Welcome, Annie, and thanks for treading the boards with us today!
Thanks, Susanne, it’s lovely of you to invite me along! I’m so pleased to be here.
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
I think it all ends up in the mix. Often it’s only after I’ve written a book that I can identify how scenes or characters’ reactions might have been influenced by certain things. That’s always fun and often surprising. The sense of place is very important for me, even if a good deal of description is cut out in the editing, so having a feel for locations is important. As for people and experiences – I suspect all writers draw on emotions and interactions they have experienced. On the other hand, I’d never write a book based on someone real.
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us.
I was working one day when the title ‘The Unwanted Wife’ popped into my head. I liked it so much I wrote it down. That wasn’t enough though. I found myself pondering who she was and why she was unwanted, even though I was in the middle of another book at the time. I was so desperate to discover the answer I asked lots of writer friends why she might be unwanted and every time I knew, within seconds of them explaining their idea, why that wasn’t right. Not that they weren’t good ideas, but they weren’t right for this wife. Finally, finally, I discovered why she was unwanted. She’d turned up at her husband’s estate on the very night he was holding a high profile party to celebrate his engagement to another woman. He, of course, had believed his wife to be dead. As soon as I worked that out I knew I had to write it. That story became ‘The Greek Tycoon’s Unexpected Wife’.
Titles are often difficult to pin down; this has to be one of the most interesting approaches to writing – beginning with a title then asking all the right questions to draw out the story.
3. Who would you cast for a movie/TV series as your main characters if given the chance?
I don’t usually cast actors in the starring roles of my books, except for some reason in the case of my most recent release: ‘Captive in the Spotlight’. For that one the actors were so easy to choose: Joe Manganiello for Domenico and Diane Kruger for Lucy.
I think Joe inspires everyone! And yes, I can ‘see’ him as Domenico!
4. What is your favourite holiday?
Hard to choose but I’ve just been looking at photos of a holiday I spend in the Dordogne region of France with my husband. Great company, excellent food, picturesque towns, romantic castles and lazy, sunny days – it was fantastic!
5. Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
Generally I try not to, though when I’m alerted by a reviewer I’ll check it out. As for negative reviews – I remind myself that everyone has different tastes. I saw a negative review once that seemed to be based on an intense dislike of a character’s name. You never know what else, in addition to the story you’ve written, affects how much people enjoy your work or not.
6. How many times were you turned down before you finally got published?
Multiple times. Sorry – I haven’t gone back to count them up. But on the positive side I did sell the first short story I’d ever written to a national magazine. That gave me such a boost and made me hope I could sell my novels one day.
7. If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, and spend an hour with them who and why?
I’ve always been completely fascinated by the idea of meeting people from the past. I think it’s because I’ve always been a history buff. Asking me to choose one single person is impossible. I’d opt for a Tardis, and like Dr Who, I’d have no trouble understanding and speaking whatever language I needed. Wouldn’t that be marvellous?
Can I hitch a ride please?
8. What is your favorite book of all time that you can reread a hundred times, and it still feels like the first time?
I can never choose one favourite. My reread book used to be ‘Lord of the Rings’ but I’m finding I go for something shorter now. Give me a Georgette Heyer or perhaps Loretta Chase’s ‘Mr Impossible’.
9. What do you need to set the mood for you to write?
Quiet or alternatively white noise like voices in the background. I’ve been known to write in cafes or playgrounds, but if I can tune into a conversation or the lyrics of a song it messes with the writing.
10. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be?
I love historicals and romantic suspense but I’m not sure I’ll ever try publishing in either.
11. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
Well, the truth is, I don’t get the chance. My publisher writes them. When I read the back cover copy it’s always intriguing to see what they come up with!
12. What are you working on now?
It’s a marriage of convenience story though I’ve only just realised that! Thanks for asking, Susanne – it’s good to have such things clear in my mind (G). It’s about a couple who come together through mutual lust then through duty, never expecting love to blossom. Poor things. Why do I always like to torture my characters?
(You know you love doing it, Annie!)
13. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing or a photo or music link that inspires you? From ‘Captive in the Spotlight’ (This excerpt is posted by arrangement with Harlequin Books SA):
The camera crews parted. There, striding towards her was the man she'd expected never to see again: Domenico Volpe, shouldering through the rabble, eyes locked on her. He seemed oblivious to the snapping shutters as the cameras went into overdrive and newsmen gabbled into microphones.
He wore a grey suit with the slightest sheen, as if it were woven from black pearls. His shirt was pure white, his tie perfection in dark silk.
He looked the epitome of Italian wealth and breeding. Not a wrinkle marred his clothes or the elegant lines of his face. Only his eyes, boring into hers, spoke of something less than cool control.
A spike of heat plunged right through her belly as she held his eyes.
He stopped before her and Lucy had to force herself not to crane her head to look up at him. Instead she focused on the hand he held out to her.
The paper crackled as she took it.
Come with me. The words were in slashing black ink on a page from a pocketbook. I can get you away from this. You'll be safe.
Her head jerked up.
'Safe?' With him?
He nodded. 'Yes.'
Around them journalists craned to hear. One tried to snatch the note from Lucy's hand. She crumpled it in her fist.
It was mad. Bizarre. He couldn't want to help her. Yet she wasn't fool enough to think she could stay here. Trouble was brewing and she'd be at the centre of it.
Still she hesitated. This close, Lucy was aware of the strength in those broad shoulders, in that tall frame and his square olive-skinned hands. Once that blatant male power had left her breathless. Now it threatened.
But if he'd wanted to harm her physically he'd have found a way long before this.
He leaned forward. She stiffened as his whispered words caressed her cheek. 'Word of a Volpe.'
He withdrew, but only far enough to look her in the eye. He stood in her personal space, his lean body warming her and sending ripples of a tension through her.
She knew he was proud. Haughty. Loyal. A powerful man. A dangerously clever one. But everything she'd read, and she'd read plenty, indicated he was a man of his word. He wouldn't sully his ancient family name or his pride by lying.
Jerkily she nodded.
'Va bene.' He eased the case from her white-knuckled grip and turned, propelling her through the crowd with his palm at her back, its heat searing through her clothes.
Questions rang out but Domenico Volpe ignored them. With his support Lucy rallied and managed not to stumble. Then suddenly there was blissful space, a cordon of security men, the open limousine door.
This time Lucy needed no urging. She scrambled in and settled herself on the far side of the wide rear seat.
The door shut behind him and the car accelerated away before she'd gathered herself.
'It's in the boot. Quite safe.'
Safe. There it was again. The word she'd never associated with Domenico Volpe.
Slowly Lucy turned. She was exhausted, weary beyond imagining after less than an hour at the mercy of the paparazzi, but she couldn't relax, even in this decadently luxurious vehicle.
Deep-set grey eyes met hers. This time they looked stormy rather than glacial. Lucy was under no illusions he wanted her here, with him. Despite the nonchalant stretch of his long legs, crossed at the ankles, there was tightness in his shoulders and jaw.
'What do you want?'
'To rescue you from the press.'
Lucy shook her head. 'No.'
'No?' One dark eyebrow shot up towards his hairline. 'You call me a liar?'
'If you'd been interested in rescuing me you'd have done it years ago when it mattered. But you dropped me like a hot potato.'
Her words sucked the oxygen from the limousine, leaving a heavy, clogging atmosphere of raw emotion. Lucy drew a deep breath, uncaring that he noted the agitated rise and fall of her breasts as she struggled for air.
'You're talking about two different things.' His tone was cool.
'You think?' She paused. 'You're playing semantics. The last thing you want is to rescue me.'
'Then let us say merely that your interests and mine coincide this time.'
'How?' She leaned forward, as if a closer view would reveal the secrets he kept behind that patrician façade of calm. 'I can't see what we have in common.'
He shook his head, turning more fully. Lucy became intensely aware of the strength hidden behind that tailored suit as his shoulders blocked her view of the street.
A jitter of curious sensation sped down her backbone and curled deep within. It disturbed her.
'Then you have an enviably short memory, Ms Knight. Even you can't deny we're linked by a tie that binds us forever, however much I wish it otherwise.'
'In the past?' His lip curled in a travesty of a smile. 'Yet it's a truth I live with every day.' His eyes glowed, luminous with emotions she'd once thought him too cold to feel. His voice deepened to a low, bone-melting hum. 'Nothing will ever take away the fact that you killed my brother.'
14. Please share your favourite cocktail recipe or celebration photo.
I love bubbly for a celebration, and really, life is full of things we ought to celebrate and usually don’t. My current favourite celebration cocktail is a nip of Chambord (French black raspberry liqueur) topped up with sparkling wine. The only problem is that it slips down very easily so beware!
Kir Royale! I should have guessed you’d be a champagne lover, Annie!
Thanks for taking a star turn today, Annie, and for your kind offer of one of your fabulous books.
Annie has kindly offered to give away one of her titles to someone who shares the most unusual or memorable premise they remember for a romance. So what’s yours?