Today I’m honored to be hosting Harlequin Presents Author Annie West.
Annie, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
Thanks for inviting me, Nas. It’s lovely to be here! I’m imagining sunny skies, crystal water and white sand instead of the drizzly rain I’ve got today.
Yes, I do have white sandy beach, sun and surf here. And it's like this all year around! Commiserations on your drizzly rain. To kick off I asked Annie her views :
On Writing and Reading…
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I started my first manuscript in about 1996 and my first book was published in 2000. However, it was a small press which then closed due to distribution problems. I sold my first book to Harlequin in 2005 and I’ve been writing for them ever since. I love it!
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
All sort of things. Books I’ve read, films, TV programs, radio interviews, conversations people I meet, even traveling to new places. That’s the wonderful thing about delving into your imagination – you draw on so many things.
What do you love most about being a writer?
I adore it when the characters become so real they have conversations in my head and I have to race to get their words down. Sometimes it feels as if their story is progressing all by itself (rare but wonderful!). My other favorite time is when readers contact me because they enjoyed a story of mine – particularly if they enjoyed an aspect of the book I did too. Oh, and being able to start work in my PJs is terrific – except when I forget the time and answer the door midmorning and realise I still haven’t got changed.
What do you like least about being a writer?
Days when getting the story down is like pulling teeth, or when I have to get revisions done in a hurry (they often seem to coincide with holidays and family celebrations). If I don’t get the job done, no one else is going to come in and finish it for me.
Where were you five years before?
Same as now. But five years before that I was wearing a suit and advising on government policy.
Wow!...and then you turned to fiction?
Where do you envision yourself five years from now?
Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
The settings for all my books are places I’ve enjoyed. Often I have to cut some of the descriptive detail in the final version but having a good feel for the location really helps me in writing the story. One of my favorites would be my fictional alpine kingdom where “Protected by the Prince” and “Prince of Scandal” is set. It’s based on a few places I’ve visited and others I’ve read about. Whenever I sat down to write those stories I had a lovely feeling of entering that world of castles, quaint market towns, wooded mountains, snowy chalets and so on. Sometimes I could even smell the mulled wine and the hot chocolate! I loved the mix of real places that held great memories and the chance to let my imagination loose on the royal fantasy.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
Argh! That’s too hard! Possibly either my first sheikh story “The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride” or one of my two “Prince” books.
What one specific piece of advice would you give a would-be writer trying to kick-start a career?
Possible the BBC TV adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth. Not technically a movie but a program I’ve watched again and again and still love.
What is the most romantic gesture or gift you have received?
A surprise trip away with just my husband to celebrate a significant anniversary. As we usually celebrate just with a special home-cooked meal, the flight to another city and four days sightseeing at leisure was tremendous.
How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
My husband is particularly good at this! The occasional surprise (like tickets to a concert) or even just time together on the weekend over coffee – just the two of us. Remembering to step off the treadmill of day to day responsibilities and take time to talk together is important.
What tip would you give your readers to make their lives more romantic?
Remembering not to take your lover for granted makes all the difference.
Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
Two places come to mind instantly: a starry night in
looking over exotic ruins and the edge of the desert; and watching the sun dip down over the sea on a Santorini clifftop. Egypt
All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I’ve always been a reader. I’ve loved romance since my teens and finally just had to try my hand at it. I still love nothing better than to read a great romance.
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be multilingual. I know a bit of German and even less Greek but it would be terrific to be fluent in another language (or three).
Who is someone you admire and why?
My parents. I want to be like them when I grow up. Seriously! They care about other people, they take an interest, they have humour and respect for each other and appreciate the good things they have.
What quality do you most admire in a man?
What is the one thing you've always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try?
Parasailing or hang-gliding.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’ve always wanted to be an archaeologist and I’d love to give that a go. Of course I’d like to be on a dig with a gorgeous, hunky male archaeologist with eyes that crinkle when he laughs, broad shoulders and a quick wit. I’m sure there’d be some adventure thrown in.
“Prince of Scandal” is a marriage of convenience story, except in this case it’s pure inconvenience. Raul is furious that an archaic law forces him to marry, especially when he discovers the ‘lost’ princess he has to marry is a mud-spattered farmer who says precisely what she thinks and won’t quietly do what’s expected. Luisa is determined not to be taken over like some chattel in marriage, despite her instant attraction for Raul.