I’m just about to board my flight from DC back to Los Angeles after an incredible five days on the East Coast (love, love, love every place I visited! Cool history! Amazing, historic buildings! The best readers and writers!) and I’ll be adding some photos and details in a blog later this week, but as its a travel day for me, I thought I’d ask the lovely, smart, witty, Anne Gracie to join us.
I’ve known Anne for years now. She’s one of my “Aussie” friends, a superbly talented novelist, and a gifted, passionate teacher. She taught a workshop on heroes years ago (2003 on the Gold Coast, maybe?) that made a massive impression on me and I adore her books. They are fresh, character rich, and very original. When you read an Anne Gracie novel, you know you’re reading Anne Gracie…she couldn’t be anyone else, nor would I want her to be! I just finished her brand new book, The Autumn Bride, and adored it. Such a great read. I highly recommend. And I’m not the only one who thinks she’s brilliant. Anne is also up for a Rita this year for Bride by Mistake–hooray!–and I can’t wait for you to get to know her better. So without further delay. Here’s my wonderful friend, Anne Gracie!
Anne, how did you get the idea for The Autumn Bride?
Sometimes ideas for stories come to me just as I’m falling asleep or waking up — that semi-dream state is a fertile time for me, and I keep notebooks by the bed to write them down (tragic, I know 😉 So, there was this young woman climbing through the window of an old mansion at night — this is the Regency-era — I knew she was desperate and intending to steal something, and I knew she’d never done anything like this before.
Inside the room she finds an aristocratic old lady, bedridden and at the mercy of her rapacious servants. My girl Abby just has to do something about it. With the old lady’s cooperation, she and her “sisters” — one real sister and two close friends — arrive, pretending to be the old lady’s nieces, take over the house and sack the horrible servants.
Everyone’s happy, until the old lady’s nephew arrives. . .
What do you like most about your book?
I really enjoyed the relationship between the old lady and the four girls. I didn’t plan it to take up so much of the story, but the old lady just sprang to life, and I loved her and couldn’t make myself prune her back. The book ended up being as much about female friendship as about the love story between the hero and heroine.
What do you love most about being a writer?
When the story is stuck or I’m struggling to find the right way to tell it, and I’m prowling around the house being grumpy and frustrated, I confess, I hate being a writer. But when the story is flowing, and the scenes are rolling and the characters keep speaking in my head so that I have to rush to write it down — and sometimes they surprise me, or make me laugh or make me cry — it’s the BEST feeling. Like flying.
Is there anything that has surprised you about writing or publishing your books?
Yes, I had no idea how wonderful and supportive the romance author community is. I never dreamed other writers would become some of my dearest friends. I’d always believed writing is a lonely business, but these days, that’s so not true.
Some writers like to let plot ideas percolate and grow for a while before they start writing the story. Would you say this applies to you as well?
Usually while I’m finishing off one book, ideas for other stories start popping up. I write them down in a notebook as they come — they range from whole scenes to snatches of dialogue, as well as ideas and possibilities. I have a pile of notebooks with story ideas and fragments, and from time to time, I add to them. When I come to start the book, I read through all my notes, find a starting point and go from there, writing chronologically, and with only a vague idea where the story is going. I love it best when things happen in the story that surprise me.
What do you do when you’ve finished a book?
The first thing I do is sleep in, because usually I’ve been up late doing last minute edits, tweaking and fretting. Then I get my hair cut and maybe colored — it’s a little bit of pampering that I really enjoy and a fresh new me to face the world. After that I might head off to my favorite bead shop — I make jewelry in my spare time — or sometimes I’ll sign up for a craft class. It’s all refilling the well. In the last month or so of writing a book I become practically a hermit, so after it’s in, I catch up with friends, movies, life in general. Oh, and I spring clean the house, because in the last month or so, housework has become pretty slapdash.
What’s your favorite time of the day and place to write?
Mornings, sitting up in my bed with a mug of coffee on the bedside table and the morning sun streaming through my bay window. In winter it’s especially cheering, because if the sun’s out, it warms and lights the room for most of the day.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the next book in the series, The Winter Bride. It’s about a bad boy rake, a missionary’s daughter, a forced marriage and a surprise. I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Thanks Jane for inviting me to visit. It’s been a pleasure.
Anne, thank you, thank you, thank you for visiting with us today! Readers, be sure to visit Anne’s website and learn more about her books. They are all terrific, and in honor of her Rita nomination for best historical, I’m giving away 3 copies of Bride by Mistake, Anne’s Rita nominated book, a Jane Porter novel (your choice!), plus a Starbucks drink card and lots of fun reader goodies. The contest will run through Thurday night, with the three winners announced Friday morning. Just comment below to be entered to win, and tell me how things are going–and if you read historicals, and of course, have you read my marvelous Anne?–be chatty if you like. I love it. Your comments are always some of my favorite things to read!
They’re boarding my flight. Must go. More soon!