Craftsman: Quality Over Quantity.
Australian Anna Campbell is the author of six Regency historical romances for Avon. Her most recent release (26th April) is Midnight’s Wild Passion. Anna blogs regularly with the Romance Bandits (www.romancebandits.blogspot.com) and you can also find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/AnnaCampbellFans Please check out her website: www.annacampbell.info
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